It took us awhile to figure out was going on. We were on our way to the Hofburg Palace, where one of the largest family dynasties of Europe, the Hapsburg’s, ruled the Austrian Empire, pre WWI, when I kept seeing more and more men and women in military dress the closer we got to the palace. Then it kinda exploded and there were hoards of people. By the time we got to the palace grounds, not only were there mass military people, but now tanks, equipment and military demonstrations. There was also an area for the kinder (children) with huge blow up rides. We had no idea what was going on aside from it looked like some big military propaganda fair. There was also an area with “fair food”, which was very different than in the U.S. in that everything was not fried. It looked more healthy, as healthy as fair food can get that is. There were pretzels (Brezels in german), sausages, roasted chestnuts, mustards, corn, roasted (not fried) potato slices, etc. I only saw one cotton candy place and it came in much smaller quantities. Come to find out, what we had ran smack into was a national holiday. It was Osterreichischer Nationalfeiertag! Yeah! Now you say. “What”? And I say, “I didn’t know at the time either”, aside from that it meant that today all the museums that we wanted to go to were over half off. Now you say, “Yeah for you!!!” We later found out that this holiday started on 10/26/55 after WWII. It was when Austria (Osterreich in German) declared neutrality so the Allied forces of WWII and the Russians would finally leave their occupied country. It was made part of the constitution of Austria and part of international law. I am not quite sure what declaring neutrality has to do with demonstrations on tanks and fighter helicopters and shows on water purification and ads to join the Austrian military along with alot of rock bands playing in the background has to do with neutrality, but perhaps one of you could explain that to me. Anyway, I was still OK with the nearly free museums today!
So we tried to take full use of our “discount” and ended up seeing three museums today. First was the National Treasury where the jewels of the Hapsburg’s were stored. It was once again a museum where I got to look at precious stones so big that they don’t look real. Then we were off to the Natural History Museum to mainly see the Venus of Willendorf statue which is this little clay thing that is 25,000 years old and supposedly one of the oldest things hand-made things that exists. It was supposedly a model of fertility and sexy-ness. Judging from all her rolls though, God please don’t ever let me get that “sexy”. Also in this museum were a large collections of rocks and minerals, I.e. quartz, malachite, bauxite, etc. There was also the largest collection of taxidermy’d animals and insects that I have ever seen. And we aren’t talking like little things, there were huge giraffes and hippos and lions. It was very creepy. It started to feel like I was Noah inspecting all the creatures. The weird thing though was that even though they were stuffed, they were all in lifelike poses looking at me. They were also behind glass in a “natural” setting, like they are at the zoo. Freaky man! Last on our museum list was the Kunst Historisches Museum with alot of artwork. We were both so exhausted by the other museums tough that it took a coin toss to convince us that we needed to see it. We went fast, but saw a alot of cool artwork, none of which I can clearly recall at the moment. LOL Oh well, Happy Osterreichischer Nationalfeiertag to us!