Day 4 - Vienna

dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true
when will you realize ... Vienna waits for you?

Vienna - Billy Joel

I first learned of that song in my mid-twenties I think. I was away from my desk, to the toilet I think, and when I came back, a certain Miss had placed this song in my desktop. I can't recall what spurred her to do that, but since it happened in my mid-twenties in which I was surrounded by people in similar age and in a situation that often got us frustrated and depressed, I think she thought the song would be suitable. It is a really good song, really meaningful. Even Billy Joel himself had mentioned it's one of his favorite Billy Joel's songs. Vienna itself was never really been in my life list, despite of me having an Austrian pen friend once. Well I became lazy and stopped writing to her so the correspondence just kinda stopped. I didn't even email her to say that I'll be swinging by her country. I am that bad. So anyways, it was never really in my life list and yet I made it there. Blessed, I say.

Before I get going to write about my day in Vienna, let me reminisce a bit about that time in my early mid-twenties. I will always be thankful that I got out, but that time in my life was also I think the time when I kinda had more people surrounding me. There were many people to laugh with, bitch with and I am definitely missing that support system now. Having someone to bitch with is really important. Especially so for me who's easily swung into the deep dark hole. I have been back for 1 week plus now and already I have returned to restless nights and nights where I don't really sleep. I wrote before that things have been going lousy and on situations like these, I always always always just want to walk away. Then my mind starts to race calculating all the different outcomes, outcome of if I fail, outcome of if I really just walk, outcome of if I really leave and return home. Like Jesus prayed, I wish this cup can be taken away from me. To just get up and get going, I have had to invoke Jesus walking to His death even though He may have the power to stop it. I think every one who's been taught in a Christian school or in a church have been indoctrinated about this part of Jesus's last moment to make us be brave to face something we're afraid of or really don't want to do. Also often time what we have to face is not as hard as what Jesus had to go through, so basically stop whining.

Let's talk about Vienna now. Day 4 was spent exploring parts of Vienna on my own. I planned to visit Schönbrunn Palace and The Belvedere. Too ambitious of a plan perhaps, but I did it. I clocked in more than 20,000 steps that day. To avoid the time needed to queue because I heard these places are popular, I bought the tickets online. Schönbrunn is that popular that you need to specify the timing of your visit. I chose 09:30 AM. I had difficulty buying the underground ticket because damn it, the machine in Karlsplatz station (where my hotel was located) didn't accept 20 euro, aarrgghh!!! It took me some time, but finally I found a random lady and asked her if she has two 10-euro notes. Luckily she did and luckily it seemed everyone in Vienna speaks English. Seriously I didn't have any language difficulty there, though I did think how at a disadvantage I was during this trip. I kinda have a knowledge of 5 languages, but German is not one of them :( Anyways, exiting the Schönbrunn station, I have to admit I may get confused on which way to go if I had to figure it out on my own, but luckily there were many people going there, so I just followed the crowd. Schönbrunn compound is actually free to enter. So if you just want to walk around the ground without entering the palace, you can do so. I saw many Austrian jogging and having a picnic there. When buying the ticket, I opted for the Classic Pass which includes: Grand Tour of the Palace with audio guide, Crown Prince Garden, The Maze, Orangery Garden, and entrance to Gloriette's viewing terrace. Is it worth it? Well, it all depends on your interest, I guess.

Touring the inside of the palace was pretty nice. Having the audio guide did make the whole experience better. You can't take pictures inside the palace rooms, so I have nothing from this visit. It kinda reminded me of the visit to Versailles where the rooms were surprisingly kinda small for kings and queens. I have no knowledge whatsoever on Austrian history so perhaps I couldn't really appreciate much the significance of this palace. There are the bedroom and working room of Franz Joseph I of Austria. He apparently was very hardworking and it seemed he was quite a nice king. Then there's also the room of his wife, Empress Elisabeth of Austria, who is also known as Sisi. Apparently she was quite a beauty and she had really nice long hair. It's quite nice walking through the palace rooms but was I blown away, not really I guess. I think it's because if we're talking about the interior, last year's visit to Windsor Castle just really top it for me. That being said, going inside Schönbrunn palace is quite worth doing.

After that I went to the Crown Prince Garden which is not bad. You have a pathways shaded by climbing plants. There's also a lookout in which you can see part of the palace and its garden below.


Then I decided to make my way to the Gloriette. It's quite a walk and I got to pass a few fountains. They were so so. I have been fortunate enough to visit Versailles and though I'm pretty sure I didn't see all their fountains when I was there, but from some that I saw, Versailles' ground and fountains are the most beautiful I have seen so far. Anyways, in Schönbrunn there's a fountain like this own below. The theme is Romans ruin. It's not a ruin because it wasn't maintained but it was purposely made like a Romans ruin.

