Posted in camera-phone love, entertainment, historic site, memories, places, theatre, travel

bye bye Wien

kapow

It is the first day of June. You know what this means, don’t you? Yep. My clinical rotation in Wien, which took place during the last 3 weeks of May is over. And yes, I’m back in the USA. sigh. Back to real life. boom. crash. Back to reality. But its not all bad news though. RussianPrincess got engaged over the weekend. I haven’t had the chance to hear the details…yet. But its not all roses for her. I know her dad hates her fiance. So I hope for her sake that she is prepared to deal with the fallout of this announcement…still, I’m going to focus on the positive. My RussianPrincess is getting married!! YAY!

can you believe this is a library?
can you believe this is a library?

My last couple of days in Wien were bittersweet for me, especially the last day since well, it was my last day. And he left for Munich. And that was that. I guess we’ll always have Vienna. ok. so bad joke. I did, however, make a very special effort to go to the National Bibliothek. I was a librarian in school from the age of 14 all the way through college. Libraries hold a very special place in my heart. I’m really really glad I went. For one thing, the library is gorgeous. You can’t say that the Imperial family did not love books, because they must have for them to have collected such gorgeous books and have housed them in such a beautiful library. There’s a certain calm that overcomes you when you enter it as you realise that you are entering an oasis of knowledge and history.

I also went to watch my third opera (Eugene Onegin). This time I was in line a good 3 hours before the opera started and managed to snag a good spot in the standing room area. I want to add that Madame Butterfly is still my favorite but its hard to tell if its because its the first one in the Staatsopera that I watched or if its because it simply was just the superior of the other two performances. But Eugene Onegin is a close second. Its also the only one of the three (the other being Werther) where the title character did not kill himself (but he did kill someone seeing as death is a must in every opera).

And I did go to the Lower Belvedere. I really liked it.

I took this using my phone camera!
I took this using my phone camera!

The Lower Belvedere is now designated as a temporary exhibit space and by sheer luck, they were showing Mucha’s works. I used to think that Henri de Lautrec was the founder of the graphic arts, but I think Mucha might have preceded him. I liked his work a lot and am going to be very sure to be on the lookout for his works in the future. The man designed posters, shops, jewelry…it seemed design was his thing!

I left Wien on a rainy early Saturday and landed in sunny London. Oh yeah. You read that right. It was sunny in London.  street artThe street performers and street artists in front of the National Art Gallery were in full force. Basically did a LOT of walking with the 2 aunts and baby cousin. After they fed me a very delicious chinese meal of course. Selfridges was celebrating their 100th anniversary and they had lots of cool yellow displays including specially yellow coke bottles. Yeah. You read me right. It was kinda creepy. We also went to Primark. I don’t know how to describe it other than it was a store that was filled to the brim with very very cheap things (I found a pair of really cute ankle sneakers for 3pounds) and very very long lines (and as a result I didn’t get anything). Ended the day with yet another chinese meal. yum yum yum.

Posted in drama, historic site, memories, places, shopping, travel

no camera day #1

Courtesy of Travellious
Courtesy of Travellious
Courtesy of Spamula.net
courtesy of Spamula.net

As I mentioned before, the battery on my camera ran out and since I’m hoping (like really really hoping) to squeeze in one last picture (specifically of The National Bibliothek) I’m leaving it switched off. At any rate, the Belvedere did not allow people to take pictures inside anyway (boo!) but I did find this amazing image (which I think is really cool) of one of the statues on Travellious, which next to the Frugal Traveller blog on NYTimes is bookmarked on my list of must-read blogs before planning another trip somewhere.

Anyway, with my handy student ID card, I bought a concession kombi-ticket but I only went to the Upper Belvedere because I wanted to save the Lower Belvedere for tomorrow. I think my favorite exhibit was the “Character Heads” by Messerschmidt. They were awesome! And so realistic! And the imagination and joy he must have had making them! Some of the faces were really cheeky! And then of course, there was Klimt’s infamous The Kiss. Frankly, I wasn’t that interested in seeing it because pictures of it can be found everywhere in every visitor’s brochure here in Vienna but I have to admit, I’m really really glad that I did not skip over it despite the massive tour groups/student groups. I waited patiently and then took my time to take it in. Its breathtaking and very different from the Baroque paintings, yet not that different given its opulance of color. In short, it was gorgeous in person. And there were a couple of other paintings byKlimt that I really liked (I’m seriously a big Baroque, Rococo fan when it comes to art…) but I don’t remember the titles of the paintings but I thought the portraits were cool. And Schiele. dang. I wonder if he was clinically depressed and because that wasn’t a recognized medical condition back then never received treatment. His works were depressing. Yet, really fascinating at the same time.

