Saturday, July 11, 2009

My Cut-Rate Grand Tour, Day Twenty-seven

Sunday, 1 January, 1989
New Year’s Day

WIEN, HOTEL DREI KÖNIGE-- I was rather surprised this morning that I was awake in good enough time to make it to church, and that I couldn’t get back to sleep, despite only having been in bed for four hours or so. So I got up and put on the dark gray dress I should’ve worn last night (thanks again, Rollo*) and beat it up towards the

Turns out I could have saved time by taking the U-Bahn but I’d forgotten there was a stop close to the Stephensdom. So I hoofed it and got there a fuzz late and had to sit way back. But at least I could sit. Lots of people there.

They were nice enough to provide song sheets for the responses, so I was able to participate to a decent extent in that, even in German. Still, it would be nice . . .

Went and found some breakfast afterwards at the Aida Konditorei. Very crowded, but I got a sausage roll and a pastry and found a place at a stand up counter whereat to eat them.

After that it was back to the Schleifmühlgasse and the Hotel der Drei Könige.

Changed into my gray flannels, oxford shirt, and sweater; took my camera (Minolta) and headed back out. To be perfectly honest I would just as soon have gone back to bed-- the weather was pretty overcast and gray anyway-- but considering how little time I have here I whipped myself into action.

Paid my respects to Schiller at the Schillerplatz in front of the Kunstakademie, along the Elisabethstraße. But my object was the Kunsthistorische Museum a bit further to the west. Got there and yes, just as I’d feared, the place was closed for New Year’s, like everything else, practically. I didn’t feel quite as dumb as I could’ve, when I saw some other people, who looked like locals, going up and unsuccessfully trying the doors. I wasn’t the only over-optimistic idiot!

So I diddled back to the Opera, looking in store windows, including one of a lighting store (closed, of course) that had some really nice modern type fixtures. Myron’s* office would probably be interested to know if there’s anything there that can be had in the States.

Something that’s to be had here is Mozartkugeln and the shops selling that sort of thing were open. Shopped around and found a good deal on a box of eighteen on Tegetthoffgasse. I learned there’s more than one kind. Amazing. There’s the Salzburger kind and the Wiener kind. The Salzburger kind are cheaper. I shall have lots for tea parties at Coverdale*.

I’d shot out the rest of the film by then and hadn’t brought more with me. So it was as good a time as any to find something to eat, even though it was only around 4:00.

Ended up at a place that was nice in that it seemed aimed at the locals. Menu all in German and German language newspapers hanging on poles for people to read. The trouble is, I hadn’t brought my little German-English dictionary. I didn’t want it for the papers, no, but for the menu.

I should’ve been ok. Should’ve. I hate sauerkraut, can’t abide the stuff, and so I ordered a meal that didn’t include it, but rather Linsen, which I was pretty sure was lentils.

But when the meal came the waiter (who also seemed to be the proprietor) brought sauerkraut! And then pretty much disappeared. And without the dictionary to make sure, I didn’t feel confident in complaining. So the bowl of kraut just sat there untouched.

Had a bottle of beer with it all. Funny, but by the label it appeared to be the original Budweiser brand, from Budwar, Czechoslovakia. Similar logo and everything.

Didn’t say anything about the kraut when I paid. The cashier was different and didn’t seem to speak English.

Trotted back to the hotel and got back into my gray dress for the Beethoven concert. Decided this’d be a great time to inaugurate the burgundy red purse I bought in Florence a couple-three days ago.

Well, sort of. It started spitting rain as soon as I left the hotel and now the front of the bag has all these charming raised spots on it. Lovely.

The Ninth was being done at the Wiener Konzerthaus on the Lothringerstraße, and I took the U-Bahn the short hop from Karlsplatz to Stadtpark. Lots of other people were making their way to the concert hall, too, and I was glad I had my ticket already.

It seemed like the coat check facilities were just acres of tables in the main lobby. More than one piece was extra so I economised, so to speak, by stuffing my sweater and my scarf up the sleeves of my coat.

From the numbers on my ticket I was pretty sure I was in the balcony. And besides, that’s where I was directed by an usher. But when I got up there, I found there was no such seat. Finally I figured out that my seat was in the second row of a bank of chairs that ran parallel to the sides of
the hall on the main floor, perpendicular to the orchestra seating. This meant my view of the stage was a little oblique, but not anything you could call bad.

The hall was packed for tonight’s performance, which featured the Wiener Symphoniker and the Wiener Singakademie under Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, with Brigette Pascher-Klebel, soprano, Margarita Lilowa, alto, Robert Schunk, tenor, and Robert Lloyd (a Brit!), bass.

De Burgos didn’t purport to do anything new or clever, as Whatsisname (Glenn Block?) did at UMKC a few years ago. The performance was great because it was Beethoven’s Ninth. Conversely, it could’ve used more heart or something . . .

Oh, well. Most of the people there thought it was standing ovation material.

The rain had stopped when the concert let out. And I was not hailed by any Egyptian newspaper vendors during my walk from Karlsplatz back to the Schleifmühlgasse.

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