reminiscing Czech and Vienna

It’s the season for photo ops again hence its just but time to finally free up my SD cards and organize the photos we had during our trips ever since September. Was reminded again of how many blog-worthy photos I haven’t posted yet, especially during our trip  in Czech Republic and Vienna and during our New Year celebrations in Takamatsu. Of course we weren’t able to browse everything. Yet there were tons that I could easily identify as favorite photos. Among of which (all unedited and taken using our ever dependable Canon G12)….

Me, walking along Kärntner Strasse, Vienna. Pardon, I just love back shots. 😀 😀

Me, so color-coordinated, atop a castle tower in UNESCO World Heritage Český Krumlov. Kakulay ko ang mga bubong! (My attire is of the same color as the roof!)

Goodness, how thin was I six months ago!

This is one of my fave Atsushi photos (among so many!). Taken in front of the Statue of Maria Theresia in front of Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History).

I so hope I can post more blogs about that trip!

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Wien Staatsoper

Been having some sort of writer’s block lately. Lots of deep thoughts churning inside my head these days that I’d rather just be silent. And mull and chew on the stuff that’s nagging me or better yet discuss it with Hubs. Suffered a terrible migraine last weekend and yet again hubby proved how he’s the best husband there is. Because he took care of me, I decided not to cut my head off lest he be a widower, even when the pain was strongly telling me to go and cut my head off. 😀

Anyways, I digress much. Let’s battle the writer’s block, shall we?

Upon arrival in Vienna and depositing our luggage in our 4-star-but-doesn’t-seem-quite-so-4-star hotel, we immediately set off to go looking for Vienna’s State Opera House aka Wien Staatsoper. Our mobile map app (don’t you just LOVE Steve Jobs? And yes, for us, like Michael Jackson, he isn’t really quite dead yet… 😦 ) told us The Staatsoper was just a 23-minute, 2km walk from our hotel. However, being a tourist and a first-time traveller on that country, what was normally a 23-minute walk took three times longer as it was coupled with lots of picture taking and even stopping over to watch a great performance of some local (or neighboring country) band in the park – for free.

To quote Rick Steves,

Vienna is the cradle and the world capital for classical music and The Staatsoper is its throne room

. Built in 1869, it is one of the world’s premier houses of music, built in the Neo-Renaissance style. It’s the harbinger of a busy intersection in Vienna – Kärtner Strasse meeting Ringstrasse. Mighty impressive, isn’t it?

(All photos unedited save for the watermark).

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I’ve some attachment with lampposts. Probably it wells out of dreaming of Narnia. LOL.

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The Staatsoper feature a different opera per day. Our visit fell on Il Barbiere di Siviglia on stage.

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Er, we practically headed straight to Staatsoper the moment we hit town. Show was at 7, we were outside the opera at six, just in time to tour around the place before the performance hence no time for dinner anymore. Hence, we bought some snacks and cheese on a grocery store on the way to the Opera. End result, hubby was carrying a plastic bag with our purchases while almost everyone around us were dressed to the nines.

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Impressive. Lavish. Sumptuous.

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We booked a seat in a private box albeit a bit far from the stage.

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Everything that’s red is vee~~~~lvet.

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The stage!

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Almost everyone who watched made some effort to dress up. But a Japanese couple who sat right in front of the orchestra was really serious with the dress code – the woman was wearing a kimono. I figure that since it’s a bit impractical to be a tourist and cart around a kimono, they probably are working in Vienna and that the husband is probably a consul? If this is twitter, I’d add a hashtag #assumingmuch. 🙂

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Yes, the play was in Italian. But no fret. We had our Staatsoper version of “subtitle”.

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Hence, we still laughed as the plot unfolded; Il Barbiere was a comedy yes. A word of caution though. Don’t watch the opera right after traveling halfway across the world without a wink of sleep. But I must say though that the orchestra was soooo good they were lulling us to sleep sometimes. 😉

In totality, it was a GREAT experience!

It was already pretty late when we got out the opera and tired as we are, we were not up for a late night dinner and would rather just flop into the bed and try to recover our jetlag to prepare ourselves for long days of walking in the next few days. Hence, we decided to try the must-try wiener hotdog. Our first (of many) good food experience during our trip.

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Ho-hum. Time for sleep!

K.u.K Hofzuckerbäcker Demel

It’s time for goodfoodhunt’s October post! Decided to feature our delicious experience in Demel this time.

Do drop by and click the link! —> K.u.K Hofzuckerbäcker Demel

P.S. goodfoodhunt.wordpresss.com is my blog that’s solely dedicated on featuring good food.

the dolls we brought home from Eastern Europe

I’m a doll collector. Wanted to be one ever since I was six when my parents (or was it my grandmother?) bought me a very pretty and dainty Filipina porcelain doll wearing the Philippine national costume. Wanted to be one ever since I was six when I played with my cheap but really cute United Nations dolls – they were dolls wearing different national costumes (I wonder what happened to them….). And as it happens, when you grow old, you forget about your childhood dreams. Until something reminds you of them.

