31 March 2009

Die Hofjagd und R├╝stkammer (Imperial Armory) Museum

Here is part of the Hofburg, which houses lots of museums. We went to the imperial armory, home to lots of ancient and ornate armor and weapons.

A lot of the weapons and armor belonged to different emperors and royalty, and most of it probably wasn't used too often, but it was really fancy.

There are quite a few pictures in this post, so we put it on two pages. Click the "finish reading" to see the rest.

Plus when you finish reading, more Photos from the Armory and Music Museum Added here.

Chris loves this picture, because I am pointing with both hands... I have no clue why, I didn't realize anything was exciting enough for the double point...

Can you count the number of swords coming out of this shield/armored glove/sword combination? Chris says he would like one for his birthday.

Elora loved the "baby knight". She stood and looked at it for a really long time. She walked around looking at all the "knights" and would ask, "Is this a nice knight?"

The lances were so big that the knights actually did not hold them, there was a little lever that hooked under their arms to counterbalance all the weight. Interesting.

And you can see why they would need the lever thing, because these are the lances. They are seriously as big as a tree.

And here is the armor for the royal elephant man. He will be starring in the next Batman movie.

This was a very ornate and pretty(?) piece of armor. Chris says it must have been for those nancy boy knights (which ones were those Chris? Response - the ones from England)

Look closely and you will see a musket pistol coming out of the hilt of this sword. What would they need it for? Why? To sneak past security of course. Nothing to see here guards, just this harmless sword. Bang! What is actually kind of interesting is the unique and innovative ways they came up with all these strange weapons and then made them look beautiful. "Ah dad, I can't take the ugly arquebus, I need the new Loius Vuitton rifle!"

And here is one of those nancy boy knights from the UK(?) Sorry, it's late at night and the smoke alarm has already gone off twice... What animal do you suppose they got that large feather from?

This must be a dueling pistol set... Why else would they need two? (Chris says, "Double the pleasure, double the fun.")

Here is Elora skipping around. There were so many neat weapons and such that we stopped looking and just let Elora run around in the courtyard. We figured we would come back another day.

Ah, isn't it sweet to see my children banging on the glass in the museum? But I will have you know, I put an end to it (right after Chris took a picture...)

Elora liked this "pretty knight" as she called it.

Oliver was not such a fan of riding in the stroller, so we let him loose in the courtyard with Elora. He kept crawling away from me and laughing whenever I tried to catch him.

And finally... on the way out Elora started admiring the ceiling, and then couldn't help herself - she began to dance in the "ballroom". Make sure you click on this pic to make it bigger, it is very cute.

30 March 2009

Naschmarkt Kebab - H.A.S. Kebabs

The Vienna Naschmarkt is a large open air fresh meat, fish, fruit, veggies, spices, etc. market stretching over a kilometer long. There are also quite a few little restaurants and cafes there.

We go there for some grocery shopping and to get this magnificent item of food called a Kebab. It looks like a Gyros, but it tastes better. Rumor has it they are terrible for you with 1 Kebab having over 50% of your fat and salt intake for the day. But it sure beats McDonalds!

What's funny is the Vienna people for the most part profess to dislike the Kebab (but we think they secretly like them). Kebabs are mostly eaten by immigrants that love them (perhaps because we don't know any better).

Kebabs are Turkish food, and I guess there's something about fighting to keep the Turks out for 1000+ years that causes Viennese people to prefer a Bratwurst stand to the Kebab stand. Maybe we should start up a Brat & Kebab combo sandwich shop?

29 March 2009

Vienna Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente

The Musical Instrument Museum!

The Hofberg Imperial palace houses a large collection of antique music instruments. Its one of the museums our membership gets us into.

Here is Elora checking out a gold trimmed piano that Mozart used to compose one of his symphonies.

Elora was really intrigued by this portrait of Beethoven when he was a small boy.

Royal trumpets used to announce the presence of the Emperor? Or maybe they were just used by the marching band before football matches.

