"Reading Departure Signs in Some Big Airport, Wondering Why We Ever Go Home"
This review only really covers the important things, so not everything covered in other entries will be covered in this one, because some things are a) for those who were there and b) simply unimportant.
Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4 | Entry 5 | Entry 6
A quick overview of the entire trip
11/25/05: Fourth Day: Vienna
We rolled out of bed on the 25th early. Early early early, because Vienna is damn far away. It's over 300 klicks from Salzberg, and we were an hour and a half south of there. It came to a bit over a four hour drive to get there, and another 4 hour drive to get back. But let me tell you: it was worth it.
We talked a bit about how fitting it would be if we found fred_smith wandering around the streets of Vienna that day, and I kept an eye out for him all day.
We got into Vienna around 10:30, and drove around for about a half hour trying to find our first stop, the cemetery where a bunch of famous dead people were buried. We were amused to catch numerous glimpses of a billboard for an advertising agency that really looked like Eris, and I concluded this was why we drove around that part of town for so long. With both m3ch and I being Eagle Scouts, it does beg the question: how many Eagle Scouts does it take to find a cemetery using German maps and roadsigns? Obviously, more than two.
But we did find the cemetery, finally. We hit up the nice people in the information room, and then set out to find the dead guys we wanted to see.
Just outside, raherakt snapped this picture:
Three M's in a cemetery
I do believe it's the only picture from the entire week that has raherakt and I in close proximity. . . minus, of course, some other photography, which I'll get to later.
The most important order of business for most of us was finding the graves of various composers. Those into classical music (and Austrian pop stars who are one-hit wonders Stateside) will certainly recognize some of these names. Some of the Graves, though, were just interesting. We'll cover the interesting graves first:
I liked the shipwreck on this one
A pious grave
The bird at the top landed on this big grave
just before I snapped the picture
This guy gets a front yard! | This is not the composer
I really like this one, with the cock and the oroboros
That's a mosaic, not painting | I just like Hugo's stone
This was a nifty tombstone, what with death and the woman entwined.
Probably not PG-rated.
I thought that this was a great tomb, and looking at it, it suddenly felt like Skip (who couldn't make it) was standing right there with us!
I really like the door.
And doesn't that dwarf look a bit like Skip?
There were, of course, numerous statues all around. I seem to have only snapped one, though:
A weeping statue
We came up to the graves of the musicians, though, which are nearly all (with the exception of Salieri, poor guy) in the same garden. Salieri (whom you know if you're really into Mozart or P. D. Q. Bach) is all lonely near the front wall of the cemetery!
On the bright side, of course, Mozart was buried in a mass paupers' grave, while Salieri was buried in an actual cemetery. Who's laughing now, Mozart?
Here are some of the slightly more prominent composers you may recognize as not only being popular, but very dead:
Probably the most popular grave, though, that everyone (into classical music or not) will recognize, though, was Beethoven:
We wandered about a bit, gazing at graves and picking out some pretty famous names.
The crew among the Musicians' Graves
Of course, the reason we're here is pretty simple: We wanted to see Falco's grave!
Let it be known that I bring my friends the important things
(Here's a link for those who are completely lost)
Honestly, upon seeing the grave, my comment to m3ch was, "Who the hell is this guy?" Don't worry, gentle reader: I have been schooled but well.
The cemetery also had a weird set of things in the center, in particular a small labyrinth that was pretty crappily made (and I know a thing or two about labyrinths) and signs that told us that there was some sort of connection between these things to five elements.
The labyrinth that goes nowhere | The men confused about a German sign
Personally, I just thought it was all bad art.
After that, we left the cemetery and headed downtown Vienna.
Our first stop downtown was the main cathedral. I recognized it immediately, as I'd studied the Siege of Vienna extensively in my military history classes, as it's one of the most important battles in western history.
Entering the Cathedral plaza | The Cathedral's steeple (and ads)
I admit to a bit of disappointment with the reconstruction going on with the steeple. I mean, who wants to see scaffolding and billboards on such a beautiful structure? But I was delighted to find the cannonball stuck in the wall. Here's a closeup, see if you can spot it:
The cannonball apparently lodged in there during the Siege, and they just never bothered to take it out.
some gargoyles | My favourite pic
One of the front towers | An inscription inside (with skulls)
We wandered around inside for a bit (I, apparently, wandered around longer than most people wanted to spend, as I was trying to read Latin inscriptions, after having pretty good success in the cemetery), and then headed out.
There's a nifty church plan in the cobblestones outside the cathedral, and I was going to ask m3ch about it, but he beat me to it, explaining that there was a smaller, older church under the street that the plan outlined. This excited me, and then he went on to say that we could see it from the metro station below the ground! So we all trucked into the metro station and stared into this window for about 20 minutes, looking at an old church that was buried under the street.
The church in the Metro station
Following this, we wandered through the main shopping district in Vienna's Old Town, and came across this interesting sight:
Plague pillar | A Dedication
The pillar is a sort of celebration of the plague that hit the city. In a weird, twisted way, it stands as a monument to both God's judgment and mercy. On the one hand, they thank God for the plague ("We miserable sinners deserved it"), and on the other, they give thanks that God took it away ("Thank you for lifting the plague from our city"). The reasons for it's erection are really neat, in the same sick, twisted sort of way that the pillar itself is really neat.
I especially like the little angel who is attacking the dying woman with the torch. Classic.
