When we arrived in Vienna and set to the streets to explore, a blind man stood outside of the opera house and sang “Ave Maria” to the soft accompaniment of a tape recorder he carried in a black leather bag. The evening fell around us as we stood and listened to his music. As he sang he emptied the change from his cup into his pocket and calculated the sum with his fingers, his voice sure and steady all the while. We let his music paint the mood of the evening until the sum in the man’s pocket was sufficient and he left us applauding with a cluster of by-standers. Drew walked along side him long enough to place his hand on the man’s shoulder and thank him for his music then along he went with his cane in front of him tapping in a rhythm of two taps per step.
The sun had set around us by the time our serendipitous concert had ended and a near-full moon cast a white shadow of light on the spires of a gothic cathedral. I decided that Vienna shows its beauty most fully in the night. We were delighted to lose ourselves in a labyrinth of cobbled streets walled with impressive and ornate buildings, ever moving towards the towers of the Town Hall that rose above the rooftops of them all. Honey colored light glowed from the tops of each splendid building illuminating onion domes oxidized green and lace-like patterns of iron gates and window frames.
An entirely other population shares the city, sealed into position in their most dramatic postures of fear or passion, forever raising a fist toward the sea monsters fastened on their legs or forever balancing on a horse raised on its back legs. Forever peering over the doorway with empty eyes. At night it feels as if the city is just as much theirs; their private adventures seem almost animated by the shadows that flicker across their stony muscles.
At last we duck inside the Stephansdom Cathedral to watch the orchestra practice for an upcoming concert. Here statues of gold cover the walls. They are all designed to seem curious and attentive with their heads turned toward the front of the church. Their attention is now on the conductor and his small collection of musicians. Such a noble audience of gold and ivory, we hide in the shadow of a humble pew to listen to what Vienna has to offer this night.