Tag Archives: Neuschwanstein

Murder on the Orient Express — New Trailer

I posted an item about the new adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express back in June, when the first trailer was released. Today we got a new one.

That earlier posting has a good deal of information about the 2017 version, and a video of the trailer for the 1974 film, as well, so I won’t repeat it here.

Instead, a personal note:

When I was a kid, I had three Dream Trips:  A cruise on the Nile, a ride on the Orient Express, and a visit to Schloss Neuschwanstein.

The inspiration for the first two is pretty obvious. At a certain age, Christie’s books were much more interesting than my earlier favourites, the works of the great Franklin W. Dixon. Her detectives had more depth than Frank and Joe Hardy, too, although, in retrospect, not all that much.

I know now that I’ll never cruise the Nile, because I’ll never go anywhere in the Middle East, for obvious reasons.

The ride on the Orient Express is out as well. The original Orient Express is long gone. Its successor, the Venice-Simplon Orient Express train, tries to remind passengers of the glamour of international train travel in the early 20th century. Its London-Venice trip, leaving at 10:30 AM and arriving at 6:25 PM the next day, costs £2,365 ($3,205). I’m just not that nostalgic.

But one dream came true. I spent Thanksgiving Day 2005 at Neuschwanstein. You can walk up the winding road to the castle in about 30 minutes, or you can do as I did, and pay €5 to be carried up in a horse-drawn carriage.

It was off-season, with few visitors and no lines. Because of the sparse crowd, Neuschwanstein’s tour guides let us linger in the magnificent rooms as long as we wanted.

An unforgettable experience. It was one of the highpoints of my life.


Empress Elisabeth of Austria Rides Again

The girl in the painting would soon become Empress Elisabeth of Austria, the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph I. She gave this portrait to the Emperor for Christmas after the two were engaged to be married. It became one of Franz Joseph’s most prized possessions, and hung on the wall above his bed for 60 years, until his death.

It was sold at auction in Vienna last month for €1,540,000 (US$1,721,643).

It’s curious how people, places, and things you’ve never been aware of can make an unanticipated appearance in your life, and gradually draw you in until they become, at least for a while, a prominent part of your existence. An exhibition of Victorian art at the National Gallery totally altered my views on painting, for instance, and led to an ongoing obsession with the Pre-Raphaelites. A few years ago, my appreciation for The Hunger Games eventually resulted in my spending an entire summer reading nothing but teen dystopia novels.

OK, some unexpected tangents are more rewarding than others.

Until a few years ago, I knew next to nothing about Sisi–sometimes written as  “Sissi”–the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. But then in Vienna, I visited the Sisi Museum and the Imperial Apartments in the Hofburg Complex and did The Grand Tour of 40 (out of 1,441) rooms of the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, the Habsburg imperial summer residence.*

Sisi as Empress

Sisi as Empress

The unconventional and brilliant Sisi has been on my mind ever since. She was a searcher, always looking for something different, something new. She hated court life, and spent months at a time away from the capital, travelling to Morocco and England, Egypt and Corfu, France and Malta, learning languages as she went. She championed the empire’s Hungarian subjects, and they, in turn, idolized her. She was only 16 when she married the 24-year-old Emperor. He loved her passionately; her feelings were less intense.

The more I learn about her, the more I want to know. I just recently discovered that her favorite cousin was another historical figure who has always fascinated me, King Ludwig II of Bavaria, builder of Schloss Neuschwanstein and Linderhof Palace, and patron of Richard Wagner. Researching that relationship immediately landed a spot on my To Do list.

*There are some ravishing pictures of those sites at the links, most of them found on the Net, but a few of them my own. You can also view some pictures of her partially restored apartment in the Museo Correr that I took when I was in Venice this spring.

Charlottenburg Palace

I collect palaces.

Over the last decade or so, I’ve visited Versailles and Neuschwanstein, Schönbrunn and Kensington, Nymphenburg and Linderhof.  For someone whose politics tend to be vaguely leftish, I’m a bleeding-heart Royalist.

