I confess that I was not really in a good mood this morning when I woke up - I know I complain about the hostel room but seriously, last night one girl decides at 1am that now is the time to go through all her bags and sort through every kind of plastic and paper bag and repeatedly drop her suitcase. I think I may have said something but to be honest I can't be sure - I was a little delirious by that point. Maybe it was someone else!
Anyway, this being a Sunday I went to mass this morning - the high mass at St Stephen's Cathedral in the centre of Vienna - it's being renovated at the moment so there's scaffolding all around it, except (and this made me laugh) they have wrapped the Cathedral in plastic that has a photo of what the Cathedral would look like if the plastic were not there. They're conscientious, the Viennese - I'll give them that!
The Cathedral was packed which was heartening to see. The mass was entirely in German but I know the procedure of the liturgy well enough to say the responses in English - and I've found a lot of German is coming back to me from high school.
The Cathedral is once again very impressive - it's often hard to know where to look when you step into such magnificent buildings - and when Catholics churches are ornate, they are extremely ornate! I love how I can sit there for long periods of time, just looking. If you pay close enough attention, you can see that there is a story to the architecture - in fact, I think for the first time I am truly understanding the beauty in buildings - they are like poems in that everything in them is there for a reason.
After mass I was really hungry and didn't even bother to go searching for somewhere nice to eat and headed straight to McDonalds and ate a hamburger. Before I left Australia for Europe I hadn't eaten McDonalds for months, perhaps even a year or two. Now it seems like I'm going every few days, dammit! When I get back it's vegetables in every meal! Because it was early I managed to beat the lunch rush and scored a table.
Oh, and now I must humbly admit that it is extremely cold here. Not until now have I thought Europe cold but man, Vienna is absolutely freezing. It's so cold that after 1 minute being outside my ears and nose hurt like crazy and my hands throb! I'll admit it takes the fun out of sight-seeing when you're gasping because the air is so cold when you breathe! I found myself going into every store I could to get 5 minutes of warmth, then ducking back out again.
I had heard that Peterskirche (St Peter's Church) was definitely a highlight of Vienna and as it was a Sunday I thought I'd get in 2 visits to church :) This church was much smaller but actually far more ornate than St Stephens. It had a beautiful atmosphere and is actually an Opus Dei chruch so there was a section dedicted to St Josemaria Escriva. We were allowed to take photos in this church and as there were no postcards to purchase of the really good bits, I took a few shots.
The high Altar
Looking towards the back of the Church - you can see the organ.
An altar to St Michael the Archangel - the grey part at the bottom of the shot is actually the bones of a martyr killed during the Middle Ages in Rome, brought back to the Church.
After this I felt sooo ready for a coffee and would you believe that after only 15 mins of walking I found a really nice cafe! It was not busy at all, and given that it was right next to a Starbucks where it was impossible to get in, I was happy to chose the former one. Oh, I cannot express the bliss of being able to sit in the warmth and read Middlemarch!! I really am loving it now - I'm past halfway and at this rate will have it finished in the next week I think. I will have to find an English bookshop in Rome and buy another classic!!
After a few hours and 2 coffees I made my way back to the hostel. To be honest, this morning I had planned to go to the Fine Arts Museum (which is opposite the Natural History Museum) but I felt a little museumed out today and I imagine it would have been packed with the weather being so cold. Tomorrow most of the city attractions are closed (apparently Monday is the day of rest!) so I think I will perhaps go to a Christmas market and stick around the warmth of the hostel.
Lastly, here's a few shots of the area around St Stephen's Cathedral - it's the trendy area.