Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Vienna Concert Rehearsal

Coming Soon to From Another Angle: Prague!

See these and other Prague views at:
and please check back for our opinions and photos next week...

Monday, November 24, 2008

More from Vienna: Schonbrunn Palace

Former home to the rulers of the Hapsburg empire, Schonbrunn palace is so large it has its own subway stop, and so yellow that its shade used to be known around the world as "Schonbrunn yellow." We spent an enjoyable Sunday morning exploring its rooms and grounds, learning about Maria Theresa's 16 children, Franz Josef's spartan habits, and the paintings adorning practically every available bit of wall space.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

A Lot Can Happen in Two Hours

When I woke up at 7:00 a.m. on Satuday, the wind was blowing and I went back to sleep.  When I got up again at 9:00 a.m., there were about two inches of snow.  It kept falling hard throughout the morning, leaving a total of about four inches.  We went into school for parent-teacher conferences, where I took these pictures:

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Cirque de Soleil is in Brussels at the same time as us, come December! I imagine they've been planning this for a long time, hoping to get a glimpse of us somewhere in Europe. We've decided to humor them by going to their show. I'M SO EXCITED! Anyway, I went on the Cirque website today and decided to click on the "Casting" link. Turns out the best of the Cirque web world is hidden away just for future cast members. Check out the site at:

Choose which category of performer you'd like to "try out for" and then you can watch video examples of it. You can use the drop down bar within each page (Acrobat, Dancer, etc.) to choose which kind of art you'd like to view (diving, hip hop, wheels, etc.). I must have watched 30 incredible video clips tonight - I wouldn't suggest hitting the site until you have at least 10 minutes to spare. It's addictive.

Two Days, Two Very Different Dawns

View from our window at dawn on Friday morning.

View from our window at dawn on Saturday morning.

I cracked and put up my snowman window decals Friday night before parent-teacher conferences began. I think it's safe to say they brought the storm.

I'm not sure fall was ready to let go.

Ostrander, ACS's main building (and home of my classroom, to the left of that far left column)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Recent Additions

I've added a few intriguing sidebar elements this week that I want to point out.

I discovered a fabulous travel blog at the International Herald Tribune called "Globespotters" that is now on the "Travel Blogs of Note" link list. In a quick scan of this page I learned about an art fundraiser in Britain featuring postcards secretly designed by stars such as Yoko Ono, mixed in to a sale anonymously with postcards painted by art students. What an idea! I also read about a Russian artist who animated the Hemingway novel The Old Man and the Sea entirely by creating intricate paintings on glass with his fingers.

I added a link to a website called "Balkanology" under the "Southeastern Europe Travel Links" section. This is an incredible site jam packed with photos and description of some of the lesser known countries in Europe - Bulgaria included. Surfing this site is a joy, particularly once you find the photo gallery section. I have just begun reading Robert Kaplan's Balkan Ghosts, and there is sure a lot to learn about this region which has so influenced the whole world (whether we all know it or not).

Finally - best for last - I added a new widget on the upper right called the "Visitor Map". Here you can see yellow dots in every place around the world where someone has looked at the blog since I put up the graphic earlier this week. I was thrilled to discover visitors in England, Qatar, Africa, Thailand, and all across the United States, and a bit worried to see a visitor from Bristol, considering my review of the Bristol Balloon Festival last summer! Ah well, no angry comments posted yet... If the little yellow dot you see is flashing, that means someone is looking at the blog in that city at the same time you are looking (and if it is in your city, it's probably you). I smiled to see a flashing dot in Duluth, MN yesterday at the same time my own was flashing in Sofia, Bulgaria. I thought of posting a quick hello message to my parents, but our overlap was too brief. Still - this is a fun new feature, at least for me!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Looking back at looking over...

