28 July 2010

Palais Liechtenstein

Some of Chris' classes were in the Palais Liechtenstein - must be nice to go to school in a palace. The palace is also home to an art museum, and Chris has been wanting to go for awhile. There is also a really awesome park on the grounds. So off we went to the art museum, but we stopped at the park first for the kids to get some play time before we made them be quiet for an hour or two...

As you can see, the best part of the park was the zipline, which the kids absolutely loved riding together. I didn't think it would work, but they actually preferred riding it this way!

Here we are in front of the palace. Nice place for a classroom.

Inside the museum there was this beautiful carriage. Elora loves these old "Cinderella Carriages".

This was the main hall upstairs, and I thought it was the best part of the museum. We spent a lot of time here admiring the ceiling. We don't have pics of the artwork, we weren't sure if we were allowed to take pictures or not, and it always feels strange to take pics of a painting when you are not sure if you are supposed to.

Chris showing Oliver the ceiling. He actually prefers paintings on the ceilings to ones on the walls. We can get him to actually look at them for a few minutes before he decides to run away. Elora really liked the chairs which were all painted gold. She thought that was very fancy.

Here is one of the staircases. There was a staircase on each side of the building, each one with a beautiful fresco on the ceiling. This palace is actually still owned by the family Liechtenstein, and they also own a castle outside of Vienna. There was a nice history of the family on the wall that dated back to the 1100s and a portrait of the current couple who owns the palace. All the paintings and art are part of their private collection.

Here is the statue that was on the staircase.

And another beautiful statue in the entry hall.

After the museum we walked over to the Votive Kirche and were very disappointed that it was closed for lunch. Because of course no one wants to pray between 1 and 4 pm. We will have to head back over there another day.

We also walked past the Rathaus, which is all set up for the film festival.

Chris took us to a little Italian place near the palace that has amazing calzones. He always used to talk about these when he was going to class, and this was my first time finally getting to try one.

And it really was amazing!

27 July 2010

Neuburg Museums

The first place Elora said she wanted to show Grandma was the "Knight Museum" so we headed over to the Neuburg to see the collection of musical instruments and the armory. They have new audio guides that show pics of the items and also play samples of music from many of the instruments. This was excellent, as it kept Oliver entertained most of the time we were there.

Our friend John came with us too. I really enjoyed getting to look around in here with an audio guide to share with my mom since the kids always commandeer mine. I actually got to listen to some of the music and learn about some of the instruments.

Elora loved being able to listen to the music. She really enjoyed the guitar section of the museum too. I could have spent all day in this section of the museum!

This was the highlight of the museum trip. It is a stone table with a drinking song carved around the edges in three different languages, and in each language the song was written in three parts - tenor, bass, and alto. The song was played on the audio guide and both Elora and Oliver had me play the song for them over and over for the remainder of our time in the museum. They need to put a repeat button on those guides!

Elora doesn't look that excited in this pic, but check out the display behind her! They are toy musical instruments, and there is actually a mini bagpipe for dolls to play with. Awesome.

We headed into the armory next, and Elora was excited to pose next to the armor that is just her size. She asked me why the children had to fight in battles...

Here is Grandma learning about all the armor.

Our friend John was amazed by this section of the museum. He and Chris looked at absolutely every single item on display while Grandma and I tried to keep the kids entertained.

And here is some fancy armor, not used for battle, but for festivals and tournaments. It is so funny to think of armor being made "fashionable".

Here we are learning about the Rennen, which is different than the Joust, in that the lances were actually sharp and therefore the sport was much more dangerous. Emperor Maximillion promoted this sport which made him very popular among the poorer knights, who competed in this event because it cost less to enter the tournament. They could then win fame and fortune if they did well in the tournaments. Here is Elora choosing which knight she thinks is going to win.

And the jousting knight. There is the straw bag around the horse to protect it, and the lances were tipped. In this sport you tried to unhorse your opponent, in the Rennen I believe you were supposed to hit the shield of your opponent.

Elora and Grandma in the beautiful palace.

Oliver and Elora hanging out together. I think they may have started pushing each other right after this very sweet picture was taken... sigh.

And finally, the Ephesus museum, with many ruins from the city of Ephesus which was the largest city in ancient Greece, and the ruins are in modern day Turkey. Super amazing stuff in the museum, and there are also pics of the city which also has some really spectacular structures that have been excavated.

Elora really likes this statue of the sphinx. She is fascinated by the story of how sphinxes ask a riddle and attack you when you get it wrong. She makes us tell her all about it every time we see a statue of a sphinx, which is surprisingly often...

These are from the walls of a temple in Ephesus, and they line the walls on both sides of this part of the museum.

