Feb 242016

The funny thing is, that at first I thought we were too late. A sign at the entrance to the monastery complex indicated that we had missed the second and last guided tour by an hour. I would never have thought that we could be admitted outside of a guided tour at all.

When I entered the building, I only did it in hope of a souvenir shop, where I probably could buy at least a book.

Well, never give up without trying. Not only were we allowed to roam freely, for a fee I was also given a photo permit!

By the way, if you’re interested in what a professional can do in such a location, just have a look at this blog 🙂

Feb 232016

I own a fair number of books, and having moved them three times during the last ten years, I think I have enough of them. It’s not that I consider moving again in the forseeable future, but you never know. I’ll keep to ebooks 🙂

It’s nothing though against the sheer number of old leather-bound tomes in this magnificent library of Admont Abbey.

What my own collection of books lacks in style and splendor, here we have it in abundance. It’s the same story as in Lisbon. Monasteries like this were not meant as modest places of prayer, they were big enterprises and their heads were always second or third sons of high nobility. Basically these were palaces, and just like the palaces of kings and dukes, they were places of immense worldly power. Fair enough that their libraries matched in representative glory 🙂

Oct 162015

A few days ago Svetlana Alexievich received the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. At 1 pm the Committee announced the decision, one hour later I saw the news, five minutes later I had her book “Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster” on my tablet. That’s what I currently read.

I chose that book, because I know a lot obout the catastrophe, because it happened in my early adult life, and because I often think about it. At that time we were told not to eat mushrooms. So much time has passed since, but it is just about the half-life of Cesium-137 or Strontium-90. Half of what rained down on Europe is still here. What do we do now? We eat mushrooms and call ourselves an intelligent species 🙂

How the book is? Well, it’s a collection of short chapters, each one based on one or more interviews with survivors and people who lived there, were evacuated and returned. It is a book that does not try to relate the events, instead it tries to give us a feeling for how it is to have been there, to have lost a beloved partner or a child. There is this certain mix of love and death, that is heart-wrenching. Absolutely recommended.