Remembrance Day in Budapest

Day 78, Monday November 11, 2019

I am still behind on my blogging,  but I wanted to post this today.

We are in Budapest for Remembrance Day, a country which doesn’t celebrate November 11.  Remembering those who have died during war and conflict this year seems more important than ever.  We have seen so much of the death and destruction caused by war on this trip.

Today we walked along the Danube river to visit the Shoes on the Danube Promenade.  It is an incredibly moving memorial that moved me to tears.A quote from this article explains the history of this memorial.

“Walking along its shores, you’ll come to the end of Szechenyi Street, where you’ll find the most moving Holocaust memorial. named the Shoes on the Danube Promenade, placed in an open space and approachable for visitors. The memorial consists of iron-made, rusty shoes set into the concrete of the embankment.

These shoes stand as witnesses to one of Budapest’s most somber moments during World War II, reflecting the war history and its victims of that time. The location and the elements of the memorial offer an insight into the tragic fate of the Jews who in the winter of 1944-1945 were tied together, shot on the banks of the river, and thrown into it by the members of the Arrow Cross Party. The party publicly murdered thousands of Jews all over Budapest. They found it convenient to throw them into the Danube because the river quickly carried the bodies away. The atrocious Arrow Cross murderers usually forced the victims to remove their shoes before shooting them.

At that time of war, shoes were a valuable commodity and the murderers were quite aware of that, so they would trade the shoes on the black market or wear them themselves. The Jewish children stood terrified while the Arrow Cross pulled their shoestrings out, tying the hands of the victims before shooting them. Sometimes, the hands of two or three people were tied together, adults or children, and the atrocity went so far that only one of them would be shot so he or she would instantly pull the helpless others down in the freezing cold water. During these horrible winter days of 1944-1945, the Danube was called “the Jewish Cemetery.””

“Lest We Forget”

 

 

 

 

 

Quiet Day in Budapest, Hungary

Day 77, Sunday, November 10, 2019

It is a  grey day, with a high of 9 so it is a good day to spend at home, and that is exactly what we do.  We are both a bit tired after our travels yesterday.  I stay in all day, but Bob gets restless, and goes for a walk to check out the neighbourhood.  When he returns he tells me that I am going to like Budapest!

This is the view from our living room balcony.  We are in a busy part of Budapest, there are lots of bars and pubs and restaurants all around us but our apartment is fairly quiet because we look onto this courtyard.  Some of the buildings are well kept but some of them look quite ramshackled.  I wonder if we will see a lot of that here.

 

Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary

Day 76, Saturday, November 9, 2019

It is a four hour drive from Vienna to Budapest, and it rained a good portion of that time.

When we arrive in Budapest there is no place to park while we check into our apartment. We are right in the central part of the old Jewish Quarter, the roads are narrow, all one way, and there are cars everywhere!  We finally park in a construction area and Bob waits in the car while I go find our apartment.  I’m not sure how I even managed to find it, as I had to turn into a walkway, past several restaurants and pubs.  I finally locate the door, figure out the entrance code and find our apartment.  The cleaning lady is just leaving when I arrive and with the help of Google translate, I ask her if she can show me where the parking garage is.  Success!  We get our car parked in the garage and haul everything up to our very nice apartment for the next eight nights.

Last Day in Vienna

Day 75, Friday, November 8, 2019

We had a leisurely morning and I did a bit of packing in preparation for checking out tomorrow.  Early afternoon we catch the train and then a FlixBus to Bratislava, Slovakia to pickup our last rental car.

This photo taken from the bus window is a bit blurry.  We noticed that one of the windmills had a fire the last time we were here.  Today the big arms have been removed. It must be difficult repairing these, they are so high off the ground. When we get to the airport we are worried because the Budget Car Rental booth is closed!  Turns out the attendants are out in the parking lot so after a short wait we pick up our car and head back to Vienna.  I noticed this big mural last trip and managed to get a photo this time.  It is dark by the time we get back to Vienna and we spend the rest of the evening cleaning our apartment and packing for our drive to Budapest tomorrow.

The Leopold Museum, Vienna

Day 74, Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Leopold Museum has the largest collection of Egon Schiele’s work in Vienna as well as several of Gustav Klimt’s works.

