Thursday, July 30, 2009

K und K Lunchdate

After the Schatzkammer Rob and I went in search of lunch. We decided on Trzesniewski's, a stehcafe or standing cafe down a little alley off the Graben. They specialize in little open faced sandwiches with diverse spreads. We got half a dozen of those and snarfed them down with a pretty businesslike bunch of Austrians. I like Tresniewski's sense of humor. Their awning above says "the unspeakably (unpronounceably) good little breads". One of their old ad campaigns said "Tzresniewski's? Gesundheit!" as if their name sounded like a sneeze. And the clock on their wall uses the letters of their name instead of numerals.
[click to enlarge] Then for dessert, we crossed back up to the Kohlmarkt to Dehmel konditorei. This is an institution. They are the "K und K" pastry and chocolate shop which means Kaiserlich und Koniglich or Royal and Imperial. Their goods are so excellent that the Hofburg stopped having their own patisserie in the palace -- they'd just order from Dehmel. We came here for our anniversary in 2002 and had dessert on the ground floor. Now the ground floor is a shop and we went upstairs, stopping by the kitchen to watch the magicians at work making blue booties for a cake topper and kilo blocks of pastry dough. The servers at Dehmels all wear black pinafores over black dresses and speak to customers in the third person: "What would the lady and the gentleman like?"
The gentleman had Faechertorte, a layered cake with poppy seeds, a walnut paste like marzipan, apples and plum butter -- it sounds odd, but it was wonderful. The lady had Annatorte, which looked like a woman wearing an elaborate up-do and tasted like the Platonic ideal of chocolate cake. The hot chocolate is the Mormon accompaniment to any dessert in an establishment of this sort. To finish off our experience, we were served by a woman who was so fresh-faced and doe-eyed she could have been one of Maria Theresia's descendants. She was like a walking van Meytens portrait.
As we were walking out, we overheard these [loud, complaining] Americans who were trying to figure out where to go and what to do. About five paces past them, Rob said "Should I go help the crabby tourists?" and he went back and explained to them what Dehmel is, what it's famous for, found out what they wanted, made them some recommendations and sent them on their way upstairs, because one shouldn't miss Dehmel.
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Schatzkammer with my Schatz

Rob and I went to the treasury or Schatzkammer to see all the Austro-Hungarian goods. We got to see it in its original setting down in the bottom of the city palace or Hofburg.
[click to enlarge] It is one of my favorite places in Vienna. It's been too long for me to know how it compares to the crown jewels in London, but you've got to be impressed by some of this bling. The green thing is the most valuable piece in the collection: a vase made out of an emerald; 2680 carats. The crown is Stephan's, and comes with a matching hat box. The cross was made in the 11th century, but the stand for it came from the 14th -- like it took them three hundred years to realize it needed a stand. To the right of it you can see a piece of the true cross. Katie had been making snide remarks about all the pieces of the true cross scattered throughout Christendom. These guys also had a piece of Christ's manger, just to up the ante.
[click to enlarge] Here are some baby items: the cradle for Napoleon and Marie Louise's son, baptismal outfits for Franz Joseph and siblings and Maria Theresia's children and the baptismal pitcher. Looking at the ornate clothes and blankets, all I could think of was reflux.
Even their keys are cool!
This was my favorite jewelry, which looks positively spare and spartan compared to everything else in there. Crown Prince Rudolph's wife Stephanie got such a lot of jewelry for their wedding that it looked like a suit of armor.
This is the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor. An amazing party hat.

And the matching Holy Roman purse European carry-all.
Yep, one of my favorite places in Vienna with one of my favorite people. In fact, we liked it so much that as soon as we got out we called Katie (because the Isaaks hadn't come here yet) and said "You've got to get down here! These people have a piece of the true cross!"Posted by Picasa

Work, work, work!

On Wednesday I met Rob downtown for a date. He had been working at the City of Vienna library in the music collection, and he brought me up to see it. It is in a great Ringstrasse apartment just a block away from the city hall, probably built sometime in the teens. Rob was looking for more unheard of female composers and their works. So he was up there in that alcove in the picture above. Tough life.
I was blown away by the apartment, not just because of its size and decor, but also because it's in such fantastic condition. Rob and I have spent some time in altbau apartments built around this time, and this one was practically perfect. I expect this was the dining room.
A ceiling panel from a different room.
The dining room again. I loved the frieze around the ceiling.
Here's looking from the music room into the lesesaal or reading room.

This was an exhibit room. There was a Haydn mass here in E dur, among other things.

