September 6

On the one hour train ride from Sopron, Hungary to Vienna, Austria. Big comfy seats, big clean windows - nice.

Oh goodie, Vienna! and a Birthday Party for my little sister who will be here tomorrow.

Aug 27-05 Budapest and Sopron, Hungary
Sep 06-15 Vienna
Sep 16-25 Brno, Prague
Sep 26-29 Wroclaw
Sep 30-06 Dresden, Leipzig, Stadthagen
Oct 07-16 Berlin

Our apartment building and oh &^%!! nooooo, construction. I'm sooooo Not Pleased.

I've been fussing with the landlord about not letting me know this was going on and asking for an alternative. In my heart of hearts I know moving is not going to happen. I'm not going to give up the time to search (and it does take time) and the landlord doesn't have anything to offer.

She assures me that it should be over 'in a few days'. Not Pleased!

Our church around the corner...

...and our plaza down the street. More tomorrow!

September 7

I left the apartment at noon today to pick up a few things and make my way by subway and train out to the airport to meet my little sister.

I got there in good time .. but .. no sister! You can imagine the agitato! I could tell the ladies at the information counter were doing their best to help but they couldn't reach Air France - no answer!

When it became absolutely 100% sure that she was not on her flight I started off to the check-in area to find an Air France agent when an email came in: 'Missed connection in Paris, arriving at 7pm.' Let's hear it for smartphones and The Internet! And free, open WiFi in airports!!

(International calling is a whole 'nuther ball-of-wax. It's not reasonably going to happen with 99% of Verizon phones unless you're connected to the internet, and then you can email so why bother. Hey Verizon, add gsm to your phones!)

We got home by taxi about 8:30 and all is well.

September 8

Housing blocks in Vienna...

...omg. You may take these two examples and assume there are 10,000 more, each unique and all amazing to look at.

Our first stop - the Naschmarkt, shoulder to shoulder packed with places to eat, places to buy food, and places to buy...stuff. I caught this shot during a short break in the river of people.

Once we found the flea market section Windy would have been in shopper's heaven were it not for the crowds that made it hard to even make it to the counters...

...for the good stuff. Shoppers intently shopping.

Next stop, the Secession Building. Wow. But since I couldn't get a view without traffic...

...I took these off the internet.

We got to see the original of Gustav Klimt's 'Beethoven Frieze', the same piece that the Getty did a replica of for their recent show of Klimt's drawings.

It was FABulous. At the Getty they had put all the panels as they are here, high by the ceiling and you just looked up (way up). In this building they have provided a tall room-filling platform so your face is just a couple of feet away from the images.

On the one hand at the Getty you had a better feeling for the placement as the artist designed it to be seen, but on the other hand it was very cool to see all the details close up.

We shared a wiener schnitzel at the Café Museum, and pumpkin soup which seems a seasonal specialty since we've seen it around. It was very comfortable in there and the food was tasty.

That's us down there reflected in a decorative period-piece giant ball hanging from the ceiling.

At the Academy of Fine Arts, which really is an academy, we followed the neon arrows along a winding route to their exhibition space.

They have an extensive collection of Old Masters on view. Also it was 'fun' to see a large Hieronymus Bosch piece, 'Last Judgment'.

A story always noted when speaking of the Academy is that they twice turned down Hitler's application to study here citing a lack of talent.

From one of the balconies at the Albertina, we look down upon the Vienna State Opera House. This is the back and one side. Having arrived too late today, we're going another day for the tour.

Across the street from the Opera House is the handsome and renowned Hotel Sacher.

We dawdled our way back home thinking we had plenty of time no problem. Note, should you ever find yourself in Vienna: all the food markets close at 6pm on Saturday and don't open again until Monday. Time for Plan B!

September 9

We had to get up early - we were going to CHURCH. Windy had found a flyer at our church, Mariahiff, yesterday saying that today there would be a concert of Haydn's Paukenmesse (the Kettledrum Mass).

So we got here and yes they were ready for the Harvest Festival but no they were not ready for a concert. Ooops, wrong church!

So after consultation with the priest we sped off to the correct location, St Josef's.

We were Thrilled. The music was spectacular, awesome, astounding.

We couldn't see much because the choir and the orchestra sat in the loft at the back of the church while the congregation sits facing ahead. How many were up there? If felt like hundreds.

On the way to our next event we stumbled upon a parade forming. The Harvest Festival!

Here are a few of the participants.

Like the Rose Parade I think all the decorations have to be real. But mostly the theme of the Harvest Festival seems to be drinking beer and smoking cigarettes.

Town Hall... That's right, Town Hall. We couldn't get in but Ms Wiki is happy to tell you all about it.

We waited around Town Hall for a while until it was time for our tour of...

...the Burgtheater (that is how they spell the name).

And more Klimt. It's all Klimt all the time around here being the 150th anniversary of his birth. Every venue is featuring whatever of his that they've got.

Gustav, his brother Ernst, and Frantz Matsch did the ceiling murals above the two grand staircases and amazingly these ceilings survived the almost total destruction of the theater during WWII.

