Sunday, January 14, 2018


Author's note: This piece was supposed to go to a publication that has since folded its travel section. I figured I would post it here since it never ran and it's got some pretty good recommendations. It's the last post I will make about Vienna on this blog (probably).

When it comes to finding places to visit, things to do, and food to eat, you’re spoiled for choice in Vienna. Ranked the #3 city for cost of living in 2017 by Deutsche Bank and always in the top ten for livable cities I general, Vienna has it all—it’s cosmopolitan but not overwhelmingly busy; it’s historic but not stuffy, and it’s got an exceptional public transit system—but the city is also quite walkable. I lived in Vienna as a Fulbright grantee from September 2016 to July 2017, and I got to know the city fairly well during that time. Below, please find my list of top picks for Vienna, including sights, food, shopping, and other leisure activities. It was nearly impossible to choose this few.

Wratschko Gastwirtschaft vratch-koh gahst-veert-shahft )
The classic Austrian pub. A favorite of Anthony Bourdain’s, “Wratschko Gastwirtschaft” is the authentic Vienna dining experience, serving a rotating handwritten menu of standard Austrian meals: delicious meatballs, stews, potatoes, chicken. For the less faint of heart, there are plenty of options that had this American gourmand feeling like a picky eater: sweetbreads, lungs, and other organ meats. The decor is simple, all handsome wood-paneling and worn floorboards that make you feel like you’ve found the local spot—the Vienna version of Cheers, if you will.

Neustiftgasse 51, 1070 Wien. Contains both a smoking and non-smoking section. Make reservations. Cash-only. Closed Sundays.

Natsu Sushi

Natsu Sushi is unpretentious, extremely affordable good-quality sushi. Their half-price sushi menu is the way to go, though they offer udon, teriyaki, and other usual Japanese fare at reasonable prices. An order of ten salmon nigiri will run you under six euro (roughly $6.73), and they offer both takeaway and dine-in. As a native of Los Angeles, finding nigiri under a dollar apiece presents a challenge back home, so Natsu is where a good chunk of my disposable income went while I was living here. 

Burggasse 71, 1070 Wien; Gumpendorfer Str. 45, 1060 Wien. Non-smoking, no reservations necessary. Accepts cash and debit card.

Treu Bleiben (troy bly-bin)
I didn’t find “Treu Bleiben” until I had already spent months eating my way through Vienna’s cafes and restaurants, but I’m certainly glad I did. Treu Bleiben, which means “stay true” in German, is a normal pub and restaurant during the workweek, but on weekends they serve the best American-style breakfast you’ll find in Vienna. For the culinarily homesick, that means perfectly-done crispy American bacon, eggs, pancakes, oatmeal—everything you’ve been missing amidst all the strudel. It’s located in a very trendy part of town littered with other cafes and plenty of artisanal and vintage shops, so it’s a great way to kick off a Saturday morning of wandering and window-shopping. 

Kirchengasse 20, 1070. Cash-only. Smoking.

MAK Design Lab
While Vienna is lousy with world-class museums, the most exciting of them is the Museum für angewandte Kunst (moo-say-um fyur ahn-geh-vahnd-tuh koonst), or the Museum of Applied Arts. Located in a historic building, the MAK truly has something for everyone with even the faintest interest in crafts, with permanent installations of Asian pottery, Baroque furniture, and more. But the MAK’s true treasure is in the basement “MAK Design Lab,” a dynamic space for conceptualizing and analyzing the role of design and craft both in historical and contemporary society. Filled to the brim with avant-garde furnishings, installations, videos, and interactive components, The MAK Design Lab is a model for how museums can truly engage with their audiences across all ages and demographics. In particular, the MAK Design Lab asks the audience not just to consider aesthetics and style but the role of design in today’s consumerist environment—and even asking the rather provocative question if consumption can even make one happy. 

Stubenring 5, 1010 Wien. Closed Mondays.

Brotfabrik (broht fah-breek)
Away from the hustle and bustle of the inner districts, the “Brotfabrik” is located in the more laid-back tenth district of Vienna. The building itself is a former 120 year-old bread factory that was converted into a “hub” for some of Vienna’s most intriguing contemporary art galleries that cover a variety of media: painting, sculpture, photography, and design. There’s also a restaurant open on weekdays. Make sure you get a spot for the scheduled gallery walks that take place periodically throughout the year! 

