I have done a lot of German class this week. Can the human brain overflow? I think mine is going to overflow.1 We also started our Regular Classes, which was pretty fun – we’ve got the Austrian Cultural History one that I believe I’ve mentioned previously2 and another one – Politics of European Integration – that I find fascinating. There’s been a lot of talk about what the European Union is and how it’s all structured.3 It’s very cool.
Basically, they’ve been keeping us very busy learning enough of the language to (hopefully) survive. I think it’s been a bit of a success – Paris and I managed to successfully order food at a restaurant today, and what more do you really need?4
That doesn’t mean I haven’t had a chance to get out a little bit; yesterday, Alyssa walked down the street and yelled at me to go outside, and we wound up going by the big park right by where we live. And today, she and I went up and made a spirited attempt to walk around the Ringstraße5 that ended up with us wandering around the Kunsthistorisches Museum,6 and then somehow meeting Paris and Sierra for lunch in the Second District. Fun was had, and pictures were taken:
So, the first thing you see coming into the park is… a bunch of trees, to be honest. If you go into one of the more picturesque entrances, though, rather than the little back gate by our street, you’ll see this:
That’s the G-tower, one of two Flaktürme7 in the park. It was built in the WWII era, and was basically a pile of concrete used to get flak guns above the tree-line. These days, they’ve been left standing because they are borderline indestructible – at some point in the past, the G-tower was hit by a massive internal explosion. There is almost no sign of this on the outside. Further into the city, one was converted into an aquarium with a rock-climbing wall on the outside – they considered tearing the inner-city ones down, but realized there was no way to do it because the amount of explosives required would also, y’know, level the entire surrounding neighborhood.
Above is the L-tower, the second Flakturm in the park; though un-blown-up internally, it’s still off-limits to the public, which I’m still upset about. C’mon, let me climb around the WWII military installation.
That was yesterday. Today, Alyssa and I hopped aboard the U48 and started wandering around the Ringstraße. There’s something to be said for the architecture, which is all very impressive and Romanesque… but after a while, you start to get the same feeling that I do wandering around the neighborhood where I live back home. Namely, that everything was built by a single company who drafted four blueprints and has just been alternating them so it’s not super obvious what they’ve done. Of course, there’s also the occasional gem, like this one:
Seriously, how much do you think the builders spent on that? An ungodly amount, I’m sure, for something that just looks super weird. Ah, history. But hey, the parks up in the first district are also pretty nice:
Well, I say it’s nice, but to be honest I’m mostly disappointed it’s not a Flower Clack a la Terry Pratchett.9
For another book reference, we ran across a few statues of two-headed eagles, which I immediately recognized as the crest of the House of Hapsburg – thanks entirely to Leviathan. Who ever said that reading doesn’t teach you anything?10
“Alright, we’ve been walking around for too long, what next?”
“Museum? That’s probably air-conditioned.”
That was actually almost word-for-word how we decided on going to the museum. It was pretty fun to explore, but we also didn’t make it through the whole thing – it’s one of I think five museums in a sprawling complex, and the art museum itself is huge. Plus, after a while, all the gold-plated stuff just starts to seem really gaudy.
I’ll end on a high note, though: “Bust of the Ideal Youth,” from a collection of Idealized Busts.11
“Well, in 2,000 years, the youth haven’t changed much.” – Alyssa
- The thing that’s been the hardest for me is the alphabet, actually – the grammar and stuff is similar enough to what I know of Spanish and English that I can put it together, but I struggle a ridiculous amount trying to remember how letters are pronounced in the German alphabet versus in the English and Spanish ones. ↩
- No links for you, this week, because it was way too hot out all day and I have no energy left. ↩
- It’s complicated, and it’s even more complicated, respectively. ↩
- “Where is the bathroom?” would be good, I suppose, but question words are hard and I can just mutter “WC?” and hopefully that’ll work, right? ↩
- Turns out that that’s a bit much to walk in 85-degree (fahrenheit) weather, so we only made it about a third of the way before we gave up and hopped back into the public transit system. ↩
- A name I almost managed to spell right. ↩
- “Flpkturm,” singular, and the source of the title of this post. ↩
- I’m a big fan of the metro system here, it’s a very pleasant experience overall. And the well-implemented mobile ticketing setup? A plus, folks. ↩
- For those who haven’t read every single book he wrote like I have, I’m referring to the idea of a circle of flower beds, with each bed having a plant that blooms at a different time. So which flowers are open to the air and which ones are all closed up for the night/day would indicate the time. It’s a lovely piece of prose which I have done no justice to here. Go read his books. ↩
- No, seriously, who ever said that? That’s dumb. Reading is a very educational experience. ↩
- I’m trying not to make jokes about that phrase in my head, but I’m failing. ↩