Sunday, June 22, 2008

Das dritte European Impressions

I can't look at the tiles on the roof of Stephansdom without thinking of the Jamaican Flag. Apparently, it's a rather recent addition to the church.

Vienna was full of European soccer fans while we were visited since it is one of the host cities for the 2008 Euro Cup tournament.

Of all the countries whose fans traveled to Vienna for the tournament, Poland had the largest and most vocal contingent.

I've never felt more connection to my Polish heritage than I did while riding the U Bahn with a horde of Polish soccer fans in full regalia on their way back from the stadium.

For a city that was packed with European soccer fans, there was surprisingly little rioting going on while we were there. Many of Vienna's more delicate landmarks, including the Burggarten, were closed to prevent them from getting trashed.

This was the first time I've ever visited multiple countries on an overseas trip and it was interesting to see the contrasts between Paris and Vienna that I probably wouldn't have noticed had I visited them on separate trips.

I didn't see a single street musician my entire time in Vienna. I was disappointed, but I chalked it up to the Euro 2008 tournament.

The grounds at the Belvedere Palace were not in very good condition and even if they were in good shape, they wouldn't have been anywhere near as impressive as the grounds at the Schönbrunn Palace.

The art museum in the Oberes Belvedere had a decent collection of German Expressionist paintings, but it was not as rich of a collection as I would have hoped for a city that was so important to that movement.

I'm better at passing as a European than I imagined. The flight attendants on our intra-European flights generally addressed me in German before English. Vendors on the streets of Vienna guessed that I was Polish, Russian, and German before American (as long as I hadn't said anything to them yet).

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