Eighty percent of success is showing up. or. Life is mostly about having balls.

SO! I woke up at 6am on Tuesday morning and rode my bike through the city to chef's house, rang the doorbell and found out chef intended to leave on Thursday rather than Tuesday. Aha. Power play? Why didn't he call me to let me know? But its okay. we still love chef. and! I understand the dynamic of power play so it made me feel, oddly, at home? Like finally someone was playing a game I knew the rules too. I repeat, we love chef.

In a somber mood, I made a pact with myself to go to 4 completely new places in the city every day before I left to Vienna for real. I did keep my pact! But my camera was out of batteries so it was not recorded :( I vaguely remember a flea market, some bohemian ares with clusters of coffee shops, the Berlin Phil, Kammermusiksaal, some performances at UDK and a recital at The Stanford School abroad...where I did meet some music students who go to UDK! Two of which were voice student and said I could sit in on their lessons :D :D :D

So! Chef picked me up at my place on Thursday and we were off. The drive is beautiful but loooooooooong. Traveling in Europe is easy (not once was I asked for a passport-there were no tolls, no fees, no humbugging) so easy that its easy to get impatient..oddly. To put it into perspective, we drove through three countries in less time than it takes to drive from Miami to New York....

Chef stopped in Prague's old town for coffee and cake at the famous Cafe Europa. Excellent choice for a pit stop. Although I did not get to see a lot of Prague, I was intrigued by the old town square where the in 1968, the Soviet tanks rolled in and shut down the liberalization known as "Prague Spring."

Upon approaching Viennese wine country, where chef was heading, he showed me around these little cellar streets from the 1400s...some still producing, some not. I had to get to the S-Bahn so he offered a more in depth tour at another time.  When we arrived at the S-Bahn a train was about to leave (they only come every hour) so i jumped on it without buying a ticket. I must confess I have been "riding black" as the call it, the entire time I have been in Germany. Perhaps this will bite me in the ass, however, if I do get caught and fined, the amount of the fine is considerably less than the rides I have bummed thus far...so I'm okay with it. I will consider it settling my tab when that day comes.

I found it took two trains and two busses to get to Cynthia's neighborhood, but Vienna is very well laid out and all the transfers were logical (or I am becoming a better traveler....I dunno....its a coin toss)

Cynthia and I went to a traditional Viennese restaurant in her neighborhood that night and immediately hit it off. We both loves medieval music and art...and courtesans...We both love reading and traveling (she has lived practically everywhere) and eating! She works in tourism for the US embassy so I had a plethora of maps, history and information at my fingertips. FriDAY I spent exploring "The Ring" on my own. In and out of enormous baroque museums all day, Cynthia and I met up at night for coffee at a famous cafe and various drinks and snacks at more famous cafes....opera tickets were too expensive and the outdoor music festival was a little silly...but we found out that that night happened to be an "open church night" apparently it almost never happens...but all the churches in the city were open ALL night through early morning. So we toured every church in the city. Every. single. church. and. chapel. one completely marbled, golden, decked out piece of architectural and artistic genius after another. With that much baroque, it's beyond "too much"...one must simply surrender to the lavish opulence..It is a totally bizarre fairy princess land built on money that didn't really, totally exist. An empire that was imploding, building big fuck off castles to assert they still had it in them to fuck you up. Thats the impression I get from the architecture anyway...

We walked the streets of Vienna until about 2:30 am...took the tram home, had a 3am dinner (god love her, the perfect travel companion) and collapsed.

Saturday was a trip through Naschmarkt, the famous Viennese outdoor market, followed by a full tour of Vienna compliments of Cynthia, as well as a peek into Klimt's secession building, which houses the Beethoven 9 freeze as well as The Belvedere Art Museum inside the castle of the former hunchback, homo, military mastermind, art collector extraordinaire...Though and outcast of Viennese society, one of the most powerful men of his time....

Prince Eugene of Savoy. 

A couple


stands later (3 euros for a huge bratwurst, a pile of mustard, a hot pepper and a slice of brown bread) we were in the inner city again watching street performers and popping in and out of old alley ways and horse stables while Cynthia gave me complete historical background.

Sunday morning I had just enough time to see a mass at one of the big cathedrals in the inner city before I hopped on the train. Every church here has a small orchestra and choir to perform at services. They sang Haydn's Bm Mass, a few Mozart pieces, and a Randall Thomson "Alleluia" to start the service. The music blew everything I have EVER heard from an American Church choir TOTALLY out of the water. We should, in fact be ashamed of our obvious failings. The expensive commercial push to get people back into church services is useless.... I think it would benefit the catholic church enormously to pay for American conductors to study in Germany before they come back to lead music worship services. If the music in American churches touched the level I heard today, I guarantee churches would be filled up in NO time. It is worth stating that every church in the city had a line out the door...and most people had to stand in the back and on the sides of the pews. There is a church every half block....

I spent most of today traveling to get back into Berlin. Im glad Im back. Vienna is incredible. I saw where Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert lived. I saw theaters where Mahler and Wagner premiered works... I saw more art than I thought was possible in a relatively small space. But it seems it would be hard to be a revolutionary artist NOW in that setting, where it seems everything was done bigger and better and more ostentatiously than you will ever do it... I found out today that Vienna has the highest suicide rate in all of Europe....Interesting.

Im glad it wasn't totally leveled during World War 2...It's something of a relic. A time portal. But Berlin has a much more tender portion of my heart. 

Most museums did not allow photos...and there were wayyyy too many castles and churches to begin taking photos of them...but here are a few culinary and artistic landmarks.....


Cafe Europa, Prague

Cafe Europa, Prague

Prague's most famous export.

the real budweiser...having nothing to do with American budweiser. nothing.

First time on the S Bahn

Cynthia! Amazing tour guide. Amazing friend.

court house

Klimt Mural at the Kunsthistorische

Klimt Mural at the Kunsthistorische

I went to Sunday Mass here...

the one modern art gallery in Vienna?

crazy blonde doppelganger of my mother....

bratwurst. best street food ever.


my first apfel strudel

Hope LittwinComment