Frohe Weihnachten!

Das Jahr geht zu Ende und ich möchte mich bei den Leserinnen und Lesern des Sandwurms herzlich bedanken. Ich wünsche allerseits frohe Weihnachten und ein erfolgreiches neues Jahr 2011!

Ganz nebenbei stelle ich mich heuer auch in den Dienst einer sehr guten Sache, initiiert von drei  Bloggerkollegen, die ich hiermit gleich selber zu Wort kommen lasse:

 

Wenn sich 3 Blogger Farbe ins Gesicht malen, Kronen aufsetzen und Sternen folgen, dann nur für einen wirklich guten Zweck.

Mathias PascottiniChristina Tieber und Heinz Wittenbrink haben ebendiesen guten Zweck gefunden und das Projekt „Herzlicht“ ins Leben gerufen. Zugunsten der Steirischen Kinderkrebshilfe werden sie in den nächsten Wochen zu „heiligen 3 Königen“. Singend unterstützen sie krebskranke Kinder und besuchen im Rahmen des Projekts auch die Kinderkrebsstation am LKH Graz.

So läuft’s:

Die Aktion läuft bis 4. Jänner. Jeder, der bis dahin mindestens 20 Euro an das Spendenkonto der Steirischen Kinderkrebshilfe überwiesen hat, erhält ein Video der „heiligen 3 Könige“ mit persönlicher Widmung.  Gesang inklusive.

Eure Spenden bitte hier hin:

Steirische Kinderkrebshilfe
Raiffeisenlandesbank  Steiermark
Konto-Nr. 4.426.300
BLZ 38.000

Verwendungszweck: „Herzlicht“ (WICHTIG! Nur Spender mit diesem Verwendungszweck erhalten ein persönliches Video.)

In diesem Sinne – verbreitet die Botschaft, möge das Geld reichlich fließen!

Susanne, 24. Dezember 2010

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Das Konzertjahr 2010

Sah es zu Beginn des Jahres noch mau aus mit interessanten Konzerten, kamen im Frühjahr endlich die ersten Termine daher, bis zum Sommerende sollten sich zum Glück noch ein paar interessante Gigs dazugesellen, der Spätherbst hat dann musiktechnisch doch eher enttäuscht. Trotz allem kann ich in Anbetracht der Konzerte, die ich schließlich besucht haben, nicht von einem schlechten Musikjahr sprechen, im Gegenteil, es waren ein paar ganz große Highlights dabei, untenstehend eine kurze Nachbetrachtung und Bewertung:

Bob Dylan – Linz, 9. Juni 2010

Nach einer Ewigkeit war es heuer so weit und ich konnte Bob Dylan endlich wieder einmal live erleben. Das hat sich voll und ganz ausgezahlt. Zwar war die Location unter jeder Kritik, die Tatsache jedoch, dass ich den von mir so bewunderten Musikhelden ganz vorne an der Bühne erleben durfte, hat dies mehr als wett gemacht. Dylan ist und bleibt eine Koryphäe und gerade die Verweigerung seine Klassiker so zu spielen, wie er sie vor 30+ Jahren interpretiert hat, macht ihn zu einem aktuell noch immer spannenden, nachhaltig beeindruckenden Musiker. Ich würde jederzeit wieder in eines seiner Konzerte gehen.

Willie Nelson – Wien, 20. Juni

Dass Outlawcountry-Legende und Marijuanaexperte Willie Nelson noch nach Wien kommt, hätte ich fast nicht mehr für möglich gehalten, umso mehr hat es mich gefreut, dass ich ihn im Juni live sehen konnte. Und trotz seiner mittlerweile 77 Jahre, beeindruckte Nelson mit einer großartigen Stimme und einer ebenso großartigen Show.

Eels – Wien, 12. September

Die last-minute Entscheidung mir die Eels doch anzusehen, hat sich als großer Glücksfall entpuppt, die im Rock-Taliban-Outfit auftretende Band, samt charismatischem Frontman E. spielte in der Arena bei mildem spätsommerlichen Wetter ein phänomenales Konzert, und verpasst damit nur knapp den Titel „Konzerthighlight des Jahres 2010“.

Wilco – Wien, 23. September

Der Truppe aus Chicago, rund um Frontman Jeff Tweedy, und ihrem Wien-Debüt gebührt dieses Jahr der Titel „absolutes Konzerthighlight“. Und das trotz der Tatsache, dass ich zwei, drei Songs brauchte um sozusagen den Vibe zu fühlen, und trotz der Katastrophenlocation Gasometer, war es insgesamt ein pures Vergnügen dieser Band bei der „Arbeit“ zuzusehen. Tweedy war bester Laune und großartig bei Stimme, konferierte mit dem Publikum, die Bandkollegen toppten das Ganze mit phänomenaler Musik – insgesamt ein Konzert bei dem einem, wenn man sich zurückerinnert, heute noch ein Glitzern in die Augen steigt. Hoffentlich kommen sie sehr bald wieder nach Wien.

