24 February 2008
Greetings From Vienna - Sunday
This morning I attended High Mass in Saint Stephan’s. While I took many a photo of the outside of the great Cathedral, I did not take any inside. Mostly because it’s dark as pitch in there and my camera and I do not do well in the dark. Mass was…freaking freezing cold. That’s one of the many drawbacks to attending Mass in the old stone churches-there is no heating and it is often more cold inside than it is outside. I sat in one of the front pews, obviously reserved back in the day for the wealthy as evident that the plank o’ wood kneelers had thin pads covered with nawgohide tacked onto them, and shivered for an hour while listening to a Gregorian choir and struggling around the various Viennese accents to understand the Mass. I must say I didn’t do too badly.
Communion was as I feared it might be. People simply pour out of the pews and rush the Communion rail like a stampede of water buffalo. They get their wafer then push back through the crowd to return to their seat. Really? This is the house of God for cripe’s sake! Could we please have some order? Serbia is only slightly better. People do just leave their pew whenever they’re ready but manage to form to coherent lines. Taiwan was the same as was Italy if I recall correctly. Are Americans, supposedly so uncultured and lacking history and refinement in comparison to the rest of the modern world, really the only ones to perfect the orderly procession of one pew at a time?
After Mass I headed out of the city center towards the Belvedere Museum. On the way I saw the dome of the Karl’s Kirche and detoured towards it. Grand and ancient as St. Stephan’s may be, Karl’s Kirche is far more in my style.
I generally prefer the basilica’s dome to the cathedral’s spire and the inside of Karl’s Kirche was filled with shining white marble and streams of light illuminated the beautiful frescos, paintings, and statuary. I love places like this and how they are filled with air and light and don’t make me feel claustrophobic like their darker counterparts (i.e. St. Stephan’s and my own church in DC St. Matthew’s).
The on to the Belvedere which ended up being a big debacle. Had I known this morning what I now know, thanks to commenter Christine, I’d have stuck closer to the center and actually gone to the opera. Or at least taken a tour. Why it did not occur to me to find out if they offered tours I do not know; that was really stupid of me and I’m paying for that stupidity with the loss of a great opportunity. Alas, they are not open on Mondays and tomorrow will no doubt be my last day in Vienna. Well if I ever again find myself in Vienna…
I do not know the distance I walked but by the time I finally found a meatless place to eat which I could afford (I’ve been spoiled by Belgrade prices!) and sat to rest my feet, the muscles up and down both legs quivered and jumped continuously the entire time I ate. Then it was off to a Konditerei for another slice of cake and a Viennese coffee.
On my way back to my hotel I was unfortunate enough to encounter a group of youths (couldn’t have been more than 15 or 16) all dressed in military paraphernalia, one with a black mask over his face, another with Serbia written on his forehead and carrying a Serbian flag. So apparently not even here can I escape the little bastards who drive me from Belgrade in the first place. Also I lost my scrunchie. Granted they went out of style ages ago and I cringe when I see them on Beverly Hills 90210 (it plays on a Croatian TV channel) but they’re so much better for throwing hair into a messy bun than a rubber band is! And it was my favorite scrunchie. Sigh. My life is so full of tragedy (insert mocking and sarcastic self-pitying tone).