The last day of Grandma's visit with us, we decided to travel to the town of Melk and see the big monastery there. We were excited to travel somewhere new to explore.
Here we are taking the train. This is how it goes - the adults all sit and try to relax, Elora sits and plays with toys while asking questions constantly (or else asking for a story) and Oliver refuses to sit longer than two minutes and instead chooses to wander about the train. I can't wait to fly for ten straight hours with them when we head back stateside...
So as I walked down the stairs I noticed Chris taking my pic, and didn't know until later that the reason why was to capture the huge line of people waiting behind the very slow pregnant lady with her two slow small children to get down the stairs. Next time I think I will let everyone else go first!
The town of Melk is so beautiful, with a cute little shopping street we got to browse while heading up to the monastery. I wish we could have spent a little more time shopping, there were some nice shops here.
When we reached the monastery the kids bolted for... the fountain! Oliver yells, "Water water!" And Elora yells, "Fountain!" and off they go. I love taking them new places and seeing what they get excited to look at.
We hung out by the fountain for awhile before heading inside to view the museum.
Some of the rooms in the museum were quite interesting, like this room with relics that also had walls made of mirrors. The kids thought this one was pretty entertaining. Other rooms were lit with different colors of lights, some had historical artifacts, and some explained different theological beliefs that were represented by different artwork or architectural features of the building.
Here we are checking out the "treasure" as Elora would say.
Here is a bone splinter from John the Baptist (at least that is what the little sign said...) Lots of interesting relics in all the churches around Europe.
This is one of the rooms of the monastery. I can't remember what it was used for, it looks like a ball room to me, but somehow I don't think that was its function!
This is the outside of the church located in the middle of the monastery.
While we were touring, Tom Cruise from Mission Impossible jumped out of a plane, stole something secret from the bishop's vault and drove away in a hail of gunfire, smoke bombs, and oil slicks.
Here's the library. Lots of old books. Elora was really excited about the library rooms. She had a great time at Melk. A couple weeks later, when we were driving by on the highway, she shouted, "It's Melk! It's Melk! There's a library there!" The compound itself is gigantic and can be seen from miles away...
Beautiful artwork on the ceiling of the chapel. Look closely. It appears to be demons, who were wearing masks of angels being cast out of heaven. This is a common theme in a lot of the paintings.
While we were exploring the main cathedral, they started a church service, so we stuck around. It was done in German, and quite interesting to look through. We've never been to a catholic service before. The bishops read from a script, and occasionally the people would recite back replies to them. It was pretty structured, as the whole thing was written out and only lasted about 15-20 minutes. Quick!
This picture was taken before the service began...Elora was happy to show grandma around.
Lots of gold. Very ornate. This baroque style of cathedral is a sensory overload. But it is amazing to look at. The problem is, after awhile, you start to think, "Seen one, seen them all." It's only when you look closer at some of the details do they stick out as being unique.
Case in point... these lounging skeletons which were on each wall of the building. Straight out of Pirates of the Caribbean from Disneyland. Adding to the weirdness of lounging corpses as decoration, they were given as a gift from Empress Maria Theresa to the monastery representing an unknown saint. I can imagine the conversation now... "A decomposing body? For me? Oh... you shouldn't have your majesty..."
More artwork on the ceiling. Again, you have to look closely to appreciate it all, otherwise it's too much to take in.
During the church service, they would sing parts of a hymn every now and then. It would only last for about 1 minute, before more preaching. Oliver would get all excited by the organ playing and then it would stop just soon after it started and he would say, "Music! More music!" He would even point back at the organ and gets excited to hear music every time he sees one.
More artwork on the ceiling. Karen got told off for taking this picture. She was still snapping pictures right as the priests were filing into the room. But she stopped right away.
Afterward, we went outside and Daddy and Ollie played their favorite game - "Let's see how high we can toss Ollie."
The grounds had a huge park and gardens. In the forest around the building, wherever you walked you could hear music playing through the trees because they had speakers set up in a few spots. It was nice. Here is Oliver and Elora posing in front of a piece of modern art, called the New World. It's a pond with a little island in it that has corn, flowers, tobacco and other plants from the Americas growing wild in it.
Then it was off to the restaurant. Oliver was in no mood for sitting still, so he had to be entertained the whole time. Pushing daddy's head around is always a fun past time for him.
Grandma got Kaiserschmarrn - emperors pancakes with plum sauce. We've written about it before.