Badly Drawn Boy, 16. November

Mehr aus Mangel an Alternativen begab ich mich im November zum Konzert von Badly Drawn Boy, immerhin hatte er vor einigen Jahren in der Arena ein gutes Konzert abgeliefert, der Abend im Wuk kam aber über das Attribut „nett“ leider nicht hinaus. Nicht mehr und nicht weniger.

Insgesamt also wohl ein Konzertjahr dessen Höhepunkte sich zwischen Juni und September abspielten, erstaunlich, denn generell bin ich es gewöhnt, dass sich zumindest das eine oder andere Highlight auch irgendwann im November/Dezember bzw. Februar/März finden lässt. Egal, 2010 war das zwar leider nicht der Fall, die Konzerte in der Jahresmitte haben mich voll und ganz zufrieden gestellt, bleibt nun noch die Wunschliste für 2011.

Ich hatte bereits 2010 auf Conor Oberst und Okkervil River gehofft, ersterer wird Wien hoffentlich im neuen Jahr mit seiner Formation „Bright Eyes“ einen Besuch abstatten. Bright Eyes bringen im Februar ein neues Album auf den Markt, erste Tourdaten gibt es bereits. Okkervil River produzierten zwar 2010 das Album eines gewissen Roky Erickson („True Love Cast Out All Evil“), auf ein eigenes Album lassen sie hingegen schon länger warten, ebenso wie auf eine Europa-Tour. Nun, wir werden ja sehen, wer sich 2011 nach Wien verirrt, ich hoffe zumindest dass es sich um ähnliche Kaliber wie Nelson, Dylan, Wilco und Co handelt.

Susanne 17. Dezember 2010

On the road in Turkey – Istanbul

When I found out that I was going to travel to Istanbul I was so excited to be replacing the easternmost point of my travels that I happily told a friend about it, adding that the furthest to the east I’d been up until now had been Prague.

She laughed and said that Prague was to the west of Vienna, where I live, which I not only found embarrassing, as it exposed my geographic ignorance, but also quite revealing, since it became obvious to me that very moment, that borders today as ever are really more or less drawn in one’s mind, emotionally, rather than geographically on a map. Prague still evoked visions of the eastern block, the iron curtain and therefore simply had to be further east. In my head.

Regardless of the fact, that I later realized that the easternmost point of my traveling wasn’t Vienna but Helsinki, I was leaving for Istanbul, which, apart from the philosophic aspect, rendered the whole discussion more or less obsolete.

I left for Istanbul on October 27th, part of a group of Bloggers and Twitterers (aka „nerds“), led by a native of the city, who had not only organized the trip, but would also guarantee that we would get something of an insider-view as well.

After a bumpy flight, which led me to the brink of performing one of those popelike groundkissing gestures after we had landed, I was quickly hauled back to more profane levels by witnessing a perfect scheme of legal extortion. When you arrive in Istanbul you have to buy a visa. Nobody of course mentions this beforehand, so you grudgingly pay the price of 20 Euros which allows you to enter the country, wondering, if ever somebody had had the guts to say: I’m not paying! (and getting back on the flight back to wherever she had come from). I’m still of the opinion that this form of visa is nothing but a modern version of highway robbery.

The perfectly organized transport to the hotel, which was located in the old part of town, erased the remaining traces of resentment and after checking in, we quickly left for a first walk around the vicinity of the hotel. Excellently situated in walking distance to Hagia Sophia, Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the grand bazaar and the spice bazaar, we had our first turkish coffee (apart from the typical Cay, which is black tea, a definite must in Istanbul) and later on found ourself on our first tour through the bustling grand bazaar.

The place is indoors, as is the spice bazaar, which was a delight, because it had already begun to rain and so we spent our first afternoon wandering through the maze of lanes in the bazaar, a labyrinth of stores which offer everything one can possibly imagine, from leather to jewelry, from carpets to scarfs, from artwork to oriental kitsch.

The downside of this colorful place? Apart from the impression that the trashy by far outweighs the beautiful, if you happen to be female and without a „male guardian“, wandering the lanes can become a steeplechase, which constantly seems to be brushing on the border of outright harassment. And not answering the 20th insinuating „can I help you“ with a blunt „go fuck yourself“, can only be prevented with an extra-amount of zen-like self-discipline. Or you just leave the place quickly and head on over to the spice bazaar, where salespeople are less intrusive and which in addition offers the more interesting selection of goods. Spices, teas and more – lovely!

Day number two, unfortunately, saw horrendous amounts of rain, which would have been ok, if that day hadn’t been planned for touring most of the historic monuments in the old part of town.

We started out with Hagia Sophia, which used to be a church, then a mosque and today is a museum, where islamic and christian architecture converge and can be appreciated for their diversity as well as artistic mastery.

On we headed to the blue mosque, which is really called Sultan Ahmed mosque and by the time I had taken off my shoes, which up to this point in time were beyond wet, and stepped onto the soft carpet of the mosque, I could barely feel my toes anymore, because not only had it been raining without end, it was also freezing cold.

The stunning beauty of the mosque, rightfully nicknamed for the thousands of pale blue tiles, which turn the entering light into a milky-blue, almost dreamlike, haze, let me forget the cold and the wetness outside. Only for a short while though, because we left again, and so I forced my feet back into my shoes, which at this point would emit a squishy sound every time I took a step.

