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Showing posts from May, 2005

Vienna, Salzburg and Budapest

  The Kiss by Gustav Klimt from the digital show at the Atelier des Lumieres Everything seems big in Vienna - its buildings, the wide boulevards, its palaces and its art collection. But it has a cozy feel that warms up to you soon after you arrive. Within the old city once surrounded by walls, are many testaments to the power this capital once held. I strolled to church on a Sunday morning and attended mass at the Church of Maria am Gestade, a Neo-Gothic structure that sits above a flight of stairs on Heinrichgasse. The space is small and narrow, so much so that its nave does not run on a straight line from the altar. Nevertheless, this church is still one of the most beautiful and intimate places of worship in Vienna. The size of the art collection at the Kunsthistoriches is formidable but rewarding for the viewer. It appears that the Hapsburgs were serious art collectors. There are Mid-Eastern, Western, and decorative arts on display. (Sadly the Egyptian collection was closed on the

Sensory Overload

Karnak Temple   As the wheels of our plane glided across the runway at Luxor airport, I had the impression we were landing on a bed of sand. Egypt, after all, is a vast desert broken by the Nile River and delta. But rather than steaming Sahara-like temperatures, the chilly air had me buttoning up my jacket. Eyes heavy with sleep, I followed a group of people to a waiting bus where our guide outlined our plan for the day. We were driving directly to Karnak to avoid the hordes of tourists who were surely still drinking their first cup of morning coffee. I was quite unprepared for what I was about to see. Who was Amun for whom the great temples of Karnak and Luxor were built? In the Ban region where the veneration of Amun thrives, the locals refer to him as “The Unknowable Lord” because he represented the hidden life force of the universe. Amun rose in stature to king of the gods when he was later associated with Re, the sun god, for which he was accorded the name Amun-Re. When Amun-Re’s

Sand in my Shoe

Racing out of Cairo toward Giza, I caught a glimpse of the pyramids in the distant horizon. I saw hazy outlines because the Egyptian sky goddess, Nut, had swallowed all but a tiny slice of the sun and the sheer veil of twilight had draped the countryside. Looking out the window, I was surprised to see the looming pyramid of Kufhu (Cheops). It would take another week before I could view these vestiges of the Old Kingdom up close and explore them intimately. For several days we drifted leisurely on the Nile, from Luxor to Aswan, and marveled at the temples and tombs of the kings. Every morning I woke up to a spectacular sunrise and the promise of new discoveries. Our guide would take us to a historical site early in the day and there he would nourish us with interesting vignettes of pharaonic civilization. The evenings were devoted to sampling Egyptian cuisine and colorful local entertainment. Sunrise on the Nile The unhurried and gentle life on the Nile with tremendous views of green ri