It's been a while I know. Busy like a beaver, as they say. I had a good trip to Groningen last weekend, and played a very fun concert on Tuesday in the Oosterport with a string orchestra + jazz combo. Fun times. I caught the train back to Amsterdam on Tuesday after the concert since I had to be back in A'dam for a class at 10 am on Wednesday morning. I caught the train that runs straight from Groningen to Schiphol airport (which is just one stop from mine), and sat back with my magazine and iPod. I glanced outside and noticed it had started snowing, and thought nothing of it. Then the train stopped at Amsersfoort, and everybody mysteriously got off. Then I noticed the sign outside said that the train was going back to Groningen. So because it snowed 1 cm, it got all the trains off schedule and instead of going to Schiphol it was just turning around at Amersfoort. So annoying. So I had to jump on a stop-trein (one of those slow commuter trains that stops at every station) to Amsterdam Centraal, and then catch another train to my stop. It was very annoying. Nobuko Imai also came again this week to give some lessons, and since I'm missing two weeks worth of lessons with my own teacher due to my travelling schedule I got two lessons booked with her - 1 hour on Thursday and 1 hour on Friday. But luckily for me (and unluckily for them) the person with the lesson after me on Thursday didn't show up, so Nobuko just gave me a two hour lesson. It was pretty sweet. And she gave me the strings off her viola. Not quite literally, but close. She was convinced that I could produce a bigger sound with different strings and so she dug around in her case and found some of her used strings to try out on my viola. She assured me she only used them for a few days, and gave me 3 out of 4 new strings. And she was right - I can produce a bigger sound! Bully for me. Today I got up at the ungodly hour of 4:30 am to go to the airport to catch my flight to Vienna. My flight wasn't until 7:15, and getting there at 6:15 would have been fine, but so many years of flying Air Canada and getting hassled and treated like shit all the time has made me fearful of flying, so I decided to go almost 2 hours early just because. It puts my mind at ease, even though at Schiphol nobody bats their eyes twice and me and my viola. It was also funny because I didn't have to go through passport control (because I was travelling within the EU), but I still got to shop duty-free and got breakfast on my flight (because I guess it's still technically international). I was actually a little surprised when they said they would be coming around with breakfast, since I'm now used to flights in Canada up to 5 hours where they give you jack and make you pay $10 for a crusty old sandwich. God I love Europe. Anyways, my trip to Vienna is slightly business and slightly pleasure. On Monday I have an audition for the Verbier Festival Orchestra, but since my old pal Moody (fellow Canadian violist) is going to school in Vienna now I'm also taking a sort of mini-break to stay with him and do some sight-seeing. Today we walked around, and then took a tour of the Vienna State Opera House. It was pretty cool - and we're going to try to go see Salome tomorrow night. They sell standing room only tickets they day of for only 4 euros! And they have this big section where there's just these boards to lean against (for all the standers). It's a pretty sweet deal considering how expensive the normal seats are there, though I'd probably think twice about going to see something like Wagner if I had to stand the whole time...... Then we got some street meat from a vendor (I had a Frankfurter, he had a Currywurst), sat in a park, then went to a cafe for coffee and Sachertorte. Yum. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. We're pondering an overnighter to Zagreb (Croatia) on Monday after my audition. Mostly because Moody has to leave the EU for min 24 hours due to some slight deportation issues, but that's a story for another time. Gute Nacht und gutes Glück.