A Travellerspoint blog

The Kunsthistorisches Museum - say what?!

The museum of art history. That sounds boring - but the opposite couldn't be more true.

Today we visited the Kunsthistorisches museum. Wow. It was mind-blowing.

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The museum itself was built during the reign of emperor Franz Joseph to house the art and artifact collections of the emperors and archdukes of the House of Hapsburg, which was gathered over the course of centuries. It claims to be one of the most important museums in the world, and with its breathtaking art and treasures that span from antiquity to the modern era, I believe it. But it is not just the collection (I'll get to that in a sec) that makes this museum so awesome. It's the building itself - stately, classical architecture, the insides built out of coloured marbles and carved stone, elaborated with gold plate, carvings and floor-to-ceiling paintings. The showpiece of the building is the cupola hall which was made using precious metals, marbles, with its columns, arcades and a mosaic floor. (Note - I didn't take these photos. No pics allowed inside, so I've "borrowed" these. Photo credit to the KHM and Marcel Macasso)

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Cupola cafe:
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Back to the art. The gallery (one of four sections) is made up of 28 massive rooms that house masterpieces from the 15th to 19th century. Among these are Bruegel's Peasant Wedding, Tower of Babel and the largest collection of his work in the world, Vermeer, Raffael, Velasquez's infantina, Rembrandt, and the list goes on.... Other wings of the museum house Egyptian, Ancient Greek and roman artifacts, as well as the coin collection (one of the five largest in the world, with monies dating as far back as 140 bc). I didn't have time to visit the collections from antiquity; I also know there is an Egyptian museum in Berlin that I can hit if I need a fix on this trip. Zadie and I spent most of our time in the galleries, and briefly checked out the coin collection.

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I realized something today. The older i get, the more i appreciate art. But the more I appreciate art, the more i realize how little I know about history. So many of the paintings, commissioned for King this or Emperor that, or one of their heirs, cousins, foes, or depicting images of the same, leave me wondering about their lives, how they fit in to the lives of the other monarchs, and what they contributed to modern civilization. Scenes from Greek mythology and the bible are nice to look at, but I know they'd be ten times more interesting if I knew the stories they depict. I especially want to know the relationships of the monarchs who ruled Europe from 1500 until they fell around the turn of the 20th century. They intermarried, married daughters to neighbouring princes, cousins to peacefully expand their reign. A family tree would be amazing, but with 16 children per family not being uncommon, and the crossovers that took place, it would be more of an indecipherable massive, zig-zagging family web. Mom was fascinated and well read on the topic of western civilization. She would plow through one book after another about the ruling families, peasant life in France, or the guilds as they emerged in England, then could rattle on about how they lived and what they contributed to our life today. I didn't used to get it. Now I understand her fascination - and share it. Can anyone recommend any good books on this broad range of topics?

So yes, Zadie and I spent the late morning in the museum, while Dan zipped around Vienna scoping out the best patio for lunch. In keeping with our theme, today's venue was in the massive courtyard of Museums Quartier. It is a hip and laid back massive square behind the old imperial stables, with ample seating (huge two-to-four person plastic loungers - see photo), fantastic food, open air bars and live music, surrounded by... museums. It was sunny and hot. People were friendly and smiling. It was so pleasant it felt surreal, kind of like an urban utopia.

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The mercury is supposed to stay in the high teens and low twenties through the weekend, so we made a plan at lunch to prioritize outdoor activities. Tomorrow the imperial hunting grounds, Sunday the Donau Insel and Prater.

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 00:05 Archived in Austria Tagged art history museum kunsthistorische Comments (1)

Zadie meets the masters on her half birthday

Happy birthday Zadie, a visit to the Albertina museum, first carrot, first cake, first present!

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Zadie is six months old today!

What a special day, a special girl. We are so much in love with her.

The morning was relaxed, she started the day by chatting up a storm with daddy as they lay in bed, then we had a play session on the mat where she practiced log rolling. After her morning nap and feed, we took her for a walk through the Hofburg gardens to the Albertina museum.

What an impressive collection of art! Most of it belonged to Duke Albert of Saxen-Taschen, who married Maria Christina, one of Empress Maria Theresa's sixteen children, her favourite actually. Maria Christina is Marie Antoinette's sister. Anyway, Maria Christina loved art and was a talented painter, and through their travels and connections, the two of them amassed one of the best, most diverse collections of masterpieces in the world. Pieces (all original of course), include the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raffeolo, Ruffini, Chagall, Klimt, Picasso, Monet, Renoir, Dégas, Durer and more. Zadie, at just six months, has met the masters! Images, info on the Albertina here

She fell asleep soon after we arrived so missed the exhibit of Fischl's glassines, but awoke to see the works of legends. She was very content in our arms, drooling as we looked at impressionist, cubist, realist and portrait pieces. Zadie especially liked Picasso - I think his strong contrasting lines and bright colours appealed to her. Or maybe it's just her congenital good taste?

