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Friday, September 12, 2014

Palace Day and the Search for Raisins on 9/6

Decided to dedicate Saturday, 9/6, to enjoying the spectacular Schonbrunn and Belvedere Palaces; of course they were in opposite directions so we walked through some of Vienna’s side streets from the hostel to Schonbrunn first. Thank goodness our map was great as I, being the day’s navigator, made a point of taking us the most direct route which involved never staying on one street for more than a few blocks at a time!

Schonbrunn Palace: The 1,441 room palace was built between 1696 and 1712 at the request of Emperor Leopold I for his son. Leopold envisioned a palace whose grandeur would surpass Versailles. However, Austria’s treasury, drained by the cost of wars, would not support the ambitious undertaking and the original plans were never carried out. When Maria Theresa became Empress, she changed the plans and the palace looks today much as she conceived it.  We bought the 40 Room ticket which was quite sufficient for us as the palace was mobbed with both individuals and tour groups; the latter of course each had their own leader speaking in relatively loud voices into their mikes as their charges followed behind. It was not conducive to appreciate the fabulous reception rooms, sumptuous dining rooms and over the top beauty throughout.

What beautiful gardens at the rear of the Palace; the flowers' colors are the same as the Austrian flag.

This looked like every young girl's fairy tale, getting married in the Palace Chapel after being dropped off  by a horse and carriage.

We then took the metro over to Belvedere since it was quite a hike away and we had places to go and things to see! Belvedere Palace, located on the SE edge of Vienna,.is an historic complex consisiting of 2 Baroque palaces, the Upper and Lower, built in the 18th C. as the summer residence for the important general Prince Eugene of Savoy.

The palaces, separated only by fountains and extensive gardens, are considered to be one of the world’s finest Baroque landmarks. Momentous events have taken place in the Upper Belvedere’s Marble Hall and from here there’s a spectacular view of Vienna. The Upper Belvedere houses the greatest collection of Austrian art dating from the Middle Ages to the present day. At the heart of the displays of ‘Art around 1900’ is the world’s largest Gustv Klimt collection. 

We didn't know anything about the Belvedere before landing in Vienna and were thrilled to see it after the Schonbrunn Palace. An Austrian music and dance performance involving amateurs of all ages, and even a few tourists brave enough to join in, made the day for me especially since they were dressed in traditional garb.

I love this photo of the Upper Belvedere.

For the life of me, I could not appreciate nor undersatnd why Jeff Koonis' The (inflatable) Hulk was the FIRST thing you see upon entering this stunningly beautiful museum of classical art. Plus, there was a sign up saying don't touch.
Views of Vienna from the Palace.
Don't the gardens look fantastic?
This light sculpture was very neat and intriguing but again, I thought, it seemed out of place in the palace.

Never seen seats like these in a museum before; I was worried if I sat down onone, I'd never want to get up again!

Got your dancing shoes on? I made sure to leave mine at home as I love to watch but hate to participate with my 2 left feet!

I enjoyed watching this young family; below, many dances later, the little boy had given up the ghost but the couple kept on dancing.

We topped off the visit to the Upper Belvedere by visiting the gardens and lovely fountains at the rear of the palace. We were both flabbergasted though, as lovely and as beautifully preserved and maintained as the palaces are, why were all the lawns chockerblock full of weeds? I wonder if they don't allow the use of chemicals? Pat: with your being a Master Gardener, do you have any ideas?
Remember my mentioning the 'beautiful' gardens 20 or photos earlier? From a distance, they are indeed beautiful to behold; up close though it's another matter entirely with weeds absolutely everywhere you look. Wasn't just the case here at Belvedere either but in every park or stretch of 'grass' ALL you could see was weeds. 

The Lower Belvedere; we didn't go in as we still wanted to go to Naschmarkt and time was marching on.

After having our full of palaces for the day, it was refreshing to walk over to Naschmarkt, an international foods market, so we could stroll up and down the stalls interspersed by cafes serving food from around the world. Steven and I’ve always loved markets and some of our most delightful memories from last year’s trip around the world were searching out markets ranging from crafts to food to flea to antiques from Helsinki all the way to Phnom Penh. 

Had only been to one small one, in Prague, so far this trip so we made a point of visiting Vienna’s Naschmarkt. Even getting there close to 5ish, many of the stalls were still open and I was delighted to find some selling raisins.  At home, I always have snack size bags of raisins to take with me when I get a case of the munchies after my water aerobics classes.Some people thought I was beyond crazy packing about 5 pounds of them in Ziploc snack size bags for the trip but I had enjoyed eating every last raisin I had packed and hadn’t regretted lugging that weight for the last 5 weeks. 

Since we have generally been heading out for each day’s adventures around 9ish and rarely stop for lunch, it’s been great having a snack size bag of raisins, a cut up apple and some crackers to munch on when we get hungry. I had been looking for raisins to replenish my quickly diminishing supply in every grocery store we popped into in each city but, strangely enough, raisins could not be found, except for one bag of very stale raisins I had bought in desperation! I hope that once we get to Turkey, I’ll be in raisin heaven again and have access to fresh raisins once again. 

Not much to choose from at the end of the day!
What a shame there was graffiti at the bottom of the wall art. BTW, we've seen so much graffiti this whole trip. I can't recall that it's such a major problem in pretty well every city in the US or is that a case of the grass is greener on the other side?