Absberggasse 27, 1100 Wien. Check gallery sites for opening hours.

Pronounced simply Moo-zuh, this totally underrated art space is owned by the city of Vienna, meaning it’s free. Now around ten years old, “MUSA” displays art from the city’s permanent collection, which numbers over 35,000 objects, spotlights contemporary Austrian artist, and offers an art library, where the Viennese can borrow works of art on paper for their own homes at low monthly fees. It’s also located right by Vienna’s city hall, so it’s easily accessible by public transit, and is located in the vicinity of plenty of cafes and pubs. It’s not a tourist attraction on the level of what you might expect in Vienna, so no huge crowds in the galleries. 

Felderstraße 6-8, 1010 Wien. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

Kunsthalle Wien (koonst-hahl-luh veen)
The “Kunsthalle Wien” has two locations: one in the centrally-located Karlsplatz, and one in the Museumsquartier, where it rubs shoulders with dozens of other art institutions. The Karlsplatz location is the smaller venue of the two, containing a ritzy restaurant and a glass-walled gallery space, creating the ultimate fishbowl effect, while the Museumsquartier Kunsthalle Wien is where the larger-scale, multi-story blockbuster shows are exhibited. 

Museumsplatz 1 1070 Wien; Treitlstraße 2 1040 Vienna. Open Monday-Sunday.

Humana (hoo-mah-nuh)

This unassuming set of thrift shops is the place to get great clothes on the cheap in Vienna and also know that your money is going to a good cause. “Humana” shops are only one part of the organization “Humana People to People, ”which trains teachers, provides jobs in developing countries, fights climate change and disease—basically, trying to save the world. The clothes on sale in the shops are part of Humana’s goal of reducing waste, as the clothes likely would have ended up in landfills—instead they are recycled around the world in Humana shops for great prices. 

Multiple locations around the city.

Naschmarkt (nosh-markt)

The “Naschmarkt” is the place to go if you love the rush and crowds of marketplaces—you’ll find produce, coffee, tea, and all manner of food and drink, with proprietors exhorting you to take a sample. On Saturdays, though, the real shopping fun happens: the Naschmarkt hosts a huge flea market with stalls selling pretty much every kind of good you can think of, from vintage jewelry to VCRs to records to historical memorabilia.

Wienzeile, 1060 Wien. Closed Sundays.

Danube River

What could be more quintessentially Austrian than taking a springtime stroll along the beautiful blue Danube river? Well, perhaps it’s not more quintessentially Austrian, but relaxing on the banks on a picnic blanket with a good book is definitely a great activity when the weather gets better. Alternately, if you’re a biker, the city’s extensive bike paths are also present here, and if you’re into flora, there are lovely small gardens scattered along the bike and walking paths. Where the river in my native Los Angeles is more an idea than an actual flowing body of water, the Danube is clean enough to swim in, and you’ll never see trash floating on by, even in the parts that are in more populated areas of the city.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

DAY 270: Venetian Holiday

Hello readers! So, so sorry for the massive delay--but I have so many photos and commentaries to share this time around, so hopefully it's worth it!
Spoiler alert... I did this again. From a gallery in Vienna, unrelated to the Biennale but also just hilarious.
Teaching ended a few weeks ago, so I spent the first weekend of June in beautiful, dreamlike Venice! I know, I know, I probably referred to Vienna as a dream earlier on this blog. And it still is! But it's more of a realistic dream, where things are a little more magical and special but still grounded in reality. Venice, conversely, is like the dream having a dream. Dream squared. Dream-ception. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera... it's unreal. The streets and alleys are so narrow, the bridges so quaint and picturesque, the buildings in those bright, red-clay and tumeric-yellow colors... 

