Munich, Germany to Vienna, Austria

Day 66, Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Here are the last of my Munich metro drawings.   I liked this one of the young man with the bandaged nose. Our drive to Vienna was long and uneventful.  We stayed on the freeway and it still took us about 5 1/2 hours.  We had to wait about an hour for our Airbnb host to meet us, but we found a parking space just outside the apartment and our car was warm, so it wasn’t too bad.  It took forever to figure out how to pay for street parking but we finally sorted it out.  We take our rental car back tomorrow so we just need parking for one night.

Our Airbnb apartment looks OK and it is really close to the Underground metro so that is going to be handy.

St. Florian Monastery, Austria

Day 45, Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Time to move on to our next destination.  I took this picture because I know my mom will recognize the pot with blue designs beside the flowers.  She has one just like it.

Bob closes the door as we leave.  It is hard to see, but the picture on the wall is of the two old aunties who used to live here. I was going to take a close up of it and somehow forgot.
On the way to say goodbye to my friends the sheep I snapped a few more photos of the farm buildings.  There were certainly lots of interesting things to see here. Only the young fellow destined for the table came up to see me today.  The other two were playing shy. This shows how long the front of the house is.  The attic full of stuff ran almost the whole length of it.  On the far end was the smaller attic above the two bedrooms in the auntie’s house. Part of the route to St. Florian Monastery, which is our next stop, is a very narrow road through some woods.
The monastery is very large.  The stretch of red roof from the church to the front corner is 200 metres long.  It covers a corridor that runs its length. This is the fountain in the middle of the large courtyard. I am so excited…we actually get to go into a library.  This library has 150,000 books, 35,000 of which are in this one room. They are mainly books on Religion and History. You can see the bookcase door that opens to another room.  The spiral staircase to the second floor is in that room.  There are many more rooms full of books but we only get to visit this one.  We are told that this library is available for the public to use.  Wish I lived closer! I love the library ‘ladders’ used ot reach books on high shelves.  Heck, I pretty much love everything about this library! Later on during the tour we see this photo of Adolph Hiltler standing in the same place we had just stood.  It is a strange thought…that we were someplace that he was.Of course this library also has a magnificent ceiling.
Next we visit the Marble Ballroom which represents the colours of the Habsburg Monarchy, red, white and yellow. This is why I end up with a sore neck after sightseeing! Our guide pointed out some of the many fossils that are in the marble on the floors and walls.  I never thought of marble as being a stone the came from ancient oceans. The big ammonite was on the fireplace hearth, notice the toe of a shoe in the corner for scale. One of the many very ornate carved wooden doors in the monastery. The Monastery church is grand.  Lots of carved white stone and dark carved woodwork. The altar is decorated with bouquets of sunflowers. We have never seen drapery carved in stone in a church before.  Everything in this church looks so very well preserved, there are no broken or dirty bits.  In fact everywhere in this monastery is very well taken care of.  We wonder where the money to maintain a place this large comes from.  The church organ was built in 1774 and it is one of the largest working organs in Austria.  It is known as the Bruckner Organ as it was played by composer and organist Anton Bruckner. He had been a choir boy at the monastery, and he was the church organist, between 1848 and 1855. I do not know much about classical music so did not know anything about Anton Bruckner. He was a famous Austrian composer, organist, and music theorist best known for his symphonies and masses. On the floor directly below the organ is a memorial plaque and …in the crypt directly below this plaque is his sarcophagus.  His wish was to be buried here at St. Florian Monastery even though he lived and died in Vienna. Yes, those are bones behind the sarcophagus, the bones of over 6,000 people, dating back to the 4th century.  It is thought that the bones of St. Florian could possibly be in here.  A few more pictures of the 700 year old crypt which is still used today as a burial place for the monastery monks. The windows open to outside, there is no glass.  I wonder if this was so decomposing bodies were ventilated?We visit twelve guest rooms in the monastery.  These rooms have not been used since the mid 18th century and have been preserved as a museum.  These elaborately decorated rooms were reserved for royalty who might visit the monastery.  These doorways connect all the rooms. The red bedroom was reserved for Pope Pius VI, although he only spent one night here. The walls and chairs in this room are covered in matching tapestries.  There is a big masonry stove in each of these rooms.Each room is lavishly decorated.  The last two rooms are a shrine to Anton Bruckner. The photo shows him in his bed in his Vienna apartment.  He died in this bed, which is now on display here along with his other furniture.Remember those big masonry stoves in the royal apartments?  These metal doors in the hallway open to the inside of the stoves.  This is how the fires in the stoves were cared for by servants without bothering the apartment occupants. There are thirty monks at this monastery.  Only thirteen live here full time, the rest live in neighbouring parishes.  Over the last 950 years the monastery had 108 monks at its peak and only three at its lowest.  I am told that thirty monks is quite good ‘these days’.  There is one young monk, several in their fifties and sixties and the rest are older.  We see this monk as we are leaving and assume he is the one young one. The cemetery beside the church is the prettiest, most well cared for one we have ever visited. As we drive towards Salzburg we pass several huge piles of sugar beets in the fields.  Austria grows more than 3 million tonnes of sugar beets every year. Finally we find a safe place to pull off the road so I can get a photo of one of the fields of pumpkins we have seen along the way. We make a quick stop at Kremsmunster Monastery but it can only be visited by guided tours and we don’t have time.  The church is open and it is the only one we have seen that has tapestries wrapped around its pillars.Back on the road, from a distance, I thought this was another field of pumpkins or maybe squash, but they are sunflowers. Good thing the sun wasn’t shining or I would have wanted to stay much longer and take many more photos.  What a beautiful sight it was to see so many gorgeous sunflowers.

