Wow, has it really been a week since I last posted? It feels like it was just yesterday. As a result, I don't really have very much to report compared to my photo- and anecdote-palooza.
On New Years' Eve, I met up with some fellow Fulbrighters and we ate some delicious falafel, then went to go drink some hot punch in the freezing cold. There were lots of little stages set up all over town by drink stands, so we enjoyed some fruity deliciousness in cute little toadstool mugs (that we got to keep because when you buy the drink you give the proprietor a deposit for the mug as well). Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling too good, so I spent the countdown tucked into my nice warm bed rather than with other people. Maybe next year...
I love this mug and I will take care to ship it home in many layers of bubble wrap.
I did not know any of the songs.
On Tuesday, another Fulbrighter and I took the local train to Baden, home of the famous Römertherme baths! For around thirty euro we got to spend the day swimming in the various pools, some of which were outside and had some truly mineral-y sulfur water, and lounging in any of over five different kinds of sauna and steam baths. My favorite pool was the hottest pool, which is actually outside, so it provided a very luxurious contrast between the water and the 20-something degrees Fahrenheit of the air. My favorite sauna was the coolest sauna, which wasn't that cool, but which allowed me to sweat and still breathe comfortably. (I lasted about thirty seconds in the eucalyptus steam room because I thought I wouldn't be able to take in that sweet, sweet oxygen.) They also had a beautiful wood-paneled outdoor sauna, but I didn't stay long because there was a rather inquisitive child in the sauna, which was not really conducive to relaxing.
Yes, that is snow-ish on the ground. It was really cold!
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the bath day for me on a cultural level was the mandatory sauna nudity. I've been in a sauna once or twice, but it was still a little uncomfortable for me to be naked. It felt like the beginning of those nightmares where you realize that you're naked when you're not supposed to be--I kept grabbing my towel, worrying that someone would see me and inform me that I had wandered into a clothing-mandatory section. Luckily, the spa marked the naked versus the clothed sections of the facility very clearly, so this scenario was confined to my brain.
Look at me, relaxing with my extremely sneezy red nose. All the benefits of lying out by the pool with no chance of sunburn!
If you squint, you can see my reflection as I take this photo!
On Wednesday, I woke up and hiked over to a cafe in the first district, where I conducted my last scheduled interview for the initial stage of my research--I talked with the filmmaker Ruth Beckermann over tea, and we talked about the aesthetics and politics of her films, which I hope to see more of if I can continue to borrow my roommate's laptop (I don't have a dvd player in my computer, and her films are only available to me on dvd from the nearby library). But I'm excited to become an expert in her style and form, as well as her approach to the material, which ranges from her own family, to strike workers, to famous poets of times past.
The last highlight of this gentle week was Friday night, when I waited in the cold (sensing a theme here?) at the Gartenbaukino, where I caught Arrival and Certain Women during the Vienna Film Festival, to see La La Land. Unfortunately, La La Land was not my favorite film of 2016--I had already called that for Arrival, but Damien Chazelle's latest didn't change my mind. It was very beautifully done, and some of the dance sequences were marvelous, but I'm still turning it over in my mind, and I think some aspects of the story and plotting were not as strong as they could be. The performances were great, naturally, except for the singing, which was... adequate.
People kept talking during the movie, especially the girls next to me who looked to be around my age. I was really annoyed at them.
Random observations of the week:
- I also am finally getting back into yoga, after not doing any since I left LA. I took one class on Friday, which was pretty good, but it's very tough to do yoga in German because your brain is working overtime to listen to the instructor. Although I guess I could just copy the person in front of me, but my ballet training frowns upon that.
- Walking around is still an adventure, because you never know what you'll see on the streets.
- I love me some good graphic design. The MuseumsQuartier area near-ish where I live has some great posters--I'm not sure if they're picking a new logo, or just playing with the Q....
|Exhibit A: Time travel!|
Exhibit B: I want this scooter!