Sunday, 28 April 2013

Vienna Part II

During our 2 week and a bit stay in Vienna I took over 400 pictures. No, I won't bore you with them all, just a few of the highlights. I've put them to an abbreviated version (sorry Strauss) of Johnann Strauss' Blue Danube Waltz, a piece of music that is synonymous with Vienna; a piece that I've always loved and was thrilled to hear it preformed live at the Schönbrunn Palace during our stay. 

Here for your enjoyment...

Saturday, 27 April 2013


A walk through Vienna is a walk through time. Its earliest settlers date back to the Stone Age, then the Celts and the Romans and into the Middle Ages. Gothic churches, Renaissance portals, Baroque everywhere. Hardly a street is without an example of an era past.

Across the famous River Danube the 21st century is marked with glass and steel buildings including a United Nations headquarters; one of four in the world.

The astonishing array of monuments, palaces, museums, and churches left us awestruck. We toured imperial palaces and meditated on a pew in centuries old churches. Visited art galleries that had rooms full of Ruebens or Rembrandts or Picassos, and one of my favs Dürer.

Strolled through the Naschmarkt (literally snack-market) with its intoxicating smells and vibrant colours. 

And when our feet got sore, or our brains too full of input, there was always a tranquil park with blossoming tress and lawns sprinkled with colorful crocuses or tulips to rest in.

When our tummies rumbled we enjoyed Wiener Schnitzel or Wiener Würztchen. For dessert, or just because, there was always Kaffee und Kuchen to savour. Vienna is famous for its coffee houses; they have been an essential part of Viennese life for centuries. Not just frequented by tourists but lots of locals seem to use them as a meeting place or as refuge from city life. They are more than just a place to go to drink coffee and have a sweet treat. They are somewhere to linger; an oasis of gemütlichkiet.

I’m not sure what I was expecting about our trip to Vienna. We had been to Salzburg a couple of years ago and I think I expected Vienna to be sort of like it. It’s not. It’s less kitchy touristy. It has elegance and grandeur that isn't pretentious. The people we encountered were warm & friendly, kind & helpful. From the wait staff that were attentive without hovering, to the transit ticket seller who told us about a better deal, to the shop owner in the Naschmarkt that came out after us with free glasses of wine and chatted with us. We relished every moment of our visit and look forward to visiting there again one day.

Up next....a video "highlights reel" of our visit.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

On the road/rail again

As I write this we are riding the rails again. Today we’re on our way to Vienna, Austria.

It’s a chilly Sunday morning. Spring and winter are having it out again just like they have been the last month or so. (From all reports this is the coldest spring/longest winter in Germany since they started keeping records over a hundred years ago. Joy.) But even the grey skies can’t take anything away from the idyllic scenery running past my window. I’m gazing out at the rolling hills of southern Germany at the foothills of the Alps. Villages nestle in the valleys, farms and greening meadows in between, ribbons of country roads. Perfect time to “just be."

We left Frankfurt last Sunday for a return visit to Nürnberg for a few days. During our Christmas season visit there we experienced its quintessential charm full on. But, Erwin’s area of research presents a different side . The stuff that has become synonymous with this city; the Nürnberg rallies of the 1930’s and the post-war trials a decade later. This follow-up visit enabled Erwin to further his research and get a first-hand look at the sites and exhibits where it all took place. It turned out it be a very sobering experience.

It wasn't all doom and gloom though. 

On one of our walks we discovered Pachelbel’s grave. The German baroque era composer of that wonderfully soothing piece of music Canon in D.

...on a walk in a park we came across these expats (being typically polite Canadians) and letting the swans go ahead.

….and this rather odd sign.

There was also time for another quick day-trip. This time to Munich a city that neither one of us had been to before. Unfortunately we couldn’t have picked a worse day. The city that is known for its plentiful and lively beer gardens was shivering its way through a bitterly cold spring day. The beer gardens had chairs and tables stacked up in corners and we sought refuge inside for bowls of soup hot beverages. Brrrrr.

So.... we spent the better part of our time visiting two absolutely fabulous art galleries. The alte (old) Pinakothek with art for the 14th to the 18th centuries and the neue (new) Pinakothek with art from the 19th centuries. Ruben’s and Rembrandt’s, Picasso’s and Van Gough’s. My favorite was Van Gough’s Sunflowers. I have a copy of this one as a framed poster hanging over my desk at home at home that I bought years ago. Thrilling to see the original.

The other highlight was listening and watching the clock tower in the Neue Rathaus (new town hall). The gothic style building is famous for the bells and life size figures that go round in its clock tower for fifteen minutes, three times a day.

We’ll be in Vienna for the next 2 ½ weeks, a city famous for its classical music and cafés. Another new city to explore and experience. .. and enjoy spring.