Well I'm back home safe in Amsterdam, and recovering from Vienna. Really the only recovery necessary is the fact that I had to get up so darned early to go to the airport this morning so I'm a wee bit tired. But back to Wien. On Sunday we went out for a bit of sightseeing. Moody really wanted to take me to the Nachmarkt, but it ended up being all shut up. Hard to say whether it was the fact if was Sunday, or if it was just closed for the season, but everything was closed. So we ended up wandering through the rain to a little cafe where the waiter was rude and the food was ok. Ah, Vienna. Then we went our separate ways - Moody went back to his place to get some practicing in and I went exploring. I was on a mission to find as many composer's houses as I could. I started with the Mozarthaus, where he lived for 2 years when he composed the Marriage of Figaro. Then I went to the Johann Strauss haus, where Johann the younger lived and the very apartment where he composed the Blue Danube. Then I wandered over to the "Schubert commemorative rooms". Because though he didn't actually live there, he died in that apartment (it was his brother's place). But by then I was cold and wet and needed to practice so I headed back to Moody's place to dry out, warm up, and practice a bit myself. That night we headed to the Wiener Staatsoper to see Salome. We got last minute standing room tickets, and it was really great. I wouldn't want to stand for a long opera, but Salome was a very manageable 1.5 hours. Moody started talking to Emannuel (the guy standing next to him), and so we invited him out for a drink after with us. We went to this old cafe that was started by a Czech couple after the war. It was a very cool old bar, fairly unchanged by the years. These types of places are quite common in Vienna, where they really like to preserve things as the way they have been for hundreds of years. Tradition! Moody and I commented several times that it's a strange concept for us North Americans, since even if you live in an old building ideally it has been gutted and completely remodelled and renovated to be totally modern. But in Vienna they like to keep things just as they were for the last 100 years or so. It's good and bad - it's nice that these traditions are so important to them, but at the same time it seems like sometimes they are just being crushed by the weight of all this tradition because it doesn't allow them to explore new options. On Monday I had my Verbier audition, so that kind of dominated the plans for the day. It went well (I thought), but I suppose I will just have to wait and see. We did go for a walk around town and then I went and wandered around Schloss Belvedere. It's a big old Baroque palace that now holds a really nice art gallery, which features A LOT of Klimt. We had originally planned to go see the Küchl-Quartett on Monday night, but both Moody and I felt like a night in so we just hung out and then met up with our new friend Emmanuel for a drink. Hilariously enough, he had gone to the Küchl-Quartett concert. Then on Tuesday we hung around in the morning until we were really starving, and then we went to an Irish pub in the centre to celebrate Moody's deportation. He's had no end of beauraucratic hassles in Austria, and now that his residence permit is finally ready they won't give it to him because they took longer than 3 months to process it (thus making him an illegal resident in Europe). So he has to leave the Euro-zone and then come back. Crazy. He was originally thinking of going to Zagreb (Croatia) but then a friend of his who's a diplomat told him that the Eastern non-Euro countries will charge you up to 400 Euros to enter if they see that you're past your three months. So he's going to London instead because at least in London we know how the beauraucracy works because it's so similar to Canada. Anyways, we went and ate some nice British Isles pub food in preparation for his trip to the homeland. Then we went to the Küchl-Quartett concert at the Musikverein. The Concertgebouw orchestra was playing in the big hall, and their concert was totally sold out so there was a billion people there. The Küchl-Quartett concert was very interesting - they're the principal players of the Vienna Phil, and they play very much in the traditional Viennese style. It was great for the first half of the program (Haydn and Mozart), but not so much for the second half (Shostakovich). They just played the Shosti too......nice. It was both boring and annoying, because they would really shy away from the grating harmonies and try and make them sound as pretty as they could. This is definitely an instance where the Viennese traditions don't allow them to explore new horizons. Anyways after the concert Moody and I were wandering through Stephansplatz on our way to the opera bar when who should we run into but Emmanuel! He was with a colleague of his, heading out for a drink after their meetings. So they joined us to the opera bar for a last night out on the Wiener town. Then this morning I got up at an ungodly early hour to catch the train to the airport. I got to have a nap this afternoon, but it was very necessary because I had a trio rehearsal and then a rehearsal for this Icelandic music day concert I'm playing on Saturday. Now I'm just preparing for the competition next week. No rest for the wicked.