Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Back to Vienna: A Trip to My Past

Today I was just browsing through pictures on our old camera card and found some pictures from my study abroad in Vienna, Austria. Looking at all these pictures from the Summer of 2007, made me feel a tad weepy. For nostalgic reasons, for a time when my life was so care-free, for the magic of my first trip outside America, for my friends that I might not get to see in person ever again, for the beauty of the ancient world on the other side of the pond, for a daily chance to speak German with natives! But most of all, for the happiness that I was able to experience Vienna as a young single student at all. It was so good. Want to go back with me for a bit?
Restaurant/Cafe - established in 1829.
My beautiful friend, Emily and I, we pretty much did everything together that Summer. Here we are all dolled up to see last opera performance of the Summer, Mozart's "Die Zauberfloete." (The Magic Flute.)
And here was our friend and self-proclaimed model (hehe ;) ) Aaron. I have a lot of pictures of him like this from the trip. To the right of him, you can see Professor Keele and his wife, our trip mom. She appears to be stunned by Aaron's beauty here.
Here is the inside of the opera house. For only a few Euro, you can watch these world class opera performances. The catch? You have to stand at the very top of the opera house. "Stehplatz." It was a marathon each time, but absolutely worth it. Lohengrin was the most grueling clocking in at about a 4 1/2 hour performance, but it featured some of the most incredible music I have ever heard in my life.
The cast of die Zauberfloete.
And of course, no trip to Vienna can be deemed complete without at least one stop in at the Hotel Sacher (just across the street from the Staatsoper) for a slice of the traditional "Sachertorte." Sachertorte is a rich chocolate cake with an apricot filling. This slice of cake was more expensive than the cost of a ticket in the standing section at the opera house.
Oberlaa confections that we couldn't resist trying.
After the Staatsoper no longer had performances scheduled for the Summer, we would spend many evenings watching old opera performances or other noteworthy films in front of the Rathaus.
Here I am again with Emily, and our Italian/Austrian friend, Michele. Michele could speak very little English so communicating with him was very frustrating at times (at least for me - Emily already spoke perfect Italian, so they had no trouble talking.) But, it was good to have him there - to show us the city and as encouragement to improve my German skills so I could communicate with/understand him better.
Some subway graffiti I saw on my way home each day.
Hanging out in the center for LDS young single adults.
Visiting Vienna's Parliament building, and taking the tour to learn about how Vienna's government is organized.
This is Matt. He was silly and very well-liked by everyone because he was simply an all-around nice guy. He helped me edit many of my German papers that Summer.
"Just as water is a mirror for the face, so is the heart a mirror for people/humanity." (Probably botched some of the finer details there, but that's the gist of it for you.)
The Danau (Danube) River
This is just one of many fancy corpses of Saints that I saw on display in a Catholic church. Creepy . . .
An awesome spiral staircase.
Birth and Death are reflected in each other in these mirrors. Loved the symbolism.

One day of our trip, we took a long beautiful bike ride up the die Danau (Danube) river. It was overcast and breathtakingly beautiful.

Stained glass inside that simple and beautiful church.
The story of my life: "Everything would be half as difficult if it were only a little bit easier!" Haha. Genius. That Fiffi knew what he was talking about.
Is this too quaint or what?!
The end of our bike trip - Duernstein.
Emily and I wrote this dorky poem/letter to our friend, Michele to tell him how much we appreciated his friendship and his patience with our broken German. (Although, Emily and I both know that my German was 100 times more broken than hers ever was - just sayin'.)
How quick our three month stay in Vienna felt! Well, if I'm truly honest with the you the first month of culture shock was mostly lonely and terrifying. Month 2, I became friends with Emily and started to find my place, and by month 3, I felt like I'd be happy to live in Vienna forever. 
It is an incredible city.
Emily and I with the Argentinian Sunday school teacher in my ward, and our young single adult friend, Gregor.
The home where I stayed for three months. Edith and Helmut were my host parents. I loved them.
Though, Edith didn't love me so much after I accidentally melted her expensive plastic Tupperware when I preheated her oven to cook something at the end of my stay. . . (Still can't figure out why she was storing her expensive plastic Tupperware in her oven in the first place, but it was a very unfortunate incident still the same.)
But, let's end on a happy picture shall we? This is Erin. She stayed with Helmut and Edith too. We spent many many hours traveling together and talking about everything really. She was my politically conservative right-hand-girl on the trip. I love her too.
As they say in Vienna, "Wien ist Anders." (Vienna is different.) That it is! In about a hundred ways. But since you've looked through about 40 pictures from my trip, I won't bore you with 100 things. I will just tell you 2 things that I loved/grew to love about the "different" city and its people.

#1: Because of Vienna's location, there truly is no other place like it in the world. It is the cultural capital of all the countries in Europe because it is so centrally located. As I said in this post, you can walk down a crowded street and experience snippets of fifty different languages/cultures within minutes.
#2: The people in Vienna are bitingly honest. They don't sugar coat, or lie to you, or pretend to be interested in you if they are not. This can be misinterpreted as a coldness. I, however, discovered by the end of my trip that it was not coldness, but honesty. On the flip side, when an Austrian decides to welcome you in to their home, or asks you how you are doing, or invites you to lunch, they do it because they genuinely care for you, and they really do want to know how you are doing. And if you say you will be there, you better be there. No wishy-washiness about these folk. That IS different, and refreshing if you asked me!

It's hard to believe that 5 years ago this month I was just starting the beginning of study abroad. Time flies so fast. And so much has happened since that experience. But, I am grateful that I have these memories tucked away. They have shaped so much of who I have become, and continue to shape who I want to be, and our family traditions.

Someday, I will visit you again, Vienna. Someday . . . Until then I will just have to do an Austrian culture night or two, and find a place in Tucson that sells Pistachio Gelato. Yum. :) *Sigh.*


  1. Love it, Jami! What wonderful memories--so glad we could share them together! Thanks so much for posting! Hab dich lieb! :)

  2. So schoen! Really, 5 years ago? Time does fly. And I look waay too young in that photo.



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