We stopped and listened to a bunch of street performers, made some jokes about playing "Where's Joe?" (similar to "Where's Waldo?" but involving finding our friend who had flown into Vienna instead of Salzberg, and who we hadn't heard from in days). We played that game a lot, actually.
I think it was right around the pillar that m3ch pointed ahead. "Mike, I think that's where you want to go," he said. Man, he was right.
I really wanted to see the Spanish Riding School while I was in Vienna, because getting a picture or two there was about all I could afford to do for Tina, and it was important to me. I jogged ahead, and came out smack in the back of Hofburg Palace.
The back entrance to Hofburg Palace
I spent so much time looking up at the palace that I didn't even notice the roman archeological dig at my feet (in fact, I became so obsessed with the various statues around the palace, as you'll see shortly, that I entirely forgot to take a picture of it). My eyes were drawn to the two sides next, representations of shipwrecks that I grabbed some good pictures of:
left side | right side
Then I noticed what guarded the entrance: Heracles, each one a representation of a different labour.
I got pictures of eight of the labours. I couldn't find the other four, but here are the ones I got:
The Nemean Lion
The Lernean Hydra
The Cretan Bull
The Belt of Hippolyte
The Apples of Hesperides
Anyone know these two? I don't.
I was utterly in awe of these statues, and spent a lot of time seeking the other four, but never found them. I even asked at the gift shop for the Spanish Riding School, which (apparently) is nothing more than a set of words written on the wall:
The Spanish Riding School
Apparently, the Spanish Riding School's winter quarters are here, as is the Lipizzaner museum. But I didn't see any actual horses, and by this time, the place was closed.
While searching for the statues and the School, though, I came across this courtyard:
A side entrance to the Palace
I caught up with my friends again on the other side of Hofburg, where they flipped me off for being so damn late. I smiled and we headed to a café to get something warm.
We sat down, and I looked over the menu. For some reason, nothing seemed appetizing, nothing seemed worth my money. As the rest of the crew started to talk over what they wanted to order and ooh and aww over various dishes, I felt it was time for me to exit. I told 'em I'd be out front, and headed for the cold outdoors again. I wrote in my journal then:
Nov. 25, 2005
I'm not sure why I'm standing in the cold, Vienna air tonight It just sort of. . . happened.
The rest of the crew is enjoying desert and coffee, mostly chocolate or full of interesting and plentiful decadence.
I have an appreciation for the occasional indulgence. This is up from my previous, severe limitation on such things. I started, most likely, at Wellspring, when Erien showed me the kind of joy that should be taken in food.
To some extent, I picked that up immediately. But I still am not so much into it. I like the occasional indulgence, but I truly believe that to indulge more than occasionally is. . . not irresponsible, but perhaps undignified.
Perhaps the central issue is Moderation, or maybe it really is dignity. Who knows? I'm not sure it matters, but I found myself suddenly realizing that indulgence is, at its very root, dangerous.
I do not shy from that danger, but I do seek to keep trouble on the horizon.
And so, on this cold Vienna night, I choose not to indulge.
I was joined a short while later by the crew, and then we headed across the street to the Market. I wasn't in a funk or anything like that. I just wanted some time apart, and the few minutes was more than enough.
We ended (or so we thought) the night at the Christmas Market, an ideal place for all manner of wonderful things, and I must admit that it was a great night, and the cold air did me a lot of good. I find myself missing a lot of things about Vienna, and I was only there about 10 hours.
The Vienna Christmas Market
We spent a good deal of time there, until about 7, at which point we figured it was about time to leave. We packed ourselves up and headed back to the car.
We came back across the back-side of Hofburg Palace, and while m3ch and ceolnamara moved on to sit down just ahead, everyone else stopped into St. Michael's Church. We were amazed.
Michael and Lucifer
Michael and Lucifer
I apologize for the interior pictures. It was dark, and there were worshippers, so I didn't want to try my flash at the altar. I grabbed these pics quickly. At the top, you can see the eye in the pyramid, God. Below, you will see the angels casting the rebellious third into hell. Below that is the altar.
The all-seeing eye of God
That church, honestly, was my favourite of the entire trip. I'd love to go back, just to see it one more time. I was still spending some time in it, and let druid_medb and ralmathon know that m3ch was up ahead, and they should wait with him.
Well, somehow they missed him (they didn't pass but 20 feet in front of him, and he missed them, too), and they got, well, a bit lost. This caused a small amount of panic, as we were in a foreign city and you can't exactly ask the information desk to page your friends. But, rather than scatter to the four winds and try to find them, we made sure that someone stayed where we'd last seen them.
raherakt and I went running through the shopping district to see if we could find them, leaving m3ch to wait. Then we sent m3ch off while we waited and prayed to St.'s Jude, Christopher, and Barbara (the last being a personal favourite) that they'd show up.
About an hour after we'd lost them, they came back, not much worse for wear. About 20 minutes later, we finally had m3ch back as well, and we headed back to the car as a group.
On our way out, I caught the following window, and snapped a picture for my friend, Brian:
A communist t-shirt
Most of us crashed well before we got home. It was a mighty long ride.
11/26/05: Fifth Day: Workshops and Pictures
11/27/05: Sixth Day: Some Departures, Cleanup
Entry 1 | Entry 2 | Entry 3 | Entry 4 | Entry 5 | Entry 6
A quick overview of the entire trip