Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 27 and 28 - Vienna: So It Turns Out They Do a Bit More Than Make Sausage

Hey Team,

Well the swing back west has begun as I made my way to Austria again.  I'm hopeful that there will be no more driving tickets like last time (mainly because I don't have a car), so hopefully, this visit will be much more pleasant.  As I said on my last post, Day 27 was a scheduled day of rest.  I hadn't really had one since Paris, so I took the time to get to Vienna and then to catch up on some blogging and administrative stuff regarding the trip.

It's really amazing how much time is spent on this trip setting up hostels, trains, activities, etc.  Good thing I'm not really anal or nit picky about stuff or it could take a really long time.

Well anyway, it was hard taking the day off, because I hated wasting the time, but truthfully I needed a break to recharge the batteries.  So Day 28, I was ready to go full steam.  I had a full day of activities planned and I'm glad to say I hit all of them.  Here's the rundown...

So before I could get started, I had this desire to look at table settings (my passion in life as you all know).

Unfortunately, Crate and Barrel is not big over here so I had to pay 10 euro to go find something suitable to my very refined tastes.

This is at the Hofburg Palace which was the home to the Hapsburg Rulers that we discussed in the Budapest posts.  Vienna was the main seat of their empire and they ruled this area for centuries.

This was all of the silver and plating for the palace.  In all seriousness, even I enjoyed looking at it.

So this is about 5% of the candlesticks that this room showed.  Pretty sure they didn't use all of them at once so it seemed a little overboard, but if there's ever a blackout, we all know where to go

Here's a shot of part of the Hofburg Palace.  Needless to say, this things a little bigger than your average house.

It was impossible to get the whole thing in one shot, so here's a model of the entire complex.  The picture above is that piece in the upper middle.

Here's how much of a snob I've become on this trip.  I took a tour of the rooms where the royalty lived.  I saw this and thought, "That's it?  This is what these people are bringing to the table?  They wouldn't let the serfs live in this place at Versailles."

It is a bit more plain, however, they made up for it in a different part of the palace.  So nobody panic.  Royalty still spends an inordinate amount of the lands they rule's money making sure their 4th personal toilet has a fresco painted on it or something similarly important.

So after the Imperial Apartments, I went to this other museum at the Hofburg, the Treasury.  It has a ton of stuff from the Holy Roman Empire including the crown jewels.  I thought this piece was most interesting though.  The spear to the left is The Holy Lance, which, it is quite possible, could have been the spear used to pierce Jesus' side at Golgotha.  There's no way to prove this definitively and when I read it, I thought, "Yeah right".  But I went and looked it up and they did some extensive studies that indicate it is highly likely that it is a 1st century Roman weapon.  Again, you'll never know, but it's been in the possession of the Holy Roman Empire and now Austria for over a 1000 years, so regardless, it's pretty cool.  What I thought was amazing is that it was just sitting in the corner of this one room.  No fanfare, just hanging out in this glass case.  I would have thought there would have been neon signs and a mime pointing the way or something like that.

Here's where the pretty part of the Palace is.  This is all marble and fine woods and stuff.  It's so white and bright you almost feel like you're walking in a cloud.  They totally redeemed their selves here as I thought this was better than anything I saw at Versailles

This area of the Palace housed the museums of the very similar antique instruments, armory, and Ancient Ephesus artwork.  As you may know, Vienna is the mecca of classical music.  Even before Mozart, Strauss, and Beethoven, traveling minstrels in the Middle Ages would frequent and be patronized by the folks of Vienna.  The music vibe in Vienna was my favorite part of this city (I went to two concerts while I was here).  This is a shot of the composition of instrument of a later Viennese orchestra.

Next was the Armory Museum which had the most impressive display of armor I'd seen on the trip.  This put Invalides in Paris to shame.

You can see from the shot here that torturing horses was a favorite past time in the Middle Ages.

If you remember from close to the beginning of the blog, I showed you a picture of a bunch of armored guys where one of them was way smaller than the others.  Well I found out what that was today.

Apparently in the Middle Ages, instead of buying your kid football gear or a fireman outfit, you had a custom suit of armor made for them.  So if you're looking to one up that Mom at preschool who just won't zip it about how awesome her little Johnny is, buy your munchkin one of these.  That'll shut her up for at least 20 minutes, maybe even 30.

Come on dude.  Seriously?  This is too much even for me and you're talking to someone who was forced to wear an absurdly ridiculous baseball banana cup everyday of his life for about 15 or so years.

What I want to know is who let this guy out of the house looking like this.  He must have had no friends (which honestly, is anyone surprised) because if he did, they would have beat the crap out of him the second he walked into the room.

This was the look on everybody's face when the knight from above showed up (uninvited of course) to their house party ("Ladies. . Hot tub?  Hot Tub. . Ladies?")

Here's a shot of a relief from the Ephesus art exhibit.  Ephesus was in present day Turkey and was the home of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Temple of Artemis.  It was a major player in the Ancient World and is the city in Paul's Epistles to the Ephesians.

I want to tell you what building this is, but I honestly don't know.  I always get in trouble for not being in the pictures so I thought, "This looks important.  I'll take one here".

Mozart Statue Alert!!  While born in Salzburt Mozart did a lot of his best stuff here in Vienna.  This is also where he died.  Like I said, they love their musicians here and they know the tourists know it too.  You have to be careful when picking a concert here, because if you don't pay attention, you'll be watching some freshman music major and a couple of his buds in perfumed wigs playing a fifth hand version of the Marriage of Figaro for the low low price of 30 euros.

So here I am on vacation, just minding my own business, when some yahoo starts flapping his gums about tuna sandwiches at this place here in Vienna.  "They famous throughout Europe" and whatnot.  I informed this guy that he shouldn't be so careless with his boasting because he happened to be in the presence of a world famous tuna sandwich artist.  I went over to see what all the fuss was about and it will come as no surprise to all of you who have had the pleasure, nay the honor, of sitting down to a meal of my "Tuna Surprise" that this stuff came in a very distant second.  They tried so hard too, I almost felt bad for them..

So that night, I splurged a little and went to a classical concert at the Hofburg Palace performed by the Wiener Hofburg Orchester (Wien is how you say Vienna in German).  It wasn't my favorite classical music, mainly a lot of waltzes and polkas by Strauss and Mozart, but this is what Vienna is famous for.  I had a great time and really enjoyed the whole show.

Here's the Hofburg Palace at night.  Quite a sight.

This is the full orchestra at the Redoutensaal Room.  Beethoven, Liszt, Schubert, Strauss, and Mozart all performed in this very place.  Very cool.