I mustered the strength for one more sight – the roman cistern – a wonderful display of functional architecture which to this day is still partially in use for the city’s water supply – and then I caved. I succumbed to the vision of a hot shower and dry socks and left the group, which headed on towards the next sight. Topkapi Palace would just have to wait.

The next day was Turkey’s national holiday „Republic Day“ and there would have been a parade, only it was postponed to Sunday because of the rain, which showed one of the many amiable qualities of the Turks. Something’s not working right now, doesn’t make sense, would be too dangerous/complicated etc… we’ll do it another time. An unknown amout of flexibility which in this case extended to the parade to be held on the most important day of the nation. Very impressive!

As for my tourist program. The morning was spent walking across Galata Bridge, which was lovely, because despite predictions that the bad weather would continue, it had stopped raining and the walking tour through the part of town across the bridge over the Golden Horn – Beyoğlu – turned out to be nicer than expected. Galata Tower was climbed with the help of an elevator and offered a fantastic view over Istanbul, lunch was spent on the sidewalk of one of the many Kebab stands, with – yes of course Kebab – and – again of course – Turkish coffee.

The afternoon had been reserved for a visit to the hamam, an experience nobody should miss. In my opinion, you haven’t lived until you’ve been to one of these washing machines for humans, where they manage to scrub away not only physical dirt, but everything which remotely resembles an emotional stain as well. You will leave the place clean and happy.

Saturday came around and the plan for the day was a) Topkapi Palace and b) Asia. As one well knows Istanbul lies at the intersection of Europe and Asia and since I had left for this trip with something of a geographic agenda, I would not miss the opportunity to set foot on another continent just like that.

But first things first. The decision to skip Topkapi on Thursday had been wise, because apart from the fact that we didn’t have a guide this time around, the sun was out, which beat any accompanying historic narration by lengths. Topkapi is a former sultan’s palace which sits atop one of the seven hills of Istanbul and not only permits great views over the city, the Golden Horn and the Sea of Marmara, but also offers an interesting display of jewelry (yes the movie…) and reliquies (the beard of the prophet!).

Finally we were headed over to Asia. With ferries leaving from the harbor every 15 minutes, we had opted for Üsküdar and only 20 minutes later my feet touched Asian ground.

That part of the city is really not any different from the rest, it would be absurd if had been, because after all Istanbul is a metropolis of over 14 million citizens, still growing and expanding, again, not following laws of geography but opportunity and space. Hence while we had landed in a more trashy part of the city, with bustling crowds and a lively market that sold anything from cow’s feet to fresh fish, others of our group had been to upper-class neighborhoods, diversifiying the Asian experience just as much as the European one.

The last evening was spent, as the evenings beforehand, with excessive amounts of food. This time accompanied by live music, which turned out to be a life saver, because only the dancing part towards the end of the night prevented me from keeling over and exploding. Turkish food is dangerously good.

On Sunday, after the final shopping at the Spice Bazaar, the bus was already waiting outside of the hotel, ready to take us to the airport, our trip was nearing its end. And what did I take with me, apart from the usual knickknack, candies, teas and spices? I took with me the experience that the Orient is vastly different from the Occident and at then again not so different at all.

Istanbul, like any big city in the world is a busy place, with lots of different people from everywhere crowding the streets. It’s as tolerant or intolerant as any other city in the world, and where one might expect narrow-mindedness or dogma, liberality and patience prevailed.

Take for example the blue mosque – yes you had to take your shoes off, but women for example didn’t have to wear a head scarf. Neither did they in Suleymanye mosque, which is located at the harbour. The only bigotry I experienced was exhibited by a German tourist complaining that asking to take one’s shoes of „is a bit much, really“.

Then again I did have problems with what Turkish men mistake as „gentlemanliness“ or „chivalry“, but finding it restricted to the Grand Bazaar and some very touristy restaurants, it could easily be avoided, which nicely corresponds with the first rule in my book of zenlike-tourism: „if you don’t like it – don’t go there!“

Over all, Istanbul is a grand city in every aspect. It’s lively, it’s beautiful, the people are lovely and heartwarmingly tolerant, so much so, that even a suicide-bombing (which thankfully claimed only the life of the bomber) on sunday morning, wasn’t disruptive enough to change this impression. Not at all.

Useful Information:

Accommodation: Hotel Erboy was ideally located in the center of the old part of town. In walking distance to all major sights, its room were clean, buffet breakfast and free wi-fi access included, there’s a roof terrace in the summer.

Hamam: Cagaloglu Hamam is an ok Place to visit, though I doubt that it really is one of the New York Times Bestseller’s „1000 places to visit before you die“ – because of that attribute, it is rather touristy and crowded, you may be better off, visiting one of the smaller local Hamams.

Restaurants: I can heartily recommend the restaurants Hamdi in the old part of town, Mekan in Beyoğlu as well as Otto (also located in Beyoğlu). Hamdi and Mekan offer traditional Turkish cuisine, while Otto is more of a loungy kind of place, which has a rather eclectic menu).

Susanne, December 15, 2010