First, my thoughts all day have been with those in Texas in the path of Hurricaine Rita.  I haven't been online since leaving Bucharest this morning, so at the moment, I'm unaware of the situation.  I'm anxious to get to the Vienna Airport and get back online, that's for sure.

There is no great way to get from Bucharest to Umag, Croatia.  I am travelling to the next IBM event with my colleague Radek, so it made sense for me to meet up with him on a Vienna-Ljubljana flight.  Upon our arrival in Slovenia, Radek is going to do the driving on into Croatia and to tomorrow's event.  I'm up-in-the-air about my schedule after that -- the party in Paris has been rescheduled, and after spending the last five hours in Vienna, I'm strongly tempted to come back here for the weekend.  We'll see.

In the meantime, I visited a few parts of Vienna that I missed during my last visit in October, 2003.  I'll write more once I post photos, but for the moment, let's talk about Karlskirche.

Image:Karlskirche and an unexpected fear of heights
The church's interior is undergoing a fantastic rennovation, including the Johann Michael Rottmayr frescoes.  The rennovation project included the interim installation of an elevator and a platform, high up in the church's dome.  Generously, they allow church visitors to visit this restoration area.
Image:Karlskirche and an unexpected fear of heights

wouldn't begin to describe what it is like to be able to view church dome frescoes at eye level.  The artwork literally leaps off the surface -- only the inclusion of one of the platform's support poles gives this picture perspective on where it was shot.

Image:Karlskirche and an unexpected fear of heights

Thing is, the excitement doesn't end there.  The church has built a temporary staircase up from the restoration platform into the church's dome.  Obviously, the view from up there would be worth checking out.

Image:Karlskirche and an unexpected fear of heights

Except for one thing.  As I ascended the stairs towards the dome, I found myself simply unable to proceed.  The unusual perspective of being within the dome of the church was incredibly disorienting, and, for only the first or second time in my life, I became afraid of heights.  My peripheral vision simply couldn't be explained -- how were these painted surfaces suddenly below me?  The little wobble in the staircase only added to the anxiety.  
The whole experience got me thinking.  I've been in hundreds of famous churches, castles, and palaces that have amazing frescoed on high ceilings.  Never before have I thought about what must have gone into the ability to paint them in the first place, sometimes hundreds of years ago.  Incredible and amazing feats.

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