By day 5 I was tired. I’d walked, I’d explored, I’d eaten, and I needed to rest. I stayed inside most of the day and watched Netflix and wrote in my adventure diary. In the afternoon, I did my favourite thing: I got tattooed. I went to Dot and Daggers Tattoo (https://www.dotsanddaggers.com/) and they were able to fit me in last minute. I’d booked in a session with them in November, but it got cancelled when they went back into lockdown. The shop was my favourite type of shop: good music, friendly staff and amazing artwork. I got a hummingbird skull and some flowers to go with the desert happening on my arm. It was worth every second.
My last day in the city was a sunny and warmish day, so I spent the day in the park. But not just any park. The park at the Schönbrunn Palace. This was the summer palace for the Habsburgs. According to Wikipedia:
The 1,441-room Rococo palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historic monuments in the country. The history of the palace and its vast gardens spans over 300 years, reflecting the changing tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs. It has been a major tourist attraction since the mid-1950s.
I bought a new duck and ended the day finding an old mosaic of a cow and a wolf playing backgammon. According to Atlas Obscura:
IN THE 15TH CENTURY, ENEA Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini, better known later in life as Pope Pius II, described all the fine houses of Vienna as being painted inside and out with fabulous scenery. Like the marginalia found in illuminated manuscripts, the houses would have featured religious and historic portraiture, along with some humorous imagery for good measure.
These medieval murals have mostly been destroyed by time, but one, of the humorous variety, can be seen today on a house in Vienna’s historic center. The facade of the Hasenaus (“Hare House”) features a wolf and a cow in spectacles engaged in a game of backgammon. Behind the board are the legs of a man, who appears to be holding a fly swatter, perhaps to attend to the players.
One explanation for this absurd scene is that it is an allegory for the political tensions between Protestants and Catholics. It’s not clear who’s winning. Others have suggested that the man behind the game is a furrier eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the game so he can take the hide of the loser.
The wall painting dates approximately to 1509. The house would have been originally been covered with scenes of medieval life, in particular one large motif of a rabbit hunt (hence the name). But when it was refurbished in the 18th century, all but the backgammon game was lost. Luckily, it has been carefully preserved so that Viennese and visitors alike can admire it, wondering what it’s supposed to mean.
The mural was down an unassuming side street, and I am glad that I detoured to find it. I returned to Scotland feeling like I’d had proper time off, got some good culture and allowed myself to separate from my work for a bit. It was a really good way to end my 34th year.
Totally ready for the next adventure. s