Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Weekend of Viennese Culture

I'm back!  After a brief weekend away from Albania, from blogging, and from the stresses of daily life in general, I'm getting back into my groove.  The first day back to work after the weekend is always hard and it is even harder when the first day back is a Tuesday that follows a Monday holiday.  When you add in the fact I'm coming down with a cold and need time to fully recover and settle in from being away, the conditions make for very slow going.  Was it all worth it though?  Absolutely!  We quickly learned that the best thing about our overseas posting was our close proximity to the many amazing things Europe has to offer.  Just one short airplane ride (or sometimes two) and we can be in many of the world's great capitol cities.  It would be a shame to miss these opportunities and as such, Glenn and I have been slowly but surely working our way through our travel bucket list. Under the auspices of it being Glenn's birthday weekend, we left Sidney in the capable hands of his nanny and spent a culturally filled, whirlwind of a weekend in Vienna.

Family trips with a three year in tow involve lots of outdoor exploring (Europe is filled with water fountains, broad plazas, and monuments), structured meals and yes, a daily afternoon nap.  With this trip involving just the two of us, we had none of our usual constraints.  The first thing we noticed was that without little feet needing to keep up (or be carried) we could cover a lot of ground.  Second, our meal schedule was drastically different.  Instead of daily breakfasts in the hotel we wandered the streets until we found a cafe that looked enticing.  The same went for dinners; room service at midnight or no dinner at all worked just as well as spontaneous stops for coffee and sweets or a pint of local beer whenever the mood struck us.  Instead of popping into to grand cathedrals --or taking turns going inside-- we were able to take our time to admire and just take in the majestic buildings that are Europe's great churches.  We were even able to take a guided tour of catacombs of the historic St. Stephen's Cathedral, something that would have been impossible had Sidney been with us. 

We spent Saturday night attending a performance of Tchaikovsky's Pique Dame at the Vienna State Opera.  We haven't attended a concert or theatrical performance that wasn't part of Glenn's official duties since before we were married so this was a true date night.  While I don't think that the actual opera would rate a repeat viewing, the overall experience was amazing.  From the historic and ornate opera house to fancily dressed patrons and just our being able to say that we saw an opera in Vienna, the evening was the highlight of our trip.  Sunday was a continuation of our cultural tour as we spent the afternoon exploring the picture gallery and Egyptian and Near Eastern collections of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.  As an added bonus the museum building itself is a masterpiece of art and architecture that is worth visiting for its merits alone. I love museums and could spend hours meandering through collections absorbing all they have to offer.  Much to my delight we were able to truly take in all the museum had to offer without feeling rushed by a three year old with a limited attention span and amount of patience for such things.

The Vienna State Opera House at night
The main entryway of the opera house



I love family vacations; there is nothing like discovering a new place through the eyes of a child.  From water fountains to street musicians (Sidney's two favorite things to watch on vacation), I know I would have noticed the Viennese version of them more had he been with us.  More than once Glenn and I commented on how much Sidney would have enjoyed experiencing something that we saw.  However, I believe that couple time and childless get aways are important.  I know that we were able to enjoy a side of Vienna that we wouldn't have been able to see had Sidney accompanied us.  We are lucky that we are able to take trips both with and without our son since it makes me appreciate both all the more.  By Saturday night I did find myself really missing Sidney and looking forward to seeing him upon our return.  I was also missing the built in afternoon nap schedule that accompanies him.  (After a day spent exploring the cold outdoors, I found myself longing for a late afternoon reprieve).  Next up a family trip to Budapest.  Afternoon naps are sure to be a part of that schedule.

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