And finally, the groovy chandelier in the exhibit room. I think Rob should find some more work to do here!
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Treasure Hunt

Rob was gone all day researching on Monday and by the time the kids had themselves dressed and their beds made, Joss took a long nap and then it was lunchtime and I was crazy with cabin fever. I took them down to the Naschmarkt thinking I'd get us all some lunch and they could play in the park. They insisted on schnitzel semmels (which we could have bought around the corner from our house) and I ended up trailing them through the entire market while they tried to figure out which stall it was. They finally found it ("It's across from a bakery, mom!") and a very nice mustachioed woman sold us schnitzel semmels with Almdudlers. Then I had to try to find my awesome Yugoslav falafel sandwich maker. Rob bought me one of these in the first few days we were here and it was a revelation. I haven't been able to find it since! But I got a reasonable facsimile and we went to the park where they played for a good long time on the slide, zipline, race car and in the sand. Joss ran around in his diaper and was very happy.
When they were finally tired of the park, I tried to get them to go with me to the Central Friedhof (cemetery) because I haven't been there this trip, but they were having none of it (they'd already gone with Curtis and found all the famous graves but Falco). So instead I took them to the Stadtpark and told them they had to find me 1. a lake 2. a clock 3. a statue of Strauss the Waltz King 4. one of that party boy Schubert 5. & 6. two more statues. They managed to get to them all and more. I really like the Stadtpark and Rob makes fun of me because it is the lowest of the parks along the ring (behind the Burggarten and the Volksgarten) and has a kind of seedy reputation at night. During the day, though, it's shady and lovely and even Rob would be happy to have it in Provo. Up at the top of the collage is a yellow building called the Kursalon where people used to go to have 'cures' when they were sick. You can read all about one in Thomas Mann's Magic Mountain. Viel Gluck! I loathed that book more than anything in my college career. Maddie asked me why doctors don't prescribe rest cures anymore, and I didn't know what to say. I guess they decided they weren't that effective and were costing a ton of money. And evidently everyone had affairs while on their cures.
But back to the hunt: the kids found everything and Rob called as soon as we were done and on our way to celebrate at the eissalon. So he joined us after his own kind of treasure hunt in the city archives.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ein Herlich Heuriger Evening

[click to enlarge] For our last group meal in Vienna, we all went out to a heuriger. Originally these were establishments for a vineyard where the newest wine was served (heurig means this year). They can only sell their own wine, and they generally have a limited selection of dishes served from a buffet. I'm going define these as Austria's answer to the wineries you can find in Napa and Sonoma and other places in the states -- completely different atmosphere and clientele, but has the same place in the culture. There are many places around Vienna with heurigen; we went to a traditional area to the north called Grinzing (near where Beethoven lived later in life). When a heuriger is open, they will hang a pine bough out front, and people know they're open for business. If there is music, it must be live music, typically one or two singers who accompany themselves on accordion or guitar, walking by the tables taking requests*. Feuerwehr Wagner was a recommendation from our inside sources in Vienna, and it turned out to be great. We had an entire hedged section for our group, there was a huge selection of yummy food, the servers wore traditional dirndls, and not least, there was a spielplatz in back for the kids with slides, swings and a whiplash-inducing zipline.
Here was our table -- an embarrassment of riches. I had the chanterelle strudel with green sauce, because where else am I going to find that? But everything I tried was wonderful, like the spinach and feta strudel, potato salad, cucumber salad, steak fries, and apple and apricot strudels with vanilla sauce. Rob had a pork knuckle stuffed with knodel, but I myself cannot love a knodel, though I have tried. The students almost all scrammed after eating, muttering about homework and other nonsense. The Isaaks, the McFarlands, and a select few students stuck around for some card games like killer Uno and golf. It was a lovely evening visiting the vorstadt.

*A long time ago in a heuriger not so far away, Rob was a starry-eyed German language instructor on the 1992 Study Abroad. A BYU official had come to town and the director and teachers were all invited out to dinner. When the musicians came around asking for requests, the director suggested a string of obscure, scholarly musical works they'd never heard of. Rob suggested a typical local lied which they seized upon as the only recognizable song. It made the director go 'grrrr' that he couldn't impress the BYU official with his vast knowledge of obscure music, and that this young upstart managed to find something the musicians knew. But that is one of the dangers of dealing with the autodidact that is der Profi Rob.Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Children's Tour: City Museum of Vienna