 

 

Biking Along the Danube

Day44, Tuesday October 8, 2019

Our little apartment has a masonry stove that keeps us toasty warm.  One box of wood keeps us warm for 24 hours. On our way in to Linz we see this ‘green’ apartment.  Lots of gardeners must live here. It took some time to find the bike rental company.  They weren’t easy to locate.  We pass this big mural during our search. I thought these bikes were quite interesting.  They fold up compactly.We start out on our bike trip along the Danube. Bob wants dot take my photo while I was still in one piece! There are some great views along the way… and some wooded trails.  I did quite well until the killer hedge tried to get me…and then there was the vortex railing!  If I got too close it tried to suck me in! Bob left me at a coffee shop to rest and sketch and he went a bit further down the river, crossed a bridge, and then returned on this strange looking ferry.  These flowers are much like the anenomes we grow at home only much larger. We see the long barge steaming down the river. This curious mural is on a building near the café where I waited for Bob.The trees here are so big.  I found out that the average temperature here in January and February is -3 Celcius and -4 Celcius.  So much warmer than our winters, no wonder the trees grow so large.
Our selfie along the Danube. I need a few breaks on the ride home, so a photo is a good excuse for little rest 😉 These river cruise boats remind us of our cruise on the Nile, where the cruise ships were lined up 6 or 7 deep along the shore.  Passengers had to walk through all the ships, sometimes walking across the water on a narrow board between the ships, to get to shore. This wasp was really big! We take our bikes back.  They are in a building which is an incubation centre for start-ups.  Looks like these steps are a place to relax, or even snooze.  We see two souped up go-carts being wheeled into the building. I am happily surprised to discover Gerstäcker, a huge art store, in this building.  After our ride I spend at least an hour exploring and find some new drawing pencils, and two really nice hardcover Hahnemühle Sketchbooks, a 10″ square and a 8.5″ x 12″ rectangular one.  They were really reasonably priced too!  I couldn’t resist even though my suitcase will be a lot heavier.Nearby is  an industrial area called Mural Harbor.  Artists from over 25 nations created more than 100 works of art on warehouse buildings.

It is getting dark and it is raining so we drive around and see what we can from the car before heading home.  There are some pretty impressive works here.  These are all at least 10-12′ tall or larger.  I particularly liked the cat and mice.

When we get home Bob tells me that I rode 24 km. and he rode 38 km.  No wonder I am tired!  Good thing he didn’t tell me how far we were going to ride before we started.

Hörshching, Austria

Day 43, Monday, October 7, 2019

Here are the drawings I did yesterday.  I found these sheep quite a challenge to draw.  They move around a lot and they have quite a different shape from other animals I have drawn. There are none of the usual landmarks to use when drawing an animal, as their boney bits don’t show at all. Even their faces are soft with few angle changes to define their shape. I did really enjoy the afternoon with them and by the end of the afternoon I felt I was starting to figure out how to approach drawing them.

