arcanamundi: (Default)
( Mar. 11th, 2009 10:10 pm)
I want to lead with my favorite photographic catch of the day. I took the hell out of this picture! This is the straight frame: uncut, untouched, unedited. I have to give mad props to the FZ-28, which caught it with iA - I didn't have any time to futz around with the settings because I took this picture in a tiny sliver of time - there was a steady stream of people into the church between me and this guy, and I had to take it when there was a blink of space.


Other things that start with C and are typically Viennese: chandeliers, chantilly cream, cherries, coffee, chocolate, candy (there are candy shops ALL OVER the place - I bought some orange vodka chocolates and some choconana sticks). My new favorite European country? Maybe yes!

Chandeliers: They are everywhere. Like... Everywhere. Shiny, sparkly, gleaming through cut crystal and glass, prisms and curves cupping the light and casting a cheerful glow. I am totally in favor of chandeliers in bedrooms now, and plan to have one myself some day. Hung a little higher. The bottom of the one in my hotel room occasionally grazes the top of my head when I'm walking under it.

Cafe Mozart, where I had lunch & coffee - and later, a nice cup of tea

Chantilly cream: on the cakes, on the coffee, on the hot cocoa, really on everything that isn't supposed to be salty. It feels like Versailles up in here with all this whipped cream!

Yoinked this picture of a piece of sachertorte at the Cafe Mozart from flickr. Believe me: I'm having one of these soon.

Cherries: in the chocolate, in the cakes, in the coffee, in the candy, the bread, the drinks. YUM. 

Coffee: PARADISE. Just absolute paradise. Coffeeshops all over the place, and a dizzying variety of types of coffee, and I wish I could try them all! The most common is called melange (and I wonder if Frank Herbert was a fan) - it is pretty much a cafe creme, close to a cappucino. There is also "einspanner" (one shot), which is kind of like an Americano except it is topped with whipped cream instead of frothed milk. There is the "fiaker" (coachman) which is espresso with a tot of rum and whipped cream. Iced coffee in Austria? Is iced not with cubes, but with ICE CREAM. And then whipped cream and a cherry on top. Cappucinos are made with whipped cream instead of frothed milk (ask for a melange to get a cappucino - this is kind of like the Bostonian shibboleths about "milkshake" and frappe", in which a chocolate milkshake is just chocolate milk, and a chocolate frappe is a milkshake).

They have a whole culture of coffee here, including conventions of coffee presentation that kind of remind me of Japanese tea ceremonies. The coffee always comes on a little silver tray with a glass of still mineral water and a little biscuit or chocolate. I didn't get a picture of my Mozart coffee (which had a shot of chocolate Mozart liqueur and some whipped cream, topped with blanched almond flakes) but I also ordered a tea over the course of my day, and this is how it came to the table:

It's beautiful here. Incredibly nice people (I have yet to meet a grump or a crankypants - and I've met quite a few angels, like the tall man who was like a Viennese version of my Uncle Jerry. He saw me sitting outside looking at my map when I got to Vienna, and came over, lit up his pipe, and explained the basics of the Viennese public transpo system to me in a laid-back American-accented drawl that even *sounded* like my Uncle Jerry), gorgeous clothes everywhere - especially on the men, who wear colorful woven jacquard and brocade scarves with their narrowly tailored suits and bright silk ties. The style of the women is a similarly pleasing combination of whimsy and elegance. It's more individualistic than Paris, where there are definitely seasonal "uniforms" for women and a dress code enforced by overt negative social feedback, but the women do have that self-conscious air of being in the public eye when they're out, and prepare accordingly, and with charm. Hopefully I'll be able to get some illustrative pictures - particularly of their hats!  

In the interim, as illustration I offer you this picture of the window of a posh, upscale umbrella shop:

Absolutely adorable! And very Austrian!

And tt just feels perfectly safe. I walked aimlessly last night in hopes of stumbling across a grocery store and it felt like walking around a little Midwestern town, except for the part where it's a huge European capital city. It just felt like there was no crime lurking around the corner. Everything feels prosperous and safe. I have an overactive spidey sense, especially when I'm travelling alone, and I feel very comfortable here. No safety-related stress. I was curious about that and found this comparative criminology site which told me what I already knew - this is a prosperous country with an extremely low crime rate. It's not as universally posh as Luxembourg, but it has the same kind of vibe. It's really nice.

As for work - I found my way to the library, with a brief detour into the church right beneath it to listen to someone practice the organ. 


When do you have to climb five flights of stairs to get to the second floor? When you are going to this building, and the floors are numbered 0, mezzanine, 1, 2. I don't even understand. I can't make my experience of the insides coincide in any way with this picture of the outsides.

Had the world's most awkward conversation with an archivist ever (I am getting the feeling that speaking regular German to an Austrian is like speaking French to a Flemish person). We established that I had bona fides and permission, and also that the dates of my arrival had not been communicated to the reading room (I don't know if I forgot them or if they got lost in the flurry of emails, but oh well) so my manuscripts weren't ready, and they can only be ordered at certain times of day. I thought that was all fine and good, because I was itching to walk around outside some more anyway. So I'll go back for them tomorrow morning. They're all from De fide, and look pretty straight-forward from the catalog descriptions but for one of them.

While I was poking around the side streets I discovered a little theater. I bought a ticket to see a Friday night concert in it. Mozart and Schubert, naturally. I suspect that the music will be lovely but not of earth-shattering quality - the posters advertising the concert have all the ladies in perfectly horrible dresses and I'm pretty sure it's mostly for tourists. But hey: affordable. And also, I haven't anything in my suitcase that would gain me access to any of the "real" concert halls in Vienna. I'm sure they have dress codes that don't include jeans or all-purpose black dresses worn with my all-purpose velvet and corduroy coat. I wouldn't want it any other way, really. Bloomington annoys me. Ballet, opera, concerts? Half the world is wearing jeans and their stinky old Birkenstocks. Freaking hippie enclave. I used to get all indignant about it, mostly because half the fun of going to stuff like that is that everyone looks beautiful and smell divine. In places that aren't Bloomington.

The sun came out for a little while:

I saw some overburdened mermen.

I like the eyes on these sculptures. I also like that what I assume is King Neptune is wearing something that looks very much like a Christmas pudding on his head.

I also have to do a day trip to Klosterneuberg to see a manuscript while I'm here. Where I will also see:

I get the feeling that "restraint" is not a core virtue in Austrian culture. What with the whipped cream and the rococo. I loves it!

I still have not heard back from Mantua and I'm kind of buggin' about it, because I wasn't able to find the manuscript shelfmarks given in the Ottman inventory in the Mantua catalogues. I guess I'll find out when I get there. I took the precaution of cancelling my hotel reservations in case my visit goes like this: "Hi, can I see [MSS shelfmarks]? I wrote ahead but didn't hear back." and then after 15-60 minutes of waiting someone will come back and say "Oh, those were destroyed in a fire in 1740" or similar, leaving me free to move on. 

While Germany was hard, it was pretty a pretty well-regimented march through the archives. Things are going to get a little loopier when I get into those little libraries in northern France and Italy, I think. Not to mention the fact that we're leaving the areas best served by and heading into unchartered hotel waters, in which I'll be runnng around with my suitcase, which I'm rebaptizing the Valentine because it makes me so happy and is so shiny and red, comparison price-shopping between the hoteliers of towns that aren't so much down with the internet yet. Or up with it. Or whatever.

Tschüssle! (Seriously, this seems to work just fine here, and it makes people smile).



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