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Hello there!

Last night a good friend of ours invited us to join her and a colleague at the opening party for the Wiener Festwochen, Vienna’s music and performing arts festival that’s got something going on everyday for the next month!

Situated directly in front of Rathaus (or City Hall), the opening ceremony for the event included a special emphasis on the human voice, particularly collective singing, and included a range of styles from gospel or opera to classical symphony and choral arrangements. And, in each piece, the celebration of the human voice seemed heightened, and had we been sitting, would have left us on the edge of our seats.

As tradition has it, and perfectly so, the concert closed with the Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in D minor: Choral, Op. 125.

Afterward, the party moved inside to the main festivities hall inside the Rathaus, where invitees met the musicians, singers and others who are part of the festival performances. The architecture inside the building is as ornately gothic as the outside of the building, but when decorated with modern lighting, the hall became a dreamy hallucination between the past and present.

We feel honored to have been invited, and are looking forward to checking out some of the performances.

● Also check out full coverage of the Opening of Vienna’s festival (in German).

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Hey! As many of you will have seen, we recently took a trip (well, back in March) to Ireland. We had a great time, but also took some time to capture some film footage. We’ve put it together here in this short piece. We hope you all enjoy!

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Have a great week!

The Royal Palace, Slottet, is a magnificent building overlooking the waterfront in Stockholm. Starting in spring, the square comes alive with a major attraction: the changing of the guard. The guard, complete with a military band, goes through its ritual everyday.

For some strange reason, I got in the middle of the new group of soldiers marching to their post.

It turns out, there are many Royal Guards who are women.

I was told that there was a huge party at the Royal Palace for the millennium, and apparently the organizers were concerned that the floor wouldn’t hold out for all of the dancing, so they had all the palace guards come in and jump up and down on the floor to make sure that it would hold. I guess that would be the boring part of the job…

As I continued walking from the palace toward the waterfront, I noticed the good, old Volvo driving off.

I visited Stockholm over the weekend and stayed with an old friend who recently bought a beautiful loft apartment in Gamla Stan, which is the medieval center of Stockholm. It is located on the original small islands of the city’s earliest settlements. Most of the buildings in this area date from the 16th century and are legally protected from renovation.

Although situated on a very northern latitude, Sweden supposedly has a rather moderate climate. Growing up in Sweden, I am not so sure about that, and coming from the warmth of spring in Vienna, I was shivering cold at times. But it is April after all, and some were sure to enjoy the customary fika, or coffee break, by the water.

In the narrow alleys and small squares of Gamla Stan you can find old and cozy cafés, restaurants and shops. During earlier days the inns around the old marketplace, Stortorget (below), were places where people came together and drank beer like we drink water today. I hear, in one of these inns the Swedish troubadour Carl Mikael Bellman entertained the drunken regulars. Today you enjoy a cup of coffee or lunch here.

At Stortorget the Stockholms Blodbad took place in 1520 when many noblemen were decapitated by the Danish king.

I was told by the owner of a small grocery store named Gamla Stan Livs, that one problem with keeping Gamla Stan intact is the constantly sinking ground level, a surprising couple of centimeters each year. The instability of the ground makes the houses and streets sink and it is noticed in the store,which has been there for many years.

As I was making my way towards the Royal Castle, Slottet, I dove into small stores and second-hand shops with stairs leading down into cellars and cave like spaces.

It’s Thursday — hope the week is going well for everybody!

Often we head down to Naschmarkt in the evenings after work. It’s an open-air market where we usually food shop, and occasionally stop for a glass of wine. This being somewhat of a necessity after the 25-minute train-ride — yes, I’m being slightly facetious.

We live next door, which is not to say that the atmosphere has become dull and monotonous, rather that we find it comforting and nigh. It’s old-worldy, too! Check out the brass bar stool in the background below.

As we passed one of our favorite wine-vendors, the owner called to us to try a new wine!

This week he’s serving a fresh 2010 Grüner Veltliner — young and… — and we were more than delighted to be tasting it while hanging out in the evening sun!

