The art history museum is a massive collection of paintings from French, Italian and Dutch masters including several Brügels and Dürer works as well as a very formitable collection of ancient artifacts from Egypt, Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome. We went through 2 of the 3 branches of the museum. The third was closed for the installation of a new exhibition that begins in January.
Lower Belvedere is the smaller of the two palaces on the Belvedere grounds, literally lower than its counterpart at the end of the gardens. Here is housed a large private garden, two collections of artwork, an orangerie, a marble hall, a marble gallery, a "grotesque" room. and a room that Maria Theresa renovated into a "golden cabinet." The two artwork collections currently on display are a showcase of Artwork from Austrian artists from across eastern Europe and Asia, and a comprehensive collection of the work of Carl Schuch, a little known but important artist that preempted modernism with his stylish brushwork and use of color in still life and landscape.
The architectural contrasts in Lower Belvedere showed the jump from Neo-romanticism in the marble gallery and hall, to the vain Rococo of Maria Theresa's "golden cabinet" room.
Lower Belvedere also apparently houses a Treasury with more regalia from the Hapsburg empire, but it is open from (and I kid you not) 10am to 12pm Wednesday through Sunday. Two hours a day. We missed the window by half an hour.
Last on our list of locales today was the Naschtmarkt, an international food market of which my father has fond memories from the years in which he lived in Vienna. The market stretches across two city blocks just below the city centre, and houses a plethora of foodstalls, cafes, restaurants, butchers, vegetable and fruit vendors. We took the opportunity to eat something entirely *not* German or Austrian for a change and my father gave me carte-blanche to pick the restaurant. Unfortunately, with the amount of choices, I was decision-paralyzed for a good half an hour, walking through all the restaurants and snatching up menus trying to figure out what I wanted.
In the end, I picked a Vietnamese restaurant. It was a welcomed change of pace from our food adventures thus far. I had a fish dish with tamarind sauce served with rice and a carrot salad. Dad had a chicken dish of some kind with sauteed veggies. The reason I picked the fish dish was because the fish was a name I had never seen before, but I'll be damned if I can remember what it was now, and I forgot to write it down. The meal finished with a warm coconut soup with bananas and tapica that was the surprise of the day. Really delicious. I hope I can find it again somewhere.
After NaschtMarkt we detoured to the Westbahnhof train station to reserve our seats to Munich on Friday. We're scheduled for two days in Munich, which gives us three days afterward before we have to be back in Berlin. We were told by some restaurant buddies in Berlin that we should try to go to Leipzig, so we may do that or try to go to Heidelburg. The options are still open.
Tomorrow we take a trip to my father's old high school located at the edge of the Vienna woods. Considering our penchant for getting lost on transit systems, I worry for us being able to get there, but dad has pretty detailed instructions and I am *not* going to try and adjust them with my google maps skills this time. We're in his hands.