Tag Archive: old


The following day we decided to explore the less crowded areas of Venice.

Although the residential areas weren’t full of towering churches or enticing designer clothes, I ended up liking the quiet streets more and more as we explored them. The ground was dirty, the air smelled like salt water and fish, and the buildings were crumbling, but it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I’m so glad that I was able to get to see Venice, because it really is a very different city.

One thing that I thought was really cool were the wooden posts in the water. Somehow I think they made “traffic lanes” in the water and all the boats seemed to know exactly where they should go. It was also fun to see the water line on the posts showing how high the tide reaches.

On the nights when there was a possibility of rain, which while we were there was every night, the gondolas would be covered in blue covers to keep the fabric on the seats and the inside dry.

The gondola’s themselves were each very unique and very fancy. The all had a little couch in the center and then a few chairs on the side. The fabric was usually a bright red, while the embellishments around the sides were golden.

There were about a million pigeons on the island, perhaps just as many pigeons as there were tourists.

Below is my favorite set of stairs I found in Venice. They looked like they should have lead to something, but only disappeared into the water. There were a lot of stairs that went into the water like this. Most of them are for getting out of boats, but Venice is (or was according to some) sinking, so I like to imagine that maybe there’s something more hidden beneath the water.

For this picture we were walking along a bridge and I just love the way the buildings look like they are floating.

A lot of the walls of the buildings were crumbling like in the picture below. It looked like people had tried to repaired the wall multiple times, but it just continued to fall into disrepair.

There were also a lot of buildings that were obviously uninhabited.

Even some of the nicer places had stains and streaks running down the side of the building.

In many of the courtyards there were these huge wells that were sealed shut. Although I never saw anyone use the wells, which probably don’t work anymore, there were other smaller spouts that constantly poured water and more than once I saw residents walk out and grab some water from the spouts with a bucket.

There were a surprising amount of dogs in Venice. Sometimes it was hard to tell if someone owned them or if they were strays, because there were so many out on the street without a leash or collar. The dog below was just relaxing, while his owner was somewhere inside the building.

There were at least two towers that I saw that looked slightly unstable leaning to one side.

Eventually we wandered over into the Castello district and found the Arsenale. The Arsenal was the shipyard and armory for Venice.

Walls of the Arsenale

After a very long day of exploring we headed back to our room for the night and began to pack for our flight the next day. We all felt a little relieved to be leaving, because we had been on the go from dawn till dusk for about three days, but it was also sad leaving Venice knowing that we had only scratched the surface of things to do and see.

The next day we had to leave the apartment at 11 and although we didn’t have our flight until 7 p.m., we decided to meander through the city towards the bus station. It ended up only taking us about a half hour to walk slowly across more than half the island. Once we arrived at the airport we weren’t allowed to go through check-in until two hours before our flight. By the end of the day we had sat in the airport for seven hours and compared to that our 50 minute flight was nothing!

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Day 23: Touring Venice

The next day we decided that we were going to see all the tourist sites around Venice, but that didn’t mean that we wanted to be surrounded by tourists, so we got up early.

Venice is divided into six districts called sestieri. They are, San Marco, Cannaregio, Castello, Dorsoduro, San Polo, and Santa Croce. There is also a small sliver of an island called Giudecca separated from the rest of the island by Canale della Giudecca. While we were in Venice it became obvious that San Marco and San Polo were the districts with the most tourist and many of the famous buildings.

At eight in the morning there were still quite a few people out on the street, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the day before, so we were able to stop by the Rialto and see the bridge before all the shops opened and the streets filled up.

What the Rialto bridge looks like when all the shops are opened and all the tourists are out and about.

Basically our apartment was in the San Marco district so we didn’t have to walk very far to reach Piazza San Marco.

Piazza San Marco has quite a few attractions, the most noticeable being St. Mark’s Campanile, the bell tower, which juts up into the sky. It looks out of place compared to the low white buildings around it. To the left of the Campanile is the Clock Tower, which rang while we were there and filled the entire square with music. Directly behind the tower is the St. Mark’s, which was very beautiful and an interesting contrast to the rest of the city.

The entire Piazza

The Piazza about halfway to St. Mark’s

The very top of St. Mark’s Campanile

The Clock Tower

While most of Venice is rundown and very old, St. Mark’s is clean, white, and covered in statues. The grandeur of the church really didn’t match the rest of the city. The church has four domes, huge arches and painted murals above the doors. Compared to a lot of the other churches I’ve seen it was a lot more chaotic, with many colors and statues.

Front of St. Mark’s

The right side of St. Mark’s, where we were standing and waiting to get in.