The Belvedere palace itself was also gorgeous. I had a hard time trying to divide my attention between the paintings and the structure of the building itself. In the end, I just decided to walk into each room, strain my neck for a couple of minutes and admire the fresco on the ceilings, close my eyes, shake it open and then slowly enjoy the works of art in the museum itself.

The museum is rather small, and I really could have just gone to the Orangery as well as the Lower Belvedere. But I decided to wait till tomorrow to go see the rest of it. I think I’m going to skip the Leopald and the Albertine this time round. There are a lot of smaller museums here in Austria that I have yet to have a chance to see so I think I’m going to come back another time to see those. I also got some of the Mozart chocolates for my little cousin and roommates. I was going to get wine but as I know very little about wine and the sachartorte will probably get smashed on my flight back, I think chocolates are my best bet.

I also had a date with the boy tonight. Our last night, our last date. sort of. And it was also a sort of disappointment. First he was late. And he looked tired. Not that I blame him. His social life here is ‘happening’ and he really hasn’t been sleeping much. He had also been travelling around every weekend. But still…I was really hoping to make it a special night. Yes, I know that this is a relationship with an expiration date, if you can even call it a relationship. And I know we both agreed to end it on a handshake. But I guess a tiny part of me had hoped that there would be a different outcome at the last minute. And I guess that even if it did not, at least it would end on a special note. I do have a knack of expecting too much, don’t I? haha. oh well.

Posted in entertainment, historic site, memories, places, travel

Spending the summers a couple of miles away…

Chinese cabinets from Schoenbrunn.at
Chinese cabinets from Schoenbrunn.at

The Hapsburg had a summer palace. According to what I read when I went to the Hofmobilendepot museum, they pretty much packed up everything aka furniture, cutlery, etc and moved for each season. Which was also why their furniture had to be repaired constantly and they had a department filled with artisans to repair the moving household. So when I found out that Schonbrum is the summer palace, I thought that it would be quite a hassle to go there and that I would have to get a S-bahn ticket or that it would at least be outside of Vienna. Well…its barely outside of Vienna. So basically they packed up the entire house (basically what I’ll be doing in June except most of my stuff will be given away because erm, I don’t have my own moving staff and postage is super-expensive these days) and moved maybe a half-mile radius away. Sheesh.

from schoenbrunn.at
from schoenbrunn.at

That said, its a beautiful palace with gorgeous view and amazing grounds. It also houses the world’s oldest zoo (I didn’t go). The greenhouse (Palmerhaus) is supposed to be amazing (again, did not pay to go in). The palace itself was impressive. Some of my favorite rooms include the blue room. And if anything, I really do think that this palace does a better job of showing the imperial family as a family, and not as well, one of the most powerful political powers of its time I suppose. I won’t recommend the cafe there though. Food kinda sucks. and it was expensive. double argh.

We (meaning boy and I) went to the Haus der Musik in the evening as well.

from the Haus der musik website
from the Haus der musik website

It was a cool museum. Different. A lot of interactive toys to play with. But after a while, it got to be a bit too much. Definitely a museum that you want to plan to spend hours in. In addition to the interactive displays (which were weird), they also showcased many of Vienna’s most influential composers (Strauss, Schubert, Haydn, etc) over the ages.

All in all, it was a good day.

Posted in historic site, memories, places, travel

the Sound of Music

Took a train ride to Salzburg on Sunday. Its a rather small city compared to Vienna, but just as rich in history (and not just because the Sound of music was filmed there!)The gardens of the ArchiBishop’s mistress was gorgeous. Other than the fact that he was a man of the cloth, he really was the perfect mate. He was faithful. And he built her the finest home for her and their children to live in.  But it had been a rather long train ride and we were tired so we stopped by the Sacher Hotel (Salzburg) for some Original Sachartorte. After that, we made the long hike up a little hill to get a good view of the alps with a pit stop by the monastry for some good bier. Its a good thing the weather finally decided to cooperate and it was wonderful being able to finally walk around and get some Vitamin D.  Also stopped by the toy museum (I can’t remember the name for toy in german anymore except for the first bit which is spiegul) where Mr. Shortneck had a grandtime oohh-ing and ahh-ing over the toy trains and poo-poohing at the Barbie Doll collection.

In addition, we also stopped by the place where Mozart (yes! Twinkle twinkle little star!) was born. Turns out his sister was just as accomplished but because she was a woman, she couldn’t take her career to the heights that he did. Because of the visit to his birthing place, I decided to go to the famous Zentralfriedhof cemetary. The largest cemetary in Vienna still in use today. And by huge, they really meant gigantic. They had separate burial sections for Jews and Protestants. Some of the graves were enchantingly beautiful. The tram had 6 different tram stops for it (all outside the walls but it has so many walls, the different tram stops were needed). CIMG2459