Monthly Archives: July 2010
Solitude is underrated.
Nowadays, people are so concerned with being connected with others that they’ve forgotten how to be with themselves. Even when they are alone, they anxiously grasp for others, through Facebook, Twitter, text messaging, lest they are overlooked for even a minute. How much time in a day do people truly spend on their own? How many people would voluntarily go see a movie by themselves? Or not contact anyone for even a day? When I choose to eat lunch alone some days, I’m often looked upon with pity. Why do people assume indubitably that it was not my deliberate choice to not have company? Being alone does not have to mean being lonely.
Today was a day I chose to spend in my own company. No effort to coordinate a time and place to meet, no pressure of making conversation, no disagreement over where to go and how long to spend there; there was only total freedom. I got up at 11 in the morning, showered and dressed, went grocery shopping, mailed a letter at the post office, and was off on my own little adventure. Navigating the streets of Vienna alone, I had finally found a chance to make some use of my guide book and map. Armed with these tools, along with a bottle of water, my camera, and my handy transit pass, I was ready to make this day amazing.
The weather was the perfect kind. Sunny with occasional clouds, breezy, and the temperature comfortably warm. My first stop was Stadtpark. What a wonderful place to begin the journey. As soon as I stepped into the lush greenery, all my worries melted away and all I felt was a tranquil kind of joy. Neat rows of park benches lined the curved paths that wound through the grass and beautiful shrubs and flowers and ponds. Statues and monuments were to be found every dozen steps, but of course, the most famous one being the gilded bronze statue of Johann Strauss.
A busker plays the accordion beautifully. In this oasis of a park, music flowing through the air, sun shining warmly on my skin… it was the happiest I’ve felt in a long time in this city.
After walking through Stadtpark for some time, I decided to go visit the Museum of Applied Arts that’s just next to it. The museum has free admission every Saturday, so I knew I couldn’t miss my chance. The building itself was gorgeous, in Italian Renaissance style.
The collection was odd, eclectic to say the least, but so very wonderful. I absolutely loved it. The pieces on display ranged from textiles to furniture, glassware to jewelery, book covers and illustrations to lace, ancient Chinese vessels to modern art installations to a fully reconstructed Frankfurt kitchen. I was first greeted with a long corridor lined on both sides with silhouettes of chairs illuminated behind a screen; what a way to make an entrance.
I think my favorite was the seating furniture exhibit. So many bizarre and creative pieces. But due to the grumpy looking old man standing watch at the door of the hall, I was unable to take pictures of the collection. The design shop at the museum was also to die for; I wanted to own every book, every lighting fixture, every little useless-but-oh-so-pretty knickknack in the shop. But I was on a poor student’s budget, so I breathed a deep breathe and left empty handed. But I was still happy, because that’s how art makes me feel.
My next destination was somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit since a few weeks ago, the Hundertwasserhaus. Designed by Austrian artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the edifice has a dreamlike quality to it. Colorful, uneven lines defined the place, where no surface is undecorated and no pavement is flat. Adult convention and formality is replaced by childlike charm and cheerfulness.
How I long to be one of those lucky people who get to live in such a fairytale every day.
After the first 3 sights in this area, I took the subway to the multifaceted Naschmarkt area of the city. My second art-related visit of the day took the shape of the Vienna Secession building. Like so many other places in this city, the building itself was a work of art.
Of course, the masterpiece of the place was Gustav Klimt’s Beethoven Frieze. The 34 meter long fresco was a sight to behold, and I could almost feel a sense of holiness in the room that houses it. I did manage to sneak a couple of photos of portions of the painting, but they are such a poor representation of the piece that I won’t even bother with them. The beauty of it can only be appreciate in person.
Besides the frieze, there were also numerous other interesting collections in the building, including this disco ball under bright red light:
A series of ironic motivational posters:
And possibly my favourite, a swing fixed to the ceiling, which the viewer can sit on, and videos of moving background projected onto the wall.
I tried unsuccessfully to pace the cycle of my swing to match the video; perhaps this discrepancy was intended and the dizziness that results was meant to be part of the experience.
After leaving the Secession building, I walked towards the bustling Naschmarkt, a colorful place with hundreds of stalls. Shops with vendors selling fruits, vegetables, nuts, spices, meat, seafood… cafes, food stands, and restaurants of all kinds… the market was a feast for the senses.
The smell of food from all around me made my stomach grumble, and I couldn’t resist anymore and bought myself a delicious vegetarian falafel sandwich. Squeezing through the crowd, my hunger fulfilled, I glanced across the street to find two of Otto Wagner’s art nouveau style buildings, the Wagner Haus and the Majolika House.
The Saturday flea market was also happening, and tables and makeshift stalls were flowing with treasures from the past.
Vendors from the flea market were starting to pack up, and I looked at my watch to find that it was already 5. As I prepared to go home, my feet were sore but my heart was singing. I saw more of what I really wanted to see of Vienna in a day than all my other time here combined. So, thank you, me, for a truly amazing time.
Okay, I think I’ve written enough about a certain tiered trench coat worn once by a certain Robin character on a certain TV show on this blog now, so I won’t even bother to link all my previous posts (just search “coat” and you’ll find them). After missing out on the Athropologie Two Path Trench earlier this year, I was seriously regretting not getting it. It is sold out absolutely everywhere, even eBay has only a size 14 at the moment (I’m still on the watch for it). By the way, if anyone, ANYONE, knows where I can get one, please let me know.
