Posted by inka on Apr 26, 2012 in Austria
I grew up in a ‘Kaffeehaus’ culture. Starbucks at all weren’t even a blip on the horizon. You went to a café to meet friends and sit in style. Or read a book or the paper for as long as you pleased. Nobody would have dreamed of eating and drinking out of plastic. The cakes you took away with you were lovingly placed in a box, wrapped and adorned with a bow. Not thrown helter skelter into a paper bag which becomes a soggy mass in a matter of minutes. I have to admit, I still hate any kind of self service joint, although it can’t always be avoided.
Luckily, it isn’t as if the Kaffeehaus culture has vanished. It is alive and well and two of my favorite examples are to be found in Italy and Austria. In Venice and Salzburg to be precise.
I visited Venice’s Caffé Florian for the first time during carnival last year. Which gave the place a special magic, but even in ‘normal’ times it’s the epitome of an elegant café. Here is a bit of history.
Opened on December 29th of 1720, Caffe Florian is a contender for oldest coffeehouse in continuous operation. Originally is consisted of only two rooms, but successive owners (most of them family ) expanded the premises to include the Hall of Illustrious Men, the Chinese hall, the Hall of the Senate and the Oriental Hall. Located in the arcade which surrounds Venice’s Piazza San Marco, the café became a meeting place not only for the rich and famous like Goldoni, Casanova, Goethe, Lord Byron or Marcel Proust but for citizens from different social classes. It was one of the few places where the new Gazzeta Veneta could be bought, read and…discussed. True, it’s also a tourist attraction, but basically it remains a Venetian meeting point. You can listen to the piano player and enjoy wonderful cakes and of course, the world famous Italian ice-cream.
Caffe Florian during carnival
Piazza San Marco
No less fascinating and enjoyable is Salzburg’s Café Sacher. Café and hotel are side by side and it opened in 1876. The terrace is overlooking the River Salzach but I like best the indoors and the Wall of Fame
. Not to mention the famous Sacher torte, a chocolate cake with a thin layer of apricot jam. The cake is actually older than the café, having been created by Mr. Sacher in 1832 when he was a humble apprentice at the court of Fürst Metternich. Having been asked to dream up an especially delicious desert, he had the inspiration for his chocolate and apricot cake. A concoction I enjoy every time when I visit Salzburg.
Posted by inka on Sep 5, 2011 in art
, New York
, Travel tips
Art lovers, pay attention. If you need an incentive to visit the Austrian capital next year, the 150th anniversary of painter Gustav Klimt may be it. It’ s certainly for me and one way or another I’ll find a gap to make my way to Vienna.
Gustav Klimt is one of my favorite painters, the other being Paul Gaugin. As you may deduce from this choice, I like my painting to have vivid colors, an exotic background and to portrait people catching their soul and essence in a unique way which makes me look at them again and again, every time discovering a new angle. I also like to know what I’m looking at. Miro, Dali and Picasso do nothing for me. I find their lives and personalities far more entertaining and interesting than their works of art. But that’s just me. Lastly, I like BIG paintings. Tiny canvasses which I have to squint at are tiresome. Again, that’s just me. Anybody who has different views, and there are bound to be a lot, please let me know and educate me to the errors in my personal view of art.
Back to Klimt. Born in Baumgarten near Vienna in 1862 he was the son of a gold engraver and a musical artist. Klimt won a scholarship to the Vienna Art school and began his artistic career by helping his teachers paint vast murals. He later became a member of the Vienna Secession, a group which provided exhibitions for unconventional young artist and brought foreign artists to Vienna. Influenced by Byzantine mosaics which he saw in Ravenna, Klimt entered what is know as his Golden Phase, huge paintings and portraits, preferably of women with a distinct but elegantly executed eroticism, often making use of gold leaf and the distinctive elements of Art Nouveau.
He shared his personal life with companion Emilie Flöge, wrote and traveled little, concentrating on his work which, apart from portraits included a few landscapes and fathered 14 (!) children. He died in Vienna in 1918.
One of his most famous portraits, that of Adele Bloch-Bauer can be admired in New York’s Neue Galerie located on 86th Street and 5th Avenue which I had the pleasure of visiting two years ago. The museum is dedicated to 19th century German and Austrian artists and established in a building which, all by itself, is a work of art.