The weather this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous in Vienna — high of 22° C — so there will be plenty of hangin’ around outdoors.

I would have started with a witty recount of how the two photographers met – I’ve heard it was in Britain, but that’s as far as I can expound. So I’ll tell you what I do know. World renowned British photographer, Martin Parr, has joined Lithuanian photographer Rimaldas Viksraitis, to produce a splendid collection of hyper-real – teetering on absurd – photographs.

A man and woman in discussion, Viksraitis’ work behind

Titled the Real World, the exhibit is on display at the Anzenberger Gallery, where we attended the vernissage. The composition of the two sets of photographs vis-à-vis one-another forms a remarkable collection; Parr’s photographs appear vibrantly colored next to Viksraitis’ high-contrast black-and-white images.

The exhibit will be showing through May, though for those who didn’t attend the opening night, both photographers have already left town.

Further reading can be found in German in the daily, Der Standard.

The trip between Dublin and Dingle starts out flying down the motorway toward Limerick, and slowly down-paces from there on out. Dingle, an Daingean in Irish, was a recommendation of several locals before leaving the capital, and caught our attention when described as a quaint fishing town on one of the furthest southwestern points of the island. We were sold.

We hit the road – driving on the left side of the road for the first time soon became second nature – and were met with picturesque rural lanscapes and fresh perspective.

At each pitstop, we encountered the same utterances of financial instability and hardship, yet never came across a dimmed sense of hospitality or unfriendliness. When we mentioned living in Vienna, there were expressions of awe, which sparked reflection over and appreciation of the standard of living that we enjoy from day to day in the city we call home.

The closer we grew to the peninsula, the narrower our path became. Hills started to become small mountains and the lines dividing traffic all but disappeared. We rolled into town as the sun set, found a friendly innkeeper with reasonable prices, and went out for the freshest fish and chips either of us had tasted.

As dawn broke, we rose to the little town we’d been promised. It was sunny. Being March – clearly the off season – the town’s folk were hibernating, but we welcomed the silence as a cue to take it easy.

After our third full Irish breakfast, we went out to discover the beauty of the Slea Head, the rest of the Dingle Peninsula, and eventually head north toward Galway.

Despite the country’s financial hardship, Ireland’s capital seems to be abuzz, with a kind of spring in its step that you’d expect to find as winter comes to an end. And as we stepped off the plane and were greeted with friendly smiles, you would have hardly been able to guess that they’d just been the latest recipients in the sequence of EU bailouts, a result of a crippling economic collapse.

The streets were full of locals and tourists, out and about to experience the turn in weather – the sun was in and out, but the air was warm with the season. Speaking to locals however, one received a startling hint at what kind of shape the economy is in.

Despite any looming difficulties, the city was bustling, and our adventures throughout the city led to many treasures; cafés, bustling openair markets and funky interactions with locals. On Saturday night, we got ourselves together for one of the main reasons for the trip: the Ray Lamontagne concert at the Olympia Theatre! And, despite Ray’s generally melancholic disposition, the sound and music was phenomenal.

On Sunday, we rented a car and got out of the city, heading southwest. Highlights from more of the trip to come!

Hello friends, and good Thursday afternoon!

We took a short hiatus (or long weekend, depending on how you want to look at it) to Ireland on Friday night. We landed in Dublin, and from there, scoured the country for several days. Here are some teaser images.

Land and sea below

At Dublin International Airport, miniature

We’ll have a travel recap over the weekend with lots of stunning photographs! Hope everybody is getting through the week alright! See you soon!

Good afternoon friends!

We went a-walkin’ in the sun recently and came upon this magic moment. Throughout Karlsplatz park lively accordion waltz was audible — ringing through the air and bouncing from building to building — and pleasing passers-by.

This little one came running up to the accordionist and stopped, right in front of him, and stood there listening for quite some time. The moment seemed magical as the child’s eyes lit up with intrigue; you could see some of the first musical inspiration entering his mind.

And the accordionist was sure enough quite interesting, too!

Hope you are all having a nice week!