Things I learned today: First, that it is possible to put put so many precious stones and pearls on an object that it ends up looking cheap. Second, that no matter how many plates you own, you can still be sad.
The Spanish relatives flew in last night to meet us. Now I know that it’s just ridiculous superstition, but they do seem to leave a trail of damage in their wake that makes Ana being a doctor very useful. In this case Callum fell on the stairs in the apartment and has a nice range of cuts and bruises to show for it.
This morning we set out to see some of the highlights of Vienna. The Treasury was pretty amazing and pretty depressing in equal measure. On the one hand there were crowns and robes that were hundreds of years old – some dated back to the year 800 and that was stunning. But on the other hand there were objects so encrusted with jewels that they ended up looking like tourist tat. And then there was the question: How much suffering did the obscenely expensive crosses and alter-pieces represent?
We also went to see the apartments of the Empress Elizabeth, or Sissi as she was known. She was much like the Princess Dianna of her day. She was famous and, by her own lights, very sad in spite of living enclosed in luxury. The first part of the museum is just case after case of table-settings, and plates ,and silver-ware: it’s hard, or impossible, to contemplate any use for that many plates.
Along the way we had cakes in cafes and did some shopping in the local supermarket. Supermarkets always give a taste of life in a place – in this case that you can buy sauerkraut by the scoop out of a barrel.
This evening Jennifer and Declan have popped across the road to see the Magic Flute at the Opera House. The rest of us had stir-fry and played with the girls.