Sunday, 4 November 2018

Blanket as it now stands

The colors aren't quite right, but here is the state of the most recent knitting project:

Sunday, 28 October 2018

The Stift Melk

We had the opportunity to tour the monastery and took a tour, went to mass in the church and visited the museum and the library. In many of these places photos are not permitted, so I have compiled a bunch of photos from the internet. Wikipedia has many such photos in their commons- and since taking pictures was not allowed any other photos are most likely photos tht somebody took illegally. Some images are from the website of the monastery itself. (I'm covering Melk before our trip to Vienna).

We celebrated mass in the church and had ample opportunity to contemplate the churches' beauty while listening to a very inspiring sermon about being open to and tolerant to the new people entering Austria. 

When you enter the church all the barock decor can be a bit overwhelming. As you sit and listen, you start to pick out details of things, like the sensuous wood of these misericordia.

or the carving on these pews.

In 1783 the church again experienced change from what was known as Josephism. The emperor Jospeh II called all the priests to be brought to Vienna and trained in the ideas of the time: including enlightened absolutism.

Here (abovve) are the pipes of the organ.

This (above) is the departure of Peter and Paul.
Below is the alter of St. John

Here is an absolutely beautiful pulpit.

Below you can see a reliquary with a saint enclosed in a case. 

 And here is the altar in all of its magnificence. (Or as close as you can get in a photograph.)

One must not forget to look up either.

The ceilings are beautifully painted in proper Barock-style.

The cupola is also gorgeously decorated. (Of course).

If you cannot leave that church a better person than you went in, then there is something very wrong with you.

The museum is quite informative and again one cannot take pictures, but I found this one on line.  What I love about the museum is the mirrored walls that allow the Barock items to seem like they are amongst dozens of similar Barock items. It makes the space seem barock even though it is a plain room.

This is the entry which details the founding of the monastery. The rolling floor, I think, represents the ups and downs of the monastery's history.

The tour of the abbey took us through  a variety of rooms. I like this hallway because there is a remnant of the romanesk structures here with the barrel vaulting and rounded arches.

Hereis th famous marble hall.

The mural from 1731 shows Pallas Athena (the Greek goddess of wisdom ) and Hercules (showing his might) in an allegroical reference to the Emperor Charles VI.

Here is a better shot from Wiki commons by Alberto Fernandez Fernandez.

Outside the hall is a wonderful panoramic view of the area.

What impressed me the most of course, was the library.

Again we were not allowed to take pictures, so these are from Wiki, but it just felt so "enlightened" inside being surrounded by all the knowledge of the 1700s! 
There was also this cool clock from the 1800s 

It is called the Bad Ischel clock and was built around 1801, I think.

There was more than one library room, with one feeling more dark and masculine and the other feeling more gilt and rococco.

Pictures are certainbly not a good substitute for the experience itself, but at least these can help us remember a bit of what we saw!


I teach at a Benedictine College and it was particularly exciting for me to get a chance to come to Melk, because my institution has a close connection to this amazing monastery. I was fortunate enough to even get to stay in the monastery guesthouse, while some of our group stayed instead in the town below.

Even with the lousy weather Melk is a captivating place.

One of the first places that a few of us visited was a yarn shop in the town. It had great selection and was fun to see.

We barely made in time - town was pretty desserted.

The monastery is on a large hill and you have to climb up to reach the barock portal.

Originally built in 1089 as a final resting place for the Babenberger dynasty (who ruled from the 900s to about 1246), Melk has a long exciting history including sheltering the Bishop of Passau and struggling against the onslaught of Mathew Corvinus. (Remember him Underworld fans?!) In 1566 because of the reformation the monastery was was in particularly dire striaghts having dwindled down to three priests three clerics and 2 lay brothers. Fortunately Melk was chosen as a place to model the new counter reformation practices and so a school was built based on the jesuit model and a massive remodelling and restructuring began. The new Abbot Berthold Dietmayr appointed architect Jakob Prandtauer in 1700 and Melk began to take on its now familiar Barock character.

We had a lovely evening in the common room on the evening of our arrival.

The halls of the guest house are festive - the murals on the left describe the life of the prodigal son.

My room was very pleasant. It would have been a lovely place to meditate and enjoy peaceful contemplation, but of course there was no time for any of that.

Here is the Koloman fountain  in the Rathaus square. The story of Koloman is sad. Colman was an Irish pilgrim on route to the holy land. Because of his unusual dress he was captured and accused of being a spy and hung in 1012 along with some robbers. He spoke no German, so he could not explain himself. later he was made a saint (probably due to the remorse of the villagers?).

Here you can see the "Stift" and how it dominates the town from above.

One of my favorite pictures from this trip is this guy down in the Town square.

IN the evening we had a lovely meal. First sitting outside waiting for our table and then enjoying the hospitality of the town in the restaurant inside.

Here we are with a host family known by a couple in our group.

Und Am Ende Österreich

So as we neared the end of our trip, we headed to what our leader and guide referred to as the promised land: Austria. We had our last breakfast in the Balkans and then headed towards the border.

Our hotel, the Best Western in Piramida, Slovenia had a great breakfast and a lovely selection of jams and jellies.

The staff wore these cute little berets!

The rooms were elegant ...

and we had a nice view ofthe city out of our window.

The weather for departure was lovely - unflortunately it didn't remain that way, but we gloried in the nice weather while we had it.

The Steiermark has lovely wooded roads and a great wine-growing region.

The sign above tells us that we are in a Nature Park in the South Styrian wine country.

We stopped at a local vintner to try their wares. Here we all are preparing for the experience.

Talk about people who live in glass houses! You can't really see it in the top photo, but the windows are also filled with hundreds of bottles waiting to be filled with winey goodness.

The tasting room was cheerful with vibrant wine-themed murals!

Those of us that opted to taste gathered in the room and got a great education in the different kinds of Austrian wine.

Below is a picture of our host and Sommelier.

We examined the nose and legs of the wine.

And came out  much happier than we entered if not necessarily more knowledgeable.
Our next stop was Gasthaus Polz for a splendid lunch and some more specialty wines.

The gardens were lovely. This one is a traditional herb garden next to the main building.

Across from the house you could see the fields for the Weinbau.

The entrance was festive even though the sky had decided to cloud over.

Someone was a glass artist and had decorated the outdoor garden with his/her work.

On a sunny day, it would have been magnificent to sit outside and enjoy a glass of wine.

But the inside was equally attractive. Decorated in the Volktradition, there were wooden tables and chairs.

We quite filled the room and were served lovely wines and big platters of cold cuts.

Along with the platters came good, solid peasant bread - the best bread in the world!

Outside the farm animals waited for the tourists who would inevitable want to feed them.

There was no question that we were now in Austria with the smart, cleanly kept buildings and dark evergreen trees. 

All too soon it was time once again to get into the bus and head towards our next destination.

The landscapes were stunning and the clouds made them even more dramatic.

Towards evening we reached our final destination  the Monastery in Melk.