So after a great lunch at Schlossgarten, my first stop in Berlin was at Charlottenburg Palace.



Charlottenburg Palace was built at the end of the 17th century as a summer palace for Sophie Charlotte, the wife of King Friedrich I. and was greatly expanded to reflect the varying  tastes of succeeding Friedrichs and Friedrich Wilhelms who ruled during the 18th century.

Like the rest of Berlin,  the palace was badly damaged during World War II.  The audio guide was full of phrases like “the furniture did not survive to the present day” or “was taken to Russia and has not been returned” or “the painting was lost to history.”  The building has been restored, but in many cases the restoration replaced the original baroque and rococo rooms with less elaborate environments.

What’s left, though, is glorious!  Here are some rooms in the palace.  The photos were all found on the Net.

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The pièce de résistance at Charlottenburg Palace is a room called the Porcelain Cabinet, which holds thousands of porcelain objects.  Two images:

Charlottenburg 2


You can find out more about the Porcelain Cabinet and the rest of Charlottenburg Palace in this excellent, picture-rich guide by Rudolf G. Scharmann.   It’s a PDF document, and it’s worth checking out if only for the many gorgeous images.

Into the Hofburg

Meanwhile, back in Vienna…

Hofburg-3d-plan s

The Hofburg Complex

It would take weeks to explore all the attractions of the Hofburg Complex.  On my initial visit, I sampled four of the Complex’s museums.  I started w/the linked Imperial Silver Collection, the Sisi Museum, and the Imperial Apartments, then finished the day at the Imperial Treasury.

The Imperial Silver Collection gives you an idea of what it was like to dine w/the Hapsburgs.  It contains, among other things, thousands of table centerpieces, serving implements, and pieces of tableware and porcelain.  It’s some indication of the immense wealth of the Hapsburgs that even their formal dinnerware is enough to fill a museum.

Silver dishes Silver set
The Imperial Silver Collection had a subtle little effect on me:   Since I returned from Vienna, I’ve been using the Haviland Limoges instead of my everyday dishes.

The Sisi Museum shares a gift shop with the Imperial Silver Collection.  “Sisi” was the Empress Elisabeth, who is still, more than 100 years after her assassination by an anarchist, a legendary and romanticized figure in Austria and Hungary.  Her place In Austro-Hungarian history is rather similar to that of Princess Diana in British history.

She was a free spirit who detested court life and was hugely popular with the “common” people, especially the empire’s Hungarian subjects, who idolized her.   She traveled widely, from England to the French Riviera to Corfu, spending months away from Vienna.  She went to Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, and Malta, learning languages as she went.

Elisabeth appreciated the arts, and her favorite cousin was King Ludwig II of Bavaria, patron of Richard Wagner and builder of Neuschwanstein.

Sisi Other Sisi Wedding

From there, it was on to the Imperial Apartments.  The Imperial Apartments were the winter residence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth.   The furniture mostly late 19th Century, and the dominant colour is red, with red damask wall coverings and curtains.

This is one of the many reasons I love Europe:   What some people call “Room Porn.”   I’m fascinated by Period rooms, for both their beauty and their fantasy elements.  Visiting–revelling in–the Imperial Apartments was the highlight of my day.

Photography was not allowed, but I found these picture online:

Imperial Apartment 1

Photo from the Imperial Apartment Website.

Imperial Apartment

Photo from the Imperial Apartment Website.

Imperial Apartment 3a

Photo from the Imperial Apartment Website.

My final stop of a v long day was the Imperial Treasury.   I’ll let the objects there speak for themselves.

Holy Roman Empire - Reichskrone 1024 - 1039

Photo found on the net.

This is the Crown of the Holy Roman Empire.

Ceremonial Robe of the Order of St. Stephen

Photo found on the net.

Ceremonial Robe of the Order of St. Stephen.

Crown of the Austrian Empire

Photo found on the net.

This is the Crown of the Austrian Empire.