Sunday, January 27, 2013

Art and Frozen Feet. Our Sunday in Europe.

The Grand Mercure Biedermeir Hotel
I have an idea.   Let’s add yet another country to our list today……Slovakia!

We are scheduled today to sing at the 5:00 p.m. Mass at the St. Martin’s Church, site of the coronations of 11 Kings and Queens of Hungary.   In other words, a pretty famous place.  But I’m getting ahead of myself….we had some other things to do first. 
Dr Nesheim hauling his tuxedo to the bus

Like breakfast.  And a stop by what our guide Hans calls “the most beautiful palace in Austria,” Belvedere. 
Belvedere is a historic building complex in consisting of two Baroque palaces (the Upper and Lower Belvedere), the Orangery, and the Palace Stables. The buildings are set in a Baroque park landscape south-east of its centre. The grounds are set on a gentle gradient and include decorative tiered fountains and cascades, Baroque sculptures, and majestic wrought iron gates. The Baroque palace complex was built as a summer residence for Prince Eugene of Savoy.
The Belvedere was built during a period of extensive construction in Vienna, which at the time was both the imperial capital and home to the ruling dynasty. This period of prosperity followed on from the commander-in-chief Prince Eugene of Savoy's successful conclusion of a series of wars against the Ottoman Empire.

Waiting for our entrance tickets at the Belvedere...might as well take a group photo!

Interior ceiling, second floor.

Today, the Belvedere is one amazing art gallery with exhibits ranging from medieval church artwork to impressionists of the 20th century.  At the moment, it is hosting the largest collection of Gustav Klimt works – truly awe-inspiring.  Truly!

Crossroads of southern Europe!
An hour was not enough time to explore all there was to see, but we needed to get moving toward Bratislava and our evening there.  It’s about 90 minutes by bus, and while the sun wasn’t out (surprise!) we could tell that there is some interesting scenery between the cities.  We’re along the Danube River in both cities, and yet our first “full view” of the width of the Danube is found at Bratislava.  Of course it’s colder than all get out today, but we drop at the river’s edge and head on a “really quick” walking tour of the center of the city.  Atop the hill is the palace where the Hungarian royals lived and below are the State Theatre and Slovakian Orchestra Hall.   It was time for a late lunch and several of us found delightful authentic Slovakian restaurants wherein the food was FAB – U – LOUS.  

We have entered Slovakia!
Off then to rehearse at St Martin’s.   A few more things about this church…..the priest is a great guy….. there is a sacred altar containing the remains of a saint who died in 632….. as I mentioned before, this is where they crowned the kings and queens AND, finally, it is (according to vote by the choir) the COLDEST interior of all the cathedrals in which they’ve performed.  They looked like a large choir today….underneath their robes were every stitch of clothing they had brought along today.  But nobody cared – our generous sized crowd (wrapped in full length minks and other warm items) hung in not only through Mass but also our full concert.  It was especially wonderful to hear the response to the “Nunc Dimitis” sung in “church Slovanik.”  
St. Martin's
All that said, there are now many of us sitting in the hotel lobby using the free wi-fi system…..and we’re still in “thaw” mode.  Hot showers are sure to follow – 

Tomorrow we leave Vienna and head for Salzburg………..look out Alps, here we come!

Amazing meal....chicken, ham, cheese and peaches.  PEACHES!

Concert tonight at St. Martin's

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