This will be my last blog on the road before I arrive back in the States after a long day of travel tomorrow. Strangely, it doesn’t feel like the end at all, only an interlude before my next adventure. Travel is addictive and I am completely intoxicated. I think it will be a tough adjustment to go from weeks of new adventures, art, culture, music, and food to being back at home in my normal routine. I warn all my loved ones, I may experience a tough withdrawal!
I savored my last day in Vienna. A couple hours in the Kunstgeschichte (Art History) Museum, browsing the rooms full of Titians, Rubens, and Rembrandts. I was thrilled to find a room full of the Northern Flemish artist Peter Brueghel the Elder. He gives us a peek into the everyday life of Medieval Europe: the changing seasons, festivals, and daily life for the peasants. So much detail in every scene. Usually you find one or two Brueghels in a museum, so an entire room was a treat! I also discovered a room full of the Spanish artist Diego Velasquez. In my university days as an art history minor, I spent an entire term researching and writing about the portraiture of Velasquez. To see in person the very portraits I studied so intimately – let us just say the slides did not do them justice.
The afternoon was for wandering and saying goodbye to Vienna. I stumbled across a park called the Augarten, hiding behind a wall in the Leopoldstadt neighborhood just north of the Ringstrasse. The park itself is brown and slumbering already for the winter, but it was still full of life as people jogged, biked, and walked their dogs through the avenues of evergreens. The big surprise is that over this tranquil scene looms two giant flakstürme, or flak towers, from World War 2. Huge monstrosities of concrete. Forlorn and menacing. They are now stripped of all their equipment and home to flocks of birds. Completely at odds with the entire mood of the park and a somber reminder of the not-so-distant horrors this city has experienced.
One last afternoon at my favorite coffeehouse (yes, I already have a favorite!), the Cafe Tirolerhof. One last melange. And then off into the sunset (or I suppose technically sunrise) on tomorrow’s flight back to reality. May I never recover from the seductiveness of travel.