Monday, June 6, 2011
Austria - 2001
September 20, 2001 Thursday
After the tragic events of Sept 11, flying anywhere is different. Security is very tight. We arrived at the airport at 2 o’clock for a 6 pm flight to Vienna, Austria. The lines were long and slow. Some people were heaving their luggage opened and checked by hand.
The plane was packed – about 300 to 350 in an Airbus. Fortunately, it was a smooth flight – also sleepless for me. They are very long nights when you don’t sleep a wink.
September 21, 2001
Arrived in Vienna about 4 am PA time and 9 am Austria time. This is a gorgeous city. Our hotel is beautifully located – very old and a bit tired but adequate. We spent the day finding our way around and discovering about food, etc, until our 4 pm tickets for the Vienna Boys Choir. They are fabulous – a wonderful concert at Musikverein.
September 22, 2001 Saturday
After a long sleep – 8:30 pm to 8:30 am, I have recovered. We had a lovely day – temp about 70 degrees in and out sun. It is a walking city and we headed for the ring road that would take us to Votivkirche. It is being rehabbed and in very poor condition, but we lit a candle for Tom and had our three wishes. The University of Vienna is nearby and we visited the Rothaus (city hall) with the most beautiful interior, we thought it must be a cathedral. Then we went back to Michael Platz to see the Hofburg Palace and Helden Platz, home of the Habsburg dynasty. We spent a great deal of time in the Schatzkammer Museum, which houses the crown jewels and magnificent vestments of the Hapsburgs – fabulous religious artifacts – monstranz of solid gold and crucifixs’ and baptismal sets of solid gold. Unbelievable wealth. We had lunch at Central Café, where Leon Trotsky played chess. There is so much European History here and so much of Europe was part of the Roman Empire.
We love Vienna – the people are beautifully dressed – men and women. The stores are fabulous – very expensive. But wonderful quality. A laden jacket can cost $2,500. It is fun to people watch as it is like a fashion show. Entire store for hats – another for handkerchiefs. A veritable feast for shoppers here. Dinner at “Grienstadl” very good and reasonable. Lunch at Central Café was $20 for two and dinner was $32 for two. Met a lovely couple from England at dinner – now living in Amsterdam; on holiday here for a week.
Mass at St. Michaels and organ concert.
Sunday, September 23
Wake to the sound of church bells and the clip clap of the horse and carriage – the only transportation allowed on the Graben. Looks like a cloudy day to begin and we got an early start to Schonbrunn Palace with our raincoats, just in case. The underground is wonderful – very clean – very modern and it was a short ride from the Graben. There weren’t any guided tours as guides were sick, so we got the taped tour, which worked out fine. 22 rooms. The palace was magnificent. We liked it better than Versailles even though it has lots of gilt, but it was much more livable. You could picture real people living there. The family dining rooms were all set with dishes, silverware, etc., lovely centerpieces and linen as if the family would arrive momentarily. John was impressed with the white porcelain stoves in each room. The Hopsburgs knew how to live well.
The gardens were still lovely and the garden pavilion was very impressive with an arched pathway and lovely trellis entries. We walked up the hill behind the Palace to the “Glorietta,” a lovely dining room where Elizabeth, wife of Franz Josef, would ride to be alone. Of course, it wasn’t a restaurant at that time. We had a lovely German couple join us as we had our lunch. It started to rain while we were there and we made a hasty return to the subway and back to St. Stephen Platz where we visited the church. What a gorgeous cathedral – Mozart was married and buried from St. Stephens.
We visited St. Peters earlier in the day – the most baroque church in Vienna to make our three wishes for Tom, of course.