I first went to Venice in March/April of 2007, so it was literally over ten years ago. I went for my Bat Mitzvah trip--since I was about as social back at age 13 as I am now (read: not enough for Bat Mitzvah parties), my family decided not to have a party and we took a trip to Italy over spring break. This was when I was becoming an expert on the Italian Renaissance, so I naturally gave my parents tours all over the museums of Italy.
Here is a really blurry photo of me and my dad in Saint Mark's square in spring of 2007, back when I was practically an infant with braces and a head small enough for most hats.
Venice is... wait for it... another TEN-HOUR BUS RIDE from Vienna. I lied when I said I wasn't going to do another bus ride like that again. But it was still a better option than having to change trains a bunch of times, which would have been more expensive and just as long in duration. I left Vienna in the morning from the Hauptbahnhof (howpt-baahn-hohf), the main train station in the city, from the same spot where I'd caught the Berlin bus. I am basically a pro at international bus travel at this point.
Give me charging ports and a wifi connection and I'm basically good to go on any trip.
The bus ride itself was completely fine--I slept on and off, listened to an album I reviewed for PopMatters, and worked on a review for Paste. So basically... exactly what I would have done had I just stayed home and not taken a TEN-HOUR BUS RIDE. I did eat a lot more junk food, but I always end up eating more in general when I do this kind of travel because I never know when I'll have time to get a proper meal at a stop or whether it's just a ten-minute bathroom break and protein bar kind of pause.
Massive Nutella jar that I didn't buy, but holy crap so much Nutella. THREE KILOGRAMS OF SOLID NUTELLA.
On the bridge from the mainland to Venezia...
I was pretty sore when we finally pulled into the Venice station, so I decided to walk to my hotel to stretch my legs and get my blood flowing. I like to walk as much as I can when traveling, both to see the city and to avoid spending money on transit, and since Venice doesn't have subways or buses near the Grand Canal, I figured a gondola ride would be massively overpriced. The sun has finally decided to stay out until around 9pm, so walking the 30-minute trek to my hotel with my suitcase and bags at around 8pm was no hassle at all. After checking in and getting my stuff dropped off into my little single room, I headed out to grab some dinner (I had pasta, of course) and walked around a little bit as the sun finished going down.
Every view looked like this and I wanted to scream a little.
My hotel bathroom had a bidet! ... I think?
Cute little bookstore I ducked into that was still open this late on a Saturday night! (It wasn't that late, but it would have been late for homebody Vienna, who likes to finish shopping by 6pm on Saturdays...)
Time for Venice day one! 

So I came to Venice originally not really having a concrete plan of what to see, which was silly, I know. But I put two and two together and realized that the Biennale, aka the massive show of contemporary art that happens in Venice every two years, was going to be on display when I was there, so I pre-ordered a ticket a few weeks before I left. After all, now I can definitely rock that fancy "oh, well, I did so enjoy the Biennale when I went in 2017--the [insert name here] was a little gauche, but it was so stimulating over all" art critic/curator cred. Also, because of the massive, massive scale of the exhibitions, I was interested in how the curators would tackle making so many artists and so many different works come together in a cohesive way. It seemed quite the Herculean task.
I made someone take a photo of me on the main bridge. But they did a good job!
Aaaand here's me (not on the same bridge) ten years ago, squinting against the sun.
Day one was Biennale day, then, so after walking about forty minutes from my hotel I arrived at the main exhibition hall, which was divided into seven pavilions, all with a different theme, then walked over to some of the country pavilions. The whole display was big and bold and very keen on overwhelming the viewer with large-scale installations in dazzling colors and textures. (I don't like to repeat images I share, so you can check out my summary posts on Instagram.)

Yes, you walk through the GIANT HAND.
Hall of mirrors, anyone?
I have to say I liked the country pavilions on the whole better than the themed pavilions, because they were much more coherent and concise (but that was in their nature). Over 100 countries, many of them with large buildings in a park-area, picked the best of their home artists and put on shows. It was kind of like the costume aspect of The Hunger Games, actually, because some of the buildings themselves also reflected their countries. So on that first day, I went to the American, Japanese, British, Korean, Venezuelan, Italian, Chinese, Canadian, Spanish, and Nordic pavilions, to name just a few.
The American pavilion naturally looks like someone stole it from the University of Virginia.
Venice day two!