As we waited in line to enter the 7 person sized lift up St. Stephandom cathedral in Vienna, I thought back over all the cities we have visited since getting married in June. In almost every one, we have found our way up and out of the traffic of the sights themselves, and into a quiet upper deck of the city - the views of the sights. Does every city have a lookout? Somewhere people go just to see where their lives take place? Duluth, MN, my home town, has a lot: Enger Tower, Hawk's Ridge, Skyline Road, Brighton Beach. Brett took me to the one in Marietta, Ohio last year and we looked over Marietta College and the Ohio river until we were too cold to feel peaceful any more. Looking over my pictures, Oxford, Paris, Belgrade, Sofia, Sozopol, Istanbul, Vienna, Boyana, Belogradchik, Melnik, and Rila have these spots too. So relax for a few minutes, and take in the view...

Edinburgh, from a local park

Inverness, from Inverness Castle

Bath, from a primary school at the top of a very long hill

Oxford, from St. Mary's Church

Paris, from the steps of Sacre Coeur

Sozopol, from the bluff by our hotel

Istanbul, from a rooftop restaurant

Rila, from a tower in the Monastery

Old Town Plovdiv, from its Roman Ruins

Belgrade, from the yard of an abandoned church

Melnik, from the top of a nearby hill

Boyana, from Mount Vitosha

Bulgarian countryside, from Mount Vitosha

Sofia, from Mount Vitosha

Belogradchik, from Aleko Fortress

Vienna, from St. Stephansdom's Cathedral Tower

Vienna, from St. Stephandom's Cathedral Tower

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Vienna: Sweat the Small Stuff

Vienna is host to a veritable buffet of historic buildings, famous musicians, pedestrian strands, and knockout views. Sure, I like that stuff (obviously, from my last half dozen Vienna posts). But there is more to Vienna than the Staatsoper and Schonbrunn palace. Tapping across the cobblestones early in the morning with hearty tights-clad runners, watching a horse and carriage vie for position in the street with a bus, cracking open a chestnut and offering the paper cone to my husband at the same moment as the older woman in front of me proferred her cone to her husband, these details are just as memorable as the chocolate santa display shining in Julius Meinl's and the dozens of statues of men on horses littering the city. I will remember city workers hanging Christmas lights above H & M and Zara, gargoyles stabbing out into the air beneath glitzy church towers, strangely artistic graffiti on an electrical box.

Like so many cities we have visited this year, Vienna was laden with beauty. But sometimes there is more to a city than its beauty - there is the life, the hum beneath the aesthetic.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

More from Vienna: The Christmas Market

A close up of one of the many gingerbread hearts on sale, this one featuring a picture of the market

Brett at the meat stand. So happy.

Panoramic postcards on display - a photo of the Christmas market in the middle

A close up of the extraordinary desserts available

One of many gingerbread and candy stands

Before the market opened, as we walked by

We were so lucky that we happened to walk by again, right as it opened! Here is what it looked like by the time we left - packed with happy people. 

Munching in Vienna

Part of our original itinerary in Vienna was to visit the Naschmarkt (literally translated as "Munchie Market"). However, a misreading of the subway map on Saturday caused us to put it off to Sunday, since we thought it was way outside town. Saturday night we discovered it was right by the opera house, about 10 minutes from our Pension, but then Sunday morning we discovered it was closed. Since it's the most famous market in Vienna, and I have an entrenched fondness for all things market, I might have been pretty disappointed... were it not for the culinary delights available on every single street we passed through, Naschmarkt or no Naschmarkt. See the pictures and descriptions below to understand the taste adventure that is Vienna!

Though Vienna offers a wide variety of taste sensations, I think my favorite is one of its simplest and most ubiquitous: the giant salt pretzel.

Brett's favorite is also quite easy to come by: the wiener, available with curry, horseradish, sweet mustard, hot mustard, and bread rolls. True Austrians alternate bites of roll and meat, they never wrap the one in the other. Brett managed to put away 6 in our 30 Austrian hours.

Tea Sandwiches at one of Vienna's many cafes, where half the population seems to congregate around 4 pm for coffee and cake - the table next to us at our cafe managed to spend almost 50 euros on their late afternoon snack...

And the cakes...

Roasted chestnuts are called "marroni" in Austria, and they are OH SO GOOD

Another of Betsy's pictures of fruit markets, you are thinking? Nope. This is all Marzipan, on display at Vienna's famous international grocery store, Julius Meinl's.

Another view at J.M.'s: artisan chocolate bars.