I worked in a Japanese company hence it was but natural that we have displays of Japanese dolls in the visitors lounge in the office. Seeing the dolls, there came remembrance. One of my best friends, Dhonna gave me my first doll, an omiyage (present) after her first assignment from Japan. And it went rolling from then on. Whenever I travel, I buy the doll of that country. Friends have been very generous as well with their gifts in that whenever they travel to some countries, they also think of me and my collection and buy me a doll. Most of my collection are in my parents’ home in Davao now. With the exception of this exquisite Belgian porcelain lady which my manager in my previous company thoughtfully asked her brother to buy for me. I had it with me because it was the latest doll that was given to me and I wasn’t able to bring her to Davao before I moved to Japan. Customs check ruined her hair and hat and necklace though. 😦 Seeing her not in her perfect state just breaks my heart. 😦 Sorry, she’s surrounded by neighbors who can’t be posted here hence I can only share her bust. 🙂

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It was but natural therefore for us to buy dolls during our recent trip to Eastern Europe. I’m having regrets now though that I didn’t buy a porcelain one. Albeit I’m still mighty happy with these new addition to our collection.

Magnet couple dolls we bought in Vienna.

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Rustic mother and daughter doll we bought in Cesky Krumlov. Rustic – very Bohemian.

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And of course, a marionette that we bought in Prague. It was only during this travel that I learned marionettes originated in Czechoslovakia. It took me a long time to decide which marionette to buy though because most of the original design ones are scary looking and reminds me of witches. Hence I ended up buying this wooden Czech boy.

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Friends, hope you remember me during your travels. 🙂

welcome to Vienna!

It is said that you’d be welcomed by the smell of the country you’re visiting the moment you got off the plane. I certainly loved Vienna’s welcoming smell when we got off the plane – it’s that of a good smelling soap. This smell lingered the whole time we stayed in Vienna making Vienna my favorite city among the cities we’ve been to in this trip.

Welcome, travelers!

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The site of a fellow’s advertisement was a welcome for us indeed.

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The luggage carts need euro coins though for them to be usable.

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Vienna’s airport was better than Rome’s albeit it was just simple enough.

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As is the case with most airports, Vienna’s airport is a bit far from the city center. There are a number of ways to get to the city center but we opted to take the City Air Terminal train as it’s the fastest and reasonably priced way; you’re in the city center already in just 16 minutes or so.

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The sight we’ve passed by reminded us of work.

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And like how it was in Italy, there were also quite a lot of graffiti welcoming us.

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Once we got into the city center, we had to transfer to another train (the s-bahn) to get to the station that’s only walking distance from our hotel. as we were transferring to s-bahn, we saw this movie poster of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.

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Atsushi purchasing train tickets. One thing amazing with Vienna’s public transportation. It runs on honesty system. There were no station gates checking if you’ve purchased a ticket with the right amount nor were there police waiting in the stations to catch dishonest passengers. No checks whatsoever at all in trains, trams and buses.

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After the complexity of Tokyo’s train system, Vienna’s train system was no sweat at all.

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This hotel’s backyard confronted us when we got off (the wrong side) of our station.

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It looks pretty normal. But the backyard is actually full of nude people sunbathing.

Anyway, we didn’t go to Vienna for the nudists. We went to Vienna for this!

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And you bet we’re excited!

Experiencing mass in Vienna’s St. Augustine Church

Everything in Vienna is just beautiful and good. Beautiful place. Beautiful people (inside and out – will tell stories about it later). Good food. Really good smell. Beautiful music – even the clanging of the bells of neighboring churches (St Stephen’s Cathedral, St. Augustine Church, St. Michael Church) is like music, they were all in symphony. And every Sunday mass can be like a concert; which it really is in St. Augustine Church’s 11am Sunday mass.

We wanted to experience mass with the Vienna Boys’ Choir singing the hymns. But we need two months advance booking for it and the ticket is at ~€30 which i find weird, paying a fee to attend mass. We already had our reservation at Vienna State Opera House hence we were having second thoughts on buying another ticket for the Vienna Boys’ Choir. Thankfully though, good ol’ Rick Steves mentioned in his book that the St. Augustine Church holds concert masses, for free! Since we’ve limited time, we can only attend one mass. And albeit I wanted to hear how good the Vienna Boys’ Choir really is, we opted for the free concert mass in St. Augustine instead teehee. And indeed we weren’t disappointed. It was good time again for Atsushi to catch up with his jetlag though haha.

Located on Josefsplatz, next to the Hofburg Palace, the church is a simpler gothic version compared to Stephansdom. It’s still majestic though what with chandeliers hanging from it’s Gothic ceiling.

Will add pictures in this post later. For now, here are snippets of the concert mass. Pardon for the bad angles though. It’s not really forbidden to record the whole mass but then this is still a Holy Mass with all the proper rituals hence it was a bit embarrassing to record overtly. I had to do it covertly, hence the bad angles :p.

Hang in Vienna

Hang, a UFO-looking musical instrument created by PANart in Switzerland, adding to Vienna’s good music. The music is so good it is bordering on hypnotic.

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