no matter where you go, there you are

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

one’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things - henry miller

December 8th, the last full day of my trip, was finally here. The next morning I would be leaving early for the airport. Anne and I began the day late, taking the time to sleep in and hang out in her warm dorm room. The layers I'd brought with me were coming in handy as the temperatures were staying low, but I think that's normal for early December. We only had a couple of stops, Votivkirche, Karlskirche and the Aida Cafe for sacher-torte, a delicacy of a dessert in Vienna.

Votivkirche was right near the Rathausplatz and it was a great little gothic church. A little like St. Stephen's in appearance, Votivkirche has two towers, both very narrow and symmetrical. But overall its  much, much smaller.
christmas trees for sale
Inside, there were tons of wall frescoes at both the back and side chapels. The stained glass was quite different than the multitude of others I'd gotten to see in the last few weeks. It was made up of larger pieces and very bold colors. Most of the church was lit by natural sunlight and since there wasn't much of that it was quite dark inside. Not to mention all the dark stone used in its design so the walls just absorb any light shining in.

We then wandered through the Rathaus Market once again...the fourth time, I think...bought some gifts and then hopped on the U-Bahn towards Karlsplatz and Karlskirche. This was one of the churches that Anne talked about when we were in Florence together, but to be honest I didn't retain much of the infomation. There were lots of churches in Vienna to keep track of. So I didn't remember what about Karlskirche she liked but did know she kept talking about going up scaffolding. There was a fee to go in Karlskirche so Anne opted for waiting outside while I went inside to explore.

The scaffolding Anne kept referring to was in the center of the room, set up to restore the massive ceiling frescoe. There was an elevator all visitors were able to go up and then a series of stairs that brought you to the very top of the dome where you could look out the teeny windows up there. Before going up, I strolled around the rest of the round church which wasn't that large. It was tall and the marble columns supporting it all were really cool. Lots of pink and browns. The organ was also very pretty.
you can kinda see the tippy top

Up in the scaffolding I thought it was really cool how close you got to be to the paintings and looking at all the detail in them. And I was only on the elevator level. Once I started the ascension of the stairs to the top, where only a few people max were recommended to be on, it got even better. The frescoes became life-like and there were so many elements to look at. Women, men, Jesus, babies, clouds...all were soaring around me. I took a ton of pictures, but here are just a sample of the ceiling.
The only part I didn't like was as you neared the top the stairs started to shake just a lil...not fun when you can look down and see how high up you are. The view from the dome was very nice but the lousy weather outside got in the way of it being better. Oh well, it wasn't going to get sunny anytime soon.

The last task of the day was to meet up with Lauren and get sacher-torte. Both Anne and Lauren had delayed this experience because they knew if they had it early in the semester they'd want it too much later on and that would be bad. It wasn't an overpriced dessert but I can say it wouldn't have been the healthiest of eating choices. But the semester for them was almost over and so sacher-torte it was. The cafe was busy and crowded and disgusting only because were were surrounded by smokers. Blech. The sacher-torte was quite good, its chocolate shell being very dark and rich, but the truffel-torte we also got was much more my style. It was much lighter and tasted like a decidant chocolate mousse. MMMMM. After fillimg up on dessert, Anne and Lauren had class to attend so I went back to the dorm to warm up and dry off. The rain had picked up again by that point so a nice relaxing afternoon and evening was exactly what I needed. I was exhausted.

For dinner we made chicken noodle soup in the dorm kitchen and I chopped the onions, carrots and chicken getting no criticism from Anne!! A great finish to a terrific trip. My trip to the airport the next morning was mostly smooth. The traim from the dorm to the train station wasn't handicapped so I had to lift my small suitcase and Anne's large one I was bringing home onto a crowded tram. I had a lot of trouble and NO ONE helped me out. They just stared. Finally, I guess I was taking too long or looked like I was in over my head because someone finally lent a hand. And when I got off, they all just rushed around me...tram people early in the morning aren't very nice.

me and my bags
Check-in was a short walk from the train departure, but I found my terminal and airline counter pretty easily. They didn't even weigh Anne's bag which was a good thing cause we had no idea how much it was going to weigh. The lady who was tagging carry-on luggage confused the s*it out of me though. I don't think she understood that I didn't speak French or German. When I went through the main terminal entrance I flashed my boarding pass to the guard and that was it, no security. Or so I thought. In the Viennese airport the security scanners are at each individual gate so that was new. And so was getting my first pat-down. Which I can say took great restraint in not squirming because it was such a tickle-inducing experience. I will now try and avoid those as best I can from now on. More so than before.
three weeks later

Boarding was an hour before departure, not 30 minutes, and I got a great window seat. The flight to Paris was short, and delayed, so when I got to Paris I prayed my next flight was in the same terminal. it wasn't and not only was it in a different terminal, but I had to take a bus all the way around the airport, go through security again and then run to my gate. I felt like I was the family in Home Alone when they're running to catch their flight. There was no one at the gate when I got there so I thought I was really late, and to top it off they gate people wanted to search my bag. Gah...not good for an anxious person. Turns out the flight wasn't that full hence all the people being on board already. And I ended up sitting for almost a half hour before we even departed the gate. At least I made it.

Six or so hours later I landed safely in Boston. And an hour or so after that I was finally home.

no one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow - Lin Yutang

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