Vienna - Part 2

Trip Start Apr 21, 2009
1
5
Trip End May 02, 2009


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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I feel almost guilty to admit it but! - as rich in history and tradition as Vienna is, as pretty and clean as it is - it didn't touch me...I mentioned before that to me cities are like people - some you like instantly...others take time to grow on you...there are cities you dislike...there are cities you almost lust for...and there are cities that you might admire with your mind while your heart somehow remains largely indifferent...
just like with people - it's a mystery what drives this chemistry or lack of it, yet here we are...





one of the words that come to my mind as a description of Vienna is "former"....the former capital of the Holy Roman Empire (yes, yes - after Rome itself), the former capital of Austro-Hungarian empire...the former residence of the Habsburg dynasty...the former biggest center for arts, music, science...











it's no longer that, but it was in the past, and so - it's still full of treasures in every sense of this word...

Vienna is easy to navigate, especially the center of the city surrounded by a circular Ringstrasse road...yet we managed to get lost at least a few times...that was mostly my fault - somehow I felt very disoriented in Vienna whereas Prague, for example, - Prague I could navigate with my eyes closed...on the bright side - it is not the end of the world if you get lost in Vienna: everybody there speaks decent English and is willing to help...








speaking of languages - normally German language sounds rather harsh to my tender foreign ears, but in Vienna it sounded differently than, let's say, in Frankfurt...maybe it's the Austrian dialect, but it definitely sounded much softer...

and some other observations from Vienna...

the museums (and Vienna has wonderful museums!) were almost empty...

I still wonder why...maybe there were not that many visitors, and the locals come to the museums at different times...




maybe the admission price was too steep - really, it's not cheap to go to a museum in Vienna: an average price for an admission ticket is 10 euros (at current exchange rate close to $15)...for the pleasure of looking at Klimt's "Beethoven Frieze" in the Secession you have to pay 5 euros (just for one work, there is not much else there)...in comparison - you pay only 4 euros for the whole Prado in Madrid, and you pay nothing for most public museums in London...

I am not complaining though - it's all worth it...for example, nowhere else I would have a chance to see the largest in the world collection of Pieter Bruegel the Elder - Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna owns it but never lends out...

















or such a large collection of works by Egon Schiele as I saw in the Leopold Museum (I had not been very familiar with Egon Schiele before, so - it was a discovery of sorts for me)...











or take the Museum of Applied Art with its huge comprehensive collection that can rival only London's Victoria and Albert Museum...unfortunately we went there late at night (that day the museum was open until midnight) and I got too sleepy to fully enjoy it...what can I say - my mind is unable to absorb beauty when my body needs sleep...unless it's the "beauty sleep" :)



we also went to the Hofburg Treasury - with one of the best collections of its kind in the world...jewels, crowns, royal gowns - you name it - it has it all...what it does not have, however, is anything written in English - all the explanations are in German only...so - if you don't get an English-language audioguide - you better be able to read and understand German...







next to the Hofburg Treasury are the Imperial Apartments where Emperor Franz Josef I lived with his wife Elizabeth of Austria-Hungary (nicknamed Sisi)...even today this Sisi is still a very popular character in Austria - there are chocolates with her portraits, various souvenirs, pictures of her, books about her life...she was very fashion-conscious and very vain about her beauty...so it was pretty amusing to tour these apartments and see - among other things - Sisi's numerous beauty aides, recipes and dresses...but overall - my impression was that the emperor and his wife lived quite modestly (by royal standards anyway)...



we also went to the Academy of Fine Arts - it's a small museum which is under renovation now, but it is still worth a visit if only for Bosch's famous Last Judgment triptych...the Secession is within a few minutes walk from it, by the way...





another museum that we really enjoyed was the Albertina Museum with its rotating modern art collection and world class temporary exhibits...we happened to catch a couple, among them quite interesting one of Gerhard Richter...













in MUMOK (the Museum of Modern Art) we saw another temporary exhibition...the name of the exhibition was "The Porn Identity"...

it was more amusing than really interesting (funny, but once porn is removed from a bedroom and placed in a museum - it evokes a smile rather than quickens one's pulse), but what surprised me was the fact that they had separate prices listed for adult and children tickets...
I mean - the content of the exhibition was not really what you would call "PG-13"...and even though we didn't see young children there, apparently they could come with the parents...nudity and very explicit sex notwithstanding...I had a general feeling that in Austria they are very liberal and open-minded in this respect...





another temporary exhibition we happened to catch in Vienna by chance was "German Silver after Bauhaus"...we were walking along the Ringstrasse past the Post Office Savings Bank, and my dear angel was pointing out to me various architectural details of this fine Art Nouveau building...we came closer and then actually went inside to look at the decor, and there it was - an exhibition of German silver...







having left the building, we found ourselves in the middle of action: there was a strike going on right there, on the street...a kind Austrian passerby explained to us that it was organized by the farmers to protest unfair milk prices...apparently the state tries to keep milk prices artificially low...the farmers were concerned, but for us - carefree tourists - it was just another show...they even had cows there (not real ones, but they made very realistic, sad and loud "moo" sounds)...

I am posting a couple of pictures of the strike...








and I am also posting a few pictures of various art works that we liked...this sample is far from being "all inclusive", and my photography is far from being good, but! the images serve as a good reminder of the trip...that's their sole purpose...how could I, for example, leave out the picture that has my own name in it (or some variation of it at least) - Hundertwasser's "Irinaland sur les Balcans" ? :)



























speaking of Hundertwasser - we really enjoyed spending some time in his museum "KunstHausWien"...even the building itself - with its whimsical fašade, mismatched windows, irregular sidewalks and undulating floors - reflects his philosophy of unity with the environment and his artistic vision that held in high regard bright colors and uneven shapes...














just a few minutes away from this museum is no less whimsical Hundertwasserhaus - the apartment building that was designed by this Austrian artist...people actually live there, so - it is not open to the visitors, but it's still amusing to walk around it...









by the way - the only building that was designed by Hundertwasser in the USA is a winery in California - Quixote Winery ( http://www.quixotewinery.com/hundertwasser.html )


I hope to visit one day maybe...I think the perception of his style would only be enhanced by a glass of wine...and if you stumble on an uneven floor - you don't have to blame it on too much wine - blame it on Hundertwasser's artistic vision :)








so, Vienna...will we ever return?...

for me, Klimt alone - his spellbinding "The Kiss" (http://gustavklimtcollection.com/pages/giclee.html) , his gorgeous portrait of Judith I (http://gustavklimtcollection.com/pages/judithI.html ), just to name a couple - makes it worth a trip...there is nothing like seeing it "in person"...but that's just me - I looooove Klimt...
so - who knows? - maybe one day we'll return...it won't be tomorrow though...it won't be next year either - the whole next year is already "spoken for"...
but I would like to think that maybe one day...
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