The museum is housed in the Hofburg Imperial Palace (huge) with all the instruments scattered across different rooms. It would be interesting enough to walk through and just look at the various rooms, but musical instruments are a bonus. There are some really cool and old looking instruments too (coffee table piano or a piano in a china hutch), but we didn't want to clog up the blog with too many pics.

Inside the Hofburg there is also the Royal Treasury, which we already blogged, as well as an Armory with ornate weapons and suits of armor, plus an Ephesus/Greek museum. We'll be back!

27 March 2009

Return to Kunsthistorische Museum

We have a free access to several museums in Vienna thanks to our Kunsthistorische Museum membership. The national art history museum is so large that you can't really see it all in a week. So we just go and visit a section at time.

Just a nice view from the outside. It's impossible to get tired of the Viennese Architecture.

Elora was looking out over the main entry stairway, and right as we snapped this picture she was turning around to run off somewhere. It looks like she's doing "the robot" dance move. Notice she's carrying her new "rat purse" that she got for her birthday from Sarah.

Whenever you show Elora a painting she wants to know about it. Sometimes you can figure it out from history, or the title of the painting (in German) and other times you can't so you just make it up. She'll sometimes make you sit there for 10 minutes or more telling her about the painting. And when you go to move on to the next one she'll say, "wait go back I want to see the other painting again." Good thing we have a membership...

Click on this one to get a better view. It's very cool. The artist (Giuseppe Arcimboldo) made this painting as part of a series 500 years ago. He took various elements from "earth" (or wind, sea, or fire) or the 4 seasons and painted them together to make a portrait. The artist must have been ahead of his time, because this looks like something you'd see in a contemporary museum: abstract "vegetable man".

Oliver is perhaps like his Grampy Williams on this day... sleeping through all that culture stuff...

Here is a lovely painting of the Romans destroying the Temple in Jeruesalem with the general trying to get his soldiers to stop. Elora loved it and insisted she get a story about it and kept talking about it and asking to go see it. Notice the dead bodies and heads lying around... Elora asked, "are they sick? are people helping them? are they going to the hospital?"

Here are Elora and her Daddy admiring the ceiling and sculptures at a cafe on the second floor in the center of the museum. Viennese people love cafes so much they integrate them into their most treasured palaces and museums. It's kind of funny to take such a huge historical landmark and then make it into a place to get a croissant or an apfel strudel... but pretty cool at the same time. I guess it just shows how ordinary and common palaces are in Vienna that they have to get some kind of use out of them: "Hey you want to stop by the grand palace for a doughnut?"

After spending close to two hours in one wing of the Museum, we felt it was time to start heading home before Elora got too tired and Ollie woke up. It's impossible to get over the feeling of how out of place you are in such an awe inspiring building. Pushing a stroller through the midst of it seems and looks laughable.

25 March 2009

Elora's 3rd Birthday Party (round 2)

It was fun planning Elora's little party. She was so excited, about a month before her birthday she told me she wanted a party "with lots of kids!" We were going to go to the zoo, but alas, the day before the party it SNOWED. Ugh. Nice spring weather. So we decided to have the party at our place.

There are quite a few pictures in this post, so we put it on two pages. Click the "finish reading" to see the rest.

I made Elora a chocolate cake (no carrots... she didn't mind) and since we don't have food coloring, I dyed the frosting using blueberries. Not too bad since I didn't have any cake decorating materials... (False modesty, I was totally proud of myself for this one...) Would you believe those butterflies are made of frosting and rock candy?

Me neither...

Here are the kids rolling out and cutting out cookies. Charlie is taking his cookie duty very seriously, whereas Elora saw the rolling and baking of the cookies as a needless step in the process, and proceeded directly to eating the cookie dough.

After the cookies were baked, the kids decorated. Elora, who had already eaten her share of cookies via the cookie dough, proceeded to eat the toppings. So while the kids were decorating, she was munching on gummy bears and chocolate chips. After awhile Grace gave in too, and started to eat the sprinkles. (In the pic, left to right - Elora, Charlie, Grace, and Sarah).