One end of one of the Grand Staircases.

Our tour took us up to the top boxes and the standing room section as well as back stage.

St Michael's, more on the 11th.

We stopped to snack several times along the way today.

At this place we found a man playing a hammered dulcimer. It looks like a very big zither.

Our final event of the day was another music extravaganza.

Here at St Anna's we heard a five piece string ensemble play a short Mozart piece, some Schubert, and Vivaldi's Four Seasons. It was wonderful.

Walking to the 'U'nderground to get our train home we passed the Opera House where a performance was in progress. They broadcast the performances out into the plaza set-up with many rows of seats and decent sound.

Excellent, another unexpected treat!

September 10

Happy Birthday Dear Sister, Happy Birthday to YOU!

My dear little sister wasn't happy with her hair on her birthday. She wasn't happy with her hair yesterday either but yesterday was Sunday and there was nothing to be done about it.

Today however, and especially because it was her birthday, we went out to buy an implement she could use to fix her hair so she would be happy. Mission accomplished.

We had travelled to a bit of a grotty neighborhood but they had a magnificent old church, the Pfarre St Othmar, built where an original chapel stood .. "Consecrated in 1673, but burned down in 1683 during the second Turkish siege."

This church was finished in 1873. I'm surprised it's so late what with all the gargoyles and such.

Windy had picked up a brochure for an art exhibit that she thought looked particularly good and since we had scheduling conflicts regarding opening hours of various other activities we decided to go to this gallery on this day. Not what we had intended for her birthday but good fun anyway.

The place is called Kunst Haus Wein, Museum Hundertwasser and holds a vast collection of Friedensreich Hundertwasser's work. He designed the museum's buildings too.

As well as Friedensreich Hundertwasser's work they devote a floor to traveling exhibits and we saw a retrospective of Elliott Erwitt's photographs.

Windy just Had to have that poster for her office so I got to give it to her for her birthday.

We went back into town for a little stroll to end the day finding ourselves here at St Charles's Church.

That's just how it looked. I took that picture, a pano of three separate shots. Yikes. I know those mirror reflectos are kind'a trite but I can't help myself. It's too much fun!

Followed by a stop-off at the Soviet War Memorial. This monument was built in 1945 to commemorate the 17,000 Soviet soldiers who died in the Battle for Vienna during World War II.

Also called the Heroes' Monument of the Red Army, the inscription, in Russian, reads "Monument to the soldiers of the Soviet Army, which for the liberation of Austria from fascism have fallen...."

This is interesting: "Russian President Vladimir Putin visited the memorial in 2007 to lay flowers and specifically give thanks to Austria for not demolishing it."

Windy says she'd like to live in a building with happy faces...

...not the ones with sad, angry, overworked faces.

September 11

The entrance (and it was dark in there as you can tell by the blurred photo) to the Spanish Riding School, named oh so many years ago because the original horses were Spanish...

...home of the Lipizzan stallions and their balletic performances.

We saw a training session and it was interesting although not as interesting as it could have been because it seemed the horses were very much at the beginning of the training process. Still, we were glad we went.

They requested (over and over) no photos and these pictures are more interesting anyway.

(internet pictures)

St Michael's again, once the parish church of the Imperial Court, located on the same plaza as one wing of the Hofburg Palace.

Windy wanted sacher cake at the Hotel Sacher...

...and she got sacher cake at the Hotel Sacher. Happy Birthday Sister!

Our older sister sent the napkin as a stand-in for the sign we always carry when we celebrate our birthdays together. So Lo, it's like you were here!

Guided tours at the Opera House were gathering. There were no less than 10 tours all going on at the same time, three in English, several in German, one in Spanish, etc.

They are so experienced at moving folks through the program that we were never in conflict with another group.

Our guide, a lovely Italian woman who really loves opera.

The universal advise from around town: do not buy tickets from a man dressed up as Mozart.

That is RiGHT. WE went to an OPERA at the legendary Vienna State Opera House. Yes we did. And the 'seats' (being a place to stand and lean on a rail) were so incredibly good, and the usher was our own private guide to all things opera. One of her friends was there too and she was delightful as well.

Our guide from earlier in the day told us it was an important tradition in Vienna to make the arts available to everyone .. apparently including tourists because we were standing just behind the 200 euro seats and we paid 4.

The opera we saw was Arabella by Richard Strauss. Not a blockbuster for sure but the singers were very good as was the orchestra and the experience was to beat the band. Windy was particularly happy because Arabella is a love story and they all lived happily ever after.

(internet picture with the arrow already inserted)

September 12

After walking past this corner two dozen times, this morning on our way out I just now spotted this 'sunflower forest.' The grandgirls had a sunflower forest in their old neighborhood that we always enjoyed together and I get a kick out of thinking of them whenever I see one.

Here we, and all the rest of the tourists in Vienna, are at the Schönbrunn Palace, summer residence of generations of Habsburgs.

Wow, another pano.

