Thursday, July 29, 2010

Linda's Travel Journal: Part 4: Vienna, Austria

Submitted by Linda
Well, this Vienna post may seem a bit atypical, in that I am not posting very many pics of local landmarks. While we were on our trip, you may have seen on the news that Central Europe was enduring a crazy heatwave. On the day we were in Vienna, we were told that it was 44 degrees Celsius, which translates into 111 degrees Fahrenheit! Holy Moly! No wonder we were all in a heat coma! So I usually like to photograph places that I resonate with, or at least will remember later. The picture below was taken while we were on a walking tour of the city, and due to my heat coma, I don't know what building is in the background. But it does make a pretty picture, right?
Another thing about this post that may seem unusual, it that I ended up taking a photo of the BACK of the St. Stephen's Cathedral.....
....and while inside I took a photo of the BACK of the cathedral, with the pipes from the pipe organ.
Then, despite all the beautiful altars and other elaborate decor, one of my favorite shots from the cathedral is this sculpture by the architect, depicting himself and the great burden of building such a church.
St. Stephen's ended up being one of my favorite stops in Vienna, because of our visit down below the cathedral to the catacombs. Even as we were getting in line to go down, I asked Craig, "Are you sure we want to do this?" Well, it was worth six Euros because I'm certain it was the coolest place in Vienna!

I'm not usually a fan of creepy stuff, or horror flicks, mostly because it doesn't usually align with my "spread joy and sunshine" mantra. However, it was fascinating, and really unbelievable. In addition to the caskets of generations of bishops (the most recent added 6 years ago), was the mass graves. As we walked through brick caves, we were able to see piles and piles of bones, some in the form of complete skeletons, where the caskets deteriorated and left the bones behind; some with all types of bones in random piles, where bodies were dumped; and in sections where all of the same types of bones were sorted, in order to save space. It was so unreal, it felt like a Disney set for Indiana Jones, or for the t.v. show "Bones". I wish I could have taken pictures, but we weren't allowed. If you ever get to Vienna, this is a "must do"!

Pictured below is the elegant staircase in the Le France Hotel where we stayed. I loved the decor, especially this staircase. I made an effort to climb the stairs to our 4th floor room as many times as I could, to try to compensate for all the bread and cheese I ate!
Speaking of cheese.....these Europeans have got it goin' on in the cheese department! I was in my happy place every day at breakfast, because in addition to my English Breakfast tea with hot milk, every breakfast buffet included a beautiful spread of cheeses. Even our 'not so elegant' hotels had nice cheese! They also had the most amazing breads, croissants, and sweets. (Any country who has cakes and sweets for breakfast is all right by me). On my plate below, you can see a super nutty seed roll, cheese, a crepe and some nuts (I'm sure the nuts were for the muesli and cereal, but for me, it rounded out the perfect breakfast). Craig was also happy with breakfasts, because they also offered sausage and eggs (man food).
Continuing on the food is my sis in law Gail, with bro in law Dave (though they aren't married to each other!) showing Gail's plate of Wienerschnitzel. Americans always assume it has something to do with a hot dog, but as you can see, it's a super thin piece of veal, breaded and fried. Much better than a hot dog, in my opinion!
After having my first taste of spaetzle (homemade noodles) at our Hungarian dinner in Budapest, I was happy to find it on the menu throughout the rest of my trip. My plate below shows spaetzle with a fabulous cheese sauce. (I've since found out that Michelle's chef husband Dave knows how to make spaetzle and is willing to give me a lesson!)
My bro in law Jon (who is married to Gail), is quite a foodie, especially in the bread department. I love this picture of him with Renee (his sister), watching chefs prepare a meal through the window, and discussing what they may be making.
One final highlight of our trip was a concert in the Konzerthaus Great Hall. They played selections of Mozart's most famous works, and presented the concert in period costumes. It was a wonderful concert, and another "must do" when you visit Vienna.
I must admit that I stole this photo from Dave D.'s Facebook.
Next up, Salzberg Austria, and "The Sound of Music" sights! Stay tuned......

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