|(L to R) Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert|
Monday: I actually practiced! And while this may not sound very exciting to some, it really is a big deal. The same way athletes need to stay in shape, so do singers. I started learning a new aria ("What will it be for me?" from Marc Blitzstein's Regina) and played around with some more Irving Berlin tunes. (If you'd like a Musical Interlude, check out Frank Sinatra singing a small Berlin medley here!) Then, in the afternoon, I headed over to the Westbahnhof and walked down the entire length of Mariahilferstraße, a major shopping thoroughfare in the 6th district. I bought a new backpack -- one that doesn't weigh 50 pounds empty -- which I'll officially test out tomorrow in Salzburg :)
Things didn't start to get really exciting until Tuesday. I woke up early (thanks to the pesky sunlight peering in around the curtains) and, after practicing again (!), went to the Zentralfriedhof, or central cemetery. Sounds morbid? It wasn't! The sun was shining, I successfully navigated the S-Bahn, and, oh yes, I found the graves of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wolf, Gluck, and Strauss. All the musicians are buried in the same area, with Mozart's tomb-statue placed right at the entrance.
Instead of walking all the way back to the other end of the cemetery (which is HUGE) to the S-Bahn, I went out a closer exit, hopped on a Strassenbahn (street car/tram/trolley), and rode about 20 stops back to Mariahilferstraße via the 10th and 11th districts. It was fascinating to see a part of Vienna I rarely travel to; the vibe feels a bit more modern, and the population tends to be more ethnically diverse the farther away you get from the first district.
|Biking along the Danube|
So you can imagine my relief when I made it to the Danube Island. Let me tell you, it's made for people who like calmer sport activities: roller-blading, jogging, swimming, biking, walking. The island is mostly flat, so you can pedal on and on until your heart's content. The water glistens, the buildings on either side of the Danube shine, people walk their dogs or sunbathe as you pedal on by, under the bridges and along tree-lined paths. It was so relaxing; I was out for a couple of hours. (Small warning: it's very scary to pedal under a bridge as an S-Bahn screams by overhead.)
And then Tuesday evening, it occurs to me to plan a day trip for tomorrow. Where to? Yes, that's right: on Wednesday, I went to Bratislava, Solvakia! I even have the magnet to prove it.
|St. Martin's Cathedral|
|Streets of Bratislava|
|"The Peeper" - a whimsical statue|
|"Kilometer Zero" Plaque|
|View from the Castle|
Lastly, I rounded off the trip with a hike up to the Castle. I shlepped up the cobblestone hills and climbed all sorts of crazy stairs, but the view at the top was totally worth it. Plus, it brought me right back to the bus station; couldn't have planned the route better if I'd tried! And now I can say I've been to five out of the eight countries bordering Austria :)
|View from the Castle|
I'll leave you with a fun fact for the day. I stumbled upon this while reading a Vienna/Salzburg guide book. Apparently, the Vienna State Opera House is the site of the world's longest round of applause: "For 90 minutes and 101 curtain calls, an Austrian crowd applauded Plácido Domingo for his performance in Othello in 1991" (Fodor's Vienna to Salzburg). Cool!
|Field of sunflowers :)|