Tuesday, December 28, 2010

25 December Fri @ Vienna -6C Light snow, gusty winds

Our Christmas service at the Hofkapelle, within walking distance.

I woke up with the streets dry and void of snow and bemoaned the fact that this is not going to be my first white Christmas after all. Exhausted from the late night activity yesterday, we dragged ourselves out of bed to prepare for Christmas mass at the Hofburg Musik-kappelle. Many months ago, I have purchased tickets to celebrate Christmas with the Vienna Boy's Choir singing Haydn ( www.viennaticket.com ) at the imperial palace on Christmas day and this day has finally come.

It was too cold and windy to walk, so we took a train from Stephansplatz to Herrengegasse. Pat is a good navigator and I all needed to do was ' enter ' the final destination and he would do the rest. We were not the only early birds at the Hofburg - many more joined us thronging up a myriad of twisting stairways, sometimes up and sometimes down.  Huffing and puffing, we found ourselves in a self contained section high above the main worship area and were dismayed. It looked like we were able to hear and not see.
Boys will be boys, even if they are Vienna Boys Choir members. Some fooling around during the service was inevitable.
Our woes did not last long, as a trickle of musicians entered a side door, next to our viewing gallery, and then the boys in sailor suits made their entrance too. Like the many tourists beside me, I heaved a sigh of relief to at least see the choir 'at work', mere meters away from us.

The boys provided the main choral muscle from high above the sanctuary and their contribution in songs, from Joseph Haydn, took more than half the worship time slot. The singing was not very synchronized at times but the leader boy executed a beautiful soprano part perfectly, drawing sighs of admiration. Somewhere at the back of the choir, 2 boys did what most boys do : chatting and playing silly games when they were not singing, causing ire from the choir master. The atmosphere among the music makers was relaxed, which makes watching them pleasurable.

After the service, we navigated  a fresh set of stairs and ended at the back of the Kappelle, greeted by light snow, billowing from right to left in the gusty winds. Light snow floated around us, like ashes, breaking into many little 6 prong snow flakes on our black jackets." A white Christmas ! " H was delighted but I secretly hopped the cold weather will not derail our flight out of Austria tomorrow. Talk of thinking ahead !
All's closed except the museum on Christmas day

Continuing down towards the Museum Quatier, we ended up at the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts rated 3 stars by Frommer's. Regardless of the rating, we had to go somewhere sheltered, because everything is closed today, sharing the sentiments of scores of people who were also there.
Our lunch place in the museum
Museum interior . The grandeur speaks for itself.

It is a very beautiful museum, right from the start, enthralling me all the way. I am no architecture buff but I demanded more photos taken at its foyer than in the galleries. The richness of the place outrivals most of the galleries I visited in Rome and Paris. As a plus point, photos without flash can be taken except for one, which presumably is because the art pieces were on loan from somewhere. I lapped up the fine works of Reubens, Caravaggio and many others. The last time I had tackled a gallery with gusto was at the D'orsay in Paris,5 years ago.
One of the many statues of kings and emperors

4 hours later and not totally finished, we checked out the coins section which is low on the tourists' list. We gave the Egyptians a miss , exhausted, and searched for sustenance downtown, at Aida Konditeri. Short staffed on Christmas eve, a grumpy waitress attended to us unhappily, after much gesturing. We had our last tea break in Vienna city of Himmer Bombe, Torte and coffee.
We packed back all the street food of Vienna and had the feast of our lives in our Pension

Aghast that everything else is closed and nowhere to spend our remaining Euros, we had to resort to eat-in. We became ultimate gluttons carting almost everything in sight from a kebab store at Kartnerstrasse. What a way to end our culinary journey in Vienna!

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