30 July 2007

Some of the Math (Geometry)

So, now's the time to dust off Google Maps! (For a Google Earth-friendly KML file, click on the link and choose the option on the upper right corner.) The interactive map has most of the places I visited, along with some bars, restaurants, and hotels. There are some short notes in there that may or may not have made it into the blog, so check it out.

Farthest Location West: Le Château de Versailles, Ile-de-France, France
Farthest Location East: Bistra, Maramures, Romania
Approximate West-East Distance: 1000 miles/1600 kilometers

Farthest Location North: Köln, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Farthest Location South: Padova, Veneto, Italy
Approximate North-South Distance: 440 miles/715 kilometers

Since I actually made a big circle, the travel in Europe distance is more like ≈2350 miles/3780 kilometers. If you add in starting at Newark and ending in Pittsburgh, we're talking 10,000 miles/16,000 kilometers. Also, remember that these distances are approximate because they're as the crow flies and assuming that the Earth is a perfect sphere (it's not, actually) with a radius of 3963.1 miles.

12 July 2007

Some Free Advertising

Slowly but surely, I'll wrap up the blogging for this trip -- a few more things will come.

I wanted to make some comments on some of the places I stayed during my trip, and give some free advertising/referrals to the places I stayed that I'd certainly go back to. Eventually, I'll add some photos to this post as well.

Das kleine Stapelhäuschen Zimmer
Fischmarkt 1-3, 50667 Köln
book online via KolnTourismus, 30€/night, sink in the room, bathroom in the hall.
I really liked this place, it is above a restaurant but I definitely couldn't hear anything even though I was on the first floor. The staff was helpful even though they did not really speak English and I did not really speak German. The room was small but very adequate, and the wood furniture made it look like I was where I was supposed to be and it was authentic-seeming. I took a taxi to the hotel, but the driver and most residents of Cologne that he asked had no idea where the Fischmarkt was, even though it was within spitting distance of both the train station and the Rhine (and the Museum Ludwig and Roman Museum for that matter). Definitely a great location in the center of everything.

Hotel Ibis München City
Dachauer str. 21, 80335 Munich
book online at Ibis Hotels, around 70
€/night, private bathroom.
I stayed here, because the place I was originally booked to stay, and where I did stay for one night, was a nightmare: the Hotel Flora does not come recommended. It was a horrible place, I didn't feel safe, and the bathroom facilities were really not convenient. My standards are pretty low, but since I didn't feel safe, I moved to the Hotel Ibis M
ünchen City, just down the street. Though it was nearly 2x more expensive, I got my money's worth since I really used the room quite a bit, and napped before the opera because I didn't sleep well the night before in the Hotel Flora due to the mattress that was attached to the bed with zipties and the fact that I did not feel safe. The Hotel Ibis staff was exceptionally helpful, there was free internet in the lobby, and wifi-for-pay in all of the rooms, like most places in Germany. The room was small, but exceptionally well-designed, functional and bright, aimed at single business travelers.

Hotel Perla Sigheteana
str. Avram Iancu 65A, Sighetu Marmatiei
book online on their website, not sure of the cost, private bathroom.
Thanks to whoever booked this for me! After all of the hoopla about going to exotic, unknown Romania, this place was a joy. It was so super safe, the staff was very helpful and they all seemed to speak at least a little English, which was helpful. The location outside of town means that there's a huge, gorgeous bar/garden out back, and a view of it and the mountains from the balcony! It's a pleasant walk back and forth, but a taxi from the center of the center to there cost about a dollar, which was generally worth it, and the Sighetian taxi drivers were very accommodating. Breakfast was exceptionally good, with a huge selection of very good food.

Agape Guesthouse - Pension
Erzsébet körút 2, 1073 Budapest
I booked using hostelworld.com, around 35€/night, private bathroom.
I remember having booked a private bathroom, but then it was a pleasant surprise, because the other bathroooms are shared between two rooms, which isn't bad. They seem to have apartments in the building, so the only drawback was that I had to walk up to the 4th floor, which would not have been bad except that I had 40 pounds of books with me, but that was my own problem anyway. The room was clean, the bathroom was clean, and there was a fan in the room! The fan made my pleasant stay even more pleasant. NB a key deposit is necessary here, but security was great.