The outside of St. Mark’s was impressive, but inside was even more amazing. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed inside. In fact, a lot of things were restricted inside the church.

Before going in we had to wait in a long line for the church to actually open. After a half hour we finally reached the door, but there was someone there turning away anyone who wore shorts, a large backpack, or a shirt that didn’t cover their shoulders. Lucky for us, Addison knew that this would happen so we were prepared and the line moved quickly as almost every other person was turned away.

Inside, the entire ceiling was gold, it seemed almost sad that such a wonderful and luxurious church was surrounded by so many crumbling buildings. We also made it into the treasury, which had some amazing swords, goblets and stones, from many different times and places.

When we walked back outside I immediately noticed just how many pigeons there were. Although the winged lion represents St. Mark and is Venice’s symbol, I would argue that pigeons are probably the unofficial symbol of the city. They filled the sidewalks, they sat on the sills of every building, they flew through the sky and they slept on every statue they could possibly find. There was more than one time where I had to duck, because a pigeon literally flew right past my face. Although pigeons are in general dirty, I found that they added to the charm of the city.

I noticed that some of the birds were unnatural colors, the one I was able to take a picture of was green, but I also saw blue, red and purple pigeons. I suspect that people catch and dye the pigeons, however I have no idea what it symbolizes, if it symbolizes anything at all.

After the church, we decided to go up the tower. About ten people had to cram into a tiny elevator for the ride up, but the view of the city was worth the awkward ride. To look out over Venice and be able to see the entire island from one spot was breathtaking. All the buildings looked so tightly packed that it was impossible to even see the waterways. From above it was also very easy to tell just how old Venice was, there were no modern buildings and all of the buildings were more or less the same height. Looking down on the city I felt like I could have been standing in Venice hundreds of years ago.

Three of the Four Domes of St. Mark’s

One of the possible views from the tower.

When we returned to the bottom of the tower the Piazza was suddenly teeming with people, so we decided to head away from the San Marco district and explore Dorsoduro. Immediately we noticed how much quieter the streets became and at certain times we were the only people out on the street. It was a very different Venice from the one we’d seen earlier that morning. The buildings weren’t grand, but they had their own special touch to them and the suddenly Venice seemed a lot more like a city than just a tourist destination.

We ended up walking all the way to the tip of Dorsoduro, where the church Santa Maria della Salute is. While we were there we sat on the steps and ate our lunch.

We were basically the only people down on this street, although there were some children playing.

Local children playing soccer in the street.

Soon after we headed back to the apartment, but on the way we encountered a persistent gondolier, who gave us a “discount” on a ride. I say, “discount”, because I really doubt he was giving us a special offer, but he seemed to want to convince us that he was. Usually I would try to avoid such an expensive and obviously overpriced boat ride, but we were in Venice and when would I ever get to ride in a gondola again?

The ride actually ended up being pretty relaxing and it was fun to be so close to the water. The gondoliers are incredibly good at navigating the waterways and I couldn’t believe how close they would get to the walls. Sometimes they even pushed off the wall with one foot to keep from hitting it.

The Rialto from the water.

That night we went out to dinner at a place along the water and we had some authentic Italian wine and lasagna.

Day 16: The Habsburgs, Schönbrunn

I’ve skipped Day 15, because there is nothing much to talk about, but don’t worry I’ll make up the extra post! Friday, was another super hot and humid day. To cool off we went swimming in the Danube after classes.

The following day was a Saturday, so naturally we slept in… just kidding.

I woke up at 7:00 so that I could get ready to catch the U4 (Underground #4) to Schönbrunn. Schönbrunn, meaning beautiful fountain, was the Habsburg’s summer residence, the Hofburg in Vienna being their winter one. Now Schönbrunn is home to a museum and many tourists.

As soon as we stepped off the UBahn it was immediately clear that we had stepped into another world. Most of the other underground stations are hard concrete and slick shiny walls covered in ads, but Schönbrunn’s was classy and old fashioned.

It’s hard to even explain how large Schönbrunn is. Sure, in pictures it looks pretty big, but in truth pictures just can’t capture how massive it really is. Not only is the palace itself huge, but the actual gardens go on forever. Even as I stood in front of the palace it was hard to wrap my mind around the wide open plaza. All I could think was, why in the world would someone NEED this much space? The very simple truth is that no one does, but it sure looks cool.

After about five minutes of walking from the front gates, we finally made it to the steps of the palace.

To either side of the palace there are gardens with trees lining each road and footpaths enclosed by small hedges. There is also a labyrinth and a zoo.