Anyways. So. Another find. This time, it’s not a trench, but a winter coat. But guess who has been looking for a long, warm winter coat lately? This girl right here. So when I saw this tiered BB Dakota coat on Modcloth today, I seriously started hyperventilating.
I wanted to add to cart, check out, fill in my shipping and billing info right then and there! But, being the smart shopper that I am, I decided to check out if it was being sold anywhere else. And indeed, there were quite a few other sites that had it. Hmmm… now I just need to decide if I should invest my hard earned money in it! What do you think?
Okay, I’ve got a confession to make. I love weddings. I’ve never actually been to a wedding before, nor am I one of those girls who have dreamed of having their perfect wedding ever since they were 5. No, I love weddings simply because they are just so astonishingly beautiful. I love all things design and aesthetically pleasing, and weddings are just that. The colours, the textures, the dresses, the flowers, the centerpieces, the way the whole look comes together… I just can’t get over them. I have a ton of wedding design blogs bookmarked and they always make me feel happy when I visit. I gasp and gush over the prettiness every time, but last night I think I was so awed that I just sat in my chair, mouth agape, and could not believe what I saw. I must share.
One of the sites in my bookmarked collection is Nonpareil, a gorgeous online wedding design and inspiration magazine. The theme of their latest issue is A Silver Screen Soiree, an “hommage to some of the most stylistically influential pieces of the large and small screen.” When I looked inside, my heart just melted.
What wonderful picks for the sources of inspiration! Chocolat, Alice in Wonderland, Lord of the Rings, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Mad Men…. and the following, which are my favourites.
Pride and Prejudice. Supposedly the 1995 BBC mini-series, but really, I’ll take Austen’s world in any way they come. This is seriously so gorgeous.
The only thing missing is Mr. Darcy!
The next feature is inspired by The Great Gatsby… probably my favourite book in the world. Oh the Jazz Age…
Then comes my absolute favourite – Amélie. I think I almost squealed when I saw this. Too cute.
I love the movie and this wedding would be so perfect. And I really want that Eiffel Tower hat box. No, I don’t really know what I would use it for, but I want it. Sigh. So beautiful.
Setting: walking past a gift shop on Broadway near Columbia. A Hello Kitty bag with the letters “I <3 HK” hangs in the display.
Me: What does HK stand for?
Yufei: Mmm I dunno?
Me: Hong Kong?
About a month later, walking past the same display.
Yufei: I think HK stands for Hello Kitty.
Me: OHHHHHHH. That would make a lot of sense.
Sometimes I wonder how I got into Columbia.
So it’s been two weeks since I arrived in Vienna and I guess now would be a good time for a little update.
My internship has been going okay, but it’s a lot of work. I guess that’s what a full time job feels like. I’m usually at the lab by 8:30 am and leave at around 6 or 7, and sometimes have to go even on weekends. Right now I’m setting up crosses of my flies and doing behavior screenings, but as soon as I finish that (around 400 more lines of flies to go) I will get to dissect the positive lines and stain the brains and ventral nerve cords to see expression in the neurons. So my supervisor decided to “teach” me dissection the other day, which involved showing me this Youtube video of this Japanese guy dissecting a fly brain like he was peeling an orange (see below), then plunking me down in front of the microscope with a vial of flies and two very expensive forceps. Needless to say, it was much harder than peeling an orange and all I ended up with was a dissecting dish scattered with fly carcasses. Better luck next time. But seriously, trying to handle the brain of an animal that has a head the size of a grain of sand is next to impossible.
I haven’t really been working for two full weeks though, since last week the whole lab went on their annual lab retreat from Thursday to Saturday. I felt a little guilty going with everyone since I’ve only been working for three days by then, but they insisted that I come. We went to a place called Steindorf am Ossiacher See, a five-hour train ride away from Vienna. We stayed beside this lovely lake, and our room had a beautiful view:
I had a great time lying on the beach chairs by the lake shore, peddle boating, and kayaking.
This really cute duck family often came to visit :)
After getting back from the retreat late last Saturday night, I was determined to finally go see some sights in Vienna after missing two Saturday outings already. So on Sunday I dragged a couple of my new friends and took the subway into the city center. First stop was Vienna’s landmark, the Stephansdom. The front facade was under construction unfortunately, but it was still a magnificent building.
Next was Hofburg Palace:
The National Library (this puts Butler to shame):
Some museum I think?
I’m not sure what church this is, but I love it Nevermind, it’s the Rathaus, aka City Hall:
As you may have noticed, I didn’t go inside any of these places. I just wanted to walk around and see everything first, and maybe later I’ll take the time to visit the ones that interest me. I really want to go see Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss at the Belvedere, but some people from my group already went last Saturday, so maybe I’ll find someone else to go with me, or maybe just go myself because I don’t think anyone else is as much of an art geek as me. Also really want to see the Hundertwasserhaus because I think it looks so creative and fun. Must make the most of my time here!
Last night I went to this Chinese restaurant near the place I live with a friend. The food was quite good… boy do I miss Asian food. I also found an Asian vegetarian restaurant nearby, so I’ll be sure to go check it out soon. And yes, I am still keeping up with my vegetarianism for the summer. It’s been going quite well actually, the vegetarian option at the cafeteria every day helps a lot. Though I’ve been tempted a few times I must admit… by bacon, salmon, and chicken salad. At least now I know what kind of meat I really love.
PS: A thunderstorm is happening right now. I love it. there’s just something awe-inspiring about thunderstorms. Also hopefully this means the heat will finally die down a little tomorrow.