Hotel de Nesle
7 rue de Nesle, 75006 Paris
Reservations only by phone, so dust off your French, 55-75€/night, shower and toilet in the hall.
I kind of wanted to keep this place all to myself, but in the interest of being transparent, I'm mentioning it. This place was phenomenally wonderful and an insane bargain for the neighborhood: walking distance to the Louvre, Ile-Saint-Louis, Marais, Latin Quarter, everything. No breakfast, and shared bathrooms everywhere. However, the staff was lovely, it was impeccably clean, and the decor was unbelievable: original, tasteful, and varied. Definitely an exceptional hotel.

02 July 2007


As I'm at the end of my trip, I'd like to thank the people who were kind enough to host me at some point throughout my time in Europe. It was lovely to be with you, to experience your home town (whether permanent, adopted or temporary), share meals with you, and on an excessively practical note, you may have no idea how helpful it was that I had somewhere very comfortable to do laundry:
  • Anne and Joerg
  • Dušan, Mária, Petra and Baba
  • Jason
There are of course many other people who were involved in the success of this trip, but I am especially greatful to those who were kind enough to open their homes to me.

28 June 2007

La Biennale di Venezia !!!!!!!!

Really, this is just some flava, because there is too much to say. As it is, I will have to edit this post, add to it, etc. But for now, I will say that Sophie Calle is where it's at.


This visit to Venice was so incredibly lovely, probably because it was calm, relaxed, and still incredibly stimulating and special as only Venice can be. I did not go anywhere near San Marco, I avoided the tourist traps (unless you consider the Peggy Guggenheim Collection a tourist trap -- maybe a certain kind of tourist?), and instead focused on being there during the Biennale (!) and caught up on the best of the best of contemporary art and also took a trip out (off the map, nearly) to the Giudecca and Torcello. A quick run through the Accademia kept me grounded.

The lagoon, when the sun is so bright that the colors are unbelievable.

At night, the water is like glass.

This is an amazing piece of Italian engineering. It's a pulley system for hanging your laundry over the bathtub sans static rack, but rather these stringy pole things. High ceilings are a must.

On the way out to Torcello, on a ruined island in the Lagoon. There was a beautiful bird, and then there were birds on Torcello, too. It was nice to hear birds and see them enjoy the water, which is a healthy sign.

A Best General View of the Basilica of S. Maria Assunta on Torcello. The mosaics in there complement Ravenna perfectly. Later Byzantine mosaics uber alles!

A garden on Torcello.

As usual, I met a super cool artist (actually, quite a few, but some in particular) right before I had to go, which meant that the meeting was cut entirely too short. In one case, he was a typically charming Italian, who actually just presented a painting to the Vatican Museum 2 weeks ago, and said that the current pope is actually a very warm and nice individual. So, maybe I'll rethink my stance or modify it a bit. I've got his card, and would definitely pay a studio visit again -- this one happened by chance, and the fact that it did amazes me. The studio is stuffed to the brink of health hazard with layers of dust and paper, with recent paintings (referred to as svedute) perched on top of these layers of dust and paper. It was a little harrowing, but definitely a wonderful time.

I cut my trip to the airport way too short, thank God the plane was delayed 1/2 hour.


I was not in Budapest long enough, I need to go back very soon. I know people call cities cosmopolitan without batting an eye, but Budapest was very cosmopolitan, furreal, and the Budapestians seem to be such cool people.

A shoutout to cousin Jimmy, who suggested I go to the Szoborpark, an excellent suggestion. The Szoborpark (Statue Park) is a museum dedicated to the fall of communism, and is where they've put many of the statues from around Budapest that were propaganda monuments most people didn't want around anymore, but they didn't want to get rid of them, either. There are some interesting thoughts about outdoor museum conservation issues to be had.

A Best General View of the park.

Stalin's Boots, from the Stalin Statue in Budapest. In a move ala Berlin, Baghdad, et al, during the 1956 Revolution, the Budapestians tore down the statue at the knees. It happened to stand above the viewing stand (also in the picture) used by the bigtime Party people during military parades, but from 1956-1989, they were ironically standing under this symbol of the 1956 Revolution, the antithesis of what they stood for. There's a lot of irony in 20th century communism.

