A Pilgrimage Unfolding

Ramon Giron-Melendez
January 16, 2013

Vienna Vienna Vienna….oh woops! This isn’t my first blog is it? Sorry I meant, Wien, Wien, Wien! Ja, das ist besser. Austria and all it has to offer has been a gracious host since my arrival. Its wonderful wild life, picturesque Alpine environment, and subtle spiritually have eased my travel sickness, homesickness, stomach illness and all around exhaustion. Yes, although we’ve made it to the other side of the pond, the arrival hasn’t been as glamorous as one might think.

However, like James Bond, when on is on a mission, everything but the goal of the plan is mere distraction. And so goes it with me. Longing to see Vienna since the 8th grade, the naseau, headaches, awkward hand shakes, and countless intros have all been but small pebbles to hop over in order to make Wien my new home. Yes, since the 8th grade I’ve been scheming and plotting to travel to Vienna (some might even say I really went to college to go to Vienna ), but has it been worth it? The dedicated and committed faithful of the Roman Catholic Church would say that anytime certainty is cloudy, faith will stand as a beacon of light. As these faithful believers go on yearly pilgrimages to Mariazell, venerating the centuries old icon of the Virgin Mary, faith has been a timeless weapon against the cynicism so easily accesible in our modern times. They love her, they love the journey, and yearn for a taste of the next world to come, starting from Vienna, they walk kilometer after kilometer with nothing but a back pack and some euros for the road. Still, for these faithful, the uncomfortable nights of sleeping in cheap hostels, braving the heat and pushing their feet to extremes is all worth it.

Although I have yet to answer my questions posed in the first entry (how to overcome stereotypes), my pilgrimage has already begun to unfold. With plans to visit the Maria Theresien Platz tomorrow, part of my pilgrimage will have been completed, (she is of course my favorite Historical figure-ever) dreaming of meeting her since the day I found out about unorthodox reign, catching up with Maria is truly a dream come true. Now, as the rest of my pilgrimage unfolds, I’ll gather faith from this one stop, hoping it carries me until my next spiritual rest stop. Where will my pilgrimage in Wien lead me? Where will I find myself next? How will Wien touch my heart? As most committed believers know, often it’s not really about the questions, but actually it’s more of an attitude of  letting the questions come to you. A true pilgrimage is embarked on in order to let the site’s aura engage one’s heart, not to march up and demand it to perform. If pilgrims had such expectations, they would lose out on the true inner power and essence of pilgrimage sites worldwide.

Alas my friends, here is where we must let go. I do not know for sure what Wien will whisper. I leave you with suspense, excitement, and some fear too of what may come. But 2 things are still certain on this pilgrimage, Maria Theresa and I DO have a rende-vous tomorrow, and the wonder of Wien is finally settling in. But what will be the next stop of my pilgrimage? It’s up to Wien and her magic to tug at my spirits. But I trust that using her urban music, wether the clank of the S-Bahn, the  buzzing of the U-Bahn, or multiple arias leaping out of  ”das Operhaus” Wien will be more than prepared to pull at my heart strings in the right direction. And so we wait.

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Ramon Giron-Melendez

<div><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Ramon, originally from Boston, MA, is a Junior currently studying History at Columbia College. Specializing in Eastern European history with a focus on the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, he hopes to deepen his understanding of the fundamentals of the dual monarchy during his time in Vienna. Through comparative research of geo-politically marginalized regions, he aims to find new ideas to aid development in the 3rd world. Strongly believing that everyone has an inner child, he actively works to raise awareness on the rights of children worldwide through is involvement as co-president of the Columbia Child Rights group. However what most captures Ramon&rsquo;s imagination is his admiration for one of Europe&rsquo;s greatest institutions, The Eurovision Song Contest itself! Eagerly following year round developments, Ramon enjoys watching how countries choose to represent themselves to the world and how they project their national identities unto this unique international platform. A passionate fan of music, he spends as much time as possible following the music industry. He can usually be found reading Rolling Stone magazine, keeping his eyes peeled for new emerging music genres, and eagerly looking out for new artists on the rise!</span></div>

2013 Spring
Home University:
Columbia University - CC and SEAS
Explore Blogs