Vienna – Day 1

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Peter’s blog for the day would consist of “Went to the conference, networked as only I can do. Had fun.” So this is Majella taking over for a few days.

Joel and I prepared for our first day without Peter. He was up and out of the hotel bright and early ready to attend his first day of conference. Joel and I had our day planned and I had my Vienna Card which gives me free access on all public transport for three days plus discounts at a number of attractions. At €18,50, it is a good deal. As an accompanying child under 14, Joel is free. That’s an even better deal.

Joel enjoyed the zoo and was friendly with at least one of the inhabitants.

Our nearest underground station was only one block from our hotel and after breakfast we headed off for the Schoenbrunn Zoo. We were amused that the first animals we saw were koalas and wallabies. Joel enjoyed seeing the animals and showed his first enthusiasm for photography. Up till now he has only taken about 20 photos. Today he took 120. I was also snapping happily until my memory card ran out. We saw giant pandas, bears of all shapes and sizes, some interesting birds, and even some Tyrolean farm animals. The zoo is set in the precincts of the Schoenbrunn castle and there is a spectacular green house in the gardens which contained exotic palms.

After the zoo, we took the “U” back to the city and tried to locate the Natural History Museum which was the second destination planned for the day. Despite having a detailed map, without the aid of Peter or TomTom, I got us completely lost. We wandered fairly aimlessly around the Museum Quarter until I finally asked for directions. As I expected, we were quite a way from where we wanted to be. In fact, the Natural History Museum was about 100 m from the station where we had exited about an hour before. We finally made it to the front door only to find that it was closed on Tuesdays! We decided to go shopping.

We were soon back on the “U” and into the main city centre. However, we took the wrong exit and were not in the shopping area at all. More aimless wandering serendipitously led us to the Haus der Musik (House of Music), an attraction we had listed to see later in the week. We went in and were very impressed by the high tech interactive displays. The first room gave various sensory experiences, and the activities in the next set were quite challenging and really required a good knowledge of and/or interest in physics to get the full benefit. There was also a series of displays about Viennese classical musicians including Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler and others. The next section offered an opportunity to conduct an orchestra. A video representation of an orchestra followed the signal from an electronic baton. We watched 2 Japanese women enjoying this activity. They didn’t look as though they were going to relinquish the baton in a hurry, so we moved on. The next section was an interactive “brain music” display. All sorts of electronics enabled us to make our own original compositions. We had lots of fun using the various stations and then Joel found the museum shop even more interesting. There was a variety of instruments that caught his eye, and he purchased  one made from half a gourd with a wooden sounding board and flattened metal prongs which are plucked to make the sound. He has been playing it ever since. It’s been a magical musical day. Peter presented his paper today and he was very pleased with its reception. He arrived home after 8pm.