Now, for the most imporant thing I accomplished while in Budapest:
Langos (pronounced lan-go-sh) is a magical Hungarian street food that can be found in other eastern European countries who were formerly oppressed by Hungarians during the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It is deep fried dough, with soft cheese, garlic juice, and grated cheese on top, which is melty and gooey and delightfully delicious. This is not the time of year to be eating it really, because it is hot and heavy, but there are few pleasures on Earth this good, and it was worth the ensuing two days of garlic breath. I had it with a Borsodi beer, making the whole thing exceptionally authentic. ...In many places, my language is limited to me asking for my favorite local food: éna souvlaki, Παρακαλω; langos, kérem, köszönöm; poutine, merci.

Sighet Marmatiei, Romania

Oh how I loved being in Romania. The people were so beautiful, and it's probably one of the last places in Europe where cows still create traffic jams. I think cows creating traffic jams are a good thing.

The road to the market, which I found by accident, but was quite tickled by.

NB the mountain of paprika. As far as food is concerned, I ate quite a bit of polenta in Romania.
Polenta is love.

The next four photos are of the village of Bistra. Bistra is a village near Sighet where a multinational task-force went to visit and distribute Rusyn propaganda, to great success. We did not de-Ukrainianize the villagers, we just informed them that they had a choice, and that one of their choices was to identify as Rusyn. Overall, it went very well.

Back to Sighet:This is the birthplace of Nobel Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who wrote the book Night, which is a very good book. He is the man who coined the term 'holocaust'.

In the Ethnographic Museum, a mixed-media accoutrement to the Bethlehem Play.

The Prison Museum and Memorial/Museum of Arrested Thought. This was an exceptionally powerful museum. It was established at the same time as the museums at Normandy and Auschwitz, and almost every cell of the three floors is a different exhibit about how people were suppressed during communism, mostly in Romania but of course actually all over Eastern Europe, which they mention.

Over 8000 Romanians were killed in prisons or as the result of forced labor during the Communist era. The number is well over 8000, which is all they have records for. Nonetheless, too many people died. The photos help really make it almost better than words, because the eyes are the window to the soul.

This is a model of a ballot box used in the 1946 elections. It has a false bottom, which is how the communists came to power by being democratically elected.

One of the cell doors.

Sculpture garden out back, behind the actual memorial, which has some Maya Lin style to it.

In case anyone thought I may have been uncomfortable, this was the view from my balcony in the hotel. Thanks to whoever arranged it, it was super-pleasant.

The car ride from Sighet to Budapest took around 5 hours, I think. Maybe 4. We took road 19 from Sighet over the mountain pass to Satu Mare, crossed at Petea, and then got to Budapest however was fastest.

19 June 2007

Not in any order

Today, Petra's mom and I went to Košice. It was like a very long practicum in Slovak, because Petra's mom doesn't speak English, though she does speak German, but I don't. However, she's really fun and we had a good time.

This is the bus station in Trebišov. Petra's dad dropped us off here on his way to work, and then picked us up here on his way home. You wait at different stalls depending on where you're going, and pay the driver for your ride.

This is the view from the balcony on Petra's house, which faces the street, but this picture is behind the house. It's a rainbow after an afternoon of rain here, which thankfully we missed while we were in Košice.

Speaking of bad weather, this was a hail storm last week. The blurry parts along the right are the pieces of hail bouncing off of the roof.

This is the train station in Košice./This is what some Slovak trains look like.

Now, for some interesting details about architecture. The following building is, I think, perhaps 19th c. Most of center city Košice is either Baroque or Art Nouveau, which goes very well together, actually. This particular building is where the Slovak president Edvard Beneš lived for some period of time in 1945, but the roof is similar to that of Stephensdom in Vienna, and also the Roman Catholic cathedral in Košice. They're in the process of restoring the roof on this building, and the first picture shows the finished product.

This second picture shows what's beneath the tiles. It's like racks on which the tiles are hooked, it seems. Amazing, when you begin to consider how many tiles are needed for a roof.

Ok. It's almost time for my serial, Ordinacia, to start.

18 June 2007

sour cherries + vodka

I spent today a little out of it, because at 11:15am Petra's mom poured me a decent sized glass of cherries + cherry juice/vodka or grain alcohol that had been sitting together for a year. Very good, also with some mineral water. She also put some Coca-cola in mine, which means it was like cherry coke to the maxx. Basically this is a vodka infusion, but it's my standing rule to not drink before noon!

