Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oregon Arts Orchestra - Vienna July 12

We bussed out to Eisenstadt that morning (obligatory bus nap). We got to see the Esterhazy Palace. We took a tour. It was a beautiful place. No flash on the cameras but they did let us take pictures. There was a group rehearsing in the Hydnsaal inside the palace. They had a soprano with them who was amazing. I wished we could have stayed to hear them play.

Here's a detail of the ceiling of the Haydnsaal. We performed there when the other group were done - some of our small groups did anyway. They did great. Kip and I got to watch - and help set up and take down. Unfortunately we couldn't use flash in the room and most of my pictures didn't turn out.

After that tour Kip and I wandered down the pedestrian street outside the palace in search of some quick food - a lot of the orchestra members had gotten expensive sack lunches for the day from the hotel, but that didn't work for me. But we couldn't find anything portable on the street - just cafes to sit and eat in. Poor Mihail was dragged along with us. When we rejoined the rest of the group we were supposed to tour 2 important Haydn places, his church and his home. Guy, Lou and Jae opted to sit in a cafe right near where the bus parked and skip one of the 2 tours and we opted to join them, earning the distinguishing appellation "deviants". Our waiter was an Italian named Alessandro. Guy befriended him quickly. We had a great time sitting and talking and enjoyed a break from walking quietly through historical buildings learning about things from the past.

After our lunch, we joined the orchestra group visiting Haydnshaus.

On the way back to Vienna proper we stopped at a cemetery to visit the grave sites of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert, and Strauss. It was impressive to have so many celebrated musicians buried in one place. Kip and I were impressed with some of the less-famous grave sites and their sometimes-freaky embellishments.

The night the city was hosting a concert in the park with Mahler's 8th shown on a big screen near city hall. A bunch of the crew opted to attend that and ride the train home. Guy, Lou, Jae, Kip and I opted to hang out downtown and ride the train home but not attend the Mahler. We walked through the touristy part of downtown to a cafe on the fringes. There, we talked and enjoyed drinks for an hour or so, then headed to a cafe Guy remembered from his visit to Vienna 5 years ago. It was a block from the Opera House. It had red awnings and a hammered dulcimer player inside. We loved it right away. Guy had apparently had a conversation with the manager during his last visit which had really impressed him. So, Guy tried to find the old manager, but he works mornings now, so we made friends with our waiter. He ended up bringing us strawberry sparkling wine for free, which was nice - especially for Lou and Guy who got to drink Kip's and mine and learned the value of hanging out with Mormons--you get their coffee and alcohol, of course! Eventually, we headed for the train that would return us to the hotel. It was about 10:15 when we got there and tried to figure out the machine. A transit employee walked by and we begged his help. He pointed to the appropriate buttons, we bought our tickets and headed home. Guy was convinced we were headed the wrong way, but Kip was pretty sure about it. We ended up just fine. As we walked to the hotel from the bus, all the entrances to the Pyramid portion to the side of the main hotel were heavily guarded by police with large weapons. I wasn't brave enough to ask what was going on, though I did say hi to one of them.

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