How do you get six kids to learn about Viennese history on their summer vacation?
Tuesday we went to the Museum der Stadt Wien with the Husz family for another event with the Summer Vacation Adventure program. Our guide taught us about Vienna from the Roman ages to Biedermeyer (turn of the century). She showed us historical models and paintings of the city and explained how people lived in each period, which wars took place, how they dressed, und so weiter. In each section, she got a few children to dress up in period costumes. I shamelessly bribed the boys with two euros apiece if they would participate, knowing they'd nevery participate if they had to wear white wigs again. It was a bargain at the price. The guide was so good and we learned a lot. Maddie learned how walls keep people out and which wars were fought by whom. Sebi liked learning about the knights and their shining armor. Will liked learning about the Romans, back when Vienna was called Vindobona.
Rob and I got into another of the museums on our list for free.
After the tour, all the kids went down to the courtyard where they had a group picture. There were three romans, two midieval citizens, three turks, a moor, one knight, two bewigged baroque men, three biedermeyer women, and a girl in a ball headdress. It was such a cute activity.
Who knew that Sebi would look so at home in a fez? We should hire him out to Julius Meinl as their new politically correct 21st century poster boy.
Joss was there too. When he couldn't take any more museuming, he went down to the courtyard and found this lovely chapeau.
Maddie said that she was quite comfortable in the roman tunic and shawl. She's rethinking what she wants to be for Halloween . . .
But Will looked the most at home of anyone in his turban.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Yppenmarkt

On Saturday we decided to see the real market where real residents shop. The real market with the fake palms. So we rode the brown line out to Josefstadterstrasse and moseyed over to the true Turkish market in town. Prices were awfully good. They made the Naschmarkt look expensive, and so we bought several pair of shoes for 5 euros apiece. Then we went in search of Kent's: a good Turkish restaurant, looking for a doner kebap.
We stay away from doner kebaps in Vienna on principle. The one true doner is in Berlin (whether you're a Yorkstrasse or a Sophie Charlotte Platz type, they have to be from Berlin, and don't be telling us that you love Shark Doners, because that is no doner, my friend! No way that mystery meat is halal!). But we will make an exception for Kent's, which until recently still had toilets in the true Turkish style (why do I keep talking about toilets? it must be Vienna). And here is everyone holding up their uludag -- Turkish soda that tastes like bubble gum and baby aspirin. Rob wants to pack a bunch of it home. I can just imagine what that could look like to the customs officers ("You say those are Turkish?").
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Getting Inside! Hundertwasserhaus

[click to enlarge] Hundertwasser built this apartment building in 1986 and its 50 apartments are still occupied, so it isn't open to the public. When Rob took his students there to see it on their Hundertwasser day, this woman asked if they were an architecture class and she said "You must come in!" and proceeded to take them all up to the rooftop garden and her own personal terrace. She very graciously invited Rob to bring back the family and the kids and we went on Friday.
She met us at the door and we saw the roofgarden and the great view from there. Then she took us down to her own personal terrace, where she plied the kids with biscotti and juice. She is an original tenant of the building, moving in in 1986 and so we asked her about the turnover rate(the smaller apartments do change hands as people have families) and whether Hundertwasser had ever visited (he did. she and her late husband were friends with him and she remembers him coming back from New Zealand in his New Zealandish suit).
She told us some interesting things about the building as well. The architect who assisted was named Pelican, and he designed a mosaic in the stairwell of a pelican. Hundertwasser did one of trees, but there were dozens; of an owl, flower and vine, sunflower, cat, etc. There were handprints in places in the walls (the walls were somewhat wavy -- it felt a little like being inside a shell) and those were from the builders and other artisans who worked on the house. Hundertwasser wanted them to feel connected to the work and to leave their literal mark on the house. After the building was done he invited all the workers down to his 'garden' in Venice for a closing party. This is particularly striking in a place where so much emphasis is put on title and lineage (remnants of the empire, once again).
Our hostess also took us to the other side where there was a kinderspielraum (kids playroom, top left in the collage) and our three kids went crazy in there playing ball tag and climbing the ladder in the middle. There is also a big two story room that seems to be like a clubhouse or party room, or maybe just a picnic-in-case-of-rain room with big trees and tables and a mosaic peacock on the floor. I was surprised, I don't know why, that the interior of the house was so much like the exterior. The brick-and-tile is the same, the ceramic tile lines, the uneven floors in the entrances and halls (though not in the apartments) are all the same inside and out. And the people who live there seem to be Hundertwasser kind of people -- they decorated their doors and they have some communal cats who inhabit the stairwells, and they let their kids get artsy on the walls of the playroom and the clubhouse. It was organic and integrated. It is part hippie commune. Our hostess fits in, but mostly because of her principles.
She is about the same height as Will, but wearing 3" heels and was dressed all in black and white with her bright dyed-orange hair back in a french twist. She is a painter who just had her work shown at the Austrian embassy in Washington DC, and her entire apartment was chockablock full of gigantic canvasses that I was horrified one of our kids might put their foot through. Her late husband had been a photographer and his work was on the walls as well. Finally, she is such a big proponent of the Hundertwasser lifestyle and all of his environmental/harmony with nature beliefs. I believe that she was even endorsing his composting toilets, but I made certain I wasn't understanding that part! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 24, 2009

