Sunday, May 16, 2010
[Not Great] Picturelicious!
(Bluebells are blooming - I've been told they'll be gone next week....)
It's weird that I've been up all day doing stuff and am now home unwinding and taking care of business and that everyone back home-home is just now waking up. Perhaps the posts I put up in the morning are kinda useless because no one is awake to see them!!
I had a question about food, which can be answered quite simply. Every single Austrian meal (yes, even breakfast) consists of three things, and almost three things only: bread, meat, and beer. Every now and again, you get some cheese or a tart/dessert of some variety. Even rarer, you'll get a fruit or vegetable. Water is more expensive than beer if you eat out. And all the water is gross and oily. But the food is good. Filling, but good. I think it weighs me down and makes me even more tired, but a beer or seven helps that. I've tried a different beer every place I've gone and all have been delicious and full-flavored! It's weird, even the bars we go to usually only have three or four types of beers to choose from. The smaller places only have one. With beer being such a specialty, I would think there would be more variety. However, the beer is delicious and I do not wish to complain about it.
Anyway, this is a pictures heavy post. I basically threw them all up here and am now trying to go through, put them in order, and describe what they are, so if the story seems less than fluid or something gets confusing, that's why.I forgot to post this from the airport the other day. I found this silverware hysterical because they made so much effort to make it look like real metal silverware. It wasn't. It was plastic cheap stuff like you get from a fast food place.As I said in my post the other day, most of my pictures of the country-side that I took riding in on the train didn't come out well. This was one of my favorites (if only my phone reflection wasn't in the window!!) Everything here is greener than Ireland and mountainous like the Rockies. Gorgeous.Let's next move on to my room, ja? When you first walk in room 1052, there's this foyer (yes my jeans hang on the door every night to keep them fresh. I spray them with stuff because they are my only pair I brought I don't want to do laundry every day!) On the right of the foyer is wall-to-wall built-in closet/cabinet space. My few items I brought seem puny in them. On the left is the bathroom and straight through leads to the living space.The next stop is the bathroom with the blue door frame. It's small, as expected in Europe, but it works fine for me. Notice the odd toilet flushing option buttons above the toilet. I never know which one to push, but every toilet everywhere here seems to give you two flushing choices. The towels they gave me are huge, so YAY! The shower is the same size as the space the toilet is in just to the other side of the sink. I took a picture, but it seems kinds wasted because there's not really much to see. Just a normal shower.
Just beyond the door my jeans hang out on, you find the living space. The beds could only be described as military cots. My hip is red and bruised every morning. I show you this view so that you can see the awesome panoramic windows that 1052 comes with. Those curtains and all the window open (no screens here, which is weird, and awesome if they don't have bugs.) When I need a break, I hang out my windows and either stare at my awesome view or people watch the kids at the school. Today was a "little league" soccer game. Adorable. Below is the panoramic view from left (south) to right (north). The first is facing the Danube River and downtown, historic Linz. The second faces west and is of the suburb Urfahr where we and the University are located. The third is facing the mountains and country-side. I wish it were clearer out so the pictures would come out better. These don't do the view justice - you can see the spires of every building and church in downtown Linz from my room!Yesterday, we went on a guided tour of the city, which wasn't great. The guide was filling-in for a friend (meaning her English skills were not awesome) and she was new to giving tours in general. This was the first interesting thing for us. It was a Greenpeace protest. Kinda fun.
But even a bad guide can find a great view of the city! This is on the way to the city's botanical gardens, where I hope to go one of these days. The church steeple right in the middle of the screen is Mariendom, where we went to church this morning. More on that later.The guide next took us down a path that leads to the Schlossmuseum of Linz. She claimed this path had some of the best views of the city, and I have to say, not too shabby. There's the blue Danube River in all it's glory. This picture is facing where we live right now, so go just to the edge of all the buildings and there's the Raabheim. You can't see it, but I know it's there.The guide took us down to the Schlossmuseum, but didn't take us in (we went back today). This is a historic recreation of what the city looked like back in the day. I'm standing about where our house is. The city seems big, but it really isn't. Everything downtown is just a few blocks away from everything else and mostly in grid formation. I've become the navigator and everyone thinks it's because I'm awesome with directions. Really it's because I know how grid streets work (thanks Savannah!)Next stop on the tour was this little courtyard. While stopping here traveling from Salzburg to Vienna, Mozart was asked to compose a symphony. It took him only three days to compose the Linz Symphony in C Major right there in that second floor apartment.
Just a few blocks away from Mozart, the guide took us to this fountain. The gorgeous arched building all around the fountain was a monastery/governmental building during the time of Kelper/Gallileo. Kepler, an Austrian, came here often to spread his crazy idea that the sun was the center of the universe. In a last ditched effort to counter such nonsense, the monks had this fountain built with world in the center and all the gods the planets are named after spinning around it. They didn't really spin. I guess it's allegorical.Next, we traveled to the town's main square called Hauptplatz. The square sits right on the Danube River and has this huge statue in the middle. Having the square right on the water used to give Linz a key industrial advantage, but they're trying to become more of a cultural town than an Industrial town. Linz is the Celtic word for "Bend" and was given this name because the town sits on one of the Danube's curves, changing directions from north-south on one side of the city to east-west on the other.And here's a nice internet picture of the Hauptplatz just because I doubt 1) that we'll ever have skies that blue and 2) that I could take that nice of a picture.
