May 6, 2012

  • Our Last Days in Linz

    We have been back in the USA for not even a week yet, but it seems like a long, long time since I took these pictures. 


    Good bye, view from my window. When we arrived, that building was only one story tall. 



    Good bye, clothes drying rack!


    The last Saturday in Austria, the kids helped out an American family whom we met at church with their daughter's 9th birthday party--Be A Star. 



    I was impressed with Rachel's present-wrapping abilities. 


    Good bye, Moores! Thanks for your friendship!


  • Our Last Tram Ride

    We didn't have a car in Austria. Most places we went, we walked. But if we wanted to go across town, we'd take the tram. You'd buy a ticket from a kiosk. A 24 hour card was 4 euros for me and 2 for the kids. 


    All the trams were decorated differently with ads from local businesses. But inside, they mostly looked alike. 




    What was our destination on our final tram ride? Schnitzelhaus for a farewell wienerschnitzel! Yum. 


  • Linz Carnival and Lebkuchenherzen

    After the May Pole came to town, so did the carnival! We decided to check it out on Saturday night. It was about the size of the Grange Fair/Clearfield County Fair.


    There were a few differences. One was the archery booth. People had actual bows and arrows to shoot at targets to win stuffed animals and the like. We didn't get a good picture. (All these pics were on James' phone.)


    Many people--teenagers to grandparents--were dressed in traditional Austrian clothes, leiderhosen and the like. 



    Can you see that guy's moustache??


    Another difference is that a lot of the booths had what appeared to be highly decorated gingerbread cookies. 



    They had messages like "I love you" or things along those lines.  James and Rachel got cotton candy, but I decided I wanted to try one of those.  


    It had a long, white ribbon on it, and I saw several people wearing them around their necks. Were you supposed to eat it, or was it a decoration?  I decided to try eating it.  I think it was a decoration.  It was hard and tasted sort of bland.  It was like eating a Christmas ornament, I suppose!   

    I went home and looked it up on online. They are called Lebkuchenherzen, and they are something you buy at Valentine's Day and at fairs and such. But they didn't say if you were supposed to eat it or just hang it on your wall. I bet the Austrians had a good laugh at me chawing down on a Lebkuchenherzen. 




  • The May Pole

    May 1 is a big holiday in Austria, and in lots of Europe, actually. Linz had a May Pole. They had a parade the last week of April to carry it into the town square. I wish I had known it was happening, because I would have loved to have seen it. 




    I don't know that they actually do anything more with the May Pole. I was told it hangs around for a few months, then they take it down.  Not a very exciting end, eh? 

  • Cards

    Michael decided to go crazy in Linz and constructed lots of card towers based on places he had been.  He made the Colosseum and the Tower of London. I am not quite sure what these ones are, but I was simply impressed that he could stack cards so high and intricately.



  • A Walk at Sunset

    One of our last days in Linz, James and Libby and I took a walk at sunset to the Rapunzel tower. 


    The surrounding park is lovely. 



    After that, we met with the rest of the family and had gelato from Rachel's favorite gelato stand guy.


    We enjoyed eating it in the Hauptplatz and having a memory for when we came home!


April 29, 2012

  • Capitoline Museum

    We were almost the last people in line before they closed the doors one hour before admission. So we had one hour to do three entire multi-storied buildings of museums. 


    Wave the flag...


    Outside in the courtyard, we have a statue of Marcus Aurelius on a horse.  Inside, they also have this same statue. One's the original.


    They also had this incredibly famous statue of Romulus and Remus with their Wolf-mom. It was just sitting out, which made me think that it was a copy, too, and the original was somewhere else in the museum.  (Interesting side note, the word for "prostitute" is very similar to the word for "wolf" in the language of Romulus and Remus's day. It's possible that the shepherd found them in a cave being cared for not by a wolf but with a different creature of the night.) 


    Prick your finger on a pokey thing?


    Sleeping beauty!


