Tuesday, 17 June 2014

de retour

We are back from our pilgrimage to Salzburg Pfingstfestspiele via Munich and then on by train to Dresden and by boat on the Elbe River to Meissen. Beautiful weather all along and maybe a bit hot at 30 C, but I am not complaining after the dreadful and very long winter (4 mo. and 7 days) in Ottawa.

We arrived in Frankfurt and took the train from the train station in the basement of the airport to Munich, you have to give it to the Germans as masters of organization in terms of public transport something we do not seem to understand in Canada.

When in Munich we stay at the Eden Hotel Wolff on Arnulf Strasse 4, immediately across the street from the Haupt Bahnhof, very central and in walking distance of all the sights.

In Munich at the Kunsthalle I went to see the Otto Dix and Max Beckmann painting exhibit World as Myth covering the period of the Weimar Republic 1919-1930. They are both the most important German artists of the first half of the XXth century.  As of 1933 they will be blacklisted by the Nazis as Degenerate non-German artists. This exhibit in Munich has 180 works on display, paintings, drawings and prints from many important museums and private collections. See the website http://www.kunsthalle-muc.de

This year being the Centennial of the beginning of the First World War also known as the Great War 1914-1918, many exhibits around the world are devoted to painters like Otto Dix. At the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa currently on display is an exhibit entitled ''Transformations'' which features his work and that of A.Y.Jackson who was one of the painters of the Canadian War Memorial Fund of Lord Beaverbrook.  Saturday 28 June will be the 100th anniversary of the assassination in Sarajevo of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, the trigger that will provoke an unfortunate series of events leading to the start of the Great War on August 1, 1914.

On this trip I was also reading the book Danubia by Simon Winder, it is the history of the Habsburg Dynasty and their Empire and also that of Holy Roman Empire over a period of 800 years, they ruled both and more, since the Spanish Branch of the Family also ruled the vast Empire in the New World. It was interesting to read this historical book as we travelled from one city to another.

Our destination of course was Salzburg for the music festival which this year was devoted to the works of Gioachino Rossini. Because of the rising cost of attending the Festival we decided to go a different hotel this year and we decided to stay at the Wolf-Dietrich Hotel on Wolf Dietrich Strasse. The hotel is named after the Prince Archbishop who is buried in an elegant mausoleum in the St-Sebastian Cemetery with its church behind the hotel, the entire Mozart Family, with the exception of W.A., and their musician friends the Weber and Haydn are also buried there. It is an excellent hotel and with very good services. See website http://www.salzburg-hotel.at 

Again within walking distance of the Festival Halls and Mozarteum, Salzburg is such a small city that it is very easy to walk everywhere.  We have been going to the Pentecost Festival for some years now and this year we finally took of tour of the different Festival Halls, the Haus Für Mozart, the Grosses Festspiele Haus and the Felsenreitschule. We got a lot of details on how the halls were built inside the mountain rock and on the budget of the Festival etc.... It is basically the former stables and riding school of the Prince Archbishop which as of 1928 were converted into halls for theatre and then music. I will write one entry devoted to the story of the Festival Halls.

We also this year visited the Lake district around Salzburg, there are 72 lakes and we went by boat to St-Wolfgang who is a Bishop of the early Renaissance shown with an axe in hand, looks more like a mass murderer than a Saint really. The village on the lake is quite lovely and features the White Horse Inn which I am told was the sight of a famous musical.

After the Festival we took the train to Dresden the Capital of Saxony, to see the latest reconstructions and renovations including the famous FrauenKirche which is now re-built in its original form.  We also took a vintage 1860 steamboat on the Elbe River and sailed to Meissen for the day to visit the celebrated Porcelain factory and the Albrechtsburg Castle where the process to make porcelain was discovered in the 18th century.  A recipe the Chinese had kept secret for centuries, this enabled the Saxons to develop a lucrative industry. See website http://www.albrechtsburg-meissen.de/en/homepage/

So in the coming days I will write and post photos of our adventures on this European trip.


  1. This means this August is the 100th anniversary of the "Great August Madness"
    we should all act accordingly.

  2. Umm... I wonder, very Freudian in its meaning.