I asked our host, Peter, about the history of the  house so he takes us on a tour.  This is the old living quarters, where his wive’s two aunties lived.  They didn’t have much money so they never renovated, like so many of the other houses in the neighbourhood. The door leads to two bedrooms and the stairs to the attic.  These rooms are not being used now. The date 1705 is carved in the ceiling beam, but Peter tells us that the cottage is actually 400 years old and was originally a fisherman’s cottage.  He says this is a typical farmhouse.  I never got a chance to ask him if the original fisherman’s  house was always this big, or was it added on to over the years? I would love to be able to poke about in this attic!  There are spinning wheels, a sewing machine, old chests and trunks, baskets, containers of all sorts, and lots of boxes filled with who knows what? The entry area between our apartment (which used to be a stable), and the living quarters has this big metal door behind the stool.  Upstairs is another  enormous attic that runs the length of the building.
Here there are even more interesting things: old fishing nets, more chests and trunks, old baskets and wooden buckets and vats, and all sorts of interesting things that have probably been there many years.  Now I look at all the houses we drive by and wonder what is up in those attics!  I wonder what treasures might be hidden away in all these old houses?This is only some of the huge woodpile Peter has cut and stacked, ready for the winter.  We think that the air quality here must be very poor in the winter with all the wood burning that takes place.  Most of the houses around here have enormous piles of stacked wood just like this. I went out to pick a few apples to cook for dessert and noticed a pear tree. Most of the pears had fallen and weren’t good to eat but this one pear had landed on a branch and was sitting balanced there, just out of my reach!. One more view out a pretty window.  Bob went for another bike ride this afternoon and I did a bit of blogging and relaxing.  We are both finding it a nice change staying in the country.  It is so quiet and peaceful.  We have enjoyed our time in the cities, but this is a relaxing break from that routine.

Hörsching, Austria

Day 42, Sunday, October 6, 2019

This is our Airbnb in Hörsching, Austria.  After a lovely lazy morning Bob goes for a bike ride on a very old but still serviceable bike.  Our bnb has a lovely wild flower garden out front and there was a little bouquet of the pink roses on our table inside. The green door leads into an entry area, and the three smaller windows are in our apartment. The inside view of the two windows by the green door.  I think the shutters must be original.  The building is 400 years old and our apartment was originally a stable. This is the door opposite the green door, looking out to the back yard. The two big windows of our apartment from the back yard. The farm buildings are connected to the house.  The buildings form a square with the interior yard area you see here.  There is a short fence with a wide gate on one side of this yard.
Everywhere I look there is something interesting. I did get a bit of a shock meeting this fellow in one of the barns. There is a little sitting area if it gets warm enough for us to enjoy it. I spent the afternoon with my three new friends.  It took a while for them to get used to me, but they love bread!  A few slices helped convince them that I was pretty harmless. I spent a couple hours observing, drawing and taking lots of reference pictures.  These sheep do not have wool that is useful for spinning.  The fibres are too short, so they are raised for their meat.  I had never seen sheep with undocked tails before.  I had no ideas their tails were so long.  At times they looked quite dog like.  They are also very fidgety models! When Bob gets back from his ride he makes friends with this fellow but the other two want nothing to do with him.  This sheep is nine months old and the poor guy doesn’t realize he will be butchered soon. His new buddy follows Bob, hoping for just a bit more bread. Years ago I found an old copy of Henry Moore’s Sheep Sketchbook and I have wanted to draw sheep ever since.  I just had no idea how difficult they would be to sketch.  Seems like my idea of what a sheep should look like just isn’t what these sheep actually look like!

Prague to Vienna by Bus

Day 38, Wednesday, October 2, 2019

We take a Flixbus to Vienna today.  We were going to take the train but Bob read reviews and they all said to avoid the trains!  Service is terrible, the bathrooms are filthy, the seats you reserve are often not even on the train, and so on.