So... I dun goofed on this one. Since it was Monday, I didn't realize the Biennale would be closed. I often forget that things are closed on Mondays, for whatever reason, because I've always had to go to school on Mondays, so Mondays are an "on" day just like the other weekdays. But never fear: Venice has plenty of art that was viewable on Mondays! So I decided to walk to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection first, where I'd been with my mom back in 2007, and waited in a relatively long line (twenty or so minutes, but I hadn't had to wait at all for the Biennale) to get in and see the works. There was the permanent collection, of course, but also a really luminous and lovely show by Mark Tobey, which I was not allowed to photograph (sad face). Since it was the summer, the place was crawling with interns--no one I had any mutual acquaintances with, but it wouldn't have surprised me if there had been--giving tours, taking tickets, and generally standing around being helpful. It made me feel both older and wiser (as I've graduated from undergrad and was older than these kids) and nostalgic for my days as an intern...
I call this the Screaming Creature. It's supposed to be a lion--I just found it very amusing to look at. 
Not a part of the Biennale--just a lovely contemporary show of glass in an old palazzo. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when people stage contemporary shows in older buildings. It seems to require a lot of creativity to make sure the effect isn't totally incongruous or jarring, and honestly, it seems like a challenge I would love to undertake in the future.
Loved seeing this Dustin Yellin in the glass show. I actually saw his works a few years ago and wrote about it here--before he was in the LA Times and everything, so it's really cool to see him succeeding abroad.
I went to a few other smaller country pavilions that were open on Monday--some of the countries don't get their own buildings, and so they're scattered around the city and have more discretion about when they want to be open. So, all in all, not a mistake to include a Monday in my trip--just maybe something I definitely should have checked first.

Venice day three!

I went back to the Biennale to check out the pavilions I missed last time, and saw the Australian, German, Finnish, Austrian, Venetian (which gets its own pavilion, for some reason), Polish, Greek, Brazilian, Romanian, Serbian, and Dutch pavilions, to name a few. The Austrian pavilion was a lot of interactive fun, but the Finnish pavilion was, of course, the weirdest. (I listen to Finnish music, so I can confidently say that the Finns' artistic output is on the oddball side.) 
I don't even know how to describe the narrative of what was going on in the Finnish pavilion, but it involved video art, animatronic talking spherical forms, and lots of discussions of Godliness.
Austrian pavilion. I have to get over my sheer terror of accidentally breaking something in an interactive exhibition. There are just so many more of them in Europe than I've probably seen in all my life in the United States. I wonder why the approach to contemporary art is so different across the Atlantic? 
The Venetian pavilion was purposefully gaudy and kind of overwhelming in a bad way, but I have to think that was the point. It was just all covered in gold and shiny surfaces and was extremely loud and hard to look at. I did like this dress though.
In the German pavilion, we were elevated a good foot and a half above the normal floor, standing on panes of glass that freaked me out. Even though I know it was structurally sound, I kept worrying that I was going to fall through a panel or something. 
Ah, my favorite country: the country of Swatch, which got its own sponsor display in a prominent spot in the park.
The next morning, I woke up at an excessively early hour to leave Venice--checking out took exactly zero time, and I'd already packed the night before, so even after walking the half hour to the bus station, I had about an hour and a half to wait before we left. This was an active choice on my part, as my family can tell you, because I like to have two hours of waiting time at the airport after I go through security, just to be on the safe side. I like to be early! 

Walking around the deserted streets of Venice at 6:30 am was rather romantic--just the sound of my loud footsteps and the clatter of my rolling suitcase until I got to the part of the island with buses and trains. I did see a cute little birdie, as pictured below, which was a nice break from the endless pigeons of Venice, who will come for your food even if you are at the table at the time, and you have to scream at them to leave.
I am no orinthologist. Someone get my aunt, uncle, or Jonathan Franzen on the line to identify this bird for me.
So that was my trip to Venice in a nutshell. I ended up having spent exactly the right amount of time for me, and I didn't feel like I'd missed out on anything when I left, unlike Prague, which I really only had a day or two in to explore properly. I guess I'll have to see what Venice is like in 2027, because at the rate I'm going, that would be when I visit it next.

Friday, May 26, 2017

DAY 252: Extra, extra, nothing to say...

Hello readers!

