My final day had arrived – this whole working malarkey greatly impediments travelling duration. Still our 9 days had lead us around a lot of Austria – such a beautiful place and to Slovakia for some New Years fun. Not bad considering… Sensibly we had packed up the night before and so after fixing our last few things we went downstairs to sample the Ibis 12 Euro breakfast. This was way more expensive than any of the other breakfasts we had bought and so we had high expectations. This may have been a little optimistic of us and the usual bread, cheese and ham combo was added to with some weird hot-dog type sausages and cold eggs. It was edible but nothing spectacular.
Since Carolyn was flying back transatlantic her flight was at 13.20 and after the outbound journey’s escapades I bade her a fond farewell at the station at 10.30 so she would be in plenty of time for this flight. It is always so sad to say goodbye to my travel buddy but since I would be seeing her in 5 weeks time for our next trip the sadness wasn’t too long lived and I jumped on the train to Belvedere Gallery. I had decided before coming on the trip that my final day would be spent checking out one of the many galleries of Vienna, but which one was the question. The Albertina was included in our Vienna Pass as was the Kunsthistorisches Museum and both had great reviews. However, I had seen a film a few months before called ‘The Woman in Gold’ starring Helen Mirren which was based around the Mirren’s character being a descendant of the woman in the painting and her trying to get the painting back to New York. Having already been a fan of Klimt and after seeing the film I decided that the Klimt exhibition was just too tempting and so the Belvedere Gallery it was. There are a multitude of tickets available but I was pretty short on time and so opted just for the Gallery ticket having been to Schonnbrunn Palace yesterday, however, I am sure it would be worth a visit for those less short on time and the more sections you pay to see the cheaper it ends up.
I had decided to get the train rather than the tube since while waiting for Carolyn’s airport train another train arrived at the next platform which seemed to be going to the right stop. So I sneakily jumped on (minus a ticket) and rode the 3 stops to Quartier Belvedere. Considering all I had to do was cross the road to the palace I somehow managed to get lost and after being followed by a strange guy who kept trying to speak to me and then hiding in a flower shop to lose him I crossed the said road (20 minutes after I should have) and made my way through the gates of the palace. It was a similar style to that of Schonnbrunn but in white rather than yellow and with a huge fountain pond in front which had frozen over. Even though it was freezing the sun was shining and so the -7 temperatures were slightly less awful as I wandered through the courtyard and then to the back gardens which even had the addition of a snowman before nipping inside to the warmth of the gallery. I checked my multitude of layers into the cloakroom and picked up an audio guide while admiring the grandeur of the main marble entranceway and staircase which had an interesting modern art exhibit of long cubes of white light all hanging in a sort of pyramidal shape. It was really bright and interesting to see the contrast of old period sculptures centred around the modern light.
I decided to finish with the Klimt exhibition and so started on the ground floor in the Medieval Art exhibition. I am not a huge fan of religious art per se but there was some stunning work here not to mention the rooms themselves. The first room was the Painted Hall and I was so blown away by the detail of the painted room and the intricacies of the sculptures I had to sit down and take a few sneaky photos – none of the museums or galleries in Austria allow photographs – much to the dismay of the patrol guard who reminded me rather vehemently of the no photo rule! I was so impressed by some of the works in this section including the Znaim Altarpiece and Reuland Freauf’s scenes from the Passion of Christ and of Virgin Mary. It really made me re-think my position on religious art. The audio guide was really interesting and succinct – I always find that gallery audios can ramble on for a long time about each picture but this one was well thought out only providing commentary on some of the more intriguing pieces and keeping it short and snappy.
The other side of the floor was the impressionism interwar period and again had some great pieces. Some of my favourites included; Kirchner’s the Mountains of Klosters, Wacker’s Self Portrait with Shaving Foam, Suschnik’s Boy in a Landscape, Kokoschka’s Prague Harbour, Thony’s View of Manhattan, Oppenheimer’s Philharmonic and Vassilieff’s Woman with a Fan. I realise me listing a bunch of paintings may be slightly dull reading and so I provide a link below to the galleries website where those with an interest can have a look at some of the works. When I looked at the time I had spent an hour and a half on one floor of quite a small gallery and so after the Gerhart Frankl – Restless exhibition which was next to the interwar section, which again I loved, his take on Austria as well as some landscapes of New York and Tunis were fascinating, I finally headed upstairs.
Since the Klimt exhibition was on floor 1 I went straight to the 2nd floor and visited the Romanticism and Neoclassicism section to the left first, which was probably my least favourite section of the gallery although I did enjoy Hackert’s The great Waterfall at Tivoli and Ender’s the Grossglockner before heading through to the Realism and Impressionism section. A lot of famous artists had work here, including some of my favourites and so again I got lost on the art and completely lost track of time again. Some of my favourite pieces here were; Florian’s Flowering Poppies, Monet’s pathway in Giverny Garden and the Cook, Renoir’s After the Bath and Van Gogh’s the Plain of Auvers. Again, if you are interested in seeing some of the works click on the link above. Photographs will never truly capture the almost pearly sheen of the lady in Renoir’s work or the detailed brush strokes of Monet but it will give you an idea.
It was finally time for the highlight for me and the reason I had chosen this gallery over the many others in Vienna. After taking in the beauty of the Marble Hall, I headed through to the black walls of the Klimt exhibition. I started off with The Kiss and wow, it really was beautiful. The gold of the metals shone and sparkled in the heat of the gallery lights with the black background really accentuating the bold metal colourations. There was a guard stationed in front – a bit like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre – who prevented sneaky tourists snapping pictures but there was a large copy of the painting in a small room next door to the main attraction which had been erected as a selfie room to allow tourists to take a selfie with Klimt’s most famous masterpiece. His other works from Girlfriends to Judith were just as spectacular as I had expected but there was also some hidden surprises such as Avenue to Schloss. I sat in some of the centre chairs for a good hour in the long dark room and had a pretty great time.
My stomach was starting to rumble and so at 2 o’clock I headed downstairs to the Menagerie bistro for a Beef Goulash Soup and Apple Strudel. The Apple Strudel was cold and quite unappetising but the soup was hearty and very tasty. I had originally planned to just spend a few hours at the gallery but had been here for the whole day and so now it was time to collect my jacket – I had to use one of my many selfies to prove ownership since I had lost my ticket – before heading back to the Ibis to pick up my bags. I cannot recommend this gallery enough. I had went for Klimt and seen so many other great things, it is probably my highlight of Vienna which is a big statement considering some of the other great things we had seen. After picking up my bags at Ibis I caught the airport train from the nearby station and headed for home.
Vienna airport is quite chaotic and after eventually finding check-in and dropping my bags I made my way through the very busy restaurant cluster to my gate. The only problem with this being that from this point they changed my gate 3 separate times which was rather inconvenient and so each time seen me packing up my stuff and heading along to the new point only to discover 15 minutes later it had changed again. I finally boarded and after a quick change in Brussels I was home, to a very rainy soggy Edinburgh. Until next time…..