17 June 2007

Sárospatak and work

On Friday, we went to Sárospatak, Hungary. It is quite possible that they're going to start recognizing me at the border, because by the time I leave Slovakia, I will have crossed there 3 times! At Sárospatak, they have hot springs and swimming pools. Though Kisvárda was entirely Hungarian in clientele except for us, Sárospatak was entirely full of people from Slovakia! Yes, comparisons are odious, however the inevitable comparison becomes Kisvárda or Sárospatak.
  • Both are very clean.
  • Both have multiple excellent pools to use.
  • Equally good, but different, lunches in both places.
  • Kisvárda is a bit smaller, and when we went there were not a lot of people, which was nice because Sárospatak was kind of full -- but we were in Kisvárda on a Thursday and Sárospatak on a Friday.
  • Sárospatak is much closer to Veľaty.
In general, I'm on the fence about it, because both of them were really nice.

The funniest thing though is that at Sárospatak, they have in the hot springs pools shallow areas where you can just recline in a few inches of water. None of the hot springs pools are that deep, they're all 3 feet or less deep, but Sárospatak has these shallow areas where they also have bubbles coming out of the water for a massage effect. These areas are very popular with senior citizen groups, and either you have to knock 3 babas off the bubble things, or get there very early in the morning. This is because they stake out their spots the second they get there, don't move, and wait for the bubbles to come on for a few minutes every half hour or so. Petra also said the ones in question were speaking Rusyn, thus amping their potential pushiness exponentially...

It's actually very exhausting to sit in warm pools all day, though I also tried to aid my circulation by going into the big swimming pool also, which was quite warm, too. Then, yesterday, all kinds of stuff had to be done.
In the morning, I watched Petra's mom make kolači (this is like a general word for baked goods) with lekvar (prune) and cottage cheese, which are like my favorite things ever. Then she also made a roll with poppy seeds inside too. These were both amazingly wonderful, but especially the lekvar and cheese tarty things. For lunch, we had halupki that we'd made before we went to Hungary.

After also doing some laundry, it was crucially important to pick the sour cherry trees. So, we picked sour cherries, and I'd already washed jars, so the cherries were picked, sorted, and canned in the space of about an hour and a half. This was quite wonderful, and will be used in compot later.

It was a really busy day, and I was really tired. Saturdays are the busiest day, and as Petra's mom said, if you're not working, you think the world's going to end.

14 June 2007


Petra I think noticed how happy I was to be in a city again, which is very true, although I also really love being in Prešov. The excellence of today was capped by the next episode in the gynecology television serial, which for the record is called Ordinácia v ružovej záhrade (I don't know what this means). This one gynecologist, who is a widower, had had a heart attack previously, and he asked one of his nurses out for a glass of wine, which they drank, and then went to dance, but she was nervous that he'd have another heart attack, so then he ordered them cognac, but she wouldn't let him drink his, she ordered him green tea (želeny caj) instead, and drank his cognacs. They kiss, and just as that's happening, his grown adult daughter sees him, but they don't see her, and the next morning she, in a fit of rage, starts wrecking his office, which is beneath his home. It's so excellent, and I am soooo happy to realize that I can actually watch this show on the internet!!!!! I was worried, because I must admit I am kind of hooked on it, and it will help me learn Slovak. Emília Vásáryová, who was one of the stars of Horem pádem, is on this show. Petra's mom explained how most of the protagonists are kind of all connected in some way.

However, Slovak serials, though they may also be popular in the Czech Republic, are not the only thing that happened today. We went to Pre
šov! When we got there, I had to go to the bank, as I've been unable to use the bancomat, but able to use the credit card swiper in stores... It's been a huge problem which was finally resolved today. Then, we went to Tesco, which is a British chain store, like KMart or Target. There, I got an excellent suit, which I am really happy with, for only about $40. It's gray, with green lining, 3/4 sleeves, and a Jackie O-type collar. We also got these excellent bread things filled with brinza cheese, bacon, and prune. They're like pastry that's stuffed, bite size. They stunk up the whole store, so that by the time we finished, it was like super important that we get some because we'd been smelling their goodness the whole time.