I'm sorry to report that since my last post, not much has actually happened. The weather's started to get warmer, the sun's not going down until 9 pm--I've mainly just been sending a lot of emails and writing up a storm. You can check out the published page of my main site, as always, but since my last post I've published a review of Tramps at BUST Magazine, a piece on David Sedaris' newest book Theft By Finding at PopMatters, a review of Camille Henrot: If Wishes Were Horses for this is tomorrow, and my fancy edited conference paper was published at The Learned Fangirl.  I also went to the Kunsthaus Wien this weekend for another review for the Humble Arts Foundation's blog of a cool photography show, so those should be published within the next few weeks. Exciting times!
Gotta soak up that sun in the yard of the Graphische.
So while I've been doing great on the writing front, it doesn't really translate to lots of exciting photos and stories. I also had strep throat, so I've been in my apartment drinking tea and getting over that, while watching Master of None on Netflix (late, I know), and catching up on my screeners of The Handmaid's Tale. I also got listed on Pajiba's Women/Nonbinary Critics of Film Twitter master list of a few hundred awesome ladies writing about movies. I'm in the company of Emily Nussabaum, Linda Holmes, and Mahnola Dargis--I just tweeted at the article's author at the right time and suddenly voila! (Hint: CTRL+F: "deborah")
On the way to I dreamed we were alive...
... in the bowels of the museum...
Sorry for such a brief, light post--I'll be going to Venice in a little over a week and that should be incredible--I've got my ticket to the Biennale and am stopping for no one!

David Sedaris' publisher tweeted my piece on his book!

... and LittleKuriboh retweeted my essay on Yu-Gi-Oh Abridged!
I haven't had a salad in so long, so I felt the need to document this one from Le Burger.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Day 241: Pulling a Johann Strauss at the Beautiful Blue Danube

Hello readers! I'm back with many photos and not so much news. Clearly the boom-bust cycle of the Deborah Krieger News is a weekly one.

The main event of the past week was the USTA going-away party, which was held at a pub-restaurant in the 16th district called a Heuriger (hoy-ree-gurr). As a Fulbrighter, I have a little over a month left in the country, but the people who are only teaching assistants leave at the end of May. Still, though, many of the Fulbright combined grantees went if only to spend a little time with the American teaching assistants before they left and to get our very official certificates of completion from the Austrian Educational Ministry. I had not gotten the memo that people would be wearing dirndls (deern-dull), or those traditional Austrian dresses that people wear when singing about lonely goatherds and the like, so I came in a normal dress. I also haven't bought a dirndl and I'm not sure if I will--they seem a little expensive, and I'm fairly certain my Austrian ancestors wouldn't have been permitted to wear them back in the day, so buying one feels a little weird to me. Still, some of them have very pretty patterns, and I figure I can always wear my dirndl back in go grocery shopping, or something? Where does one wear a dirndl in Los Angeles, California?
Very cute restaurant and the grape juice (and wine) was free! 
Here I am, all certified and honored for my incredible teaching.
Last week, my teaching was pretty unremarkable aside from the baseball lesson I prepared and taught several times. Yep, you read that right: I prepared a primer on American baseball for my first-year students (14-15 years old), where I provided them with a basic written and verbal summary of the rules, talked about such classic baseball movies as Moneyball and A League of Their Own, told them about Jackie Robinson, and then showed them a clip of funny baseball bloopers. Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not really the sportiest of people, but I realized at Swarthmore that I probably have fairly decent average knowledge through osmosis, since my family loves sports with enthusiasm bordering on mania. I cannot count the number of times my mother screaming at her football team has given me mini heart palpitations, because I thought she was screaming because something was actually wrong, like she'd dropped glass or something. Baseball I am actually pretty familiar with, since I have seen a bunch of games and baseball movies, so I was able to explain the basic rules without having to do a lot of preparation. Below, a photo of the diagrams I drew on the chalkboard for my students, where I explain basic "moneyball," the layout of a baseball diamond, the significance of Jackie's number 42, and why it's called the "pitcher's mound."
I'd like to see my brother teach a lesson on ballet or the Renaissance now. THE GAUNTLET HAS BEEN THROWN, KRIEGER!
On Saturday, I ducked into an arts and crafts fair on Neubaugasse (noy-bow-gah-suh), then headed over to the Burgtheater (bourg-tay-ah-tur) for a lecture by the artist William Kentridge. I was actually really excited for the lecture, because my favorite piece at the new Broad Museum in Los Angeles was actually an animation video by Kentridge, which I've embedded below. I just really liked how he used the sketchy quality of drawing in the transitions, and so more than the Hirst or Koons, this work at the Broad really has stuck with me since I saw it in March 2016. The lecture was pretty entertaining, and was about his process of creating and coming up with concepts, featuring several recent videos he's done.
The Burgtheater is very fancy and ornate and classically Austrian.
A brief shot of the crafts fair, where I did not buy anything (but I did consider getting one of those dirndls).
During the week I also went to visit the Donauinsel (doh-now-in-zul) for the first time. The Donauinsel is basically a little island in the Danube river where people can frolic and play (or jog, or bike, or swim), and it's easily accessible by the U1. A bunch of Fulbrighters and British teaching assistants went to have a picnic, since one of my roommates is actually going home this month to start an internship program back in the states. Being at the Donauinsel on a beautiful sunny day was one of those moments where Vienna didn't feel quite real, and where I almost felt an irrational anger at having to leave it so soon. It's a city that's clean, easy to navigate, well-maintained, and cared-for in terms of infrastructure, and so thinking about the myriad problems of livability when it comes to cities I love in the US makes me wonder why we can't care for our cities on an institutional like the Austrians do for Vienna.
The train lets you off on this bridge, and I went the wrong way the first time to get to the island proper.
On a nerdy note: the Donauinsel is right by the UN building, so I went to check it out because it was used in Captain America: Civil War (for the record, Team Tony even though I love Cap and Falcon).
Lastly, this past weekend I went back to the Brotfabrik to review a photography show for the Humble Arts Foundation's blog, so that should be published fairly soon. I always love going to the Brotfabrik, and having a mission in mind made walking the several miles there all the easier, though I did cheat and take the train back home. 
It was a really great show--about cults and esoteric groups and pseudoscientific rituals!
On the writing front, I've had a lot of pieces in the pipeline for a few days now, so keep an eye on the published section of my main site: I wrote about Sense8's second season premiere and Riverdale's finale for PopMatters and the movie Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging for BitchFlicks (which have been published already), and I have an artist profile, a writeup on gaucho pants (not kidding), and several book reviews also waiting to be published for various outlets. Exciting times!

