Vienna is mythic. Every building is staggering; the beauty and sheer height of everything diminishes you, makes you feel reduced to some different scale. Oh! And the Food. The food is amazing. For the first time in Europe, I have that sickening overfull ache when I'm done with a meal. I believed, when I moved to Holland, that this was a specifically American sensation - the bursting stomach balloon - but now, here, I know that I've just been slowly starving in Amsterdam.
Everyone who told me this place was beautiful was right.
We arrived, exhausted, at 11 am on Sunday. Every one of us spent the day sleeping - a full day was lost because we are all bad planners, and were all packing, drinking, talking till 3 am the night before. So on Monday, I shot out of bed at 8:30 am, and went to the New Imperial Palace. The museums there were empty; I was alone in all three of the wings. First, I padded quietly through the Museum of Ephesus - this being the strange collection of Roman Ruins from the seaport town of Ephesus. What was this permanent exhibit doing in the Imperial Palace of Vienna? Who knows.
I went next into the Armory. Saal after Saal of steel and iron armor innovations - horses decked with armor - cumbersome night shields - swords and guns so old they were literally relics. My footsteps echoed on for the entirety of the museum. I could sit and take a nap and I would have remained undisturbed for centuries.
Finally, I went to the Ancient Musical Instruments collection, and nearly immediately found myself behind the keys of a playable, demonstration clavichord. So, I played it. The cinematic Romance of playing music in the Imperial Palace was overwhelming - I played three different pieces. Then, a security guard approached, and I thought for sure that he was going to shriek at me in German before kicking me out of the entire city. But instead, he guided me to a better clavichord in another wing of the palace, and said, "You can play. This one too."
The show that evening was simply a tour show. Awkward and uneasy, but very well received despite the centennial age of our audience.
On Tuesday, we met up for lunch at the Central Cafe (where Freud worked out his psycho-analytical theorems before escaping to England during WWII). It was a great meal, only overshadowed by the meal I would have that evening at some smoky local cafe. Jim and I went back to the Imperial Palace to see the Sisi Museum. I knew nothing about Princess Elizabeth of Austria before I entered that museum, but -hats off- to the curators -- now I want to read about her silly, melodramatic life. The complaining Princess, clad in black, writing poems and then getting assassinated. Sounds like an anime.
Today, I'm hung over and exhausted again, staring at the clock and trying to will myself out of my room. It is 11:27, and I only slept for 5 hours and 20 minutes. Do I go back to bed and lose another day here? Or can I dredge up the energy from some supernatural reserve, and see the Figaro House?
I'm going back to sleep. I am here because of work, after all.