Egon Schiele was an Austrian painter. His work is noted for its intensity and its raw sexuality.  Schiele completed many self portraits, including naked self portraits.  I  am intrigued by Shiele’s drawings and was looking forward to seeing his work.  Unfortunately exhibited works on paper are facsimiles, because the actual drawings and watercolours would be damaged by continual exhibit.  They are very good facsimiles, but not the real thing.  It would be nice to look closely at some of his original drawings and watercolour paintings.  I guess I will have to hope to one day visit a special Schiele exhibit, similar to the Dürer one I saw yesterday, in order to see his original work.
 ‘Chrysanthmemen’ was a painting I hadn’t seen before.
Two of Schiele’s naked self-portraits. the first is an oil and the second gouache and black chalk on paper, so it is a facsimile.  These are both larger than I had thought.  The oil painting is 1.5 m x1.5 m and the gouache 63 x 44 cm.
I have decided that I like Schiele’s figurative watercolours and drawings more than his figurative oils.  
The commentary for ‘Small Tree in Autumn’ says that the trunk and branch on the right look like human legs, while the branches of the treetop resemble arms.  I never saw that before and now it is all I can see!  I even see a head just below the arms.  
These two long narrow oils are not what I think of as typical Schiele paintings but I like both of them.

‘Mother and Child’ is a well known painting.  I do love how expressive Schiele’s hands are. Schiele’s 1912 ‘Self Portrait with Chinese Lanterns’ was painted as a companion piece for the ‘Portrait of Wally Neuzil’ who was his muse and partner from 1911 to 1915.  Both these paintings have a gentleness and sensitivity not found in all his work.  I like these very much. Quite different from this self portrait completed the same year.  Schiele was born in 1890 and died in 1918.  He was only 28 years old when he died, yet he created over 3,000 works on paper and around 300 paintings!  I wonder what he would have accomplished if he had lived longer.  He died during the Spanish Flu Epidemic, just three days after his six month pregnant wife Edith. ‘Reclining Woman’ was bigger than I expected.  Originally the woman’s genitals were exposed but Schiele added the white cloth covering in order to be able to show the work at an exhibition in Vienna in 1918. There are several landscapes, and most of them are quite large. ‘The Small Town IV’… and ‘House With Shingled Roof’ were two that I particularly liked.  Although Schiele only painted for such a short time, his work laid the foundations for the Viennese Expressionist movement as well as inspiring other future movements, such as Abstract Impressionism.

There is a small collection of Gustav Klimt’s work. Klimt (1862-1918), was Schiele’s mentor, so it is nice to see their work exhibited together.  This ‘Head Study of a Girl from Hanā’ is thought to have been completed while Klimt was still a student.

‘The Blind Man’ was first exhibited in 1898. ‘Death and Life’ won the Gold Medal at the 1911 International Art Exhibition in Rome.  This painting and ‘The Kiss’, that I saw at the Belvedere,  are two of Klimt’s most well known paintings. I feel very fortunate to have seen both of them in person, as well as all the other amazing works of art I have seen on this trip. As we are leaving the Leopold I notice this painting, which makes both of us laugh!  It is by Albert Birkle and is titled ‘Man with Fur Cap’, or ‘My Brother the Animal’! Near the metro station Bob notices this crane which has just been erected.  Neither of us have seen one with so many arms before.When I saw this building our first day in Vienna I thought it was the Hundertwasser House but it wasn’t.  Turns out that it was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser!  It is the Spittelau Incinerator which is used to handle Vienna’s garbage.  The environmentally friendly plant produces enough energy to heat more than 60,000 households in Vienna in a year.I have one more life drawing session tonight at Kaffeebar Quentin.  I have attended many life drawing sessions in bars or pubs and the model is always at least partially clothed, so I was quite surprised when our model is completely nude.  We are in the back of the bar, but the model is still in full view of all the other patrons as well as anyone who happens to look in the windows.  Wish I had a scanner, as it would improve the quality of these photos, but I don’t think I can haul one around on holidays!  These are all 5 minute poses. Two ten minute and one twenty minute drawing… and we finished the evening with a twenty-five minute pose.  The people at this session were very friendly and I had met some of them at the other two sessions this week.  I will miss Vienna, they have so many life drawing opportunities.  There is a session almost every day of the week, and lots of them have interesting themes.  