After our capitalist adventure, we went to the Greek Catholic Faculty, because Petra wanted to go to the library there to see if she could find anything for her Licentiate dissertation. After that, lunch at Čukrareň Victoria, which is a really excellent place, because it's like a bar, fancy bakery and restaurant all in one, and very old school classy decoration. Then we went to the Franciscan church, which I remembered as having an excellent trompe l'oeil, but it was better that I had it in my memory because I was kind of disappointed this time. The Greek Catholic cathedral has reinstalled the Rusyn martyed bishops Chira and Gojdich in side chapels, very nicely ala John XXIII in St. Peter's.

Finally, we had a meeting with the director of the new SNM-Museum of Rusyn Culture. This was wonderful beyond belief, and I'm so excited about the whole thing. The director seems so wonderful, and I'm so happy we had such a good meeting. As is fitting, a half hour history lecture preceeded my questions, of which I had to ask very few because she seemed to know exactly what I wanted. She made an amazingly great impression and seems to have her act together more than most.

Ahhhh. Happy.

12 June 2007

today + television

About 1pm, while we were eating lunch (rabbit! -- the little rabbit foot part is well worth having to look at for the excellent meat, and you just kind of pick up the spine and get the meat out from around the vertebrae), the oldschool socialist speakers came on. They're kind of like the adults in the Charlie Brown TV specials, because you really can't understand what they're saying.
Nonetheless, right after lunch I was helping in the garden, and Petra's grandmother comes in the front gate. I hadn't even realized she was gone, but she's super fast. She had something over her shoulder, and Petra's mom was talking to her about it, but I didn't understand. It turns out, the announcement was that the people selling chickens were there, and Petra's grandmother went and bought two chickens! One is 2 years old and will be good for eating, and the other one is crazy looking because it's missing half it's feathers and is only one year old. It seems to be not liked by the other chickens, I was watching them this afternoon.
This evening, we watched this drama that takes place in the gynecology department of a hospital. At one point, the one doctor is so drunk that they have to call in another doctor from home to do an emergency c-section, because he's plastered. Obviously, this can happen in Slovakia, not on ER or whatever... At one point, they're basically delivering a baby, and not much is left to the imagination -- this is rather effective birth control, I think, because the whole process does not seem very enjoyable. Then, this other doctor's son was like an orderly in the same department as this other doctor who she had had an affair with, and it was some sort of problem. There was also an anorexic girl who was sedated immediatley after she screamed that she wasn't anorexic. Overall, a very engaging drama.

11 June 2007

Visiting the relatives

Just got back from the other end of Slovakia: Vel'aty is like a mile from the Hungarian border, Svidnik is a mile from the Polish border. Here I am with part of my relatives: Dominika, Pal'ko, me, Anna. Everyone else was still at work and school. Nonetheless, a good visit.
Petra and I went yesterday afternoon, stayed there last night, and then had an appointment at the museum this morning, which turned into an interesting visit with a woman who had researched folk magic involving plants. It sounded like a lot of these plants are actually poisonous, while controlled doses make them like hallucinogens and stuff like that. The problem is that usually these things were kept secret, because the people who knew about this stuff sold their knowledge. Fascinating.

09 June 2007

Grape Arbors

Today, Dušan (Petra's dad), Petra, and I went to their former weekend cottage to work on the grape arbors. We mostly had to just move the stems off the ground and up onto the wires so that they'd grow up. It was quite excellent, and the beginnings of grapes are already there, and the plants are so nice. It's amazing how the grapes wrap little arms around almost anything -- so you pull them off the ground where they've attached to some errant wheat stalk or something like that. It's their former weekend home, because gypsies from the next village over broke in and began having parties and stealing the iron pipes and stove from there, and they really can't use it any more, but they still make wine from the grapes there. The gypsies do this to everyone's buildings, not just theirs. After lunch, I took a nap and then helped sweep up the floor in preparation for mopping and also picked some cherries. It's really hot here right now, but the real problem is the drought.

Tomorrow afternoon, we go to Svidník, where we'll visit with my family there and stay there over night. At 9am, we have an appointment at the museum, where I'll do an interview with the director and Petra will translate. It's kind of exciting, and it will be great to see the relatives. When Petra called today, I heard Hanča, who is the grandmother, from the other side of the phone, because she was kind of yelling, and sounded so excited, which has made me excited also.