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer
Next year sees the 150th anniversary of Klimt and Vienna is preparing to celebrate big time. At least 10 museums of the city are arranging special exhibitions, among them Wien Museum, Kunstwerk Museum, Albertina and Villa Klimt, the last remaining studio of the artist.
Many paintings and drawings will arrive on loan, but as far as I could make out, Adele will firmly remain in her New York home, which doesn’t really come as a surprise given that the portrait was acquired for a record $138 Mill.
Neue Gallerie New York
Posted by inka on Oct 30, 2010 in Austria
, Day trips
After last night’s rain, a brilliant summer day was dawning over Munich’s rooftops. The leaves were polished and shining and when I looked out the window everything seemed to whisper to me: come out, this is the ideal day for a trip. On the spur of the moment, I decided that I wanted to take the train to Salzburg which I hadn’t visited in a long time. Salzburg and a summer day are just too enticing to be missed.
An hour later I was at Munich’s Hauptbahnhof and boarded the EC to Salzburg. The trip takes less than 2 hours and leads through the wonderful countryside of the Priengau, passing by the Chiemsee, historical Traunstein and other towns which would be well worth a stop, but not on this occasion.
It’s an open border between Germany and Austria which means nobody comes and looks at your passport. You don’t even notice that you are in another country except for the switch of server on your cell phone.
Salzburg’s Hauptbahnhof is undergoing major construction which will last for some time and is a bit tedious to negotiate. Just follow signs (they are a bit small though) which point you in the direction of the city center and you come out in the Rainerstrasse. From there you can’t go wrong, it’s a straight run towards the Salzach with her many bridges across into the historical part of Salzburg.
On the right is the entrance to one of the most beautiful places in Salzburg, the Mirabell Garten. It’s a huge park with artful paths, fountains and statues and when I entered I got a surprise: a wedding was in full swing. Who doesn’t adore to see the happy couple in their great outfit, surrounded by their guests in the most perfect setting imaginable and, the crowning glory, brilliant sunshine. A horse drawn carriage was waiting to whizz them away and I silently sent them my best wishes.
A wedding in Salzburg's Mirabell Garten
Somehow the wedding had put me into a festive spirit too and when I came to the Salzach, Hotel Sacher caught my eye. I couldn’t resist a stop at the legendary hotel and to sit down in the café and sample a Sacher Torte with Einspänner (coffee with milk).
Sacher Torte and Einspänner
You can either sit outside on the terrace facing the river or, as I did, inside, because I just love the old-fashioned atmosphere. It seems that time has stood still since Salzburg’s poets, journalists, writers and other celebrities stopped by here on a daily basis to see and be seen. As is documented by the Wall of Fame with its many signed photographs. Certainly a touch of glamour in this place.
Cafe Sacher's Wall of Fame
Salzburg and Mozart go hand in hand and I looked at the composer’s birthhouse and the place were he lived, both small museums today with period furniture and many memorabilia. Listen closely and you may hear the strains of Die Zauberflöte (the magic flute) if only in your imagination. You can’t possibly leave Salzburg without buying a box of Mozartkugeln. I never found out if they are called this because he actually liked them or whatever else the reason is.
A box of Mozartkugeln in the shape of a violin-what else?
Crossing over a foot bridge into the old part of Salzburg I happened upon a beautiful flower shop. Tiny side streets and alleys criss- cross this part of Salzburg and each one is dedicated to something else. One is called Goldgasse and features jewelry shop after jewelry shop, another has art galleries and antiquities and so on.
An intersting clock in Salzburg
I had every intention of climbing up to the mighty Burg(Festung Hohensalzburg) towering over Salzburg, but got distracted by all the things to look at and admire around the Domplatz, like the Residenz, a quirky clock, fountains and dirndl shops. When I discovered a pretty boutique hotel in the Goldgasse called Hotel am Dom which is quite reasonably priced (EUROS 90 for a single room in high season) I knew that I could come back and tackle the climb to the Festung another day.
Reception Hotel am Dom
Sunshine, a wedding, Mozart and Sacher torte, I couldn’t have hoped for a better combination to enjoy a perfect summer day in Salzburg.