Spanish Riding School and the State Hall National Library, Vienna

Day 73, Wednesday, November 6, 2019

This morning we went to see the Lipizzaner stallions, but not a performance.  We went to the morning training session instead. We got to sit in the 96 euro seats for two hours and watch the horses train and it only cost us 9.5 euros each!   It was great and we both enjoyed it. We found out that to get those 96 euro seats we should have reserved months in advance!  We sat about half way down the side of the arena.No photos are allowed and I was very good and didn’t try to sneak any!  It would have been so nice to have a few photos though.  These two photos were taken from posters advertising the performances.  The stallions are gorgeous!  I did a bit of sketching during the training and that was OK but it was hard to draw and watch what was going on a the same time.  After a bit I decided to just enjoy watching the training session and forget about drawing.

It is unusual to see any of the jumps that are performed in the performances during a training session.  We were very lucky, we saw two different horses perform the capriole!  The first stallion was experienced and he did three caprioles.  This is where the horse jumps straight up into the air, kicks out with the hind legs, and lands more or less on all four legs at the same time. It is a very difficult jump. The second stallion was young and still in training. He managed to get his forelegs up in the jump but the hind legs didn’t quite make it, but he tried three times as well.  We also saw the piaffe, the dance like trotting on the spot and several other of the special dressage movements.

The training session was two hours long.  Four half hour sessions with different horses for each session.  It went by very quickly and Bob said he enjoyed it too, even though he doesn’t love horses near as much as I do! Next stop is the State Hall of the National Library.  It is so amazing!  It is hard to describe such a magnificent place.  The pictures probably do a better job, so here they are.  This is our view when we enter the library.  We both just stop and stare!  This library is nearly 60 metres long and 20 metres high and contains over 200,000 books! One of the first things we see are these ‘secret’ doors the open into rooms with even more books. The cases Bob is standing by held illuminated manuscripts.  I would have loved to be able to climb one of these ladders and pull a book or two off the shelves.
These are from 1400 and 1260!The globes have been in this spot since the mid 1700’s. This statue is in the central oval of the library beneath a painted domed ceiling.

Here is a view looking up at the ceiling…and a wide angled view of the central area.
We sit for a while just absorbing the atmosphere. Looking towards the entrance from where I was sitting… and towards the back of the library. The second level is just as ornately decorated as the first.  I wish we could have gone there as well, but it was not to be. One last photo before we leave.  Here is a short video I made of the inside of the library. When we leave the library we pass the Lipizzaner stables.I zoom in on these two beauties.
We stop at the Minoritenkirche because Bob says it has a mosaic life size replica of The Last Supper.It appears to be painted on tiled panels rather than being a mosaic made with many small tiles.
We didn’t get to see The Last Supper when we were in Italy.  We didn’t know we had to get tickets far in advance, so I guess this is the next best thing.We walk towards the metro through a bit of a park…
where there are lots of people sitting enjoying the sunshine. I was surprised there were so many yellow roses in bloom so late in the year.  Do you notice all the little white signs in the background?  This is a memorial garden and each rose is planted in memory of a person who has passed away. It is a beautiful sunny afternoon.  Warm for November, but we still need our coats. We stop at the Naschmarkt for something to eat.  This roast pig is for sale by the piece, starting at the back end.  Interesting but we decide on something a bit less exotic.I love this huge art nouveau pot supported by four turtles.  Wish I had one like this at home!

We have a bit of time at home before I go to for another life drawing session at a pub called The Roo Bar.  Here are a 5 minute, two 10 minute and a 20 minute drawing. A ten and twenty minute pose. I think I liked these two 5 minute drawings the best.  It was a good night. 

Walking Tour of Vienna

Hi, as you may have noticed, I have fallen behind on my blog posts.  We have had several busy days and I just haven’t had the energy to work on a post late in the evening. We are actually in Budapest right now, and it is raining for a day or two so I am going to try to get at least a little bit caught up.

