Posts tagged ‘the kiss’

June 7, 2011

The Story of ‘The Kiss’ by Gustav Klimt

Detail of Klimt The Kiss at the Belvedere Palace Museum in Vienna

Detail of "The Kiss" at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. (Julia Pelish photo)

[A trip to Vienna was delightful for a lot of reasons, not least of which was the surprise opportunity to speak with the curator of the museum that houses one of the world’s great works of art, “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. Here’s a story on that experience, as published by the Toronto Star on June 6, 2011.]

VIENNA — Unlike the Mona Lisa, which disappoints when you confront it and the crowds gathered around the salle in the Louvre that holds it, “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt surpasses expectations. For one thing, it’s not nearly as celebrated a painting, so public fascination isn’t high to begin with. More importantly, though, it does what a great piece of art is supposed to do: Hold your gaze, make you admire its aesthetic qualities while trying to discern what’s beyond its superficial aspects.

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May 20, 2011

5 Vienna travel tips

St Stephens Cathedral in Vienna

The 137-metre spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral towers over the old city in Vienna.

VIENNA — The capital of Austria is one gorgeous, well-managed place and it’s easy to get around here. You don’t have to be a seasoned traveler to find Vienna comfortable and accommodating. Here are some tips for your trip that may make it more enjoyable than you expect:

  1. Explore the old and new city. Like just about every European city, Vienna features a beautiful historic centre with spectacular architecture and a towering church spire looming over everything. Still, to really see what makes it special, you’ll want to get away from the crowds outside of St. Stephen’s Cathedral and beyond the Ring Road, which circles the old city. The new part of Vienna is filled with cool stores, innovative restaurants and fantastic bars. Check out Schon Schön, Max and Bar a.m.
  2. Save on transit. Vienna has an expansive and diverse public transit system that includes an underground Metro, buses and streetcar/tram system. There’s a quirk that says you have to pay 2.20 euros if you buy your ticket on a tram or bus, but if you purchase an advance ticket it’s only 1.80 euros. You can get those advance tickets at “Vorverkauf” (“advance tickets”) kiosks in the Metro stations and at some tram stops. Also, if you’re traveling on the transit system for only one or two stops, you can buy a “half-price ticket” for just 1.10 euros. Visitors can purchase unlimited-travel passes for a number of time periods; for 24 hours it costs 5.70 euros and for 72 hours it’s 13.60 euros, and you can even get an eight-day ticket (27.20 euros). Thing is, Vienna is so easy to walk — and walking is always the best way to see a city — that you may not need to take transit more than twice a day, if at all, meaning you can stick to the advance tickets and save, or simply opt to stay on foot. When you want to travel to the outskirts of the city, you can purchase a 24-hour pass that can get you to Schönbrunn Palace and Grinzing in one day.
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May 12, 2011

In a battle of Vienna vs. Vancouver, both win

St. Stephen's CathedralVIENNA — Vienna or Vancouver? What’s the better city? They duel annually for the distinction of the world’s best metropolis to call home. Vienna this year topped the Mercer Index for Top Quality of Life while Vancouver was named The Economist’s Most Liveable City in the world.

I lived in Vancouver for five years (and intend to return to my home there one day) and I just got back from a four-day stay in Vienna. Picking a winner would be difficult. This is Ali vs. Fraser, or Halle vs. J-Lo, or Dom vs. Cristal.

Vancouver wins on scenery, hands-down. Vienna, from what I could tell, comes out on top in standard of living.

Vancouver is a little better on its overall food scene, but Vienna has Steirereck, one of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants. Vancouver has mountains, Vienna palaces. Vancouver has the Shangri-La, Vienna has the new Sofitel, with the hot Le Loft restaurant at the top. Vancouver has Stanley Park, Vienna has the historic village of Grinzig and the forest surrounding it. Vancouver has Granville Island, Vienna the Naschmarkt. And you can go on and on.

When it comes down to it, though, there’s a reason people find these two cities to be so terrific: The atmosphere. In Vancouver, you head to English Bay, Third Beach or the seawall on Coal Harbour and you instantly escape. Vienna relaxes you with its wide streets, friendly people and truly amazing modern art installations, many of which will make you to smile.

Of course, it also has more history than any North American city, with ruins dating to Roman times and churches as old as the 13th century. The art collection from the former Hapsburg empire is loaded with great works, including Vermeers, Rembrandts, Raphaels, van Goghs and Titians. There’s also Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss,” a treasured painting that holds the viewer’s gaze with its beauty and intricate details. The 103-year-old painting is at Belvedere Palace, which boasts a number of other great works.

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