Maddie's Geburtstag

[click to enlarge] Maddie's birthday was on Wednesday. She has had her birthday in Vienna three times and in Berlin once, which means she often doesn't get to have her friends around (which is why we did this), but she does get some incredible cakes. This year she chose the ice cream cake from the italian eissalon on Schwedenplatz. After we brought it out to thaw, we went into the living room to open presents. When we asked the boys to throw away the paper, they came running back in squealing and bringing a terrible smell -- the plastic lid to the cake had been left on a burner where a certain small person likes to turn the dials. Which is how we almost managed to start a fire with an ice cream cake. Difficult to do, I know, but if anyone could manage it, we could.

Maddie got a book, a DVD, and then more grownup things like clothes, jewelry accessories and hair dye. It's a tradition that she does temporary hair dye while she's here. Friends who work at the UN even got her some American treats from the commissary. And she got e-mails from friends back home and got to skype with Shumway grandparents. Technology has opened up all kinds of things for us on this trip. In the evening, we went to the kinderfreibad with two families who go all the way back to Rob's student days at BYU. They reminisced about their roles onstage and the kids dove into the melee in the pool. It was wonderful to be in a cool pool. It was fun for Maddie to have other kids to celebrate with besides her brothers. It was nice to be with old friends. We were the last ones out!

Rob and I are completely startled by this girl. We can't believe that she's eleven. We still imagine her to be the dark-haired baby, and not this young woman who can do the grocery shopping or astound with her vocabulary or keep up a punishing schedule of school, violin, swim team, activities and friends. Amazing!Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ferienspiel: Raft Building

Last weekend our friend Manuela showed us what we had been missing: a whole summer's worth of activities going on around Vienna (they began in July when the kids get out of school, but we'd still missed a couple of weeks). So for Maddie's birthday, we got online and found that there was raft building on the Alte Donau. We hauled over there as fast as we could.

This is a small marina belonging to the junge OVP political party, which according to Rob is like the young republicans. There were all these nice young things helping kids to lash together rafts.
[click to enlarge] So the kids made a raft, and rode around on it, and swam and rowed on a kayak? surfboard? windsurfboard? Even Rob and Joss got in on the action (one boy told me how great my husband is -- always good to be reminded, even by a long-haired kid in boxer briefs). The temperature of the water was perfect. It was a good time to be on the Alte Donau.

And these boats crack me up, so I had to take a picture. I especially like the window boxes and the astroturf. I think they look like floating front porches.

I thought that the whole junge OVP thing was just in name, but as we were leaving, two guys showed up dressed like Alex P. Keaton, put their lunches in the fridge and went into the cabana to change. Do the Young Republicans have their own marinas in the US? What do Young Democrats have?