Day 69, Saturday, November 2, 2019

Bob found another walking tour online so we are off to check out Vienna this morning.  First stop is the Naschmarkt, a local outdoor market that has been operating on this same site since the 1500’s!  There are colourful stand with fruits and vegetables, olives and antipasto appetizers…as well as all sorts of candies, dried fruits and some rather exotic looking products in the fish market section.Near the Naschmarkt we find this interesting tribute to the Orson Wells movie, The Third Man.  It is possible to tour the sewers, right under our feet, where part of the movie was filmed, but we pass on that today.

I take a photo of some wedding dresses in a shop window and a short time later we see a bride and groom.  The bride seemed annoyed and her pretty dress was getting all dirty as it dragged along the street. I wanted to tell her attendants to pick up the back of her dress!  Not my idea of a nice way to spend part of your wedding day, hiking along the streets towards a place for your photo shoot. There is a statue of Mozart, right beside a Hop On Hop Off bus station.  We sit and have our picnic lunch and watch tourists jump off the bus, snap a photo from quite a distance, and then jump back on the bus to get to the next destination.  This sure isn’t the way we do it!  We sight-see very slowly and leisurely, stopping often to look at the sights, people watch and just enjoy where we are and what we are seeing. We are very slow tourists!
This equestrian statue of Emperor Joseph II, erected in 1795  is the oldest equestrian statue in Vienna.

It stands in front of the Neue Burg (New Castle) Wing  of the Hofburg Palace.  Notice that part of the palace is still in need of cleaning.     We make our way to the Albertina Museum, which we will visit another day.  There is a Durer Exhibit I am looking forward to seeing.  This is a street view from a corner of the Albertina.

The Gates of Violence remembers victims of all wars and violence. The statues are a montage of wartime images: clubs and WWI gas masks, a dying woman birthing a future soldier, victims of cruel medical experimentation, and chained slave laborers.  It is on the site of an apartment block that was destroyed in an air raid during the Second World War.  Hundreds of people had sheltered in the apartment basement and their bodies were never recovered from the rubble of the destroyed building. Of course there are several churches on our walk, and we visit all of them! This broad pedestrian Kärntner Strasse is packed with people and lined with shops and places to eat.  This road dates to 97AD when it was a Roman road that went from Vienna to the border of Italy and Slovenia, and eventually all the way to St. Petersberg, Russia! I thought that the Zen-Doodle like designs on the clothing in this shop were interesting.  The modern Haas House offers interesting reflections of St. Stephen’s church. The St. Stephen’s Cathedral is huge, and ornately decorated, outside…  and inside. Just behind the cathedral we see a group of people taking part in a drinking game.  The guy in the blue jeans drank his big can of beer twice as quickly as the guy dressed in brown! The Stock im Eisen is part of a tree that has hundreds of iron nails pounded into it and dates from 1440.  No one is sure why the nails were pounded in but it is thought that is was for good luck. It is located on the corner of a building and is protected behind plexiglass. The Holy Trinity Column, located on a street in the inner city of Vienna, was erected after the Great Plague epidemic in 1679.  It is one of the most well-known sculptural pieces of art in the city.
St. Peter’s Church has an oval dome and its open layout makes it feel bigger than it actually is. I thought it interesting the way the paintings on the dome extended over the sculptural trim around the round windows.The end of each pew is beautifully carved with different finials of three children’s heads.  We sat for quite a while listening to the choir practicing.  Back outside, there are interesting details everywhere I look, like these sculptures holding up balconies.I loved this building. It looks like a castle.  I wouldn’t mind living here! Back out on the Kärntner Strasse, there are lots of famous brand name shops, like Jimmy Choo…
where the customers are served champagne as they shop!  Sigh…an experience I am sure I will never have!
There are Roman ruins…  and beautiful statues on the corners of buildings.  This is the building that houses the Austrian National Library, the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, as well as the Spanish Riding School with the world famous Lipizzaner stallions.  We will visit both of these on another day,  It gets dark earlier now, at about 5;30.  The buildings look pretty all lit up. This is the other side of the Neue Burg Wing of the Hofburg Palace.  We saw the backside earlier in the day. Time to head home.  This subway station has colourful murals.  Our apartment is very well located on the U6 subway line, so it takes less than a half hour to get home.  Somehow even our ‘easy’ days end up being quite long. We left before noon and it will be after 7:00 by the time we get home.