We hung little butterflies all around the room, as you can see Ollie really loved them. We tried to put Oliver down for a nap just before the party, but he would have none of it. He came out and thoroughly enjoyed the party (and also ate his share of sprinkles and frosting).

Here is Elora singing Happy Birthday to herself (so cute! She loves the Happy Birthday song). Guess which word is coming out of her mouth and notice how she's pointing to herself.

I love this pic, all the little kids crowding around the cake so they can lick the frosting. They were all so excited.

Elora refused to eat on the floor with the other kids, she had to sit in a chair at the table. Strange kid. But, as you can see, she was really excited about all her treats. Note, in the lower right hand corner, I made rolls filled with ham and three kinds of cheese. SO GOOD. I really want one right now...

Present time! All the kids pitched in to help Elora unwrap. It was funny because all the parents tried to stop the kids, but Elora didn't seem to mind. She was opening her cards first (she LOVES birthday cards. Where did this kid come from?)

Elora getting some help from Grace opening the paints she got from Sarah.

Elora picked out all the goodies for the gift baskets herself, and was so excited to give them to the other kids. Here she is with Charlie, looking lovingly up at him. I think she has a little crush...

While we were cleaning up, Oliver helped himself to some leftover sprinkles scattered across the table and the floor.

Elora surrounded herself with all her presents and proceeded to read her birthday cards again. She still sleeps with them every night, and "reads" them to me. She will open one and say, "This says, Happy Birthday, have a great day!" or some other similar message.

I am so happy that Elora had such a great day. She was totally excited the entire week leading up to the party, and the days afterwards too. She loves to know who gave her each present - she can even tell me which grandparent or Aunt gave her every item of clothing in her wardrobe. Wow. And my very favorite part was when Grace (the last guest!) was leaving, Elora gave her a hug, and said, "Thank you so much for coming to my party. It was so nice of you!" We are so lucky to have our sweet little girl.

We have a lot more pictures, but didn't want to put them all in one post. For more pictures of the Birthday Party click here.

23 March 2009

The Roterberg

After going to the little park right across the street, we decided the next day to go to the bigger Roterberg. Here is Elora riding in her "Birdsnest" swing, waiving her Irish flag with pride.

Oliver is getting big enough to enjoy a thrillride. Yes those are storm clouds in the horizon. We've had almost non-stop rain, sleet, snow, hail for 3 weeks, sometimes all of the above in the same day. Usually the weather goes: sun for 1 hour, rain for 1 hour, sun for half an hour, sleet for 2 hours, sun for 1 hour, slushy snow for half an hour, rain for the rest of the night. It's really weird. But whenever the weather is sunny for more than an hour we hurry outside. Usually it rains on us at some point.

The Birdsnest swing has an amazing ability to make your stomach jump through your throat on every swing... Elora really likes it. Us... not so much.

Elora's favorite part was the big playground with stairs, bridges, rockwall, and a slide. Check out the two sticks that Elora insisted on carrying around at the risk of impaling everyone she was next to. We found a "special safe place" for the sticks after the first trip down the slide. Ollie really enjoyed his first trip down the slide with his big sister. Here's the video:

And here is one of those strange contraptions we we're sure what to do with. Two huge strips of rubber with a roller in the middle? Eh?

22 March 2009

Going to the Park! It's getting warmer! Maybe...

We had a couple days where the sun came out and it was warm enough to go outside. I was so excited that I was the one saying, "Come on, let's go to the park! Don't you want to go outside?"

It is fun to watch them play now that Oliver is big enough to join in the fun, and Elora is getting big enough to climb and play on more stuff by herself(gasp! Tough for me to just let her go though...)

Elora has a special spot where she always runs and puts her Teddy down. Looks pretty clean eh? No wonder they call him the Dirty Teddy.

Little spring time flowers are popping up everwhere in the grass.

No Hands! The parks here are so much fun. Some of them are big and elaborate with stuff only an engineer could think of. Other parks have just a single swing and a teeter toter. Here is Elora on a little spring mounted horse-thing.