Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Grüß Gott! Schwedenplatz? Oh, jot U-Bahn Hein!

European breakfasts are to die for. A nice bowl of fruit with two kinds of apples, oranges, grapes and kiwi. Then a spread of different sliced meats and cheese. Anyone who serves meat and cheese in the morning is okay in my book. And then there's the drink choices. Orange/Apple/Grapefruit juice, or Viennese coffe, or even Heiße Schokolade (hot chocolate). So then you of course choose your bread, and there are a million and a half of those. Plus any kind of jam you want. So, you sip your drink and read the paper, in a cozy little area of the room and it's just a nice way to wake up. So then I headed off on a hunt for an International Herald, and the magazine vendor was so excited to see I was an American, he just couldn't stop smiling. I was mildly freaked out, but not overly concerned. And so it goes.

Then we ventured on over to the Palace area where the new and old palaces have merged. Great walls and gates enclose the palace in this great round-about circle. Facing the entrance to the new Palace is Saint Michael's crypt and Cathedral. The outside has a statue of Michael saving someone in a great fashion and when you step inside it looks just as beautiful as any Cathedral you've probably seen before. But once you approach the alter, you notice these golden sunbursts that reach up into the ceiling where Cherubs and other religious figures are depicted. And you have to admire the architect who used the available sunlight on the outside to make the man-made sunlight on the interior just sparkle and shine at the right moments.

And then in the center of the round-about there is this sectioned off piece of the street that happens to be an underground Roman ruin! And it's not just a street, there are columns to hold up the structure and it appears that it was two stories! There are little doorways and ramps which are probably disintegrated stairways but I just wonder how much further the ruin goes....and I'm sure they'll never find out because there's no chance the Palaces will be torn down for exploration.

Walking into the Palace, Grandma and I bought a ticket for Sisi's apartment, or Duchess Elisabeth, & also the Emperor Franz Joseph's rooms. Walking upstairs, seeing all of Elisabeth's gowns and outfits and reading her story, I felt a little sad. She was a deeply troubled girl, married to the Emperor, I suppose against her own inclination, so she tended to travel a lot and even had a room strictly for extreme exercise. A quote I saw she said read, "Ich stehe einsam, wie auf and'rem Stern." or, "I stand alone, as if on another star." So she must have been so lonely and distraught about this new life she had to live, attending court and speaking to the public, many things a young girl would prefer to stay away from as long as she can.

But then we moved further into the apartment where the actual rooms started. And I think my favorite room had to have been the Conference Room. The blue furniture matched the tapestries on the wall and the gold leafed moulding was just beautiful. The china on the long table even matched the golden leaflets on the wall. It was interesting to me because the rest of the rooms were decorated with deeps reds, and the Conference Room stood out as the only blue one. Unlike Versailles, these rooms were decorated with intricate flowering gold, instead of placing gold on every visible surface. There was a delicacy to this home, a balance between the impressive decorations and the simplicity of the design itself.

After the Palace, we walked on over to the Emperor's Library, which faces a square used in many famous older movies. One in particular my Grandma mentioned was The Third Man. Anyway, walking up the library steps there was this beautiful golden statue on the railing at each turn. And walking into the entrance of the library my breath was taken away. I showed the man my ticket and entered this beautiful grotto of literature. The shelves were all lined with leather bound books, and I immediately noticed hidden stairwells built into the shelves that led up to a second floor of shelves. Ladders ran all along the shelves so any book you chose could be at an arm's length away. The museum owners selected some of the most famous manuscripts to be opened and put on display in glass cases. Greek, Judaic, Byzantine, Arabic, and Chinese manuscripts were the first of what I saw. Methods of surgery, home medicine and religious practices were just a few topics mentioned. My favorite manuscipts were those of Hippocrates; I couldn't believe they had been preserved and were sitting open right in front of my very eyes! And not only were the words perfectly legible, but there were drawings in full color to go along with the print. Then my eyes turned to my next favorite piece. Four globes placed on every corner of the center of the library. Two were celestial, and two were topographical. Designed by Coronelli in 1693 the celestial globes depict the shapes of the animals and gods and goddesses in full color and then in sort of blueish greyish tone as if it's the night sky. And the topographical ones are very accurate, he used the latest exploration reports and maps of the world and they show the types of people living in the areas and I think a few animals as well.

There was a large tapestry hanging at the back end of the library that showed the 12 astrologers derived from the Old Testament, as each were looking up into the sky and were connected to their constellation or planet. Then the library took a turn back and the beginnings of zodiac and horoscope studies were shown. I couldn't believe how many books on magic and finding your zodiac sign there were. There was a Judaic book that described how the lunar cycle affected the crops and it discussed the astronomical aspects of the crops as well. The only library I could even come close to comparing this one to was in Beauty & the Beast and I think Disney did an excellent job making that one so lavish. This one was a little darker inside but the collection was absolutely breathtaking.

From there we went to a Roman Ruin museum which was so-so to me. There were random blocks of stone with little paragraphs about them, which was cool to see because they found them on excavations but for me it wasn't the highlight of the day.

For dinner we went to this amazing little restaurant one U-Bahn station over, called, Griechenbeisl. Inside there was this great wall in one of the rooms that famous artists, composers & writers have signed. Beethoven, Mozart, and even Mark Twain :) The waiter was so excited to hear I was from Missouri....and everyone there was so kind to us at dinner. And the owner of the place (the only woman in the house, hoo-rah!) came up and asked us how everything was after we were that's how a restaurant is meant to be run. I tried Stiegel beer tonight, its from Salzburg and it had a nice light flavor to it as well. Didn't compliment my spinach & ewe chesse quiche very well, but it's still a beer either way! And it is a very famous Austrian beer...well, not sure about famous but it was the first on the "on-tap" list and people next to us were drinking it as well. The restaurant was magical though, you walk down a few steps to get inside and then you're greeted with two ways to go. One faces the kitchen and the other is a pathway that leads past the bar, and into the 1st room. Which also happens to be a fork, where you can turn left into the signature room, or you can turn right and continue your descent further into the restaurant, both metaphorically and physically (it slopes downward) and then in the furthest of the rooms is a Piano player. It was just so nice to sit in a booth, that had a pillow sewed to where you sat and just relax.

So now we have retired to the room for the night, Grandma is drifting off to sleep and I am left with my usual insomnia. Maybe I'll take advantage of the big bathtub again. And then I'll read until I drift off again.

Tomorrow we are heading to the mountain to sight-see a little more.
Gute nacht!

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