/ europe

Vienna - the music heaven

I really didn't know much about Vienna except that it was a European city. But this summer, I got to spend a day in Vienna - and learn a lot more about it. Of course if you're a musician, I'm certain Vienna must hold the same place to you, as what Mecca is to Muslims. At least that's the idea I got.

We started the day at St.Stephen's Cathedral located in the geographical centre of the city. We took a tour of the cathedral, and learnt a lot of history about Vienna during the tour.

Personally, the most exciting thing about the tour was that you could go underground and see the catacombs which had human remains.

Burials directly in the catacombs occurred until 1783, when a new law forbade most burials within the city. The remains of over 11,000 persons are in the catacombs (which may be toured).

I'm not wicked - but don't tell me that didn't excite you. We actually saw real skulls and bones arranged in racks - and yes, it stinked badly. Taking pictures wasn't allowed - but this experience itself is well worth the trip if you ask me!

There are the tombs of Frederick, a Roman Emperor and another prince - not underground, but inside the church itself which was very distinct. The tomb of the emperor took over 40 years to be constructed, and had started prior to his death. It's interesting to note that people actually preferred to be buried in a church, or as close to it as possible.

The architecture of the church itself was a combination of classical and gothic, as the picture of a staircase below reflects.

We ended the tour after a few hours, and grabbed lunch at a nearby sushi place called Japanika. It was quick, convenient and good. They had nice vegetarian options as well.

Our next stop was House of Music - and this was the most memorable experience of the trip.

As the name suggests, this building was really a house of music. The building had four floors and each floor was dedicated to one specific area related to music. To enter the first floor, you need to walk on a musical staircase that played a sound as you stepped on it. It was very fun to play around with it.

Anyway, on floor one was some history about the Vienna orchestra and it's founder - and we also got to hear some classical music. The second floor was the sonosphere - which was very unique. We heard what babies hear from inside the womb - their first musical experience. We also got to experience and play around with different sounds, noises and vocals.

The third floor had a gallery of all famous musical artists including Beethoven and Mozart. It was very interesting to know and understand each artist's life and direction, and how they became such great musicians. This floor also had a virtual stage, where you could act as the composer - and the musicians would play music based on the movement of your hands. We played around with that until the musicians got frustrated - but it was a lot of fun. There's a store on the fourth floor, where we bought some unique souvenirs.

After we headed out from House of Music, we hung around Stephansplatz - and did some shopping (nice trendy stores), and then sat down at a cafe nearby to have some drinks. Street musicians were playing live music right across the cafe, and that was delightful to hear. If you ask me one thing about Europe that I love, I'd say the ability to hear to live music - anywhere on the street. It does not happen anywhere else.

For dinner, we went to Akakiko, which was Japanese fusion. I ate sushi again (which was good), but I know I should've tried a different cuisine. Maybe next time, you know.

Last thoughts, Vienna is an interesting place to visit, but I wouldn't count it as the best places to travel to (in Europe). Of course, if you're in Austria - and have a day or more to kill - there's certainly a lot to explore here.