TRAVEL THERE: COMING DOWN OFF MY DECORATIVE ARTS HIGH
So we’re in Vienna on Viking’s Danube Waltz Cruise. I’ve just been through the Silver Collection of the Hofburg’s Imperial Apartments and my excitement level is at about 27 out of 10. The Hofburg allows you to take all the photographs you want in the Silver Collection, but you have to put your cameras away for the Sissi Museum and Imperial Apartments, so you’re imagination (or the internet) will have to provide the visuals.
The Sissi Phenomena
Austrians love their Empress Elizabeth and I can’t exactly figure out why. Her story starts out pretty well. Beloved daughter of obscure Bavarian royalty enjoys an idyllic childhood. In her early teens, she tagged along on a trip with her big sister, who was being checked out by the Crown Prince of the Hapsburg Dynasty as a potential mate. Once old Fredrick laid eyes on Elizabeth, big sis was toast. Within days, Freddy and his “Sissi” were engaged, to the extreme joy of everyone in Europe, with the exception (perhaps) of big sis.
A few days later, the story changes. Sissi is a drama queen. She starts wringing her hands and emoting all over her diary. Poor pitiful princess finds being adored a real challenge. The rest of her life is one big panic attack. I’m sorry. I’m not suggesting panic attacks aren’t serious, but Little Miss Sissi makes a career out of them. Pretty much her whole life can be summed up by the famous Garbo line, “I want to be alone.”
Now the woman’s life was punctuated by tragedies, but she’d already cast herself as the Queen of Melodrama long before any of them occurred. By the time her son committed suicide, mama was already far along down the road to nutcase. This is a woman who spent three hours on her hair each day and she thought her most important duty in life was to keep her eighteen inch waist. No wonder her son was desperate for female affection and committed suicide when his mistress was going to be taken from him.
In spite of her complete failure in the wife and mother department (she did give birth to several children, but then promptly ignored them) she was adored by her rather stick-in-the-mud hubby and idolized by her subjects. I just don’t appreciate all her hand-wringing. I prefer somebody like Empress Maria-Theresa, who gets out there and does something more with her life than fix her hair, watch her waistline and write dreadful poetry.
So, with the opinion I have of the woman, you can imagine I was not thrilled with the “Sissi Museum” section of the Imperial Apartments. It was interesting to see some of her clothes and other personal items, but I would have been happy with a small sampling, instead of room after room of Austrian swooning.
The Imperial Apartments at the End of the Trail
By the time we actually reached the Imperial Apartments I was worn out. We’d been through the excitement of finding our own way to the Hofburg from our longship via Vienna’s underground and Graben Strasse. I’d exulted over every item in the extensive Silver Collection and then been held hostage by the Sissi Fan Club, but we weren’t finished. Now we entered the actual Apartments all tricked out as they had been during the reign of Emperor Fredrich and his tragic Empress Sissi.
Confession, I was underwhelmed. Yes, they were beautiful apartments exquisitely furnished, but it just wasn’t my taste. I much prefer Schonbrunn Palace or the delightful Linderhof. Maybe if I had liked Sissi more or hadn’t been so overwhelmed by the Silver Collection, I might have enjoyed the Imperial Apartments more, but that’s the way it goes. All three sections are included in the price of admission, so check them all out, but if your time is limited and you love Decorative Arts, spend your time at the Silver Collection!
So where did we go next on our rainy day in Vienna. Come back next week and find out.