[Day 26] Last day in Europe

Today was the end of my long vacation and I was going to make the most of it. I really wanted to see at least one artwork by Gustav Klimt before leaving Austria so we decided to go see one. We didn’t have time to do multiple museums since my flight back was in the afternoon so we had to pick one. After looking at which museum or palace we should visit, we decided to visit the Belvedere Museum.

This Museum was a former palace and was separated into Upper, Lower, and Belvedere 21 and you had to buy tickets to each part separately. Lower Belvedere featured artwork and artifacts from Middle Ages and Belvedere 21 was for more contemporary art. The Upper Belvedere was the main part of the museum and we decided to visit here since they had Klimt’s work.

I checked out of my hotel and stored my luggage here. Make sure your hotel provides luggage storage service before booking! Some hotels in Europe don’t offer this service for free.

The Museum wasn’t that far from my hotel so I decided to walk. On my way, I passed by the Soviet War Memorial. Europe has gone through so many wars and this was to commemorate the soldiers who fought against the German fascist. There was so much history in every part of the city and I wish I had more time to learn all about them.

After seeing the Memorial, I headed to Belvedere Museum and met up with my brother and sister-in-law. The entrance and the ticketing booth was located at the Lower Belvedere. We had purchased our tickets online and just needed to walked through towards the Upper Belvedere. To get to Upper, you had to walk through the Belvederegarten and this was huge.

I really wished it was spring time because this Garden would have been an sight to see! With all the greenery, flowers, and the fountains, it would be a great place to just relax. However, since it was wintertime, the Garden was rather bare and the fountains were turned off.

As we got closer and closer to the Upper Belvedere, I was really in awe of the building. I really loved the teal dom tops and the symmetrical look. There was a line outside and a museum worker checking the time slots on everyone’s ticket. For Upper Belvedere, all tickets have time slots so if you have a set schedule, make sure you purchase tickets early to get the time slot you want.

The line outside did not take long since we arrived right around our time slot. Once inside, there was another line for security. They checked bags and this took some time. After getting through security, we had to check our bag and coat. It was nice to walk around without any baggage.

We decided to see everything, starting from the first floor and we started with medieval art and it was mostly religious artwork. Lots of statues of Mary and baby Jesus.

Where we mostly spent our time was on the 2nd floor. This was were they had the Baroque, Romantic, and Viennese artist’s artwork and they had a lot more than just Klimt. I actually did not do much research other than that I wanted to see Klimt but the Upper Belvedere surprised me with a famous artwork that I’ve seen in my history textbook for years!

Tada! I know you all know this famous painting of Napoleon. I did not know this was at the Upper Belvedere but it was really amazing to see it in person. The painting was a lot bigger than I expected and it had charisma. Just looking at it, you probably would want to follow him. There were also works by Vincent van Gogh and Monet and these were all good surprises.

Once we entered the Viennese artist section, we saw several tour groups surrounding the first Klimt painting: Judith and the Head of Holofernes. At first, I didn’t even realize that she was holding a head! It seemed so modern and she had so much sex appeal. It was always interesting to see how different artist interpret the same theme so differently.

And right around the corner was the painting I was looking forward to seeing: The Kiss. It was so beautiful. The painting was larger in person and you could clearly see all the details of the gold, silver, and platinum. The way she receives the kiss from her lover and how softly he caresses her. And looking at the different patterns Klimt used on their clothes was great too. Artwork is something you really have to see in person to get the most of it.

Lastly, the 3rd floor featured impressionism and realism. Some of the paintings here were a bit hard for me to understand and there were several pieces that made me tilt my sideways but they were still beautiful art. You couldn’t take any pictures here.

After seeing all the artwork, we headed to the back of the Museum to see every corner of this Museum. The man-made lake and the old Palace building looked so majestic. I really wanted to get the reflective shot that is on the Belvedere Museum website but it was too windy.

Walking around for hours and it being lunch time, we needed to find a place for our last meal together and we ended up at an Italian Restaurant named Pizzeria Pozzuoli. We were pretty lucky to get seated right away. It was a small, hole-in-the-wall sort of restaurant but the food was fantastic and the servers were really nice.

We enjoyed each others company as much as we could before I had to leave first to catch my flight. I was so glad that my brother and sister-in-law surprised me with a visit in Vienna last minute and I was really happy to share this experience with them.

