Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekly Interlude 6: A Very Special Week

This week is a very special week. Why? you ask. Because I have the WHOLE WEEK OFF!

Langenlois, view from my window
I should explain because I can just hear my dad's voice in my ear calling me a part-timer. In the last month (I've been here a month already!), I've worked much more often and much more intensely than Gerhard and Jennifer anticipated, so instead of giving me one day off per week, they're making it up to me with a whole week free. Which means, suddenly, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it...

Monster Hand Watchtower
Last week, Lillian and I traveled about an hour northwest of Vienna to Langenlois, where her mother (Jennifer Davison, an amazing soprano) is rehearsing for an outdoor production of the operetta Wiener Blut. At first, as always, I wasn't sure how Lillian and I could last for such long days together, but everything turned out alright. We stayed at the Gartenbauschule, or gardening school, so we spent time exploring, picking/eating strawberries, and swinging in hammocks. There was also a beach volleyball court, which Lillian loved because it was like a giant sandbox. We spent hours outside (we applied sunscreen several times!), digging holes and singing songs. There was also a watchtower, which we climbed; Lillian thought it looked like a giant monster hand.
Langenlois street

Langenlois is a small but beautiful town -- cobblestones, pale-colored buildings, quaint -- located in the famous wine-making region of Austria. Two nights for dinner, the family and I headed up the hill to a heuriger (wine tavern; they typically specialize in wine made that year), where we drank wine, ate bread, meats, and cheeses, and watched the sunset. Very soothing.

I met several of Jennifer's colleagues during the 4-day stay. While most of them spoke English very well, I was able to speak to them a little bit about basic things in German. Also, I ate breakfast with two of them and listened as they conversed auf Deutsch; it was all I could do to keep up, but after about five minutes, I realized that I could understand better what they were talking about. It's much easier for me (and for most people, I assume) to understand a foreign language when I can see the speaker's face. (At least then I can match their facial expressions and chuckle good-naturedly, as though I know what they're talking about. I've had MANY conversations where I nod and smile and laugh lightly, maybe with a "Ja, ja" thrown in.)

Sunset at heuriger
I arrived back in Vienna Sunday morning. While I went to Langenlois prepared and armed with chocolate to help keep my energy levels up, I didn't even think about what I had in the apartment for my return -- which was basically nothing. And being a Sunday, everything in Vienna was closed. Of course, I didn't realize that one of the only three places in the city open on Sundays was a ten-minute walk (one U-Bahn stop) away from me, so I spent way too much time mourning the fact that I had no chocolate or brown sugar and couldn't bake cookies. Sounds like I needed sleep more than anything...

So instead of baking, I caught up on my Skyping and then headed over to my friend's house in the 21st district to go swimming. Looking ahead for this week, I'm planning my trip to Salzburg for Friday-Sunday. Super excited!! I have my hostel booked and need to buy my SalzburgCard online today. If you have any recommendations for a Salzburg must-see, please leave a comment and let me know! I've been researching, and there's so much to do; the Festspiele begins this Friday, too, so I'm working on getting tickets for that.

My practicing has fallen woefully behind in the last week, so my goal is to pick it up a little this week. Lately, I've been singing a lot of Irving Berlin, whose music I fell in love with right before graduation. Jennifer also left stacks and stacks of music in this apartment, so I've been sifting through to try and choose new pieces to learn. I'm really getting in touch with kids' songs, but I need just a little something for myself!

Outdoor film festival at Rathausplatz (Vienna)
The big news in music is that I have officially introduced Lillian to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band! She asked me the other day if I knew any rock 'n roll songs (I think the little boy in her favorite TV show started a rock band with his friends), so I was like, "Why, yes I do!" and started singing the chorus of "Badlands." It was SO much fun, especially when she started singing along with me after a couple of repeats -- complete with the slow notes, the fast notes, and the "whoa whoa whoa whoa BADLANDS" at the end. Now she calls it the "Whoa Whoa" song :)

Today I'm going to try and ride my bike along the Danube Island. I hope picking up the bike where it's locked at the Westbahnhof won't be too difficult. It always seems like the things that should be simple are very complicated, and the complicated things are very simple. For example: I almost broke the laundry machine because I thought the load was done when it actually wasn't (although, to be fair, it was taking forever); I also can't figure out how to unlock the door to the courtyard to take out the trash (don't worry: I've taken out the trash before, but the door was always already open). Yet teaching a 3-year-old a rock song was a piece of cake...go figure!

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