This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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All the world is a stage – but what about the backdrop?

vienna-29What we see on an opera stage truly is only what we are meant to see. The thing with stages is, what is in view is always just a tiny portion of the entirety. You see, there is a backstage. And a side-stage. And an above-stage. And a beneath-stage. vienna-30Because a single show may require five different sets, and they all need to be wheeled in and out of sight in a matter of seconds. The backdrop is hardly rolled like window-blinds – it is simply winched up – still hanging.

It is the depth in every direction that deceives. And all the ropes and props and invisible men (and some women). All the world is a stage, Shakespeare said. But he never mentioned the backdrop, and everybody in it helping us play our part. vienna-31(Vienna, Austria; February 2017)


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At the opera

vienna-32Opera houses and theaters were like bars and nightclubs today: places to see and be seen. And because cities were much smaller still in the 19th century, and the ruling class even smaller still, everybody did know everybody. Thus, going to the opera was like going to one grand party where you know all guests.

And what better than to go to a party held in a house decorated in splendid gold, mirrors, and red carpets? So thought the Emperor of Austria-Hungary as well, and commissioned the work of a new opera house in Vienna. vienna-33When the glorious building was finished, the architect and interior designer proudly showed it to the court. But their hearts were broken: the emperor thought it rather simple. He proclaimed it resembled a train station. The interior designer committed suicide before the opening night, and the architect died of a stroke not long after.

Life sucks sometimes. But the opera house is still standing. And, viewed through today’s minimalistic eyes that usually encounter bare surfaces, it is quite an extravaganza. Everything is relative.vienna-34(Vienna, Austria; February 2017)


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Schlumberger

vienna-28Austria’s take on champagne is called sekt. And the most commercialized (and celebrated?) sekt is less than 200 years old, but very successfully marketed in Austria today. Just like Vienna is like one big wedding cake, the Schlumberger bar and shop is like an adult’s candy shop dream: cute, filled with delicacies, and gold and pink sparkling wine.

Yes please. Make me a victim of this marketing strategy.

(Vienna, Austria; February 2017)


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Das Original

vienna-26Today we wanted to have the cake and eat it, too. And it was possible, because Hotel Sacher both serves and sells its famous torte. But who knew that the lunch menu at Café Sacher was so delicious? And that the walls were a bright red, and the china sparkling white? And the service so graceful. It all really became less about the cake and more about the entire experience.

The cake shop clerk recommended to not buy a big cake but single-serving cakes, if possible. Because there is more chocolate and jam per mass, and that makes it all so much better. We agree.
vienna-27(Café Sacher, Vienna, Austria; February 2017)


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Perspective

vienna-24Why would one make a simple brown or gray tiled roof, when one can decorate it green and gold? And finish with a great two-headed eagle, just for the flair?

Those who lived their lives in the gutter in ancient Vienna most likely never saw this beauty. It was probably visible only for those who either could afford a penthouse apartment, or were daring enough to climb onto the roofs.

Perspective. In this case you can buy it, but in most cases it needs to be attained by struggle.

(Vienna, Austria; February 2017)


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About books and worship

vienna-22There are people who travel just to see famous libraries. I should like to be one of those people. There ought to be a Michelin guide for libraries: where one star is an honor, two stars recommend a detour to have the experience, and three stars a special journey out just to see the place. The Austrian National Library truly is one worthy of traveling to just to see the place. vienna-21The Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI surely thought of a library worth three stars, as he constructed a State Hall in the shape of a cathedral and placed himself, surrounded by the sun-pattern on the floor, in the middle to be worshiped. One should better worship the books and knowledge and poetry, but with the Baroque splendor all around, one might just forget about the content and stand in awe before the building itself.
vienna-20Even books used to be so much more beautiful back then: golden inscriptions and delicate sizes, favoring multiple volumes over the brick-size murder weapons that some pocket books are today.vienna-18Should one’s eyes wander all the way up to the ceiling, they will most likely remain stuck there for quite some time. And no, the images are not about Christian Bible legends or Paradise, but about the great Habsburg dynasty, as if it were god-like.

Walking toward the radiantly depicted Holy Roman Emperor statue, below the fresco of Habsburg heavens, in a building designed like a cathedral, I was not quite sure if the said Emperor really had constructed the library as a haven for knowledge, or as a deification of himself. Perhaps not the humblest of perspectives, but then again, who expects an Emperor to be humble?
vienna-25(Vienna, Austria; February 2017)


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An der schönen blauen Donau

vienna-14On Donauinsel you can run a marathon by just running around the island. The thing is, though, it is only about 100 meters wide so you will be running back and forth on the same route.

vienna-15And at each top (or so I am told), you must dodge stark naked people bathing, biking, and skating.

But on this windy winter’s day, the Donauinsel was asleep, save for a few kids playing soccer, a few seagulls taking a stroll, and a few rays of sunlight. And we. 
vienna-16(Donauinsel, Vienna, Austria; February 2017)