Opera, Alps and Comfort in the Prolonged Stay.

Katie Holdcroft
September 19, 2016

There in a minute, gone in a flash, and just like that the three week German intensive courses are over, and we have a week off to pretend that more difficult school work doesn’t lurk on the horizon. A lot has happened in the last three weeks and without German ending and normal classes starting up it would be difficult to measure the progression of time. Since arriving in Austria I’ve done many things, a lot of them involving wine, and a lot of them involving opera, and even more of them involving wine and opera combined to create Katie, emotional mess edition. But what can I say? I’m a sucker for that vibrato. And four Euros, and three hours of standing in a velvet lined corral is a small price to pay in order to experience Georges Bizet’s Carmen on the live stage. And thanks to 2016 and its technological marvels, the audience, including the non-french speaking attendants such as myself, could follow along via small translation screens staggered amongst the rows. The idea of the screens is spectacular considering a majority of operas are in either french or italian, both of which are completely lost on me, even with two years high school french, (sorry Madam Noguez). However, by the time Don José was beginning to realize that the lovely gypsy Carman would never return his love, I began to question the source of a unsettling neck ache and in result my screen’s overall practicality.

I also took the train to Salzburg last weekend, to dance amongst the Alps Julie Andrews style. I imagine the citizens of Salzburg however, feel the same way about The Sound of Music as the citizens of Forks, Washington might about Twilight. There were Sound of Music bus tours, bike rides, cut outs; the wifi password at my hostel was soundofmusic, and guess what? I loved it. I was absolutely the worst kind of tourist Salzburg could never hope for. I was cheerful, I was excited, and I would not shut up singing every Sound of Music tune I knew. And I knew quite a few considering I peaked my senior year of high school as Baroness Schraeder in my school’s production of The Sound of Music. Due to my musical theater induced excitement, the real peak of the weekend was biking out to the what I could have only hoped was the Von Trapp estate to see the Gazebo from the infamous 16 going on 17 music number between, Liesl and Rolf. My weekend tribe and I rented bikes from our Hostel, and after a broken seat, a flat tired, numerous wrong turns down one-way cobblestone streets and lunch, we were finally cruising down the treelined, meadow hugged road leading us to the cinematic, (a possibly historic) marvel. What was found when we got there however was a sprawling park, filled with picnicking families and an expansive flower garden.

“Where’s the gazebo?” someone asked.

Scanning the scene our eyes were directed to the sun hat and sandal cladding mass streaming out of a coach bus just outside the entrance gates. Shepherding this groups was a small girl dressed in the traditional Austrian dirndl directing them to follow through a small speaker attached at her waist. In one hand she held a small flag that stuck up above the heads, the other hand swinging beside her as she skipped along ahead, her brunette braids thumping against either side of the dress’s white collar. We waited for the group to pass, but not without discovering two very disappointing pieces of information. The first one being that due to a woman injuring herself attempting to recreate the dance from the film, the gazebo was permanently locked. The other being that this wasn’t even the real gazebo, but instead a replica that they built and placed in this park. My disappointment was overwhelming. Was there a real gazebo out there somewhere? Was it in Salzburg? What illegal tour could I possible get on that would take me to that gazebo, and not this deceiving alternative? Also, why the heck would they tell the patrons of a Sound of Music tour that the Sound of Music gazebo they were looking at in Salzburg was in fact not the the real gazebo from the Sound of Music, but a copy placed here for their enjoyment. It felt like taking a two hours train, and hour bike ride to a museum in which all the works were copies. “Money scoundring dogs”, I thought to myself as I posed like a good tourist in front of the real replica of the gazebo from The Sound of Music. This mood however didn’t last for too long, as on our ride back to town the hills did indeed feel alive, and I once again was filling the ears of my fellow travelers with Rodgers und Hammerstein’s operatic melodies.

Leaving Salzburg I was excited to be returning to Vienna. Although I adored the town and its charms I was eager to get back to the city. That afternoon I returned and group and I made our way to the Prater, an old amusement park in the heart of Vienna. A Viennese girl once told me it was creepy, but I found the park to be absolutely whimsical, and as I clambered into a ride that somehow combined large jerking movements, spinning, and rollercoastering, warm classical music filled my ears from a speaker far away. The notes hugged me and made me appreciate my choice to live in this regal place. The melody brought me back to my night at the opera, and the final jerk of the ride and quick snap of my neck, well that brought me back too.


Tune in next week for an update Katie’s most recent adventures in Copenhagen.


Katie Holdcroft

<p>My name is Katie Holdcroft and I am a junior at Western Washington University. I am originally from Seattle Washington, but was raised on the Big Island of Hawaii. I enjoy sarcasm, making music on my ukulele, reading books that make you think, and writing about the strangeness of strangers. I like coffee slightly more than people, and cats slightly more than coffee. Traveling is my passion and my inspiration to be content with all that there is to be, but mostly I do it to look cool on social media.</p>

2016 Fall
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Western Washington University
German Language
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