I'm not sure how much this is making the news over in the states, but we are being chased by a large storm system, which has been producing tons of rain and flooding. Prague got hit really hard when we got out and apparently flooding has crippled different parts of the city that we were walking through just last week. I also got a message from Sarah saying they were experiencing some flooding in Ansbach as well. You quickly gain love for these cities when you visit them and we hope that the impact of this weather is only a small amount. We also hope with the move to Munich, we might be done with the rain and weather. Vienna was cold and wet from beginning to end. Yes, we brought appropriate gear, but you loose so much when your in a walking city head down because the wind and rain are hitting your face. We still were able to do quite a bit, but we definitely longed for a day without a coat or the thought of time spent just hanging out in one of the many amazing parks we passed in the way to indoor activities. I hope this isn't confused with ignorance, because I'm aware of the displacement and disasters that have put others in way worse predicaments here in Europe and back home in the States (w/ the tornadoes in Oaklahoma).
Here's a shot I took on the train ride to Munich this morning. That is not a river.:
Our first stop on Monday was the Hofburg Palace. Now there are about a billion places to visit on the entire grounds of the Palace, but we specifically had narrowed it down to the royal apartments and the treasury. The latter proved difficult to find and we packed the day with activities, so the Apartments were bunched with a tour of the royal silverwhare and a special Sisi exhibit. Honesty, you could walk around the palace and never enter its walls and be filled with plenty of amazement. The grounds are enormous, the buildings are massive, scultptures endless, and the gardens are pretty boss too.
The silverware was a little strange of an exhibit and grew slightly boring after a while. I appreciate collections, but after a while your kind of like: damn, this is an insane amount of dishes. After the dishware, we moved through an exhibit on Empress Elizabeth, aka Sisi. The exhibit was strange. Apparently Sisi was a little emo and so they expressed that by creating a darker atmosphere as you moved through it. It was highly informational and helped you understand the fascination with her and her role in the Franz Joseph empire (the longest ruling Haptsburg). The apartments added equal amounts of insight of the living quarters of the family while in Vienna. Again, there is lots to see outside, but for the 20 some euros, we got a massive history lesson from the tour - totally worth it.
Oops, I totally wanted to mention this place because we agreed we would recommend it to anyone. For lunch we stopped at place called Palmshuas. It is located in a massive green house in the Burggarten and the food was amazing. It was French quinine, which was a nice break from pork and boiled meats. The inside was pretty fly.
Our next stop was the Albertina museum. To my suprize, there was a retrospective exhibit for Gottfried Helnwein on display. I've been an admirer of Helnwien for sometime, but being my unprepared self on this trip, I didn't even think to seek out any of his work while in his country. As luck would have it, they just happen to have a high concentration of his works in the Albertina.
Helnwein does hyper realistic paintings that appear to be photographs they are so detailed. He generally uses children and cartoon characters as subject matters to provoke thoughts on how we view violence in society today. For those reasons, his art work tends to be surrounded by controversy. You couldn't take pictures inside of the exhibit, which is really nice, so I just snapped one outside the exhibit doorway.
The exhibit did not disappoint and to be honest, I'm not sure what else we saw in the Ablbertina, because I was floored by his paintings. There were numerous works that had to be 15 feet squared and the detail and brush stokes were just nutts. Until you got 2-3 feet from them and stood to the side, could you even begin to understand it was a painting. It was very inspiring and I'm feeling pretty spoiled between that and Muchi's Slav Epic installation. Aside from the Helnwein exhibit, the Albertina museum is not knotch.
After the Albertina, we stopped out in front of the Opera. During the summer (something you wouldn't be able to tell it is from the weather) the Opera house has a massive screen that is projecting live operas outdoors for anyone to enjoy. We made it through a single song of Carmen and then went on our way. It fulfilled my wife's request and it would have been really cool if the weather was nice. It is a very cool idea that the Opera, although a very fancy gathering, is for all the people. Something that we learned more about when we toured it the next day.
This is the point in the day that you realize you need a few things - food, drink, and a place to get off your feet. We averaged just around 6 miles a day walking in Vienna, which was around 4 less a day in Prague, but after a while those stone surfaces just start to break through any amount of comfort. We sought out Cafe Einstien from a travel book and the place was nice and relaxing.
I forgot we dropped by a couple other places on the way home - here's a few pics of them as well.