Classical Concert Extravaganza
24.06.2007 - 27.06.2007 34 °C
Salzburg to Vienna by train was via Linz and took just over 3 hours. The timing of our arrival at the train station in Salzburg was slightly delayed due to us being indecisive about one very important thing. Although we recognised that it was a Sunday, the English shop window had vegemite in it and therefore we travelled entirely across town to see if they were open. Unfortunately, our cravings remain. As we determined which platform our 11:10am train would depart we realised that the 10:15am was still delayed.
Making haste we arrived at the delayed train just in time to see the 4 security gaurds watch the mechanic emerge from the undercarriage. Putting any strange thoughts out of our mind we boarded the ancient carriage at the end of the train, only to realise later that we could have sat in the first class cabins anyway.
Vienna - 24 June
We only realised later that the first city stop our train made in Vienna within walking distance of our campsite had passed so we made the metro detour via Westbanhoff Station. Metro systems are now thankfully second nature, particularly for Camilla who without hesitation determines our fastest route with the least changes with ease. We relieved two young travellers of their tickets valid for a further 24 hours at a reasonable fee as they were leaving town early and made our way to Huttledorf.
Pitching the tent in the sweltering heat was not something we had imagined doing in Vienna. There was little shade in the large paddock where the other tents were placed, so we made haste then packed for a late afternoon adventure in town. Our adventure started with a complete backtrack of the same trainline to the edge of the Danube Inlet. Confident that the walk to the Danube river was only a few minutes away we set off with MacDonalds icecream in hand and got completely lost.
Taking a u-turn Camilla thought it wise to weigh herself (following Maccas icecream and chips) and was pleased to note that all that lugging of packs and walking has cancelled out some if not all of the French cheese, Italian pizzas and Greek salads. Finding a comfortable spot in the thick grass in one of the beautiful parks with other Viennese locals soaking up the late afternoon sun we knocked up a mushroom rissotto with the portable kitchen. A good night sleep was in order so we headed out to Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) where our home lay waiting.
Day 1 - 25 June
Getting high on opium for breakfast (poppy seed bread) we packed our bags to explore Vienna throughout the day with respite regardless of wanting to sit and drink coffee and eat cake all day. Walking past the major theatres, concert halls and impressive fountains we were lost in the back streets (please note, back streets in Vienna as 6 lanes wide and perfectly positioned between towering architectural gems) we stumbled across the main English book store for the city. As you know we completed our Dan Brown marathon in Italy and were therefore craving some literary inspiration.
On the back cover of our selection there is a priceless quote from the famous author C.S.Lewis 'The englishspeaking world is broken into two categories, those who have read Lord of the Rings, and those who are going to'. Needless to say you can guess that we purchased a Jane Austen masterpiece... kidding, the 1,100page 50th anniversary edition of this great work may, and we are not certain, fit into our packs. If it comes to it we will discard unnecessary clothing, toiletries and survival gear to make room, number one on the hit list is The Lonely Planet.
Lunch was a less than admirable affair although after 3 months without the better burgers of Hungry Jacks it was high time. As we worked off the calories it was a hot time walking in the 34 degree plus heat of summer. Our first notable touristic venture was a visit to the immense gothic cathedral which is surrounded by both modern and renaissance classic buildings.
Onwards we dodged the horsedraw carriages, of which there are literally hundreds, to a smaller ornate church by the name of St Peters. The major drawcard of this little gem was the free Organ concert to demonstrate the accoustics and fine note of a 300 year old instrument. While normally a huge marble cavity is cool, and the reverberations that could be heard from Switzerland would keep anyone attentive, Steve obviously was a little overcome by the heat, Hungry Jacks and excitement of J.R.R Tolkien and unfortunately got the noddies. 'HOW ON EARTH COULD YOU POSSIBLE GET THE NODDIES' Camilla exclaimed as we exited.
Vienna is world renowned as one of the great classical music cities and this comes across at every turn with talented buskers, sprukers in period costume and reverberrating churches. Clearly it would not do to play the impoverished backpacker card at this point so we committed within 30 minutes of each purchase to two impressive programs. Outside the Palace, and almost overcome with heat exhaustion we admired the tickets which were our invitation to be inspired.