    Creepy Marble Baby is creepy. And creeping.


    Math is everywhere! Sierpinski's Gasket anyone?


    Ancient Roman Halloween Costume


    Cupid looking purposeful. 

    They had a lot of these gorgeous boxes. I loved them!


    Hmmm. I think we should look at some sculptures now.


    I've got something in my eye. Sort of feels like marble.


    Um, hey. What are you?


    Oh, you're a poisonous snake. No biggie. I'm Hercules!


    I found a foot bigger than Michael's!


    Let me 'splain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.


    Ah-ah-ah-ah, Flayin' alive, flayin' alive.


    Heads? Yup. We got 'em.


    We got 'em wearing fancy clothes, even.



    We got 'em smiling.


    And we even got 'em with hair.


    A six-pack that is the envy of all. Legs that are the envy of none. 


    Venus without clothes.

    Venus with clothes (and playing tennis)


    The Dying Gaul is dying. 


    Dear Goddess, You gave us a safe trip there and back. So my wife and I would like to dedicate this marble carving of our feet to you. 


    It's no fun being a Sabine woman. 


    Aw, look at the tiger playing with that white bull. 


    This doesn't even need a caption. 


    Uh, this is getting boring. How many pictures can this woman take in an hour?


    A lot. She can take A LOT.


    Oh! I think I'm going to faint!


    No need. We're done! Let's get some gelato. 

  • Ostia Antica

    I enjoyed a lot of things in Rome. 

    Free water from the fountains.


    The gorgeous blue skies


    And Ostia Antica.  Huh?  What's that? Well, I'll tell you!

    When we were planning our trip to Rome, a number of us wanted to go to Pompeii and walk through a preserved ancient Roman city. Pompeii is near Naples, which means it would be three hours by train from  Rome (and three hours back). Plus, we'd want to have lots of time to explore the site. It just didn't seem very wise. The more I looked into Pompeii, the more another name kept coming up--Ostia Antica.  Almost every site I visited said that it was just as nice as Pompeii and only a 25 minute Metro train ride out of Rome.  My decision was made. Ostia Antica it was!


    I was not disappointed. 


    Ostia Antica was a harbor city on the Tiber River.  The word "ostia" means "mouth," as in "the mouth of a river," and that is where it was located. (The river has shifted course since then and is now about 2 miles away.)  There is speculation that this city was one of the earliest in Rome, founded in the 7th century BC, but the earliest archaeological remains are from the 4th century BC. Either way, it's old. 

    Ostia had all the things a city of that time would have had, including a Jewish synagogue. In 200 AD times, Ostia probably had a population of 75,000. (That's like State College in the summer.) It fell into decline in the 400's and was totally abandoned by the 800's.  The river silted over a lot of the city which helped to preserve it, but like most of the other ancient ruins in Rome, the marble and statues and things were scavenged by others.  

    But what remains is a whole city--falling down, yes--but a whole city!  It's over a mile to walk from the entrance to the baths which are the outer edge of the city. 

    Michael was delighted! He climbed and jumped and ran and had a grand time!


    Rachel enjoyed it as well. 

    And what was not to love? It was a museum you could climb on! No one cared if you touched the mosaics or climbed on the roof of an apartment building.


    As you can see in the picture of the kids, they do have metal fences to help you not to kill yourself, and if something really was unsafe, it was chained off. But very little was.

    It was lovely weather, too, and the site had wildflowers growing all around and a sense of peace, despite all the people who surely were there. 


    It was amazing to see the remains of frescoes on the walls, unprotected from weather or graffiti. 


    Here was a curious thing. There were several windows with glass in them. The Romans did use glass, but it seemed odd that it would have lasted so long without being broken. Yet why would anyone put glass in unprotected ruins?


    There were plenty of mosaic floors, mostly in black and white. 



    There were some places that still had marble on them.


    This building was probably my favorite of all. It was called the Domus del Ninfeo. I don't know what it was, but it was lovely. 



