Grand Vienna

Trip Start Feb 02, 2010
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Trip End Feb 02, 2011


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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Friday, September 24, 2010

Vienna... Well we didn’t manage to outrun the rain on our way here, around four in the morning we hit the wet road and not long after that caught up with big rain clouds. It’s funny riding in the rain at night, you can’t really see yourself getting wet so by the time you feel it your are well and truly soaked through the leathers and not drying out for a while. The last few hours of the ride were very cold and unpleasant, but Nina soldiered on faultlessly, a pleasure to ride and more reliable than ever. 
 
We are staying with Kathi, Edo and little Zora, friends of Felix and his family in Vienna. When we arrived at their apartment, after the last few days in Hungary going flat out everyday for fear of running out of time and a pretty sleepless night, we were pretty tired so we spent the rest of the day relaxing in the apartment. 
 
The next day we didn’t venture too far either. We went for a little walk to find some supplies for Felix to try and repair the old watches he had bought in Budapest. We also collected some food supplies, in the apartment there was a waffle machine which I was busting to try out. Camilla from Norway had given me her waffle recipe and Felix and I have been dreaming of having waffles with sour cream and strawberry jam like we did the night we stayed with her family after the bike meet. Felix was also dreaming of brownies and was talking my new-found brownie baking skills up so pretty soon everyone in the house was rallying for brownies as well. I can’t say dinner that night was particularly healthy - but it sure was enjoyable and very tasty, there’s nothing quite like waffles and brownies for dinner. 
 
Saturday we went to a huge Flea Market, it was really big, most of the stalls were selling way, way, way overpriced ‘antiques’ and sure some of them were genuinely old but most of it was just people  trying to flog off there grandparents porcelain cats and candle holders that were clearly not worth anywhere near what was being asked. Apart from that, there was some people selling some interesting stuff, but anyone who has ever been to a flea market knows how it is, an absolute mountain of old junk to sort through with a few gems hidden in there somewhere if you can find them and bargain the stall holder down to a reasonable price. Felix found another few watches and a guitar which I thought was a pretty large waste of money seeing as it’s only a few months until we go home, but at fifteen euros for a reasonably playable guitar he is very happy (me too after some time playing it). I found a few items of clothing.
 
That night for dinner, Edo took us out to running sushi again - the novelty still hasn’t worn off. After a great dinner (not as good as the one in Budapest, but still fair) we walked around the city for a while, which was really nice on such a pleasant night. 
 
We were waiting for the train home in Karlsplatz Station and it was about midnight when something really amazing happened. When we were in Budapest up at the castle, Felix and I watched a family for about an hour. They were so funny, first the mum was chasing the baby around trying to take pictures of it with seagulls for ages then the dad took the camera and the mum and sister were posing in front of EVERYTHING, one shot with their sunglasses on, then off, then with the designer handbags on show. Seriously there were taking so many pictures of each other - it was so funny and dorky. Anyway back in Vienna as we were standing on the platform in the station waiting for the train and who should also be waiting for the same train? Of course that same family. And there was no mistake, the mum was even wearing the same leopard print trench coat and chasing the baby around while the grandmother looked after the pram. Amazing. 
 
I can’t remember what we did on Sunday, so it can’t have been too great, we probably slept in really late after staying up watching a TV show we have become addicted to.
 
Monday though we walked into the city to the museum quarter planning on visiting a Keith Haring exhibition I had seen advertised around. Sadly I had misread the sign. On the original sign it said it closed on Sunday but a sticker had been stuck over which said something about it being extended until next month, the fine details that were lost in translation were the details that said only a few pieces from Keith Haring were still on display. 
 
I was so excited to see some real Keith Haring, he is one of my favourite artists ever, he really inspired me when I was at school. Before seeing his work I thought that to be a good artist or to make a ‘good’ picture you had to be able to paint things like all the great artists you hear about in art class - the Michaelangelo’s and Monet’s and blah blah blah of whom all are no doubt talented but for me totally boring artists. A teacher introduced me to Keith Haring’s work and suddenly I discovered a totally new style, a completely new way of showing something, his pictures told stories, were funny, made statements and were mostly just bold colour and lines. From him I then was lead on a trail of finding many more contemporary artists to love and admire. I realised that to enjoy drawing and painting and all that I didn’t have to be able to copy things in front of me and produce perfect photocopies of whatever still-life subject it was this time. I realised I could draw things with more of a cartoon feel, I could do away with shading and tone, I could use symbols and represent objects, people, emotions and situations in simple, basic forms. I discovered my own style and went from hating art to loving it and getting so much of my teenage angst out on paper, board, canvas and walls.
 
