On February 9th, the Dickinson group left Bremen for an even colder Vienna, Austria, for a 5-day stay. Despite the bitter cold and snow, the sights in Vienna were really quite exceptional. In fact, even though I complained about it at the time, I think the white stuff enhanced the look of the already-beautiful buildings. No, it definitely did. Aside from amazing, Baroque-style buildings, we certainly were spoon-fed dosage after dosage of culture. From cathedral and museum visits to plays at the theater, we certainly experienced the Viennese culture. Among the highlights were trips to the Schatzkammer, a treasury which houses the priceless collection of ornately-designed jewels and crowns and robes and lances and goblets from the Holy Roman Empire and old Austro-Hungarian Empire, and the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, which is easily the largest library in Austria as it holds 7.4 million works in its collection and is also lavishly decorated in the Baroque style with frescoes and marble pillars and, well, marble everything.
During our free day, I opted to head out to the Zentralfriedhof (it’s a big cemetery) and pay my respects to the classical-music Gods. Armed with my iPod (which was conveniently playing Beethoven and Mozart), I walked the grounds and saw the graves of Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Johann Strauss, and then a memorial to Mozart (he’s actually buried in a mass grave in a smaller graveyard nearby, which I did visit as well). The stroll around the cemetery was only made better by the constant snowfall, which delicately covered the evergreens and graves and made the place seem not as sullen, but at the same time, I was reminded of my location by the muffled sounds of the city from the snow and the desolate feel that can sometimes accompany winter. It was quite cool. The one surprise from my visit was the discovery of Johann Hans Hölzel’s grave. In life, Mr. Hölzel was an Austrian composer of sorts but was more commonly known as the pop musician Falco. His many hits include most notably “Rock Me Amadeus,” which you can hear below, if you so choose. I felt it odd that this man was bumping elbows with Beethoven in death while the man about whom he sang in life rested a couple miles away. Of course, I’m not really complaining, and actually, I kicked myself at the time for not having at least one of his songs on my iPod.
The last thing about Vienna that I will briefly mention is the food, for it is so good. Specifically, Wiener Schnitzel-Vienna’s speciality-is a thin slice of heaven (a fried cutlet of veal or pork) and should be consumed by each and every one of you before you die (unless you happen to be a vegetarian, of course). I could talk about much more, for the trip to Vienna was certainly a great experience, but really, I can only use beautiful and incredible so many times before I start sounding boring and redundant.