I walked back to my hotel, picked up my luggage, called an Uber, and headed to the airport. The airport was pretty busy but I was able to check in and do some last minute shopping before heading home. This was the longest trip I’ve taken but it was so worth it. I wish Europe was closer to home so I can visit more often!

Until next time!

[Day 3] Full day of City tour

Our first full day in Barcelona together. We were super excited to explore the city. First we headed to Firebug for some delicious brunch. They had variety of cuisines to pick from and also some good brunch drinks. The restaurant was very cozy and the staff were very friendly.

TIP: Most restaurants in Europe are not in any hurry. The staff are slower and they take their time. If you are in a hurry, please let them know.

After our meal, we headed to the Arc de Triomf. The only other Arc I knew was the one in Paris and I was excited to compare the two. The one in Barcelona was smaller in size but quite impressive as well. It’s a reddish terracotta color and it definitely has a presence. The brickwork really stands out and you cannot miss it. It is a gateway into the Ciutadella Park and there were many tourist working through. If you have more time to spend here, I suggest walking through the park.

We decided to skip the park and walked along the path from the Arc towards Santa Maria del Mar. This cathedral was in a residential neighborhood and at first glance, we weren’t sure if we were in the right place. The entrance we saw was the side entrance and did not have any signs. However, once we were inside, we were in awe.

The east end had these impressive pillars and stained glass and we just stood here, taking it all in. There were many student groups on field trips so I knew this was a popular spot. They had a view point that you could climb up but we were ok being at the bottom. We were walking around the cathedral and they started ushering people out. We assumed they might be preparing for a mass.

After leaving Santa Maria del Mar, we decided to walk around the neighborhood. I really liked the multi-purpose buildings were the first floors were shops and the upper floors were residential. Some of the streets were decorated for Christmas.

Following these streets, you will see the Museu Picasso. It was about 20 minute walk and I sort of expected the museum to be on the main street. There were several options for audio tour and I highly recommend the audio tour if you are interested in learning more about Picasso’s life and what and who influenced him.

I had imagined seeing several of Picasso’s artwork including Guernica and Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. However, what I did not realize was that both of these paintings were in a different museum! So if you have artwork you are particularly interested in seeing, see where they are and then pick the museum.

After seeing the museum, we headed towards Barcelona Cathedral. On the way, we saw a Valor, a chocolate cafe. He said that this was a famous brand and that we should get churro and hot chocolate here so we took a short break. It was pretty packed but luckily we found a table. The waitress came to the table and we ordered chuuro and hot chocolate. Eating them on the spot was the best!

The chocolate was closer to a rich, dark chocolate and the churros were crispy on the outside, soft on the inside. So good!! And after finishing the churros, we drank the rest of the chocolate and that was good too. Not too sweet.

After a bit of rest, we headed to Barcelona Cathedral. It was even more grand than Santa Maria del Mar. The Gothic architecture was just divine. Again, we were just speechless walking through the Cathedral. This place also had a viewpoint that you could visit and it even had a little gift shop.

Right outside the cathedral was the Fira de Santa Lucia, a Christmas market. It was bustling with tourist and locals and many of the shops were selling handmade nativity scene pieces. Very different from American city’s Christmas market where there are handmade goods that are not exclusive to nativity scenes and foods and more.

Once we were done looking around, we took an Uber to Barcelona Pavilion. My sister-in-law wanted to see it. It wasn’t too far but it also was not walking distance. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when we got there but it was a small house, very simple. Even the inside was very minimalist with only 4 chairs. But the water basin in the front and the back were great features of the house. If you are into modern architecture, you might like to see this.

After seeing the house, I wanted to stay for the water fountain show, the Magic Fountain, but we were all really hungry so we decided to visit again tomorrow and headed to eat!

We went to Bo de Boqueria, a quint restaurant next to La Boqueria. The market was closed but the restaurants around it were all open. Even during the winter, they had outdoor seating available. We ordered several dishes including arros negre paella, jamon, and of course, wine. When we ordered, we weren’t sure if we ordered enough but the portions were good here and with 2 paella, 1 salad, and 4 appetizers, it was enough for the 5 of us. (€85.90)

After the meal, we were stuffed and decided to walk down the street to see where we would end up. And we ended up walking all the way to the pier! We were on Rambla de Mar. It was practically empty but I really liked that feel.

We walked around the whole place, including the mall area and most of the shops were closed. We just enjoyed the night air and enjoyed each other’s company. What a great way to end the night.