August 23, 2009
Mike and Grace have returned from a co-ed baby shower for one of Michael’s dental assistants (I think?), and so we are planning to boost for Garmisch quite soon. It’s in the middle of the German Alps, about half an hour from Neuschwanstein, which I believe we will be visiting. But, while Mike and Grace are packing and prepping Fleeb (as niece Eowyn is often called), I thought I would give a whirlwind, highlights tour of my whirlwind tour of Vienna, Venice, and Florence.
1. We traveled from Marktbergel, Germany, to Vienna last Sunday, which is about six hours. The Austrian Alps are some of the most gorgeous things ever. When you’re traveling through the foot-hill-ish parts of the Alps, you get these really sloping mountains that are just covered in trees. This is a decent example:
(Ignore the lapse of ten minutes in which I celebrated a banana-walnut bread orgy as Michael said there was no dinner planned in the foreseeable future, due to too much food at the babe shower. I now have half an hour to write this post. Yes.)
Vienna’s city center is packed with some of the most gigantic and good-looking buildings I’ve ever seen. Granted, I haven’t seen many large cities. The shopping district looked pretty much exactly like New York’s, although, of c., everything was in German. Anyway, about those buildings:
I believe this is the natural history museum; that, or the modern art museum. They’re right across from each other, about a block away from the Hofburg, which is more of a complex of palaces than a single palace. We toured the imperial living quarters and saw the royal silver collection.
(Or, in other words, we went to the Hofburg and made an evening of it. Ignore this parenthetical paragraph if you aren’t Illusionist-crazy. But, if you ARE, let it be known that I saw a statue of Emperor Franz Josef, and the painting Ed draws of the emperor in the Hofburg is based on Franz Josef. Franz Josef’s son wrote anonymous articles in newspapers against his father’s politics and committed suicide in his hunting lodge at the age of 30-something. There you have it.)
Anyway, the pictures.
Pardon the background sun; it was unavoidable. This part of the Hofburg is now the national library/book museum/we couldn’t read German and I really have no idea.
Note the fantastic soup tureen. The “silver collection” is a deceptive name, as it includes all the royal cutlery and dishes and table decorations. So gorgeous, so expensive.
2. Anyway, I have fifteen minutes left and need to get on to Venice. We stayed 17 kilo outside of Venice in a little town called Quarto D’altino and trained in for a day. Portions of Venice are really beautiful, but a lot of the everyday buildings look unfinished with stucco over half of the brick work, and it is really pretty dirty. It was also like at least 90 degrees F. The streets are all narrow and twisty, with at least three-story buildings on each side. Canals everywhere and little bridges everywhere. Also, most Italians speaking English sound pretty much like a Lady-and-the-Tramp-educated mind would think.
Memorandum: Venice is a tourist trap. There are shops and booths everywhere with, collectively, one of the most enormous selections of knick-knacks, t-shirts, scarfs, aprons, and junk I’ve ever seen.
Despite what I’ve written, I’m really glad I went to Venice. We went to the largest collection of Venetian art at some gallery or another, but I couldn’t take pictures. (Between the five or so hours I spent in that museum, the Academy at Florence, and the Uffizi, I saw so much art in so little time that I still have no idea what to think about it.) Moving on, San Marko’s square is amazing:
We need to leave now for Garmisch, so I will continue this saga later.