Oliver got sick of looking at stuff, and started pretending to feed Daddy rice. Mmmmm...

And we were hungry, so we of course headed over to the Naschmarkt for Grandma's first kebap. Yum! Grandma says it was very good, even if she is not smiling...

26 July 2010

Prunksaal im Österreichische Nationalbibliothek

We have never been to the National Library in Vienna, and I read it is amazing, so off we went! It is kind of expensive considering you just see one room, but wow was it a beautiful place.

It was completed in 1730. There are nearly 200,000 books in this one hall printed in the years 1501-1850.

There are also a lot of really cool globes. There is a globe museum in here too, but we didn't spring the money for a visit. It is tough to see too many look-but-don't-touch places in one day when Oliver is around. He very much wanted to go touch the "big ball", but I don't think they would have liked that too much...

In the entire National Library there are over 8 million books and objects - wow... My guidebook from the library also informs me that this is one of the most important libraries in the world.

Here is the beautiful fresco ceiling in the State Hall of the National Library (aka Prunksaal im Österreichische Nationalbibliothek - try saying that three times fast...)

Here is Elora checking out the really old books. She was actually fascinated by this room and loved looking at all the fancy books they had on display in the glass cases (we weren't supposed to take pictures of those...)

If you look close you can sort of see the non-photographable books in the case. They all had beautiful hand written pages and illustrations in them, and some of the topics were religion, medicine, astronomy, and astrology.

While Oliver made too much noise, tried to sit on a stone bench (how shocking!) and Chris got told off for all those offenses, Elora and Grandma checked out the exhibits more thoroughly. It was only a short visit, but well worth it.

23 July 2010

Mom's Visit to Vienna - Schonbrunn

My mom has come to Vienna for a couple weeks and we started our visit by a day at the Schonbrunn. Elora insisted that the first thing we needed to show Grandma was the maze. So we bought my mom the ticket that would allow her to see all the attractions on the grounds, and headed over to the maze! Ollie and Elora were so excited to show her around the maze.

We reached the center! And it didn't even take the kids very long to find it this time.

Next we headed over to the mini maze to show Grandma the kaleidescope mirror. Elora announced, "Look Grandma, lots of Eloras!"

Ollie of course wanted to play the bells for everyone. We had a hard time getting him away from the bells.

Elora loves this water play area, and today was super hot, so I didn't mind making the water spray really high for all of us to get a bit wet.

Oliver helped me spray Elora - I think she is the one who got the most wet...

Time for Grandma to try out the bells!

These are the bouncing boards in the maze, which the kids think are tons of fun.

Next we decided to hike up to the Gloriette since it was a really clear day. We have never gone up to the viewing area on top of the Gloriette before, so this was new for us. Elora excitedly posed for many pictures "so that Grandma can show Grandpa and tell him all about Vienna!"

Here we are at the top! Elora wisely would stand a little while in the sun and then steer us all toward the nearest shade for a break.

Here we are hiking up the stairs to the Gloriette.

and up on the top of the viewing area. It was very not-shady up there, so we didn't stay long, but it did give us great views of the city and a chance to show Grandma some places we will be taking her the next few weeks.

The view.

Here we are back down in the gardens. We will probably come back a couple times to see all the many attractions around the gardens - this is my favorite place in Vienna.

Here we are at the Neptune Fountain. The kids love any fountain because there is water and...

ducks! Oliver figured out that when he dropped some of his sandwich in the water, the ducks would come hang out near him. He thought that was so amazing that they would just stay there. And even better that they would eat his bread, he would excitedly yell, "Eat it!"

Inside the Schonbrunn there is a statue of Hercules wrestling a lion, which Elora thought was pretty cool.

Up behind the Gloriette there are these ruined statues. They are statues that were broken from bombing during WWII and they just keep them on display now. Elora had lots of questions about bombs and war after we tried to explain why the statues were broken... "Were people fighting to take over the Schonbrunn?" "What is a bomb?" "Why do people blow up cities?" "Did daddy fight in the battle?" Nothing like a four year old to get you to really think about things.

We stopped to look at another fountain, and saw this little duck hiding in the lilies. It was so funny, you couldn't even see her most of the time, the lilies would just wiggle and then a little duck head would poke out.

And finally, the rose garden. Elora was really excited to show us all the different colors of flowers and tell us about the bees that she saw "they are getting the pollen to help the flowers and make honey! They love the flowers! But we don't touch them or they will sting you!" She understands that part a little better now, because Oliver got stung by a bee the other day - so sad! But neither of them are scared of bees, they still like to watch them on the flowers.

It was a nice start to our visit from Grandma. Elora has a lot on our itinerary for the next few weeks, so there will probably be lots of posting!