What’s wrong with me? I think you’re crazy. I want a second opinion. You’re also lazy . Dr. Zaius! Dr. Zaius!
So last night as I was trying to find a way to fall asleep with my head resting on a metal as the pillows are way to thin in this hostel (everything else is great but I have seen fatter runway models), I noticed something about Vienna. Okay it might just be about my hostel, my hostel on this night or even my specific roommates but there seems to be a lot of people travelling Vienna with their parents (i.e. People my age with parents my parents age). I dont know if I could ever do that though. Like Vienna really isnt a party town but still a long car journey with the folks can be enough sometimes let alone the 24/7 togetherness, stress and lack of comfort of backpacking with your parents. I think I can live with each of us having separate adventures and reporting back…
I had changed my plans about what I was going to do today a million times in my head. In the end I decided on the Sigmund Freud Museum and the House of Music. I will tackle the palaces tomorrow and Sunday. The Sigmund Freud Museum interested me as I know very little about psychology and psychiatry. The little I do know is based on what I have heard from mates who are a studying it in between my stupid jokes about the fact that I learn a proper science 😛
The museum is set in his old apartment where he lived and practiced for a lot of years before escaping when the Nazis arrived as he was Jewish. The first few rooms (once you eventually find someone to take your money and give you an audio guide…you wouldn’t think THAT would be that hard but it was) are set up basically as they wouldve been when he lived there. The same furniture, the same hat and cane, etc. That is pretty cool as you take a step back in time. Unfortunately all the material from his consulting room and office are now in London as he took them there when he fled the Nazis so those rooms have been turned in to a more museumy chronology of his life and work. When you compare it to the Dickens Museum in London there is less reliance on this is the real stuff and a little bit more on explanation on the man and his work…both ways worked well though.
The audio guide was well put together as well as it made sure to point out the most interesting exhibits and his more interesting quirks. He was such a tobacco addict that when he was told he couldnt smoke anymore for health reasons he gave up writing his books for instance. However, what I did manage to learn was to get the slightest of insights in to what all this Freudian theory is about. Okay I will not be able to hold a conversation on the issue, but I will feel less stupid when the topic comes up 😛
Afterwards I worked my way back in to the centre of Vienna (I am quite good at these european transport systems by now) and went off in search of the House of Music. Vienna is famous for its music. Mozart, Beethoven, etc all spent a large amount of their lives living and working here and you cant go two steps without someone dressed as Mozart offering you tickets to a performance. When I set myself the task of investigating this side of Vienna it was hard to find a place that gave a well rounded view. From all reports though the House of Music was what I was looking for. I did manage to find it in the end, after popping in to a few churches that just sit inconspicuously on the main shopping street, and it was definitely what I wanted.
The House of Music is divided in to a series of floors and each floor is quite distinct. The first floor is basically the history of the Vienna Philharmonic. Think old photos, lists of performances, music of old performances and old batons of famous composers. I may not be selling it well but it was quite an interesting section particularly as it has had to deal with the political changes in Vienna over the past 150 years. There was even a cool game where you could ínvent your own waltz based on rolling a dice or two with over 1000000 combinations possible…this would be the start of many cool interactive/futuristic parts to the place.
The second floor was BY FAR the coolest floor. I will start off by saying that this may get a little geeky but trust me it is cool (I have a feeling Steve would’ve loved this as much as I did). Basically the floor is all about what is sound and how we hear, but it is done in such an interesting way. You start by ascending the stairs through visual and physical representations of sound (sounds weird but it is true), then there is the womb room which recreates the vibrations sounds and senses that a baby feels in the womb – a freaky room, before we starting breaking down sound and music in to its components. The whole floor has a neon, plasma screens and black walls kind of feel to it – think of a geeky night club. One of the coolest of the many cool interactive exhibits was the one where by delaying the sound of your voice coming in to headphones you would find yourself unable to speak. It was freaky. The floor ends with a room which is a music/light show of Beethoven Reloaded (futuristic reworkings of his music) which was amazing. Think the Matrix Reloaded if it didn’t suck haha
The next floor takes you through a series of individual rooms dedicated to the great composers of Vienna (Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert and colleagues). There are some personal affects including Schubert’s Glasses and the door of the apartment where Beethoven died as well as many different parts telling you about their work and personal lives. Unsurprisingly there was a lot of mention of childhood deaths of sons, daughters, brothers and sisters as well as a lot of mistresses mentioned – I think that defines the time period quite well! As someone who has played a fair few instruments and a bit of classic music in his time it was great to learn a bit more about the people and influences that lead to the music. I even found myself enjoying the classic music more than I have in a long time…Miss Mac would be proud 😉
The floor ends with you having the ability to conduct a virtual orchestra which is amazingly fun. The musicians on the screen are so responsive to the slightest tip of the baton and eventually if you screw up too much they crack it and stop playing and yell at you. My musical abilities weren’t too bad though. I managed to conduct about 3 minutes of beautiful music before the shit hit the proverbial fan.
The final floor before you hit the shop is even weirder than the floors below. It is dedicated to the Brain Orchestra which is about allowing people who cant hear or play music traditionally experience the sensations ala Mr Hollands Opus. You play music by wavign you arms and driving a car around a music track and the like. It is very fun. It also makes the point about the music in everyday life resulting from the noises of the world – a car driving, people talking, a phone ringing, etc.
Overall it is the kind of museum that has left the stuffy old idea of what a museum behind. You learn loads (i learnt more about wavelengths and frequencies than I did in all those years of physics) but in very cool ways. A real highlight of my travels so far!
On the way back home I took advantage of the sun (which wasn’t yet the forecast rain and thunderstorms) and climbed the St Stephens Cathedral tower. The views were great but it really seems that Vienna is a city of two faces. Yesterday as I walked around at street level it was really beautiful but from above it was rather ugly. Prague, Bruges and Copenhagen were definitely much better looking cities from this birds eye view. I wouldn’t have thought there would be such a contrast.
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