We went for a Wiener Mélange and hazelnut roll at a cafe nearby, then scurried back through the narrow streets and corridors, through archways of palaces to avoid the rain on our way home.

Dan cooked roast chicken for dinner, and Zadie contentedly gummed her (first) steamed carrot while we ate. This was followed by her first (half) birthday cake, which she attacked, determined and focused, with both hands. Then she opened her first present. And loved it! Ok ok, I'll be honest. She wasn't exactly trying to open the present; she was in fact trying to eat the napkin I used as wrapping paper. And she didn't care as much about the present (a bath duck) as she did it's cardboard packaging, which she also tried to eat. But she'll get there. One gift at a time. And meanwhile I'll humour myself by thinking that she opened and loved her present.

Here are more pics. Game time at our table, Zadie carrying Dan around on her back as she flies through the streets, an old Citroyen with the driver sticking her head out the window (look close!), visit to Schonnbrunn, our munchkin on her birthday, scenes from our daily walks and inside the city hall. The elaborately gilded and decorated hall is a main room in the Rathaus - we visited it on Marchenwelt, which tranlsates to Fairyworld, an event put on by the city for children. Our daughter is obviously too young to have enjoyed the games, stores, face painting and silk screening, but we were happy to have excuse to access to the insides of this beautiful Gothic building. Enjoy!

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Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 11:50 Archived in Austria Comments (0)

First two weeks in Vienna

Settled in, relaxed and enjoying this magnificent city

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Wow, so there you go. So far the blog is doing a bit better than my paper journal (in that it has two entries more than none), but my plans to update almost daily have not yet come to fruition.

To be fair, it took over a week for us to settle in... sure Dan and I could have made the hop to a time zone 9 hours ahead in just a day or two, Zadie, without the ability to consciously override her internal clock, took a good 8 days. She was happy and fun most of the time, but her brightest hours were between 5 pm and 5 am, which meant that one or both of us was up with her, and then she'd sleep the day away. It made sight seeing, even visiting with our friends, a bit of a challenge.

So what else is noteworthy from our first 13 days?

Our flat is splendid. It is perfectly located, just a block away from the Rathaus, the Austrian Parliament, and two blocks from the Hofburg palace and it's surrounding imperial structures.

The inside is bright, airy and spacious. Baroque crown molding surrounds the 14 ft ceiling in our living and bedrooms, and the floors are oak parquet. It is sparsely decorated, but there are four or five period pieces of furniture that fill the space and make it look grand. We have a kind sized bed, made up of two single beds... on about the fourth night Dan discovered with excitement that his side of the bed is electric.

Here are some pics - the Rathaus, and the inside of our flat:

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Teresa, a very good friend of mine from Ottawa who now lives here in Vienna, met us at the main station. Shortly after we arrived home, her husband Daniel showed up pulling a trolley loaded with dinner, and food to stock our fridge and cupboards. How thoughtful!

Dan and I were excited to learn that the first weekend we were here, Vienna Air King, a freestyle mountain bike festival, was taking place in front of the Rathaus. It was impressive - they imported sand and built giant dirt jumps for the tricks, and had the competitors launch off a ramp that came straight out of the middle of the city hall (Rathaus). There were many tents with strange variations on the theme of a bike, home made jobs, all that one could try out, bikes for sale, a used bike market, information on cycling in Austria, as well as an ebike fair! Here's a link to the video, as well as some photos. : Vienna Air Bike

The second week must have flown by because I don't remember any particulars. Zadie and I went on daily walks, I just love the Volksgarten and Burggarten which are only minutes from our house. The lilacs are in bloom, as are the pansies and magnolia trees, so the air is fragrant and the views are colourful.

The second weekend we were here there was once again an event at the Rathaus - this time Steiermark, a festival celebrating and showcasing the fine wines, sausages, cheeses and music from Steier, a region in central Austria. The weather was perfect, low 20's, and the atmosphere laid back and happy. The best part was how more than half of the people were dressed - in traditional Trachte clothing! Suede vests over gingham shirts with lederhosen and calf high socks for men, and printed dresses with a tight bust thrusting vest and an apron for ladies. They look so smart! The neatest part was they weren't dressed up to dress up, they were wearing what was appropriate for the occasion. Zadie loved the "wumpa" bands, we met people from Austria, Chile, and England. And ate the best bratwurst and saurkraut of our lives.