So when I realised I had missed the Keith Haring exhibition by one day I was totally shattered. I wanted to cry but I was too embarrassed to start crying in front of the ticket man, especially after he was so blunt and rude about it like we were totally stupid. So I  just went and sat down blinking a lot and biting my lip. Too good to be true that I should just happen to be in Vienna at the same time my dream exhibition was showing, something had to go wrong so I would miss it. If only we had gone on Sunday...
 
When I recovered we decided to go and see the exhibition that was on anyway seeing as it had at least a few Keith Haring pictures and even a few other artists I also quite like. And it did turn out to be a good exhibition - about street art. It had some Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat as famous representatives and a lot of other very good stuff. But also some seriously shit stuff. You can try and make all the intellectual arguments you want about the creative process and blah blah blah but seriously there is nothing nice, interesting, visually captivating or artistic about muddy cloths on the floor - if there is - every child with a messy room is a world class artist and should be getting paid to leave there cloths on the floor so people can pay top bucks to come and see them. Get real, it’s shit. Thats what I hate about modern art, to see some really cool stuff you sadly have to also see the shit stuff and your little entrance fee supports the shit when all you really want it to support is the artists who are actually talented and creative (these views in particular are expressly Felicity’s). But overall it was a good exhibition, we both liked it. 
 
After the exhibition we enjoyed the lovely sunshine in the gardens by the Natural History Museum, sitting among the bushes trimmed into perfectly round balls and other geometric shapes. We moved on when an old man started acting funny and we were getting really hungry. We wandered through the city for a while, paying the really big, really famous church in the city centre a visit as well as the famous Manner wafer shop where we bought a good supply of wafers wrapped in the trademark pink wrapping. 
 
For dinner we had Japanese yet again, it has become quite a favourite of ours and I now have a rather large selection  of the different paper wrappings that the disposable chopsticks they give you come in. 
 
We went into the city a few more times during our stay but generally took Vienna at a much slower pace than Budapest. I really don’t know how the standard backpacker, hopping from city-to-city hostel-to-hostel keep up with themselves, it’s totally exhausting going from city to city and feeling like you have to make the most of every minute and see everything flat out like that. 
 
One afternoon we went to ‘Schloss Schönbrunn’. It was a perfect warm sunny afternoon and the gardens there are so great. Not the kind of thing I would waste my time cultivating but I’m happy someone else has so I could enjoy the perfectly straight garden edges, perfectly trimmed hedges, perfectly straight avenues of great old trees who’s branches are also trimmed into perfectly straight lines. More than enough straight lines to satisfy the most addicted to straight lines person in the world (maybe, I don’t know how many straight lines that person really needs). 
 
The lovely bright flower gardens look like lacework. Really amazing gardening even if it is slightly impractical for the average household garden. We didn’t go into the main attractions there - the imperial palace and zoo - but had a lot of fun in the labyrinths and mazes, which I imagine are better than the palace anyway. This little corner of the garden under some giant old trees has some very nice hedge work. It was great, I really enjoyed it, it’s amazing to be in a maze of hedges. It’s one thing to do a maze on paper but to really be inside it is fantastic, wandering around and getting totally lost and disoriented is a great feeling when you know your not really that ‘lost,’ just really tricked. To me, in a hedge maze, it feels like the closest I’ll ever get to the magic, fantastic fantasy and unreal world of my dreams in conscious, touchable life.
 
On our last morning in Vienna before heading back to Graz for the weekend we went to see the Spanish Riding School. We couldn’t afford to go to a performance, which is the case for many people so the morning exercise session is a popular substitute. The horses were really beautiful and so highly trained but watching two hours of random walking and trotting around an arena did get a little slow, Felix even had a short nap. I was hoping they would maybe practice some routines or some tricks or some of the more spectacular things but it seems Friday morning is just a day for fitness.
 
And so that was Vienna....
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