This was a week if music….some of the most amazingly beautiful music I’ve ever heard.
First, on Wednesday, our whole group went to a concert by the Heidelberg Philharmonic Orchestra. Everyone dressed up and we took our group picture finally as well. The concert was neat because for one, unlike in the States, here in Europe people actually pay attention to the music. There was no whispering, cell phones ringing, pagers going off, sneaking food, rustling, of even fidgeting….just people sitting absolutely still, listening in enrapturement….amazing! I myself, being a very fidgety person with a very short attention span, was able to totally focus and didn’t even daydream for at least the first half-hour! The pianist was amazing! My favorite thing though, was watching the celloists and bass violinists. They would all bob their heads unison while playing….though each had their own way of bobbing their head….it was just really funny!
Then, Thursday night, we had a special dinner in the nearby town of Lauderbrunnen. We went to this restaurant where we got to cook our own fat steaks over lava stones! They were these flat, square stones with a flame underneath placed at our table in front of us with the steak sizzling on top and we just pushed around the pieces until they were cooked how we like it! It was served with 3 different sauces, baked potato with great sour cream, salad, and a cool dessert!
After dinner I left on an overnight train to Budapest, Hungary with Kara, Lindsay, Emily, and my roommate Kristy. We arrived in Budapest at 11:30 AM on Friday and spent a couple hours on various subways and buses trying to figure out Budapest’s very confusing transportation system. At one point, we just hopped on a random bus, not even knowing where it was going. Ten minutes later, when we decided that wasn’t such a good idea, we decided to hop off. I got off first, but the other girls weren’t fast enough and I looked behind me to see the doors close on Lindsay as she frantically tried to reopen them while the bus pulled away. The wide-eyed, open-mouthed look on her face was priceless! So, I waited for a half-hour while they got off at the next stop and walked back.
Around 3, we decided to eat and went to this famous restaurant for some Hungarian food. I had a Farmer’s Platter with 3 different types of sausage, pork, red cabbage, potatoes, and dumplings….yikes! All for like $4!
After eating, we walked across one of the many bridges connecting Buda to Pest and went inside this cool church in a cave….it was literally inside a mountain….then headed back to the train station before heading to Vienna, Austria. So, we didn’t end up seeing much of Budapest, but it was all good.
We spent Friday night in Vienna, and on Saturday explored the city. We saw Stephansdom and climbed 343 steps to the top of the tower for what turned out to be a not so great view. We also saw the Jewish Stadttempel which was the only synagogue out of the 94 in Vienna to survive Krystallnacht….the Night of Broken Glass (November 9-10, 1938. There was a terrorist attack on it in ’83 and 3 people were killed, so they now have two 24hr. guards that watch it….who we saw while there.
Then we walked around the Hofburg and saw the palace, and the famous Spanish Riding School…home to the Royal Lipizzaner stallions. Unfortunately, we couldn’t see them perform as our train was leaving before their performance. On the palace grounds, we walked where Sigmund Freud once walked every day.
That night, went to the Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera House) and saw a performance of the Nutcracker! The Staatsoper has one of the top 5 performing companies in the world! Kara had seen the Nutcracker 7 times, but said this was by far the best she’s seen. We stood and only payed $3.50 for it. And they provide railings to lean on, so it wasn’t bad at all! We got dressed up and it was fun to be in a real opera house with the seating boxes lining the walls and everything! The performance was beautiful as well!
Afterwards, we went the Sacher Café and ate the most famous chocolate cake in the world….the Sacher Torte! It was delicious!
The next morning, we got up at 6AM to go wait in line to see the very famous Wiener Sangerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir) sing at mass in the Burgkapelle (Royal Chapel) of the Hofburg. This was honestly one of the highlights of my entire time here so far!
Once again, we stood….this time paying nothing! It was about 15 minutes into the Mass when out of nowhere comes these beautiful voices from above us. Turns out they sing from the uppermost of 3 balconies behind us so that one cannot even see them, only the shining light coming from the balcony….which combined with their amazing voices….conveys the impression of heaven itself with angels singing!
It was hard to listen to their amazing, high voices and picture them coming from little boys! Although, they also had some deep voices also to complement the high. Their harmony and different parts they sang was amazing. I teared up at least 3 times just from the beauty of it. And I also splurged and bought one of their CDs afterwards.
After that, was just the 8 hr. train ride home full of homework.
I only have about 3 weeks left here and am getting very sad and am not quite ready to leave germany, though I am eager to see you all. Still, I’m not ready for this amazing adventure to come to an end!
Have a wonderful day/night/whatever!