There were millions of roads like the one below, each tree trimmed exactly right and each hedge a perfect square. I could almost imagine the Habsburgs themselves taking a carriage ride or a nice stroll down the road. Schönbrunn was packed with tourists, but it’s so large that it was easy to get away from everyone and find a completely empty part of the garden.

To get to the back of the palace we took a side door and headed around the the left side of the palace. As it turned out we ended up going around the Prince’s personal garden, which is blocked by the towering hedge in the photo below. Although we could see between the hedges every once in a while, the Prince’s garden cost money so we decided to bypass it for the much larger and free garden.

While we were in the gardens for about two hours we were only able to see the area directly behind Schönbrunn palace. We’ve been told by a lot of people that Schönbrunn is a great place to run, because of its open paths and you can basically run in a different part every time and never get bored by the same scenery.

Directly behind Schönbrunn is a rocky area with six symmetrical flower gardens. If you stand on the steps of the palace and look out into the gardens everything lines up. In between the six gardens is the Neptune Fountain, then up the hill is the Gloriette, which was used as a dinning room, but now is a coffeehouse. Part of the building was destroyed by a bomb, but it was fully restored later on.

Neptune Fountain just at the base of the hill.

When we arrived early, around 9:30, the fountain was not on, so I was able to get a great shot of Schönbrunn from behind the fountain.

After admiring the intricate statues on the fountain we headed up the hill towards Gloriette. It was quite the climb, but not too difficult, because the air was much cooler and there was a little bit of wind too. Once we reached the top, the view was amazing. We could see all of Vienna spread out behind Schönbrunn.

Gloriette from afar.

On either side of the entrance to the dining room inside the Gloriette stands a statue with Roman armor, lions and standards (the scepter looking pieces). The standards were a symbol of Roman honor and were always protected in battle. If one was lost it was disgraceful and often Emperors of the Roman Empire would make it their goal to retake the standards if they were lost. The amount of standards this statue has just goes to show how highly the Habsburgs thought of themselves and how connected they were to the Romans.

Inside the Gloriette there is now a small restaurant.

After climbing the hill we headed back down to the labyrinth. The labyrinth in Schönbrunn is not very big and it seemed to be more geared towards children, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard! Although Addison could see over the hedges it was impossible to tell which path was a deadend. It took us a while to make it to the center and finally a little Japanese tourist, standing on a platform high above the maze, took pity on us and pointed us in the right direction. Inside there were three labyrinths. One that was meant to be complicated, another than had fun games and another that had a quiet little resting place in the center.

After we wandered through the gardens we made our way to the zoo, which is supposed to be one of the best zoos in the world. I have to admit, it was a pretty amazing zoo. All the animal’s inclousures were large and made to look just as fancy as the palace itself. It took us another few hours to make it through the zoo and by the time we left everyone was exhausted. We made a promise to come back and see the rest of the garden some other time.

Making my way back, I had the intention of returning to my room and just watching TV or drawing, anything to get off my feet, but that didn’t happen. As soon as I got back and sat down I realized how silly I was being. I was a Saturday, it was a Saturday night and I was in Vienna! It was then that I decided to go out and take more pictures!

****If you would like to know more about the Habsburgs, I’ve found a very cool interactive site that displays their history really well. I’ve linked it at the top under “Habsburgs”, but here is the same link.

The World of Habsburgs

The first day we were in Vienna, before we had left for Dorfgastein, one of our language instructors took us to a food market called Naschmarkt. After being in Vienna for about a week, we finally decided it was time to return to Naschmarkt for lunch.

Naschmarkt is almost like a farmers market. It has the usual stands full of fruit, fresh meat or bread, there are food carts where people can buy their food and then take it away, and there are also more perminent restaurants where people can sit down and enjoy their food right in the market. It’s a great place to get fresh and cheap food.

The most talked about food in Nashmarkt is the Turkish kabobs and dürüms. I ordered a chicken kabob, which was basically a really good sandwich, however, the best part about ordering these dishes is getting to see them prepared. Both the lamb and chicken are placed on vertical spits, which they then cut the meat off of to put in a sandwich. Somehow this makes the chicken extra delicious. They also add some sort of sauce, tomatoes, onions and the optional chile spices.

After lunch I had a lot of free time after my first lesson and before the next one started, so I decided to go exploring.

I feel like I’ve already been here a long time and yet its only been 14 days. I thought I had seen everything there was to see in the vicinity of the Institute. I know where Stephansdom is, where all the good places to eat and shop are, where the Opera is, where my house is. What else could I possibly need? My explorations today showed me just how wrong I was.