The food Petra's mom and grandmother make is excellent. The big meal is lunch, so we had soup with these breadcrumb dumplings, carrots, potatoes, and calarabi. Then, we had a stuffed pork tenderloin, and after that, salad with lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, cherries, and calarabi. The dressing I don't think is vinegar, but maybe sugar water or something like that, I'm not sure.

For breakfast and in the evening, we have bread with soft cheese or butter and then savory meats on top. On the side, some lettuce or tomatoes, with tea and sparkling water. This morning, I also had hot dogs with mustard.

Yesterday, they made this thing that's like nut roll dough, but with chocolate pudding inside, and then it's all twisted together -- so good! When I asked what the occasion was for making three of these huge things, it's because Baba wanted to! Today when I picked cherries, it was so she'd have enough fresh cherries for a kolač, some kind of dessert thing. Usually it's like a torte sort of thing with the cherries in it, wonderful.

08 June 2007

SE Slovakia!

Right now I'm in Vel'aty, which is down almost to the Hungarian border. For the last two days, I was close by in a village called Brehov, where there is an old Franciscan monastery. We went there, Petra and I, because her former students at the Greek Catholic high school in Trebišov needed a chaperone for their class retreat there. The monastery was built in 1775, and then maybe disbanded during the reign of Maria Theresa or Joseph II. Then, during communism, it was a place where old Vincentian sisters who could not work any more were kept, and they supported themselves by growing herbs and ginseng. The monastery was quite dramatic, as I normally find them to be.
We were with about 18 high school juniors, who were all very cool and fun to be around. Last night we had like a two hour church service because it was the feast of Corpus Christi, which usually involves a procession and it's quite impressive. We went around to four places in the village, and the town is at least half Hungarian, but the priests are not. So, the songs were in Hungarian and everything else was in Slovak. The head priest, who everyone referred to as Pater (latin), was Polish, and the three Franciscans there were on a mission, and they had this big monastery which is now used for groups like this high school retreat.
The people there were so nice, and in the evenings, we sat in the kitchen and had treats with the friars and the ladies from the kitchen, which was excellent. The one lady brought from her home in Sečovce some berries called tai berries or something like that, which were a cross of raspberries and black currants! Excellent!

I got here Monday afternoon, by taking a train from Vienna Westbanhof to Košice. Petra met me there and we took a smaller train to Michal'any, and from there we got on still a smaller train to Vel'aty. The last train is engine powered, not electric. The train ride from Vienna to Košice was beautiful, because it goes through the mountains, through Poprad and the High Tatras.

I feel so at home here. I'm eating well, like cherries off the tree, and soups at lunch and it's all so super wonderful. Today, Petra's mom and grandmother made these potato dumplings with prune (lekvar) inside, and then they're boiled, then they pour butter, poppy seed, and sugar on top. This is Petra's favorite food, and it's a good choice. We ate them right out of the pot, because then the butter stays with them!

On Wednesday we went to Kisvárda, Hungary. There, they have hot springs and swimming pools. So, you go and just kind of sit in a shallow (less than 1m) pool, there are seats built into it, and the water is either between 32-34°C or 34-36°C depending on which one you go into. This is pretty hot, if you think about how 40°C is 100°F! It's actually like one big bathtub, and it's so nice. The water is like a greenish yellow, but it's very clear. They also had a beautiful swimming pool and 2 smaller swimming pools. It was perfect weather to go, and after we got back is when we went to Brehov.
Getting across the border was interesting, though, because I have no stamps in my passport at all from this trip. We crossed into Hungary at like a local border crossing, and they didn't want to let me through because I didn't have an EU passport! The Hungarian guard was hesitant, but then the Slovak guard recognized Petra's dad, and let us through, but told us to cross back at a bigger crossing, Sátoraljaújhely (which is so fun to say). He also told us, if they asked, to say that we had also come in to Hungary at that crossing. At any rate, the stamp for Slovenské Nové Mesto is the first that I've gotten the whole trip.

So, Sunday we head up to Svidnik, and then on Thursday we go to Prešov. These are appointments for my research project, which should be exciting. We've gotten appointments, and there is some curiosity about this American who is studing museums of national minorities here in Slovakia... Hrm...

02 June 2007

Österreichisches Blasmusikfest et. al.