Miscellany of the week:
  • I always love it when the Vienna public housing buildings have mosaics and murals on them--I wish I could document each one!
Spotted in the 16th.
Spotted in the 16th again!
Love me some bas-reliefs...also in the 16th.
I think this one's in the 10th. I took it on the way to the Brotfabrik...
  • This one very modern clothes shop near Treu Bleiben, my weekend brunch spot, had this on the floor. I'm not quite sure what it means, but it's probably art.
The people in the store were just going about business as usual...

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Day 230: Stories of Strobl (also known as: why is it snowing in late April?!)

Hello dear readers!

This week's post actually has some news in it alongside the usual beautiful photos of me making faces in various European cities. On Thursday April 27, all of the Fulbright grantees--students and scholars alike--traveled to the lovely small town of Strobl (shtroh-bull), which makes Belle's "provincial town" look like a metropolis. It's closer to Salzburg than to Vienna, and was about 3.5 hours by bus, not including the short time we spent at a rest stop stocking up on snacks. The event in question was the Fulbright Seminar in American Studies, a much more intimidating-sounding conference than it ended up being (thank goodness!). Along for the ride with the American Fulbrighters were the new Austrian Fulbrighters--the ones who are going to teach and study in the United States later in 2017. After all, as we learned during our September orientation, the Fulbright Commission is binational, and works both ways: sending people like me to Austria, and Austrian students to the United States. 
Inevitable selfie taken just before the start of the poster session, where my quizzical brow fails to hide my nervousness.
When we arrived at the Strobl conference center, we quickly settled into our rather nice rooms and got to mingling and organized discussions. The little conference center was actually more like El Capitan--isolated, rural, with multiple buildings, although the buildings were not cabins, but rather more like the hostel we previously stayed in for the St. Pölten orientation way back in 2016. Each discussion group, which met several times during the seminar, was made up of both Austrians and Americans, and each discussed various important issues such as racism, social media, cities, the European Union, infrastructure, and more. It was incredibly vital having both Austrian and American perspectives on these issues, because the discussions really highlighted just how different these countries are in terms of how their inhabitants see one another, and how they see the role of government in their lives.
One of the cute little buildings at the conference site. On the day of arrival...
... the spooky lighting and vibe of the first night...
...and here is the campus the following morning, covered in SNOW. WHY. STOP.
Sprinkled amidst the meals and discussion sessions were lectures given by the American Fulbright Scholars on issues related to the discussions the students had taken part in. One of the professors was actually a Swarthmore alumna, and it was extremely statistically unlikely that two Swarthmore grads would end up at the same tiny conference center in the same small town in the same small country at the same time, but I've noticed that Swarthmore seems to pop up in places and in situations where I least expect it to. 