Just around the corner from the Institute there is not only a really great hotdog stand, but also the Albertina, an art museum. Below the museum is a fountain that’s a great place to sit and watch the tourists walk by.

If you head down the road on either side of the fountain you can climb the stairs up to the Albertina and also see the huge statue of one of Austria’s emperors Franz Joseph. From above he looks regally out over the bustling streets of Vienna as if he still commanded its people.

After climbing the steps to stand below Franz Joseph’s statue, I noticed that there was an entire park behind the Institute and two other huge buildings! How could I have missed this? From my vantage point I could only see the bright green rooftops and so I quickly headed down to explore a whole new area.

What I found was probably the largest library I’ve ever seen. In front of the library was a nice park where people were reading and sunbathing. I definitely want to return to this place and actually go inside when I have more time. It’s impossible for me to resist any place that holds so many books.

The entrance to the square is guarded by a double-headed eagle. It is the symbol of the Habsburgs and it is also associated with the Byzantine Empire. It’s a symbol that can be seen often around Vienna.

After wandering around the Institute, I decided to visit the resting place of the Habsburg family. The day before, our Professor had pointed it out to us, but we hadn’t had time to visit it. The Imperial Crypt is called Kaisergruft and is below the Capuchin church. It contains over 100 bodies of the royal family, some of the more well-known names being Franz Joseph and Maria Theresia.

Below is Franz Joseph’s tomb with his wife Elisabeth and his son Rudolf.

Many of the caskets were both simple and elegant. Others were huge, with human sized statues of angles, skeletons and cherubs. The artistry that went into making those tombs must have been amazing and awe-inspiring to say the least. I took a lot of pictures of the different tombs and quite frankly got a little lost on the names, even when there was a plaque explaining their relationship to one another.

There were multiple rooms that the caskets were set in. Some of the rooms were filled with up to ten or fifteen caskets, while others had only one or two. Some of the rooms were also hidden way back in the corner where only one or two caskets could be seen.

Many of the tombs were swimming in symbolism. The ones below were some of the most intricate tombs in the entire crypt.

Going through Kasiergruft was something I’ll always remember. The tombs made me feel small and insignificant. The Habsburg’s power was blatantly stated in the bronze crowns, the angels, the small floral flourishes. I was in the presence of royalty and even in death the Habsburgs did not want me to forget.

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On a different note, after I returned to the Institute we took a trip to the Prater, which is a small amusement park with a grass park out front. It was one of those amusement parks that didn’t have the latest rides or even the fastest one, but there were no lines and it seemed to be a very nice place to simply hangout if you didn’t want to take a ride on anything. In September they also put on Oktoberfest out on the grass and we’ve been told it’s a must go.

The Prater also has a ferris wheel that goes around very slowly, but the cart is large enough that you can rent it and have a part inside with catering and everything.

We didn’t have time to actually try any of the rides, but most of us in the group have already chosen what we want to do when we return.

Photo Tutorials

After talking so much about the downside to photo manipulation, I thought it would be a nice contrast to talk about the upside. Lately, it seems like the damaged look of old photos has come back into style. Therefore, I’ve gathered a few fun tutorials that will give photos a vintage look.

The first two tutorials I chose demonstrate the HDR effect. I love the way HDR looks on a photo, especially the way it changes the sky and makes the clouds more defined. The first of the tutorials shows how to create the HDR look with three* photos in different exposures. This is the best way to do it. However, sometimes there’s no access to three* photos, so the second tutorial shows how to fake the HDR effect.

For the HDR effect I used an original photo taken from the top of the Empire State Building. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take two different photos for an HDR effect, so for my photo I used the fake HDR tutorial. It didn’t turn out quite the way that I wanted it to, but I love the colors and the clouds. In reality, any Photoshop effect takes a lot of tweaking and even little adjustments can make a big difference.

The next tutorial I found was one that I call the “old effect”, basically it makes the photo look washed out and cracked from old age.

The second group of photos are the Parliament Building in Victoria Canada. I thought this building was very majestic and it would fit well as an old photo. Again, I made a few changes from the tutorial, but I like the overall effect.

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Lastly, there are two other tutorials that I think would be fun to play with. The first is giving a photo a green tinted vintage look. The second tutorial shows how to give photos a gritty effect and define the lines and wrinkles in a person’s face.

I hope you’ll enjoy exploring and playing with some of these effects as much as I did.

*4/11/12 EDIT: I wrote two instead of three here. HDR actually needs three photos. One underexposed, one overexposed and one with the correct exposure.