Before I get started, a few food comments. Below, the Viennese equivalent of a hot dog. I got it from a kiosk, and was it good. Firstly, because it was not a hot dog per se, but rather a perfectly and freshly, immediately grilled sausage. Secondly, the bread was amazing. I wasn't sure what I was going to be getting, as what I got in Köln was basically a ciabatta 1/3 the size of the sausage itself. So anyway, I got this, in which the lady pre-inserted the ketchup (more akin to a watered-down mild barbeque sauce than Heinz) and mustard, and then the sausage.

Next, in the Volksgarten, the Temple of Theseus. Leave it to the Hapsburgs to create a mix of an English garden and a French garden; the fake ruins and the symmetry of the rose garden look so mutually incompatible!
Also, before the Blasmusikfest, I went to the Sisi Museum/Imperial Apartments. I also should have gone to the Imperial Silver Rooms, because it turned out to be the kitchens, but the name was discouraging because usually I'm not so into looking at old China patterns. Kitchens, along with bathrooms, I think are always the most interesting part of any home. Anwyay, the Sisi Museum was bizarre beyond words. I could not believe that the cult of celebrity for an empress dead 125 years was still so strong, and it was suggested to me by my Viennese-American hostess that the death of Princess Diana reawakened the cult of Sisi. The museum was staged dramatically, with lighting and Swarovski crystals everywhere (talk about product placement), but it was bizarre to see the right shoe Sisi wore on her 25th wedding anniversary. It was rather cool to see the triple-edged file that Luigi Lucheni used to assassinate her. Franz Joseph's apartments were very refreshing in their modesty. No pictures, because they were not allowed and there were gallery attendants all over the place.

So, the Blasmusikfest.
This was so cool! At 3pm, bands started marching up the Doktor-Karl-Lueger-Ring. The first band was from Süd Tirol, which is actually politically in Italy, but it was obvious due to the response of the crowd that it's still a sensitive issue. Relatedly, marches are the only form of patriotism/nationalism I can enjoy for extended periods of time, perhaps because they are music and above nationalism in most cases. Below, a selection of the marching band uniforms:

Then, after all of the bands had marched in, they gathered on the steps of the Rathaus and played together, which was beautiful. The whole Rathaus-Platz was full of people. I know they played all together St. Florian's Choral and Wach Auf by Wagner.

Last night, I saw Le conseguenze dell'amore, an Italian film, with German subtitles, at the Votivkino. The film was fascinating, and after the film was over, the entire audience kind of sat there for a good 30 seconds and you could have heard a pin drop. I've never had that experience before after a film was over. It was one of those films that could only be made by an Italian, because the character development happened mostly without words, which means that the director and lead actor/ess have to really be on point, and they were. It was a situation in which, while watching it, I could understand what was trying to be accomplished based on my knowledge of other Italian films. It was a great film, and it pains me that we get so little of foreign cinema in the US while crap American films flood the cinemas of the rest of the world, which severely limits funding for the movie industry in other countries. Le sigh. I'm also rather happy I've reached the point in my Italian that I can go and watch something and understand 90% of it without subtitles.

Naturhistorisches Museum

Really, I just wanted to see the Venus of Willendorf. I didn't go upstairs to see all of the taxidermied animals, and for my mother's benefit (or a subconsious result of my own overexposure as an impressionable child), I went to see the minerals, gems and fossils.

One aspect of the museum (closed right now for renovation) is anthropological/ethnological. The above photo shows how out front, positive (ahem) non-Western stereotypes are reinforced (ahem) in the iconography of the building. This shows how condescending and now seemingly archaic the views of patriarchal European monarchies (even progressive ones like the Austrians) viewed non-Europeans. Thank God the anthropological/ethnological section is closed -- I've got huge problems with the presentation of non-Western people as "science", and it still happens way too often, Quai Branly's own rhetoric being an example. It's as archaic and hateful as phrenology. Even archeology presented as natural history is problematic. Eh.

Off my soapbox. Above, the Venus of Willendorf.

The Mineral Rooms: 4 this size. I looked and looked for Bohemian garnets and Bohemian moldovite, thinking they would be there due to the historical Empire, but I couldn't find them. The meteor room was quite impressive, although this presentation I find is only responded to well by people who know what they're looking at, which I don't.

After quite a search (it turns out I was looking in the wrong x million-years-ago room), I found trilobites! They had quite a collection of these also, many preserved in 3D, I don't know how.