Now, a gloriette is this structure on an elevated site. So it was quite a walk up the hill to get there and the day was getting hotter so it's not all that fun, but I made it.

My ticket included entrance to its viewing terrace which means climbing up some stairs up. Truly not fun for me. I hate this type of small enclosed staircase. I even questioned myself if I could make it to the top and luckily I did and didn't faint. From the viewing terrace, you get to see the back of Schönbrunn palace and its garden.

After that I went to the maze. It was somewhat interesting, but when you're tired from walking in the hot sun, getting lost in the maze is not actually anyone's idea of fun. There were some things that you can play with in the maze. I saw some kids having fun with them.

Last was the Orangery garden which was not interesting at all. It's somewhat under renovation so there were not many things to see. Overall I think if you have to choose which ticket to get, perhaps just get the entrance ticket to see the inside of the palace. The rest of the ground you can just freely enjoy at leisure. Before I left, I had lunch. I forget how much time I spent there, but I think it was quite some time.

Then it was an underground train back to Karlsplatz and then I had to take the tram to the Belvedere. I was a bit confused on which stop to take the tram from even though I had googled this. Google failed me on this one or perhaps I'm the dumb one. I crossed the street here and there and still couldn't get it right. I asked another random lady and finally got it correct. The Belvedere is a museum and it's divided into Upper and Lower Belvedere. The upper and lower ground I think come from the fact that one is sitting on an upper ground and the other is lower. Like in Schönbrunn, entering its compound is free. So if you just want to take a walk and enjoy its garden, you can do so. Here's the view of the garden and lower Belvedere.

You can't take pictures inside them so I have only outside view. Upper Belvedere houses the famous Gustav Klimt's painting, The Kiss and also some of his other works. I first found out about The Kiss I think in one of my trip either in Paris or in Rome where I saw those street vendors selling reproduction of paintings. It's kinda strange considering this painting is not even in one of those countries. It is an interesting painting, but I never thought I would finally see it in person. The first time I saw any of Klimt's was in MoMA and even then I already felt quite blessed. To finally see this famous work of his was really quite something and it's pretty impressive. It's quite big, on a wall on its own. Wonderfully golden. On his other works in that room that caught my attention, one was his painting Judith. At first look, it looked so scandalous. Then upon looking more, the head at the lower right just made it rather disturbing for me. In the other room, there were also some landscape paintings that Klimt did and they were also quite interesting.

I kinda forget what else was there in Upper Belvedere. I need to google Belvedere as I write this to remember what else. There was a collection of head sculptures by Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. This was kinda interesting to see because there was once an art series shown on TV which featured head sculptures that show different expressions, but I can't remember if it was from Franz Xaver Messerschmidt too. Anyway, The Belvedere as a whole is not very big, so you won't get overwhelmed visiting it and I think that made for a really nice visit. After I was done with Upper Belvedere, I made my way to the Lower Belvedere. Below is a picture of Upper Belvedere as I made my way down. There are also some fountains in the garden.


The Lower Belvedere is much smaller. There were 2 exhibitions. One was the The Klewan Collection which featured different works as curated by Helmut Klewan. If I'm not mistaken it featured more modern art kinda works. The other exhibition featured Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Never heard of him before, hope I can remember him from now on. One of his work that caught my attention was The Roses of Heliogabalus. It is pretty on first look, but sinister upon looking more and reading the explanation. Another interesting part was a section in the exhibition that showed how Lawrence Alma-Tadema inspired some film makers and it showed some scenes from the films and his paintings side by side. Really interesting. Another interesting find was at Lawrence Alma-Tadema's house, he had these small panels of paintings from other artists. One of those panel featured a Javanese dancer painting. I forget who the artist was.

Before I left, I went to the other side of the Upper Belvedere. It was truly by chance because I almost just walked out to the street. Anyway here, there's another big garden area and a pool, but I was too tired to explore it. There's an interesting piece of installation art and it's The Fat House by Erwin Wurm. Kinda cute, kinda weird. You can go inside it and there's a video inside. I didn't stay long enough to watch much of it.

Before going back to my hotel, I explored the area near the Vienna State Opera a bit. There was a garden with a Mozart statue. Then I passed by Vienna State Opera on my way back to the hotel. The Vienna State Opera apparently has performance everyday, it can be opera or ballet. The nice thing about them is that they have big screen outside the building and people can just watch the live performance inside. It's the poor man way of watching. I doubt many people do this on a bad weather, but I thought it was kinda nice of them doing this and there were really many people watching. When I went by that day, I think the performance hadn't started yet or in intermission, but there were already some people sitting outside waiting. The day before when I passed, I saw a ballet performance, I think it was Swan Lake.

:) eKa @ 9:32:00 PM •

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