Travel now gets tricky since Judith crosses multiple borders of Eastern Europe.
Day 127: From Trieste, Italy to Ljubljana, Slovenia takes about 2.5 hours by bus leaving at noon. Ljubljana is one of the smallest capital cities in Europe, a blend of cultures and styles – being at the crossroads of Italy, Austria and Hungary. I can set up home base 15 minutes from the station down Slovenska cesta at Hotel Slon. My goal is a block away: the National Gallery of Slovenia and the work of Pietro Ricchi. The Gallery also houses the restored original of the Robba Fountain, aka Fountain of the Three Rivers of Carniola, representing the three rivers of of the city (Ljubljanica, Sava and Krka) atop the steps representing the Carniolan mountains. A guard was placed next to it for many years during night hours because the marble was so expensive – but not as expensive as the costs of bringing it up from the bottom of the sea after the transport ship sank.
Mon: closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am – 6 pm
Across the river in Old Town, I will be tempted to wander the blend of German, Mediterranean, and Slovenian culture with Baroque, Renaissance, and Art Nouveau buildings – watched over by the Ljubljana Castle. I can’t decide whether to arrive via the Dragon Bridge (Zmajski Most) and return via the Triple Bridge (Tromostovje) or the other way around. Probably have to check out the Mestni trg (City square) to check out the replica of the Robba Fountain to see if I can tell the difference.
Day 128: To Budapest, there is one direct train that leaves at 8:50am and arrives at 5:45pm for the 9 hour trip. Almost confused myself because this train arrives at Déli pályaudvar (Southern Railway Station) – not Eastern or Western. Budapest is actually two cities: Buda and Pest, east and west of the Danube respectively. Buda has Castle Hill, Pest has the administrative and business center of Hungary. The M2 subway will take me an easy 6 minutes from the train to Deák Ferenc stop, where I can depart for Le Meridien Budapest. And sleep.
Day 129: In the morning, I can take the M1 from Deák Ferenc to Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square). The square was completed in 1900 and is the site of an iconic statue complex, the Millennium Memorial. This complex portrays the leaders of the seven founding Magyar tribes of Hungary and the seven statesmen who shaped Hungary flanked by Labor and Wealth, Knowledge and Glory, War and Peace. On the left is the Szépművészeti Múzeum (aka Museum of Fine Arts) – the home of Giovanni della Robbia’s Judith in terra cotta. Oh, and it also has more than 100,000 pieces spanning all periods of European art and the second largest collection of Egyptian art in central Europe.
Mon-Thu: 7.30 am – 4.00 pm; Fri: 7.30 am – 2.00 pm
The walk back to the hotel from City Park (Városliget) along Andrássy út boulevard in is supposed to be 30 minute but it is a World Heritage Site. Among the distractions along the way: the State Opera House, the House of Terror (secret police headquarters of the communist era), the Hopp Museum of East Asian Art, and the Ernst Museum of Contemporary Hungarian art. I should also make a slight detour to the Dohány Street Synagogue, the biggest Synagogue in Europe and the most impressive in the world.
Day 130: For a day trip from Budapest, Szekszárd is 2 and a half hours by train. The objective: Wosinsky Mór County Museum – home to Judith by Hungarian artist, Antal Haan.
Sun-Mon: closed: Tues-Sat: 10 am – 4 pm
And while I am in the area, why not drink the local wine, since it is famous in this region. Especially Kadarka, the grape, which made Szekszárd so famous. And i’m not driving.
Day 131: I could take a 2 hour train to Vienna for up to 57 euro – OR a 6 hour hydrofoil on the Danube for 89 euro. Thanks, I’ll take the hydrofoil!! Departing from the Admiral Restaurant at 9 am and arriving at the DDSG Blue Danube office at 3:30 pm, it seems like the perfect way to start my travel in Austria.
Day 132: Vienna sounds so elegant. And Hotel am Konzerthaus seems to personify that. (okay, so there are lots of hotels that personify elegance and the Klimt reproductions in each room are what really sold me). And maybe that’s why i am so excited: Vienna is the home of Gustav Klimt. And just across the park from the hotel is the Belvedere – Upper and Lower – which has the largest collection of Klimt in the world. In The World! Including Judith I, The Kiss and The Beethoven Frieze. As well as the largest collection of Vienna Secessionists. I am expecting that this will take some time – like a day.
every day: 10 am to 6 pm; Beethoven Frieze: Tues-Sun 10 am to 6 pm
Day 133: That gives me a second day to spend at the other museum where Judith resides. Actually, where seven Judith’s reside – maybe even eight? Built to house the collection of the Habsburgs, the Kunsthistorisches Museum is currently one of the most important museums in Europe. The artists I am pursuing here: Bloemaert, Cranach the Elder (two!), Saraceni, Solimena, Varotari, Veronese, and Vouet. And dang, that only covers part of the collection.
Mon: closed; Tues-Sun: 10 am to 6 pm; Thurs: 10 am – 9 pm
And one more: the Leopold Museum. Home to one of the largest collections of modern Austrian art, featuring artists such as Egon Schiele and Gustav Klimt, it shows the artistic transition from the Wiener Secession, to Art Nouveau/Jugendstil to Expressionism. I am here in search of Judith by Koloman Moser, but will be dazzled with the visual display of transformative art history.
Tues – closed; Wed-Mon: 10am to 6pm; Thurs: 10am to 9pm
If time is left, I need to cross the street to the Treasury and catch a peak at the family jewels. Hapsburg family, that is.
Tues: closed; Wed-Mon: 9 am to 5.30 pm
Day 134: 4 1/2 to 5 hours from Vienna is Innsbruck – the entire other side of Austria – located in the broad valley between high mountains. At this altitude (1,883 ft above sea level), the Old Town of Innsbruck sits like a fairy tale village within the snowcapped mountains. And in Old Town sits the Wilten Basilica with “Judith” by Mattheus Guenther on the vault of the nave.
Since it is three minutes from the church, the Hotel Goldener Adler seems like the best place to drop onto down pillows, and then sleep in the next day.