Wow, what a week. After being so drained from a week of Eurovision shows and having seen the jury final on Friday, I admit my expectations were not for anything more than another repeat on the live final Saturday. Plus, though it may not look like it, I'm actually doing this trip as much on the cheap as possible, so I had only bought an obstructed view ticket (for 1/4 of the price as a standing ticket), just hoping for the best. A couple friends here told me to expect to not see anything - that obstructed view in Europe apparently is not quite as variable as it can be in US, so I went fully prepared for a view of nothing but the side of the pipes that formed the stage and a tv monitor. I was pleasantly surprised to get what was probably the best view of the entire week. (In fact, I kept waiting for an usher to come tell me I was in the wrong section.) But beyond that, the energy and excitement Saturday was beyond any of the other shows, except maybe how excited I was for the first night. With the amount of costumed fans and flags and celebration in the walk leading to and the lobby of the stadium, it felt like a World Cup match where all the countries were in the same match. Of course the performances were great (I had seen them all several times by then) - it was a bonus to see the camera work and effects in a screen of the tv feed as well. (From regular seats, that is shown during some points, but not continuously.) What I also didn't expect was just how exciting the voting results tally would be. While Sweden was this years expected favorite, there were so many songs/acts throughout the week that had so much buzz that no one really knew what to expect - I was fully prepared for Spain or Israel or Serbia to be a surprise winner. What no one expected was for Russia to be in the top. As the first 20 countries results came in with Russia often in the lead, the anger and tension in the stadium was palpable. I quickly found myself rooting more for Italy (not a fav, but an acceptable winner) and Sweden more passionately than I had expected. Whew.
I filled my Sunday mostly with rest. Eventually I ventured out to explore Prater, a 24 hour amusement park in Vienna (how did I not know about that sooner?!), and a restaurant my friends Kai & Heinrich in Munich has told me to be sure to visit for the best schnitzel. Not a bad way to cap the week in Vienna and my first live Eurovision, but I feel a bit sad that its over.