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On Saturday we visited the Schonnbrunn palace, an expansive yellow palace that was the summer residence for the imperial family. We didn't go inside this time, having toured the imperial quarters on our last visit to Vienna. This time we enjoyed the Easter market, and perused the wonderful array of hand painted eggs and wood carvings for sale, and enjoyed beer and sausage in the Schonnbrunn cafe.

Ah! And Zadie, who of late has been reaching for anything on our plates, and showing a very keen interest in what we put in our mouths, has had her first foods. Here is a picture of her, sitting in her new lobster highchair, enjoying her first foods. Avocado! To be honest, we have let her gum and suck on things before now, like the finger of organic chicken she had last week at our friends' house. But this is the first time she's sat at the table and ate at the same time as us. She seemed intrigued, though wasn't overly ecstatic about the avocado. We have since tried out pear. It was much more of a hit.
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Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 08:42 Archived in Austria Tagged vienna travel baby spring foods first Comments (0)

En-route

Note from the craft, in the air, some 4 k over northern Canada.

Hi. this is a blog, our Europe travel blog. I never thought if write one, always found it odd to write a journal to publish online for others to read. I thought of blogs like I did of reality TV shows, "are people's lives so boring that they spend hours escaping into those of others?" But, enough people have asked. And the journal that I keep meaning to write in is sadly still a book of blank pages, so for all these reasons, for me, for you, and for our little Zadie Lou, we are going to keep a travel blog.

And, here we are. Two hours into our ten hour flight from Vancouver o Munich. Lufthansa's pilots go on strike tomorrow, so while we heaved a sigh of relief that we would cross the Atlantic as planned, I learned once on board that our previously very empty flight is now full. We are sitting at the front, where they provide a very neat and cozy bassinet that hangs on the wall in front of us. That part is great, but it means that we are now sharing the front row with two other young children and another baby. Suffice to say it's not as quiet as I had hoped!

Oh but dear Zadie. She sleeps, and stirs, in the bassinet in front of Dan and me. The flight from Victoria went better than we could have imagined. She looked around, smiled at every body, looked out the window at the islands and clouds, and nursed or played with her soother toy the whole way. She had a nap on me at yvr, then played delightfully on my lap as we had a beer and a bite at Milestones just beside our gate.

So get this: all our air stewards thus far are... Just that. Air stewards. No ladies. All very nice, very dare I say "schöne" men. Boys. Somewhere between boys and men. Well groomed. You get my gist. Nothing more than.., interesting. And fun.

Dan and I just cheersed with our after dinner Baileys... yes life is good. Really good. We left the house packed and ready for our sublettees, in the past week we've weeded the garden, planted seeds and edged the lawn, I got my taxes done, most of our wedding is planned, and so while Victoria is not an easy place to leave, it was a graceful departure and we are excited about our upcoming adventures and life in Europe.

Before I sign off for today, for those of you I haven't told, our itinerary is as follows:

April 1-30: Vienna, Austria
May 1-4: Ljubljana. Capital of Slovenia.
May 4-16: Dalmatian coast, Croatia. We'll be on an island, not sure yet which. Fly out of Zadar
May 16-19: Frankfurt, Germany
May 19- June 3: Berlin, Germany
June 3 - 14: Copenhagen (and elsewhere) in Denmark

June 14 we fly home!

And... Why you might Ask? Well, why not? I'm on maternity leave, I lived in Vienna and Berlin in 2001 and just love them both, and Dan now works for Grin tech so will be networking with bike shops and ebike dealers in Europe... Works out well with Germany and Austria being the worlds' fastest growing e-IMG_1103.jpgIMG_1098.jpgphoto_1.jpgbike markets in the world.

Right on friends and family. More to come. Bis spater!

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 00:57 Archived in Canada Tagged travel flight europe departure infant Comments (0)

Getting Ready

Packing up the folding ebike, our stuff, and preparing our house for sublet.

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Chloe is never one to procrastinate and she is rewarded with a relaxing day in the garden then beers and snacks on the front porch with Bruce before our 5 pm departure. It will be the first time we take Zadie on a plane and we are excited and a little nervous. Fingers crossed in hope that she will sleep most of the night flight and the rest of the time her cuteness will win over the surrounding passengers. Pretty good chances this will be the case because Zadie is one of the only people in the cheap seats that gets her own bed. Way to pull some stings Zadie.

Posted by CeeZeeDeeBP 22:04 Archived in Canada Comments (0)

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