An evening with Mozart was held tonight in the Musikverin where the global NYE telecast of the Vienna Philharmonic is held, and tomorrow we would be enjoying a renowned ensemble of opera singers to the NYE program at the Vienna Musikhaus. As you can imagine we were very excited that evening to enter the great hall well known by many as the NYE stage.
Unfortunately they do not keep the floral arrangements in place for the year as one can understand when you see the venue 'dressed' for NYE. The performance was a real treat with a superb female soprano opera singer complimenting wonderful arrangements of some great well known pieces including the infectious Blue Danube waltz to finish. As if arranged by Mozart himself and coordinated by the conductor, mid way through the performance the entire hall shuddered to throaty claps of thunder. As we exited into the cool night air the heavy air reminded us of every great afternoon thunderstorm.
Making our way back to base camp was easy enough and we had the pleasure of meeting a very friendly couple from America, Ryan and Louisie from Texas. Sharing travel stories late into the night we parted ways as the wind picked up and hoped to see them again in the days to come.
Once cocooned in the bombshelter we were glad it was rated for 4 seasons. At one point during the night Steve dove out in his boxer shorts to retighten the guidelines as the wind whipped and lashed at the tent till early morning. Our outdoor entry mat (the Red Carpet as it is lovingly called) was later found at the opposite side of the campground yet no damage was done.
Day 2 - 26 June
Without a full compliment of clean clothing (primarily clean undies were scarce) it was time to catch up with the mundane. Around 11:30am we rescued Ryan and Louisie from outside the closed minimarket offering what little we had in the pantry. It has been a long time since we entertained anyone other than each other so it was a great delight to share a meal with new friends. As it turned out Asparagus soup and 3 burenwurst sausages (rather larger than a thin BBQ sanger) with bread is more than sufficient for 4 people.
Blogging is now categorised at the equivalent level of importance as no clean underwear. We found a reasonable @Cafe and got our thoughts out before moving onto a classic must-do for visitors to Vienna. Cafe Sperl was established in 1882 in the classic Viennese coffee house decor. It has been maintained with the element of authenticity difficult to find in newer establishments. Had Steve been wearning spats and a bowlers hat with Camilla on his arm in gloves and hat it would not have been out of place against the rich dark woods, red velour upholstery, bevelled glass windows or bronze fixtures. Viennese iced coffee, chocolate marmalade gateau and Lord of the Rings page 1 were enjoyed simultaneously.
Dinner was less of a traditional affair however as AustralAsians it is difficult to go more than a couple of weeks without a fried rice fix. More importantly we had been strolling around town all afternoon and knew that the Chinese could prepare the meal in time for us to get to the concert.
Early for the evening, we strolled around the war memorial and watched the trams go by before stalking one of the musicians to the hall. We assumed if he was still on his way, we arn't late yet. Vienna Musikhaus rivals anything we have ever seen for the prototypical classic renaissance entertainment venue. You could not more accurately recreate the grandure of a room such as the Grosse Salle where the performance was to be held. With cameras in hand we entered along with the other 1798 guests for the spectacle. Camilla was able to capture just moments before opening the performers-eye-view as it were of this grand room
As Opera performances go the evening was not only the best we have ever seen, it is the only one we have seen live in full to our recollection. It may become a more regular event, however the bar has certainly been set very high. What a stunning performance from the duet Soprano Diva and Barratone who have been working together for more than 30 years. To hear a womans voice in perfect pitch fill every crevass of a room of this size is a marvel to behold.
Leaving Vienna the following morning for our next destination we had been given somewhat average advice. Arrive at the sudbahnhof station and you should be right exclaimed the campsite attendant. After purchasing our tickets we had less than 20 minutes to cross Vienna to Westbanhof. This would otherwise be impossible if it weren't for the direct tram line. Obviously still on a high from the previous evening Camilla was humming the blue danube and accurately observed that 'everything in Vienna has fantastic acoustics, even the trams!'