Saturday, March 10, 2007

Back from Austria and still coughing

(Choir doing an impromptu sing outside Stefansdom in Vienna)

We - ie Brian and I - have been in Austria with the choir for the last week. Typically, having avoided colds allwinter I started tonsillitus and a cold on the Tuesday before we left, so unfortunately didn't actually sing through any of the concerts. I managed about half of one half, miming the notes I couldn't reach and all the quiet bits as I was croaking, which was a bummer and really frustrating. However although I still have the cough I began feeling better by about day 3 and we saw a lot. We landed in Graz., which is where Ryanair fly to, and it is absolutely lovely. The old part of the city is a world heritage site, and it is not in the least bit touristy, in fact we couldn't find a shop selling postcards, and really lovely to walk round. I was very smitten with it, more so than either Salzburg which is very pretty but very touristy, or Innsbruch which we didn't seem much of and was wet(not a fair test - all the mountains were invisible under cloud). The concert in Graz was a great success with at least 200 people there and all very complimentary, and indeed the choir sang very well indeed. The we went to Vienna where we went to the UN building at the same time as some kurdish protesters had stormed the building so ended up waiting around a lot before we got in. We did our little sing in the rotunda in the middle of the building which was ok, but we did feel that the Austrian police roughing up the protesters was a greater entertainment for all the staff than we were. Possibly correct. This is us singing in the UN rotunda (if you count UK nationals separately we were 24 nationalities in the choir)

Then in the evening we did a concert in the Diplomatic Academy which went very well, including the piano part Brian has written for the British Ambassador to play with the arrangement of an Austrian folk song which he has arranged. It got the laugh it was aiming for and the Ambassador seemed to enjoy it. The students mixed well and did a very good sales pitch for the UWC movement to all the bigwigs there, which will hopefully enable the Austrian national committee to raise the funds for a scholarship to the new college in Bosnia. We had the next day off in Vienna and the weather was so warm - about 19 someone said. We went to see the Opera house and the Musicwerein (sp) and walked around soaking up the centre. I would really like to go back to Vienna to see more, we liked it. It also has great public transport. In fact all Austria has great public transport. We went round on trains this time - a first - and they are great! So comfortable and clean and punctual. Great. In fact we went on coach, plane, train, bus, tram and underground - ie every mass transport system available other than boat. The last concert in Vienna was a joint one with a local school which went very well too, then off to Innsbruck, via Salzburg where we had a 4 hour stop to eat and look round quickly. The last concert in Innsbruck went well too and then we had the 18 hour trip home via bus (4am to station), 3 trains, plane and coach. Brian and I feel we are getting a bit elderly for all this.

These pix are me outside the Hofburg palace and Brian outside the Statsopera building

High points - the concerts went very well, the choir sang really well, and if you had heard them 3 weeks before that was by no means a certainty. Brian has turned the sow's ear into a silk purse yet again.
- the choir themselves - a really nice bunch, not a pain in the 40 of them, helpful and good at catching trains too
- cafes - we sat in a few cafes and drank tea/coffee ate cake, and relaxed. The Viennese cafes are so relaxing, papers provided, no feel of being rushed out, the staff so pleasant
- all our hosts - all very nice again, and helpful
- not missing any trains
This is me in Salzburg - expect Julie Andrews any moment

Low points
- the damn cold (ie mine not the weather)
- discovering at 10pm on the last night (prior to the 3am rise) that the Innsbruck youth hostel wanted payment in cash and didn't take credit cards even when paying for 43 people!!!!! Can you believe it? They said it was on the booking form, which of course we didn't see as we didn't book it, and the local organiser had neglected to mention that bit. So off we go, in concert clothes to locate the bank, and then use 2 debit cards and 1 credit card in order to get enough cash out of the machine to pay.
- early starts (middle of thenight at beginning and end)
- not enough fruit and veg

Attached are a few photos (I hope)> It was lovely to see these places but I was glad to get back to my bed last night, though I could live without going to work on Monday. Brian is coming back to marking - his least favourite activity. Down to earth with a bit of a bump but that is always the way with holidays I think


oreneta said...

Fun hangover---- I am sorry you had a cold, what a crappy time for it...still, sounds like it was as much fun as it could be with 43 people. Good going to get all the money on only three cards! Yegads, I may well have been stuck entirely...urgh. 46 kids all sleeping in the train station!

Boo and Trev said...

Glad it all went well. Bad news about the cold. I started taking multi vitamins a few weeks ago and straight away I go cystitis then I threw my back out and then I got a cold. Those multi vitamins are rubbish! I've stopped taking them now.
The youth hostel sounds like Erin's future landlord who wants the entire years rent in post dated cheques! Wierd.

oreneta said...

The entire years rent in post-dated cheques is the normal way of doing business in TO, I have always done it, and my tenants do it now. How weird not to...?

Boo and Trev said...

But I don't understand why they would prefer scrappy little bits of paper to direct debit or standing order. It just seems really old fashioned. We don't pay Kieran's rent like that and I don't know of anyone else who has paid for their kids rent like that. Hell! I don't think I paid like that in my renting days! Still it takes all sorts I suppose and does give the old cheque book a reason for existence, it does feel a little left out in this internet banking day and age

oreneta said...

Cheque books are becoming so arcane...that is about all that I ever use mine for, and the occasional government office that hasn't stepped out of the 18th century....

Joanne PL said...

Yes - we in Eastern Europe have now piggy backed over the Western technology, and not only do we have superior GSM and 3G phone systems (ha ha) - but checks do not even exist! Really! I got one from my UK bank - and my bank here told me that they don't do checks and there is no way to cash it. Luckily it was only for 10 GBP or something - but still...

Anonymous said...

The historic city centre of Graz was awarded World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in more