We have used Flixbus before and they are affordable, clean, comfortable and efficient.  We take our very first Uber ride ever to the bus station.  Our driver, who was originally from Azerbaijan, had a university education and spoke five languages!  Bob had thought we could walk, pulling our suitcases on the cobbled sidewalks…I am so glad we changed our minds on that.  We drive by the train station we first arrived at in Prague five weeks ago.The National Museum at the top end of Wenceslas Square.  I didn’t recognize it at first from this angle.  I drew one of the corner domes at the Urban Sketcher’s Meetup last week.
Not sure if I have a photo of the trams we used here in Prague so I snapped this one from the bus window.  They run every few minutes and are a fantastic way to get around the city.Soon we are in the countryside.  It always surprises me how quickly cities transition into rural areas in Europe. You are in the city and then suddenly you are not. The views here are quite similar to the countryside around home in Canada.  There are those big round hay bales, and… then something we do not see at home.  We see several huge haystacks of loose hay piled high.  They must have a machine that throws the hay up onto this haystack?
No idea what was planted here but it was the brightest green!

This big double decker bus drives through small villages on narrow roads.  I like being up high as I can see over fences into the yards of the houses we pass and sometimes into windows.  I am always curious and love these little glimpses into people’s lives.

I also do some sketching today, standing outside waiting for our bus and then later on the bus. I forgot to post this page from yesterday so here it is today.  Most of the museums charge a fee to take photos.  That is what the big yellow sticker is about.We pass several fields of pumpkins, all lined up ready for harvest.  Halloween is coming!

When we arrive in Vienna we take an Uber to our new Airbnb.

National Technical Museum & Urban Sketchers Meet-Up, Prague

Day 33, Friday,  September 27, 2019

Bob discovered that, as seniors, we are entitled to free transit passes.  We needed a passport photo which cost us $6 Cad each and then another $1.20 for the transit pass card.  We can now ride free in Prague!

The National Technical Museum in Prague is the largest institution dedicated to preserving information and artifacts related to the history of technology in the Czech Republic.  Bob went to see it and I stayed home.  I want to go drawing tonight so decided to have a quiet day.

These are some of the vehicle he saw. The horse drawn fire engine from 1882, a 1921 scooter, a 1906 Śkoda, and a1937 Tatra with three headlights.

This 1905 bike has a bamboo frame and this intricate 1625 lock is about a half metre long!   

This church is beside our #22 tram stop.  I’m surprised at how many flowers are still in bloom.  Our Airbnb is in a great location for accessing Prague’s metro and trams.In the evening, Bob leaves me at Wenscelas Square where I join a Prague Urban Sketcher group. There are about ten of us, and after introductions we head our separate ways to draw for 1 1/4 hours, before we meet up again.  It takes me a bit to get going so I start with what I am familiar with…people.
It started to rain so I found a sidewalk table with an umbrella and drew two of the sculptures on the huge St. Wenscelas Statue at the top of the square.I tried to draw a part of the National History Museum, but wasn’t too successful, the perspective was way off and the dome lop-sided.  People seem easier to draw than buildings, so in the last few minutes before we gather I sketch some of the people walking by on the sidewalk.  Wenscelas Square is an awesome people watching place.
We all gathered to share our drawings and then went out to draw again for the last 45 minutes.  There is a Scottish band playing very loud, raw music, so I decide to try to draw them.  It was a bit dangerous as there were people dancing wildly in front of the stage and I almost got trampled a couple of times.  All the beer drinking probably contributed to that! At the end of their set, the band members ‘mooned’ the audience to great applause and laughter.  There was also a tall, big fellow dressed in a long curly blonde wig and a nightie with a cape!  No idea what that was about…maybe a stag party? While waiting for everyone to gather back for our last ‘show and tell’ I had time to draw these three.  This is only the second Urban Sketcher Meet-Up that I have attended and it was fun.  The other sketchers were very welcoming and there were some fantastic drawings.  I wish I would have taken a few photos of their work.  I just checked and there is a Prague Urban Sketchers Facebook group.  If you check out the Sept. 29 postings you can see some of the other artists work and I just posted mine too.As I was leaving, the National Museum looked beautiful lit up against the night sky. Here is the very, very long, steep escalator I go down to catch the metro home. Do you remember the TV tower from near our very first bnb when we arrived in Prague a month ago?  We are in the same neighbourhood.  It looks quite spectacular at night.  It is only a ten minute walk from the metro to our apartment.

