So what does it feel like to be in this amazingly vibrant, old but progressive city? Never mind the exhaustion and the jet lag, this is the place to be! We are currently lodging at Astoria Hotel, right smack in the middle of Karntner Strasse avenue, the haven of tourists and shoppers alike. The first night we spent here, we were treated to a piano solo-concert by some lady playing just across the street. Because there is no airconditioner in our room, we usually have to open the windows to let in the cool, fresh air from the outside. Thus we are usually treated to all sorts of sounds streaming in through our window, ranging from soothing music to outright annoying noise. Walking along this avenue, one can find all sorts of musicians and other performers doing their stuff for the amusement of passersby and gawking tourists like us. Walking along this avenue, we saw live performance by string musicians, a puppet show, a colorful native dance, and a number of young men doing breakdancing. So much vigor, sights, and sounds in one place.
St. Stephen’s cathedral, undoubtedly by far the largest Gothic cathedral I’ve ever seen, is a few hundred meters away from our hotel. This cathedral is the city’s symbol, and is actually incorporated into the logo of this year’s conference. In fact, I agree with the president of the Vienna University of Technology when, during his welcome speech, he told everyone that Vienna is probably the most “culturally dense” city in the world. In our hotel room we have this large replica painting of Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss.” Albertina, which houses a large collection of paintings, is right next block. We have already visited it and were treated to a visually enthralling collection of Rudolf von Alt’s works. Within a 2-km radius, one can access museums, theatres and operas, churches. Most shops are closed on Sundays, so we were told, because Viennese people are so religious that they all go to church. But then again maybe not everyone goes to church, really, as evidenced by the hordes of people walking along Karntner Strasse last Sunday when we went out.
Ah yes, the conference. The main reason why we’re here in the first place. Tried to absorb as much as I could, hoping to scavenge for new ideas in relation to my work. For some reason I feel as if this year’s Eucas doesn’t possess the same oomph as it had in the previous years. The largest delegation, as usual, comes from Japan. Well, that is not surprising at all.
Unfortunately, Aya has been sick since yesterday, and so we couldn’t go around as much as we normally could. Too many tourists in one place, I tell you – it is just the perfect brew for catching viruses and such. We really have to be choosy about where to take our little precious next time. We have learned our lesson the hard way. Still…the thought of spending all that time away from your loved ones…it could get pretty lonely and depressing when traveling alone. In the long run, it is really not the place where you go to that matters, but whom you go with. It is heartbreaking to think of our little trio not being able to go places together again.
Get well, Aya. We’re going home soon.