The extended tour through the lavishly decorated inside rooms, no photos allowed but I snagged this one with the phone.

We did, we walked up there.


In the Maze and Labyrinth Gardens they had this mirror extravaganza demanding a picture. Take a picture!

We left the palace in time to get home before the rain came down hard. We were opening the front door when it started.

Our plan was to come home, fix some dinner, and then go out to St. Stephen's Cathedral. We'd been saving a visit to this area waiting for the free organ concert on Wednesdays. By the time we got there it was dark with the clouds, wet, and getting cold so no tourista touring for us.

We had come out for the free organ concert which was not going to happen. Bummer, it just wasn't on this week. And the only way to get past the entry space was to go to mass.

So we did, we went to our second mass in German and we did get to hear some organ music. Hearing the mass in German hardly mattered anyway since it makes about as much sense to me as when I hear it in English.

It was raining even harder when we left so we just went home.

September 13

For today we paid good money and got a guided tour through the Wachau Valley to the Monastery of Melk, also known as Melk Abbey. The name of the tour: Romantic Danube Valley.

This is our guide, a scary, nationalistic, full-of-himself know-it-all. Yes you do want your guide to know it all but not so much in that 'all the rest of all you all are SO very very wrong (and morally corrupt)' sort of way.

It was threatening rain all day and did rain a few times but not at any time to actually make us wet. We drove on a tour bus along the Danube through really gorgeous countryside...

...and had a quick stop at a charming village, probably population 500.

There was a handsome old church, Wehrkirche St. Mchael and wow, this is the graveyard behind the church.

We then joined a Danube cruise boat for our ride to Melk.

What we see: "Dürnstein was first mentioned in 1192, when, in the castle above the town, King Richard I Lionheart of England was held captive by Duke Leopold V of Austria after their dispute during the Third Crusade."

There were many lovely views of wine towns and historic villages.


(...and this?)

At the Benedictine Melk Abbey we had time for some lunch which turned out to be Windy's favorite meal of the trip.

The tables were very large and designed to be shared. Our lovely tablemates from Belgium joined us and we had a really good time.

On to the tour of the Abbey and our extremely well-schooled guide.

Ms Wiki's photo - I wanted to show a decent shot of the outside. I don't have much of the inside either because it was both dark and no photos allowed. The monastery is most renowned for its huge library of original manuscripts.

A fresco, cleverly painted on the mostly flat ceiling.

From this vantage point on one of the terraces...

...we can see the town below.

Leaving the monastery that didn't look like what we expected a monastery to look like we came to the Abbey and oh wow, this is not what we expected At All either.

G.O.L.D. GOLD. More gold that in any of the churches we visited in Vienna. Gold everywhere.

Even gold surrounding the skeletons of which we saw two preserved in this form. And yes these guys are real, folded up a little, but real.

And on that note we made our way by bus ride back into town.

September 14

Wow! Windy has a friend living in Vienna now! Windy forgot her friend's contact information and it took many days of emailing around LA to get it all together.

Here we are, on our last day, in Carmen's amazing apartment eating the delicious breakfast she fixed for us.

A view out her living room window in the University district.

And then Carmen took us for a walk. Here's a view out her front door. Check out the twin spired church, the Votive Church, acclaimed as "one of the most important neo-Gothic religious architectural sites in the world."

Much of the outside was covered in scaffolding for stone cleaning...

...and the inside was full of scaffolding here and there, with a lot of banging going on, and yet it was AWESOME. The stained glass made me gasp.


A view from the other side. The front was entirely covered and Carmen is really hoping the work will get done before they have to leave in June.

Up those stairs and then on to the right is the US Embassy.

Strolling through the Palais Liechtenstein.

This is called The Keys of Remembrance and in German, Schlüssel gegen das Vergessen with the names of Jewish merchants who were expelled from their businesses and later killed during WWII.

A child of one of those merchants managed to survive the war and in the early 2000s began the job of identifying those lost. The memorial was unveiled in 2008.

The only article I could find on this place was in German so I'm relying on google-translate for the story. Google-translate does though sometimes get the pronouns 'confusing'.

There is plenty of tagging graffiti around, I just avoided it for pictures. Then there are the graffiti zones, like bridge underpasses and industrial areas where every patch is done up.

We had a nice walk along the river.

That is the city's waste reclamation plant. The building was designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser, the man whose gallery we visited early on.

One of Carmen's favorite pieces around town.

We're visiting Belvedere with more more Klimt and even some Messerschmidt heads - the same combo the Getty just put on.

A view of the upper pavilion at Belvedere.

Lunch! Windy packed us a lunch every day. It was so great!!

This is a section of historic Vienna. Please notice the streets - the streets simply don't meet at right angles, and if a street is more than three blocks long it certainly changes its name. But we did just fine and totally got the subway system down.

The next morning Windy was off early. I did laundry, caught up on my bookkeeping, caught up on pictures, read, organized my things, ate all the leftovers, tidied up the apartment, and went to bed early.

And the next day it's off to Brno in the Czech Republic.

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