Our European Odyssey

This blog covered our month-long trip to Eastern Europe -- specifically the countries of Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, Austria and Slovakia.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Wien and Roses

Yesterday was a museum day in Vienna (or Wien, as the Austrians spell it). We spent about four hours in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, German for "Fine Arts Museum." We spent almost the entire time in the picture gallery, one-half of which contains works by Northern European masters (primarily from the Netherlands and Belgium). The other half contains works from Southern European masters, almost entirely Italians.

You can't view these masterpieces cheaply, however. It cost nearly $10 apiece to get in -- by far the most we've paid for any museum. This price is more the rule than the exception for popular sights in Vienna. It's not a cheap city to visit.

Nevertheless, we saw rooms full of works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, Brueghel, Raphael, Titian and others.

We splurged and rented English-language audio guides for the museum. We are very glad we did. The guide is just a cell phone-like device that gives backgrounds, descriptions and analyses on some of the artwork. It made the experience much more meaningful, especially since we don't speak German, which made the written descriptions useless.

We learned some very interesting things from our audio guides. For instance, "Bravo" was a Renaissance Italian slang term for "assassin." At 16th-century Flemish wedding feasts, the groom was not allowed to attend, and the bride -- though she could attend -- was not allowed to speak or eat. (We guess they did their celebrating later ...)

Our two favorite facts we learned from the audio guide: In Renaissance Italian paintings, a small froufrou dog symbolized marital fidelity. Makes perfect sense (?) Also, if you see a man with a duck on his shoulder, he must be a Quaker. (Or was it a Quacker?)

After we finished viewing the paintings, we decided to leave the museum, as our stomachs were rumbling since it was 3:30 p.m. and we hadn't eaten since breakfast. We decided to head to the beautiful Volksgarten to sup amongst the roses. (More like eat ravenously, but that's not as poetic.) We enjoyed our late lunch and the sunshine but decided to head back to the hostel when the skies started looking ominous.

We made it back to the hostel just in time for the opening match of the World Cup, Germany vs. Costa Rica. As you might guess, soccer is a big deal over here. We could feel the excitement building over the past three weeks in every country we have been in. The hostel we are staying in has seven TVs, and every one was showing the match. We enjoyed it. We've been a bit TV- and sports-deprived.

Today is our day of riding the train to Salzburg. We are taking a bit of a sightseeing detour -- a route that will take us through the heart of the Alps.

Also, we forgot to mention that the ballet we watched at the State Opera House was "Sleeping Beauty."


At 4:24 PM, June 10, 2006, Anonymous Lou said...

How lucky you are to be able to see paintings by such outstanding artists.

I planted another rose bush this morning. I hope my roses will grow to look as beautiful as the ones you have seen.

Kari and I were in Oslo during the World Cup. You can here the cheers in the streets when goals are made.

Missouri has cooled down in temperature (70s). Dad and I are traveling to Iowa tomorrow to take Josh and Ashley out for lunch.

Love, Mom

At 4:57 PM, June 10, 2006, Anonymous Mom said...

I had lunch with Jan and Mary Beth today. Jan's daughter Katy lives in Germany and Katy's boyfriend is from England so they are all caught up in the World Cup. Katy and her boyfried and another couple are in Vienna. They were probably arriving just as you were leaving. Katy's visa is about to expire, but the company she works for is trying to extend her visa. She is becoming fluent in German and I guess and asset to the company.

Love you,


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