The Final Countdown

We have two weeks left in Vienna now; three in Austria. At this point in the trip, we start thinking about tying up loose ends, and buying a year's supply of Luise Handlmeier mustard. Rob and I have both panicked, thinking about packing up all of our stuff into suitcases. We're tired of wearing the same clothes. We're sunburned and footsore and we have scratches, bruises and mosquito bites. But there are still things we haven't seen, and some we have never seen before, despite three summers here. So we made a list and we had fourteen items on it: one a day. We're checking them off, especially trying to get things done without the kids (since the kids couldn't care less about these).
[click to enlarge] The Leopold museum was at the top of our list. This is my favorite museum in all of Vienna (and not just because I'm a Shumway and it's air-conditioned, though that didn't hurt!). It came from the personal collection of an optometrist and his wife who began collecting in the 1950's. It was Dr. Leopold's mission to make Viennese artists better known. Rob and I are just amazed at the breadth of the collection and the amazing eye he (they?) had. One of the pictures above is my absolute favorite painting in Vienna. There is a bag of Haribo in it for the first person who can figure out which one it is. In fact, Rob got a photography permit as a professor so he could take a picture of this for me because they don't have postcards and posters of everything for sale in the gift shop they way they do in the US. This is the interior of the MAK, the museum for applied art in a gorgeous neo-renaissance building. They keep all of the Wiener Werkstatte things here, as well as some furniture, glass, a Frankfurt kitchen, the study for Klimt's dining room mosaic in Brussels, textiles and rugs and other installations. There is a room with handmade lace, some of it hundreds of years old. One piece told the story of Adam and Eve, being placed in the Garden of Eden, being tempted and eating the fruit, and then an angel guarding the tree and the couple being thrown out. I think Zina should try a reproduction of it!
I am still a Kolomon Moser fan; he just had the eye for great design. The museum was, however, too hot for anything but reptiles and cacti. Rob and I could only last two hours and there was lots more to see. Several items on our list are foods. Here we are outside the Hotel Sacher before eating Sachertorte there to celebrate Curtis' birthday. I'd never been before. The setting was lovely and the sachertorte was divine; you should eat the real thing to understand why chocolate and apricot are a perfect marriage.
We also needed some Eierschwammerl (chanterelles) since they are in season and all over the place here (and where can I find them at home? I don't know). Tuesday we found a little restaurant featuring them on the menu. Rob had chanterelle gulasch and I had roasted chanterelles on a green salad. Really fantastic. We agreed that the Austrians are right, putting hot items on a green salad, and we should do it more at home.
Finally, we both needed to eat some more Mohr im Hemd. We'd had it at a pizza place and it was great, but then we also ate it at the Glacisbeisl and the Griechenbeisl. Today we had it at the Gulaschmuseum which does not pull any punches with its desserts. We split a salad for lunch and the server thought that wouldn't be enough for us, but we assured him that we were there for the dessert and we weren't sharing that! We were right. Their mohr im hemd could have been a soup course with all of the chocolate sauce it came in. A moist chocolate cake, two piles of schlagobers and all in a beautiful warm chocolate sauce sprinkled with nuts: heaven on a plate.
We've also been visiting some composers. We started with Schubert, since his birth house is in our neighborhood. He was born in one of the best apartments in the building, and all I can say is: teeny. Then when he was four his father found a better house down around the corner. After the birth house we walked down there and it has been turned into a garage (see the bottom left corner in the collage). It reminded me of a movie where John Cusack goes back for his high school reunion and finds out that his childhood home has been turned into a Unimart (like a 7-11). He calls Alan Arkin, his therapist, and says "Dr. Oatman, so it's true you can never go home. But I guess you can shop there."
The Schubert garage says it's "fast and safe".
I don't know where I got this, but I was under the misapprehension that Schubert was a poor, woebegone boy who had died young and starving and had written all those beautiful melodies because of unrequited love. Um, wrong. He was a nearsighted frat boy. He had lots of friends who were "Schubertiners" and they would put on plays or hold salons called "Schubertiads" and the man Schubert was also fast, but not safe, and died of syphilis at 31. Nevertheless his impromptus are the best therapy ever when you're trying a difficult recipe in the kitchen.

This is the Pasqualati house where Beethoven wrote the 5th symphony, parts of Fidelio, Fur Elise and other pieces. He managed to stay here several years and unlike Schubert's birth house, the apartment seems large and light and nice. Unfortunately there is not much to see. The best part of it, his portrait, is on loan to Haydn's house and we'd already seen it in Eisenstadt. He has other houses out in the 19th district which might be more interesting, but I'd skip this one from now on. It does, however, have something interesting in the staircase below:
This is supposedly the smallest door in Vienna. Because of the staircase, this is as tall as the door could be. Rob tells me that there is a normal-sized apartment behind this door, but I can't imagine the typical ten-foot ceilings. Can you?

This is the Freyung Passage, by the Palais Ferstel and it is one of the most beautiful walkways in Europe, I think.
And finally, we've done some churches. This is Maria am Gestade (Maria on the banks), which is the church of the fishermen. I still can't figure out how this works, but earlier (like 13th century) this church was on the banks of the Danube. Now it's high and dry and nowhere near the water. At one point the emperor was going to tear it down, and the people of Vienna banded together and begged him not to, so he left it. It was also used as a stable and storehouse during the time of Napoleon.
We also went to the Schottenkirche (the Scottish church) which is beautiful and baroque.
We're marking off the items, working through the list. So we have fewer regrets when we go home, and so we know what we want to see when we come back again. It is amazing just how much there is to do here. We will still have only made a dent after 9 1/2 months here, total.