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.

Residence Museum, Munich

Day 65, Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Residence Museum is the former royal palace of the Wittelsbach Monarchs of Bavaria. The Residence is the largest city palace in Germany.  This Residence has 144 rooms open for viewing!

The first room we visit is the Shell Grotto, which is decorated with sea shells in intricate patterns.  It is rather bizarre and not what we expected to see in a royal palace. The next room is the Antiquarium which was built in 1568 as an exhibition room for Duke Albrecht V’s collection of antiquities.  The room is 66 metres long and the ceiling is decorated with paintings of 102 views of towns, markets and palaces in Bavaria.  It is truly a remarkable room.
The faux painted ceiling in this room is an optical illusion.  In this photo you can see that the ceiling is not very high. But when I stand right under the chandelier in the centre of the ceiling this is what I see… a high domed ceiling! We see many furnished rooms, including this throne room, and lavish bedrooms. One of the Electoral rooms was decorated with lots of paintings…including these two of the summer residence of Nymphenburg painted in 1761, which we just visited last Thursday! The Court Church of All Saints was destroyed during the Second World War and was only opened again to the public in 2003.  It was left undecorated and it is now used for concerts and other functions. This small room, or Cabinet, was decorated with 18th century pastel portraits which I am particularly interested in. Here is a model of the palace.  It really is huge and sprawling so it wasn’t the easiest to navigate,  The Trier rooms were built as guest apartments.
Here is a close up of one of the tapestries.  They are amazingly well preserved.All the rooms in the palace are connected by a series of doorways lined up in a row.  I think this must have made it difficult to have any privacy as people would have to walk through the rooms to get from one to another.   This is one of the Ornate Rooms that were used for diplomatic meetings and court ceremonies. The Green Rooms are an art gallery.  Here is our reflection in one of the tall mirrors. The chandeliers are reflected in the mirror on the end wall of the room.  We were surprised when a door was opened in this end wall and a tour group disappeared into what seems to be a secret room. The walls in the Cabinet of Mirrors have many blue and white vases sitting on little shelves.The Cabinet of Miniatures has red lacquered walls inset with many miniature paintings from floor to ceiling.. I think this was called the Queen’s staircase.  In any case, it is very grand. Yet another Throne Room, this is the Queen’s Throne Room…
and some more rooms in the Queen and King’s apartments. The floors in these apartments are inlaid wood, each room has a different ornate pattern.  It must have taken a very long time to build these floors.  The seams between the pieces of inlaid wood are perfect. There are rooms full of table settings that were used in the palace.  The table with the gilded plates on the top right is set for fifty guests! The small chapel was the private place of worship of Duke Maximilian I and his wife.  It was here that the Duke kept his collection of precious relics, which are the bodily remains of saints. We thought we were finished, but realized we missed a whole wing of rooms but we couldn’t figure out how to get to the.   A very helpful guard escorted us back into the palace and directed us to the rooms.   We also saw these paintings which were painted on enamel panels. They are copies of famous paintings, and we have seen the originals of many of these on this trip. It was a surprise to see the copy of the Mona Lisa.This Hall of Ancestors was being cleaned and restored. This woman was using a tiny paintbrush to touch up the gold gilded frames. It is painstaking slow work. Here is the museum, and it is drizzling when we emerge. On the way to the metro we walked past some of those high end shops we saw yesterday.  The stores are still open so the widow displays are complete.  Notice the prices on these two watches, 160,480 euros and 239,450 euros!! 

Munich Transportation Museum

Day 64, Monday, October 28, 2019

Bob is off to the Munich Transportation Museum and I am having a stay at home day.

An early English steam locomotive from 1814.

The first automobile was a 1886 Benz.
A 1896 motorcycle with the passenger seat in front.
At auction this 1931 Alfa Romeo sold for $2.4 million.
A 1932 Mercedes Benz.  At auction a 2 seater version sold for $1.2 million.Across the road from the Transportation Museum is where the Munich Oktoberfest is held. They are still dismantling the site.  Over 6 million people attend this beer-fest every year.