Thursday, March 08, 2007

Vienna, part II

Vienna has all the things I like about Europe in one place. It has the
bohemianism of the best bits of Paris, the beautiful old buildings
you find everywhere but maintained with Germanic sensibility, a
vibrant art scene, the nightlife of Madrid, and terrific food. Oh, and
GREAT coffee. Mmmmm, coffee. And the Austrian sense of humor is much
drier and British-like than the German sense of humor (which is pretty much non-existant), so I am enjoying laughing a lot.

After the first 24 hours I was ready to move there. Beautiful buildings, nice people, clean and tidy, parks, thriving arts scene, and it's more liveable (read: cheaper rent) than San Francisco. My friend Rob the Rockstar took it upon himself to show me everything we could pack into three days, and he said it barely skimmed the surface. We were out every night to several clubs (they don't close until 5 or 6am) and then sightseeing all day.

It rained on Saturday but we went to the Nachsmarkt (Noshing-Market) anyway and got a bunch of yummy antipasto for dinner. On Sunday Rob had to work at the theater (he works backstage at Vienna's oldest Cabaret, called Simpl), and during the day I went to a museum with one of his roommates and one of his girlfriends (of which he has many; it was so funny to watch the girls literally throw themselves onto him in the clubs, and, well, everywhere!).
The installation was really interesting, the artist had taken a bunch of the museum's permanent collection and arranged it as a collage interspersed with her own paintings (all of which had texts written on them), photographs of her with the museum pieces, a video installation, painting on the museum's walls…she really turned the museum/art show structure inside out and to be inside of it was almost surreal, since the exhibit was made for that museum, and it was HUGE, it took up an entire floor. We were in there for almost 3 hours and I could have done with more but it was time to go to the theater.
I got to hang out backstage for the end of the matinee, and met all four of the actors (supposedly the most well-known comedians in Austria, although Rob says there aren't many!), one of whom was voted the "Second Most Handsome Man in Austria" by a women's magazine. I don't know who the #1 was but it was probably either Arnold Schwarzenegger or Rob. It was fun seeing everyone rush around for their costume changes and see the crowd and the stage on the monitors backstage, then get to sit in the sound and light booth and watch the cabaret at night. Although truthfully I only understood about half of what was going on, because so much of the humor was accented. I thought I was fluent in German and then I went to Vienna and felt like a doofus because I kept having to ask people to repeat stuff.

Wien and Wieners

Having spent the weekend in beautiful Vienna with a dear friend I met in Chile last summer, I was still giggling after three days every time he would say, "This is how the Wieners do it," or something relating to Vienna's inhabitants, which are called "Wieners" in German.

I arrived after getting up at 5:30am to catch my Germanwings flight (the cheapest airline in Germany now) from Suttgart to Vienna, just under an hour trip. My friend Rob met me at the airport with a giant picture of me that he had taken of me in Chile (where I am holding a packet of maxipads called "Ella: feminine towels") and printed out in black-and-.white with the maxipads in original color.

After shopping for the fixings for a giant Austrian breakfast (bread rolls, herbed cream cheese, sliced cheese, sliced meat, yogurt, fruit, juice, coffee, granola, and hand-rolled cigarettes for his "dessert") we came back to his house (which he shares with four other people), which is nearly entirely decorated with zebra-print material. His room is painted "Porno Red" (self-described) and he spends as much time getting ready to go out as I do. In short, HOT!

After a power-nap, we saw a lot of beautiful baroque old-city Vienna as well as the Stephans Cathedral, which was a little disappointing as you have to pay 3 euros to climb the stairs up the
tower for the view, and then it stops halfway at a gift shop. We cooked dinner (vegetables in a coconut-milk curry with basmati rice and a giant salad that everyone stuck a fork in at one time or another) and then went out to a show, some friends of Rob´s were opening up for an Italian cover band called Eurosmith.

The lead singer looked and acted and sounded so much like Stephen Tyler that it was a little creepy because you´d think you were at an Aerosmith concert but then you look around and the place was filled with semi-nerdy metalheads and older Austrian Aerosmith fans, and it was in a smallish beer-hall. They totally rocked.

After the concert a group of us went clubbing, there´s an old wall that surrounded the city in the olden days, but now the wall (which isHUGE) is hollowed out and filled with shops and things, and one area had nightclub after nightclub. It was really fun, soo packed. I definitely felt like we had found the party in Vienna.