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Tito's Spoon

June 26, 2015


When I was a teenager, I bought art books with reproductions of famous paintings I never expected to see, and Vienna is rich with great museums filled with priceless treasures. At the Kunsthistorisches I encountered paintings I’d first seen in art books as a teenager, paintings like Brueghel’s Tower of Babel (Google for a larger reproduction and prepare to be amazed by the details) and Vermeer’s The Allegory of Painting. There are only a handful of Vermeers in existence and this painting, coveted and pirated by Hitler, is breathtaking. Unlike many museums where crowds hinder your ability to engage with art, Mrs. C. and I sat alone for half an hour, basking in the absolute stillness of this sublime masterpiece.



Brueghel’s Tower of Babel




Vermeer's The Allegory of Painting




We left Vienna and headed towards Switzerland, but first we made a stop at Lake Bled in Slovenia.




 Typical of scenery we passed on our way to Slovenia



Slovenia was once part of Yugoslavia, held together by iron-fisted dictator Marshal Tito, the only Communist leader ever to stand up to Joseph Stalin. The country dissolved into ethnic violence when Tito died in 1980. Tito constructed a villa here and spent many hours enjoying the lake. We had coffee and cake on a terrace, and I horrified Mrs. Chatterbox by pocketing a tiny spoon.




 Tito’s Villa





Portrait of Marshal Tito






Castle on Bled Lake



On an island near the center of Lake Bled is a pilgrimage church dedicated to The Assumption of Mary, built in its present form in the seventeenth century. The church has a 171 ft. tower and a baroque stairway with 98 stone steps leading up to the church. Weddings are held here regularly and grooms carry their brides up these steps on the day of their wedding. They ring the bell for good luck and make a wish.



Boats ferrying us to Bled Island




Bled Island





The Chatterboxes ringing the bell and making a wish



What did I wish for when I pulled that rope and rang that bell? I wished Mrs. Chatterbox would stop giving me a hard time for stealing Tito’s spoon, and I didn’t want to be punished by being sent to hell. That’s probably where Tito is and I didn’t want him confronting me about his silly little spoon.


Still, how often can you stir your coffee with something once belonging to a dictator?




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I fully understand how you were tempted into your life of crime. But reassure yourself - Tito was a communist (even if he had a few capitalist tendencies); therefore, even if he is in hell he won't believe it and therefore won't berate you. PS How much do you want for the spoon?
By: Mike@A Bit About Britain on June 26, 2015
All you took was a spoon! Next time do better. :) Wow! love these photos. Mindy
By: Mindy Halleck on June 26, 2015
silver thief! :)
By: TexWisGirl on June 26, 2015
And the Steve ran away with the spoon.
By: Al Pennwasser on June 26, 2015
I can't imagine carrying your bride to be up 98 steps. How was the walk up? The scenery is incredibly beautiful. I hope you use the spoon everyday when making your tea or coffee.
By: Daniel LaFrance on June 26, 2015
Lovely place! Next time, offer to buy the spoon, i bet they would let you have it. Many places will.
By: mimi on June 26, 2015
With those shades, you look like a Mafia capo who would steal a spoon from a dead Yugoslavian dictator.
By: Catalyst on June 26, 2015
You do realize your theft is now a permanent part of the Internet. Since no one has come after you, you are probably safe. Enjoy.
By: Akansas Patti on June 26, 2015
A public confession is a good start to remorse but hard for your defense attorney. Send the Villa a Christmas Card and maybe a couple of bucks and your conscience will clear. I think I could be quite comfortable at that Castle over looking Lake Bled! Gorgeous area. We are enjoying your travels.
By: Tom Cochrun on June 26, 2015
That's gonna go in your permanent record! Let's hope the bell does not toll for thee.
By: Val on June 26, 2015
Sorry, I'm with Mrs Chatterbox on the spoon issue! You did know what you were doing when you went on this trip.
By: red on June 26, 2015
I don't think Tito cares about the spoon. Remember when it seemed as if Tito and Franco would go on forever and Lenin's body would always be on display in its glass coffin? The Hurricane had a good time in Slovenia last year. I doubt if she knows who Tito is. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 26, 2015
I forgot to say that when The Hurricane told me she say Girl With the Pearl Earring that I asked her how she felt. Was she really moved by it? She said, No, she didn't have strong feelings about it. I know that's not true of most artwork she sees. I didn't get to ask her why the girl with the pearl didn't make her day. Love again, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on June 26, 2015
I'm surprised that instead of going straight to Switzerland, you took such a long detour south, although the pictures are breathtaking! That's quite a vacation villa. I somehow doubt that the silverware has been the same for almost 40 years. Thanks for sharing your adventures!
By: Lexa Cain on June 26, 2015
Great pictures! Tito was a communist, so this spoon is really the people's spoon. It is now rightfully yours, since you are people.
By: Pixel Peeper on June 26, 2015
I'd like to go to Vienna someday since it has been the center of so many John Irving novels. But I think I can skip the former Yugoslavia.
By: PT Dilloway on June 26, 2015
Great pictures and it looks like a FUN time---spoon and all!
By: Marcia @ Menopausal Mother on June 26, 2015
oh my gosh- what got me here was asking about "stolen" Purloined" objects....when I was a teenager- I lived overseas in a girls school for one year- and I stole/removed a knife and fork from an Italian restaurant. It was a knife and fork for fish.....I still to this day use them and revere them for my memories of being so far away from home, but memories are so deeply is so wonderful to see your happy faces. You are blessed with your love for each other.
By: Kathe W. on June 26, 2015
When they come to ask, and you know they will, I will swear to your character. Whether or not that will be good or bad depends upon the amount of the next check in the mail, of course.
By: Jerry E. Beuterbaugh on June 26, 2015
Truly fascinating Steve, it is as if we are looking over your shoulder. Good luck with the spoon, maybe it has power........
By: John on June 27, 2015
Ha! they probably buy those spoons by the gross.
By: Ellen Abbott on June 27, 2015
An stolen spoon? I blame that bad childhood influence Ricky Delgado! My Mrs. C once stole a spoon from a local restaurant which then went out of business. Her daughter to this day blames her thievery on the restaurant's demise.
By: cranky on June 27, 2015
Was Vermeer the one that painted "The Girl with the Pearl Earring?" I can't remember. These works you've shown here remind me of his style. I certainly would like to spend a half hour undisturbed taking in the details of such a masterpiece.
By: Michael Offutt on June 29, 2015
You stole Tito's spoon??? Well I'm sure he had others. Anyway, my mother would be very proud of you. (I would have been mortified.)
By: Mitchell is Moving on June 29, 2015
I've seen pictures of the tower as well. Since I don't paint, it's hard for me to imagine how these works were painted. I am humbled.
By: Rick on June 30, 2015

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