Tuesday, November 3, 2009


We decided to spend Halloween in Vienna. Or rather, Ryan's company decided to send him on back-to-back business trips to Bavaria and Vienna, and I decided to crash the weekend. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but sadly it is not much celebrated in Europe. Germans and Austrians prefer to focus on the day after, "All Saints Day" by decorating graves and listening to sermons.

Still, we managed to find some creepy things to do on our Saturday in Vienna. There were two crypts listed in our various guide books, the "Kaisergruft" where many of the Hapsburg royalty are buried, and one under the St. Stephen's Cathedral. We started with the Kaisergruft which was a show of very fancy and creepy coffins.

But I was largely disappointed. It was described as a Capuchin Crypt, and I was picturing this one in Rome. But there were no bones, unlike the awesome city crypt in Paris.

However, at St. Stephen's we were in for a treat. The tour, with our eager if not totally fluent guide started with some coffins of recent bishops, then moved to the jars of mummified Hapsburg organs! And just when I thought the tour was over, we stepped through a door and left the smooth marble hallways for a bumpy ancient passage. We saw rooms filled with bones from the mass burials during the plague. Mozart was dumped in such a grave, though at St. Mark's, not St. Stephen's. It was very creepy!

That night we topped it off with a performance of Mozart's "Requiem" in the Cathedral. I've been interested in this piece since I finally saw "Amadeus" last year. Mozart died before finishing it, the movie posits that writing it killed him. The music was very emotional-- seeming to cover the gambit of reactions and thoughts about death. Parts were serene enough to lull one to sleep and the next movement was all bass voices and unresolved cords, ringing dissonance through the dimly lit church.

On the way home I said to Ryan "Hey look, two vampires at the ATM." He looked for a long moment, and finally said, "Oh right, its Halloween."

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