Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bosch was the last thing we did in Vienna.

It was the last thing we did in Vienna, after mass at Stephansdom and one last café of significance. The mass was conducted in the local language, leaving me ample uninterrupted time to consider two major questions: exactly how many statues are there in that one cathedral? (Well over one hundred, but an exact count would require binoculars and moving around.) And how to keep my nose warm? Stick it into a bowl of nuked raw rice, which is how I warm up my fingers? Or create a knitted nose hat, not unlike the beaky nose-cones filled with sweet herbs worn by doctors during the Black Plague? Not unlike something that might be worn in a Boschian version of hell? Having solved neither question we headed to the Café Sperl. In 1988 and again in 1999 it was rated the best coffeehouse in Vienna, whatever that means, but I still preferred our Café Grienstadl. The plan was to walk back from Café Sperl to our Airbnb on Langskongasse and then take an Über to the airport, getting us there ridiculously early for our flight back to Frankfurt, but we were still traumatized from having missed our flight to Vienna five days earlier, necessitating an eight-hour train ride. A perfectly fine train, but still.
And still, we had not seen Vienna’s Bosch. Had we not seen Klimts and Schieles beyond count, and Bruegels, Arcimboldos, Rubens, Titians and a Vermeer? When is enough art too much art?
Not yet.
I realized I couldn't bear to leave Vienna without gazing on the Last Judgment. We ran around the corner to the Gemäldegalerie. We paid our fee and and ran through the galleries to the one and only Last Judgment. And there it was: the turbaned man with no torso and a lizard’s tail; the dragon leering at the naked Eve; red devils cooking and being cooked; the pierced egg with two legs; heads with feet and only feet; blue creatures playing flutes. It was all there, and so much more. Nobody could imagine the creepiness of Hell quite like Bosch.

Bosch was the last thing we did in Vienna.
Of course we got to the airport too early. We could have spent much more time contemplating the tortures that await us in the afterlife. We could have spent time in the gift shop where they sold ingenious figurines of assorted Bosch creepy creatures. (I already have one, and I know that Reine covets it.) At the airport there was time to finish the final pink pussyhat for Anna in Berlin. And eat Mozart chocolates filled with praline. We even made the plane.

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