The centerpiece and main event of the seminar was the Fulbright research presentations. While most of my colleagues had lovely posters made detailing their work on this grant, I realized I had too many images and videos related to my artists to make printing something out feasible. So, naturally, I made another blog, which is now the living archive of my research (and is still currently in progress). It was a little awkward standing next to my laptop while everyone else had a giant poster, but I did get to have some really great conversations with both Austrian and American Fulbrighters, and because it was a poster session format, I didn't have to speak to everyone at once--people walked around the room and asked questions as they saw fit.
Courtesy Fulbright Austria: me explaining things about my project!!
People milling about the poster session. All very fancy and professional.
The morning of our departure, a few Austrian students/scholars and I decided to explore the small town of Strobl, beginning with an idyllic lakeside stroll. The scenery on that last day was fresh and green, and the shoreline looked straight out of a Scandinavian crime drama (just add fog and some dark electronic music).
This is what I get for not being careful with which direction the sun was shining.
See what I mean about the crime drama aspect? I wanted to put on some latex gloves and start pulling stones out of the water for the evidence locker, or something.
Too cold for a swim. But the water sure looked clear!
I just liked that the profile of this bust looked kind of like Frances McDormand.
Maybe? A slight resemblance? Hm.
It's just so strange that I have fewer than two months left here. I've been taking walks around Vienna in the evening now that the weather is generally warm-ish and the sun doesn't set so early, and I'm just struck by how much of it I haven't gotten to see yet. I'm pretty sure I haven't been in at least a third of the districts for any substantial amount of time, and yet I'm finding myself reluctant to keep exploring, weirdly enough. It's just that when I leave Vienna, I don't know when or if I'll ever be back, and I don't want to keep finding things that I know I'll miss, because I already have enough that will make me probably cry on the plane ride home. It'll be nice to be back in Los Angeles, and then wherever I end up (depending on the job hunt), but I would have liked to be able to stay a little longer. The more news I get from home, the more I wish I could stay at least a few more months. Sometimes when I go for my walks, I'm just struck by this awful melancholy about going. Part of it is trepidation about the future, but part of it is that I'm never going to have this kind of opportunity to live in Europe with relatively few cares and obligations at any later date in my life.

Teaching ends in late May, which frees up a lot of my time! I've already planned and booked a bus trip to Venice for a few days, because I haven't been in literally ten years, and it's such a magical place that I want to see again before it becomes completely submerged in the waters of the harbor. 

Miscellany of the week:
  • My new favorite weekend brunch place is called Treu Bleiben (troy-blye-bin) which means "Stay True." One of the employees is American, and they serve great fried eggs and American-style crispy bacon, which I have sorely been missing. It's a good place to sit and do work as well--people do smoke there, but they keep the windows open, so it's not too bad. 
Ugh. I missed this so much. Plus their wi-fi is fast and reliable, so this is where I plan to live on Sundays since not much else is open...
The interior of Treu Bleiben. Very cozy. I could see this place existing in Swarthmore, except for the fact that it's a bar on the weekdays. But the vibe is chill, and the prices are pretty good!
  • Walking along some street in Vienna, I spotted a bakery apparently designed for men who are worried that bakeries aren't masculine enough:
  • I also walk by this really cool building several times a week (since it's near my primo sushi spot), so I thought I'd finally include it!
I think it's both an art gallery and an art supply store?
  • Lastly, please enjoy some photos of the cat I met at the Strobl conference center after dinner on the first night. I am not sure if it was actually enough of a real black cat to be suspicious of, because some parts of its fur looked brownish. We'll see!
"What're you lookin' at?"
"Fine, fine, you win..."