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Friday, April 3, 2015

Tuesday in Vienna

Tuesday took us to the Museum Quarter, and, specifically, the Kunsthistorisches Museum.  Vienna has an amazing number of museums, and if I ever return, I hope to visit more of them.  But as much as we like museums, we find them exhausting pretty quickly, so we decided to be selective regarding our museum visits this trip.

On the way to the Museum Quarter

View approaching the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Natural History Museum

Kunsthistorisches Museum
We actually arrived shortly before the museum opened (jet lag worked in our favor in the sense that we were up early every morning!).  I was impressed by how quickly we were able to purchase tickets, in spite of the crowds.  I was also impressed that school groups seemed to be able to go for free.

The Kunsthistorisches has any number of fascinating exhibits, but our favorite was the Kunstkammer, which housed a tremendous collection of objet d'art collected by the Habsburgs.  It is amazing what large sums of money (and perhaps a certain about of disregard for the wellbeing of one's subjects) can buy.  I was impressed by both the workmanship and materials involved, and I liked some pieces very much.  Others, however, I frankly would not want to have in my home, no matter how expensive or impressive they may be.  One sculpture particularly comes to mind.  There was one sculpture featuring three people standing with their backs to one another in a triangle formation.  One person was an attractive young woman, and another was an attractive young man.  The third person was clearly much older, and appeared to have both male and female characteristics, namely sagging breasts and a receding hairline.  It was an interesting way to conceptualize the fleeting nature of youth, but hardly seemed like an uplifting reminder to see every day.

After our morning at the museum, we left for lunch and a wander.  We wandered in the direction of the University of Vienna, enjoyed some gelato, and saw some interesting sights along the way.

Parliament building

The University of Vienna was founded in 1365 and is the oldest university in the German-speaking world.  We hung out there for a while.

We then headed back to our hotel for some rest and some decisions on dinner.  We ate dinner at the Greichenbeisl, one of Vienna's oldest inns that was apparently visited by Mark Twain.  I'll have to reread Innocents Abroad sometime to see if it is mentioned.  We then ate dessert at the lovely pastry chain Aida, where we knew the sweets would be tasty and a fraction of the price.

Parting picture of the day:  a confusing mixture of old and new.

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