Saturday, September 16, 2006

Yet more of this Europe nonsense?

Florence -- The David is most certainly a sight. Celeste and I just sat there and looked at it for 15 or 20 minutes. It was a peaceful setting and an enchanting statue. I wasn't that thrilled going in, but it really did affect me more than I thought it would. (I could have done without the $15 entrance fee). The Uffizi gallery had a lot of Boticelli works that were cool. The Birth of Venus was one. Also there was a Caravaggio work of Judith and Holofornes that I liked. The coolest thing about the Uffizi was the Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit. They had 3 paintings by him, and a whole special exhibit dedicated to his life and his workshop. It showed all the awesome things he invented and thought up. He was an incredibly gifted and inspired man.

Venice -- Venice was very romantic. We enjoyed just riding the boat taxi down the main waterway. The most fun was feeding the pigeons in St. Mark's Square. Seriously, best $2 we spent the whole trip. The birds would fly up to your hand or shoulder or head just to get a peck at the birdfood. It was super fun. There were millions of them too. At night in the square, the restaurants have live bands that play classical music and you can wander and enjoy them. Very romantic. Oh, and by the way, we spent like $100 buying Gelato. We bought it as much as we could. It's simply delicious.

Salzburg -- Celeste went nuts here because of the Sound of Music ties. We took pictures in 3 or 4 spots where the movie happened. The city is basically now a living monument to Mozart. They have mozart concerts all over town. The castle (which we unfortunately didn't see) has concerts, and in all the churches. What we did do was see the Opera "Abduction from the Seraglio" by a cast of marionettes. It was very entertaining. I really enjoyed it (even though it was all in German, with very few english subtitles). It was neat to see all the different things they could do with the puppets.

Prague -- Downtown Prague is very unique. All the buildings are pastel colored. The city has a lot of Art Nouveau architecture along with Rococo and a little Gothic. There was a clock tower that was supremely intricate and precise (particularly for its time). We went into another cathedral and saw some really beautiful stained glass windows. The colors were so vibrant. Here we also visited the Jewish sector of town. It was very interesting. We saw a Jewish graveyard, where bodies were just buried on top of previous graves. There were 3 or 4 synagogues that had info about the Czech Jews. One was a memorial to all the Czech Jews that died in WWII. ALL their names were written on the walls of the synagogue. The place flooded a couple decades ago, so they went back and re-wrote all the names. Touching place. The most interesting to me was what life was like for the Jews in the ghetto, and what caused them to get persecuted and killed. They were a prosperous people that helped nobles and kings alike, but catholic intolerance and economic pressures gave them all sorts of trouble. Eg. when transmogrification became an official Catholic doctrine (the belief that the sacrament wafer and wine actually turn into the REAL body and blood of Christ after it is blessed) there were rumors spread that the Jews were desecrating the sacred wafers. That caused pogroms and deaths, etc. There was even a law made that allowed only the first child of Jewish families to get married. It was incredible what lengths people went to for racial/cultural discrimination. Hiss and a by-word indeed. Also in Prague we saw what is termed a Black Light Theater. Basically everyone on stage is dressed up in complete black outfits and a black light shines on stage to illuminate neat things. So props come out and appear floating in air, they do special effects tricks to show light and colors in a new way. They had a girl on a wire flying around. It was interesting. I bet Adam and Anjilla would have liked it alot.

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