This is the famous Hitler balcony in the Hauptplatz (Main Square) of the town. He gave a famous speech here with thousands of Nazis filling the square. I think it might be where he announced the joining of Austria into his Third Richt nation (unifying Germany and Austria), but no one has confirmed that.
Here's the Nazi Army rolling through the main square.And here's all the Nazi's at a rally, climbing on the big statue in the middle of the square. Prof. Gorsuch said that the old Jewish synagogue was destroyed and that right now, there are only about 12 Jewish families in a town of 230,000(+) people.The main street that runs through the square is Landstrasse. It's a main shopping district (which, unfortunately is closed almost ALL WEEKEND!!) The tracks in the road are for the Strassenbaum ("street cars") which we use as transportation to get around the city.
Finally, to warm up and get out of the rain, the guide took us inside a random government building on the Hauptplatz. The coolest part, though, was that the floor was basically like walking around on Google Maps. You can see the Danube and that open rectangle in the center below the river is the Hauptplatz with the big statue in the middle. Pretty cool.And this is Mike (from Missouri) and Prof. Gorsuch spinning on a spinning globe in the middle of the Google Maps Linz. After this, we went to a bar for a drink and dinner at Josef's. It was basically a meat buffet. I tried blood sausage. Not good. The whole meat eating thing has upset my tummy a little, you know - the whole vegetarian thing - but I'll get used to it. We were too tired to go out partying with the young kids (who can still be heard vomiting from fun even now.)
This morning we woke up to go to mass at Mariendom Cathedral (AKA New Cathedral, since it's ONLY 150 years old!) Remember, I told you I would mention the church with the big steeple again later! Now is that time. The mass was basically the same. I just said responses in English because I didn't know how to in German. This is a picture of the original pews. The 2x4 wooden without padding kneelers didn't raise and that's a tiny little piece of fabric, not foam in the seat. As a result, they sat a lot more instead of kneeling or standing. Even with less kneeling, my knees got bruised. But it was really cool. My protestant friends seemed to enjoy it.I've seen some pretty big churches before, and from the bus and the views from the town, I thought that this large church was pretty standard size. NO! Walking up to it, man - this church is HUGE! The main tower is 134.8 m (whatever that means) high, but the sheer size of this thing, irregardless of its stunning beauty, took my breath away! Please enjoy these photographs of the church I stole from the internet. None of my pictures came out great, so these work instead:After mass and the subsequent photography onslaught, we made our way to a monastery-turned-pub for a drink (per custom) then followed these very steep, winding stairs up to the top of the hill where the Castle-Museum (Schlossmuseum) rests.
To build the Schlossmuseum, the basically reinforced the ruins of the old castle wall and built this cool modern-architecture building on top of it. I didn't like it at first - why couldn't they just conserve the ruins or something - but then it grew on me. It's an homage to the past but still moving forward, creating an efficient, usable space without destroying the history already there.
Today, we went to the Schlossmuseum, which basically is a cultural history museum from Linz. It had a lot of paintings, artifacts, technology exhibits, clothing exhibits, etc, all about the people from Linz and their history. We couldn't read any of the signs because they were all in German, but I really liked this giant, life-size chess set.
One cool thing the museum had were these interactive booths. Each one had cool, comfy seating and these giant, book-sized plastic things you could stick in the slot to play a different educational segment. Again, we couldn't understand any of it, but I played this one because I was pretty sure Schwartzenegger was talking about Arnold. It wasn't. It was a lot of trees.
Below you will find Jeannette (left) and Rachel (right) enjoying one such booth.
This was a room of wrought-iron (mailboxes?) and this was a really pretty cross. So I took a picture. I took a million pictures in this place, mostly because they told us we couldn't, but don't worry, I'm only posting a small fraction of them. None of them have interesting stories besides me thinking they were pretty and I liked the rush of sneaking a shot with a security guard in the room.
One of my favorite rooms was this big long hall full of armoirs, desks, dressers, and the like painted with these gorgeous scenes on them. They all were different and from different time periods, but I seem to have an incling towards classic art.
I posted this picture from the museum not because these pots and pitchers are particularly interesting, but because they had glass behind them so that I could take a picture of me. I like pictures with me in them.
In the Historic Coat of Arms Hall, I thought that this coat of arms looked a lot like the Orsini coat of arms. It's not the same exactly because there's not a rose or a snake. But the bears are strikingly similar, n'est-ce pas?
This is Mandy (left) and Rachel (right) sitting on some cool benches in the museum. Mandy is an AWESOME photographer as a hobby on the side. She took great pictures all day with her $12323429385982134 camera (way better than my phone and 8 year old piece of poo). When she posts these, I will steal them and post them for you to see.