Hi from Rick: A Sunday for the senses
|Everything lends itself to music in Vienna, even the clop-clop rhythm of its horses.|
As I walked out of my hotel in Vienna on Sunday morning, I was in a city of culture you can almost inhale, and history you can almost touch.
At about 9:00, I dropped by the Hofburg's Imperial Music Chapel. The Vienna Boys' Choir was singing, as they do each Sunday morning throughout their season. I didn't actually see the boys — no one in the church did — as they sang like angels from the loft in the rear. But their voices blended perfectly with the scene in front of us, as sunshine streaming through the windows made the Baroque starburst of gilded statuary truly seem to burst over the altar.
Energized by all that, I ducked through a royal passageway and paid about €20 for a standing-room spot to see the much-loved Lipizzaner Stallions prance to some more music (4:4 time, even though this is the city of the waltz) in the emperor's chandeliered riding hall. I probably enjoyed the show as much as those who'd booked far in advance for more expensive seats.
Ready for more music, I strolled a hundred yards to the Augustinian church for Mass. Being Vienna, this came with a complete choir and an orchestra, and today wowed worshippers with the spiritual confidence of Anton Bruckner's Mass No. 3 in F Minor.
For lunch, I sat down in the smoke-and-coffee-stained Cafe Hawelka, where generations of intellectuals have stewed. Old man Hawelka himself was snoozing on a Beidermeyer chair near the bar, possibly dreaming of his granddad serving espresso to Trotsky, Klimt, or Freud.
That afternoon, just a few blocks away, the greatest opera house in the world was performing Wagner's Tannhäuser. No ticket? No problem. It was projected outdoors for the rest of us in all its Teutonic glory — live — on a huge screen.
Traveling as temporary locals lets us share in the unique cultural richness that a city has to offer its residents, from the baths of Budapest to the passeggiata of Lucca to the music of Vienna. In this month's Travel News we'll give you previews of more cultural delights, including the festivals of Edinburgh and the tapas of Spain. We'll also share a travel tale of an Irish pub welcome, a Travelers Helpline peek (figuratively) into shared hotel bathrooms, and a video clip on staying healthy in Europe.
Good travel delights our sense of sight, but that's just a start. On a Sunday in Vienna, you can inhale a culture and touch its history.