    The theater was well-preserved, so much so that they still have concerts there. They were setting up for one while we visited. 



    I'm on stage! (What a tragedy.)


    The original drainage systems were still there!


    I don't know what this field of buried jars was. I couldn't find any information there or on Google. The jars were pretty big, too. The internet said they were six feet high.


    Just enjoy some pictures and imagine you are there.



    We took this picture of graffiti for 

    And the koi picture for her, too!



    Ostia Antica! 

  • Trevi Fountain

    While you read this, listen to (For Frank Sinatra) 

    or (For Doris Day)


    This is Trevi Fountain. 


    It's the largest Baroque fountain in Rome. Legend says that if you throw a coin in the fountain, you are sure to return to Rome. Michael wanted to throw in American money, and thankfully from the recesses of suitcases and change purses, we were able to find some. 


    I figured a kiss for luck wouldn't hurt!   


    After you are done throwing in your coin, you can just sit and people-watch and enjoy the sound of the water. 


    Wikipedia said that about 3,000 euros ($4000) is thrown into the fountain every day.  They use the money to subsidize a supermarket for needy people in Rome. So, even if the wish doesn't come true, the coin toss was worth it!

  • Museo Nazionale Romano

    Other than the Vatican Museums, there were only two other museums in Rome I planned to drag the family to visit. Why? this is the prevailing view on museums.



    I chose the Roman National Museum for two reasons. First, my guidebook gave it three stars (which is the highest). Second, it had a bunch of ancient Roman stuff, and that's my favorite sort of thing to look at in museums. 

    When you look at a museum of Roman things, you would expect to see frescoes, mosaics, jewelry, marble statues, and coins. And we were not disappointed!  They had entire houses preserved to show us what the frescoes would have looked like in each room. (A fresco is a painting on wet plaster. It was like Roman wallpaper.)

    The reddsih-brown picture is one room in a house. I didn't realize they covered their whole walls like that.



    Roman "carpet" was a mosaic. Many mosaic floors were black and white because those were the cheapest two colors of tiles. The mosaics we saw here were amazing! The more detailed the picture, the more colors, and the tinier the tiles, the more expensive a mosaic floor would be. The tiles in these mosaics were probably a centimeter square. So tiny!



    I am not sure what you would call this piece. It was made of different colored marble and gorgeous, but it wasn't made of little square tiles. It was all different shaped pieces for the bodies and capes and the border. You can't really see it, but the background was a deep green, and the colors were vibrant.


    I saw this random, bronze arm. It was probably twice life-size. The information about it said that Romans often used hands and arms at the edges of decorative wall borders to fill in space at the ends. I guess it came in handy. HAHAHAHA. 


    What they did with marble was simply amazing. They could make a solid block of stone look like a flowing, transparent gown.


    And they could capture expression and motion so well. (Although many statues were listed as being "Roman copies of Greek originals.)



    They also did neat things with bronze. This is a famous statue called "The Boxer at Rest." And it's a Roman copy of a Greek original. That used to annoy me that these statues were just copies until I realized that a 2000 year old statue is still a 2000 year old statue, whether they copied someone else's or not. 



    I enjoyed seeing all the different hairstyles on the busts. I imagined an ancient Roman beauty salon with all these heads in it and fashionable Roman women coming in to choose hairstyles. (This is just my imagination. I don't know that this happened!)




    Ancient Roman Barbie dolls? 



    They had some pretty jewelry, too. A lot of times when I see old jewelry in museums, I think, "Hmmm. Hope it looked a lot better when the person was wearing it." But these pieces were still wearable today!



    There was a whole room full of coins. These were scales with weights. 



    James was excited to see a coin he had talked about in Sunday school. 


    Romans liked to use their coins not only to highlight the current emperor, but to show laws. This one shows the law of "Provoco" which meant that a Roman citizen could appeal punishments and rulings. It's really neat when you see something in person you've only read about or seen pictures of.