Life Drawing, Prague

Day 31, Wednesday,  September 25, 2019

Our Prague Airbnb is really spacious and close to the old town and the metro.  This is the view out our window.
Bob notices the neighbourhood pigeons roosting on the roof across from us.  We have a quiet day settling in to our new place.  It feels so roomy after the tiny little apartment we had in Dresden.  I found a life drawing group that meets tonight from 6:30 to 9:30 and decide I should go.  It is a thirty minute walk to the studio but the address opens up to an inner courtyard with lots of shops and doors.  No idea where I need to go…I ask for directions and finally the fourth person shows me where the atelier is.

We realized that we don’t return our rental car until tomorrow, so while I draw Bob goes to check on our car and then goes exploring until it is time to meet me.  It was a nice group and they made me feel very welcome.

Remember that walk home last night?  Well my drawing session was just a bit past the train station, so it is another long uphill walk home.

The length of the poses is circled on each page.

Berlin to Dresden, Germany

Day 28, Sunday,  September 22, 2019

Today we travel to Dresden.  We pass lots of trees that are being grown for lumber… and lots of windmill farms. Our new apartment in Dresden is tiny!   This is it, other than an equally tiny bathroom. 

Our apartment is one of the smaller ones but this floorpan shows that none of them are very large.  Ours is the one just right of the stairs, above the little green man.  It is hard to imagine living permanently in such a tiny space. Here are some metro sketches from Berlin that I forgot to post.

 

Slawenburg Raddusch, A Nordic Fort In Germany

Day 14, Sunday, September 8, 2019

We were both tired last night so we left our packing and cleaning until this morning. By noon we are on our way to Berlin. We stop at truck stop just before the Polish border to get lunch at a KFC and spend what Polish money we have left.  I have never seen so many trucks in one place! There are nine rows of trucks like this parked here. There are lots and lots of trucks on Polish highways! We pass by lots of trees that appear to be grown for timber. Their lower branches have been trimmed so that the trunks grow straight.Not far into Germany we stop at Slawenburg Raddusch, which is a reconstruction of a fort built by Slavic people in the 9th and 10th Centuries. It is surrounded by a moat for added protection.

There were about 40 of these forts in this area. They were used to store food supplies and act as places of refuge during attacks.

We find this huge fellow on our walk to the fort.  A 10 m wide wall was built in a circle.  Long oak beams were alternately stacked in a criss-crossed direction and the spaces between the logs were filled with earth and stones. The almost circular inner surface with a diameter of 36 m. originally contained a few small houses and four wells. This well is 40 feet deep. In the wells were found: ceramic fragments, knives, lance tips, whetstones, sledgehammers, bone skates, wooden mallets, spades and a rare, valuable brass bowl. The walls of this reconstructed fort use concrete, so the interior of the walls is  a museum where the artifacts found in this area are on display. We climb to the top of the wall which offers a great view of the surrounding landscape.  In the 1980s, this area was strip mined for coal.  Before the giant excavators ate their way through the landscape, archeologists found that the Slavs were not the first settlers in this place. Under the wall, Germanic remains from the 5th / 6th century were found. The earliest findings, however, date back to 2200 -800 B.C. Unfortunately the strip mining destroyed most of the archaeological remains in the area along with 50 villages that were here before the mining started. Imagine displacing all those people to mine coal! This model shows what the original fort would have looked like… and how it was constructed. The dirt used to fill the walls came from around the base of the fort and created the moat. The “Götze von Raddusch”, an idol from 926 A.D.,made from an oak split-beam with a head-like finish and a perforation in the chest area was found  in the excavation of the youngest well. This was a rare find. I thought these straight pins for sewing were pretty amazing, considering they are so ancient. Here is a view of part of the museum with its large display of pottery,,, and burial pits, where cremated remains were placed along burial gifts for the deceased. I was intrigued by the shapes of some of the pottery. All the pottery was made by hand without the aid of a potter’s wheel. I wonder what these pots were used for? The tour was great. We rented an audio guide for €1.5 and it was very well done. We got so much more out of the display because it. We managed to finish our visit through the museum just as it was closing at 6:00 pm. We see lots of wind-farms on our way to Berlin. We arrive in Berlin as it is getting dark and check into our home for the next two weeks.