Salzburg was interesting for the girls because we tried to find the real scenes and the filmed scenes from The Sound of Music. $ loved the funicular ride up to the medieval fortress where we had excellent views of the city and the surrounding mountains.
That evening we found a large Gosthaus outside Salzburg; as we looked out our windows, we saw many families leaving the church in large groups. After dinner we walked in that direction and found a most interesting churchyard. We wondered if the gathering had had anything to do with many candles burning on the graves. Some candle holders were portable, but others were built into the head stones. We found as we looked closer that most head stones had pictures of the deceased permanently bonded onto the marble.
In Vienna the girls stayed in Maria’s house, while John, $, and I went to a small neighborhood hotel. [Maria was an exchange student in college with us. We were visiting her, her husband Franz and three sons.] Their house is marvelously designed with a grate to help remove snow at the entrance, double-doored foyer, spiral marble steps to the bedrooms, fireplace to divide living room and sturdy, huge breakfast table, separate utility room, etc. I took no photos!!!
In Vienna we found the cathedral, the Plague Column, a house where Mozart lived, saw the most beautiful library in the world, visited the crypt where all the Kaisers are elaborately coffined, and saw the outside of the opera. The opera house was closed to tours because they were recording. Just across the street from the opera was the Sacher Hotel, famous for Sacher Torte. Not pictured below are the crypt and the Sacher Hotel.
The imperial state apartments were as lavish as any in France and England. I loved the stoves! At first I didn’t know what these elaborate white and gold porcelain-looking things were until we saw the smoke pipe on several. They were filled and tended from behind by the army of servants. That’s class!
We spent all one morning watching the training of the horses of the Spanish Riding School. What precision! The men worked these horses individually, making them skitter carefully sideways and do fancy steps.
We enjoyed the little quiet parks, archways, and large palaces scattered everywhere. One long building had a sign that it was where Beethoven died.
Several afternoons we had coffee and delicious pastries at cafes. We voted Vienna tops in the coffee world. Beans are usually ground seconds before they make the brew; it is strong, but not bitter like in England or overpowering as in Italy. Maria served us a farmer’s dinner of roast pork, ham, wieners, kraut and big dumplings she made while we watched.
We went to a restaurant for a Viennese meal, having the famous Wiener Schnitzel. Superb! That restaurant was on top of a tiny mountain – the tail end of the Alps – with the Danube and Vienna laid at its feet.
We toured Shonnberg Palace, almost a rival for Versailles. I thought the original elaborate inlaid floors were superb, as well as much of the paneling, hand-painted wall paper, and art done by the royal families. We saw the room where Kruschev met Kennedy and the room where Mozart first performed for the Emperor when he was six years old.
Part of the grounds of this palace included the oldest zoo in Europe – a place adjacent to the palace where the royals had their private zoo – and a carriage museum that we all enjoyed.
Maria served us cold cuts for supper – some we’ve missed for two years and some we’ve never had before. One had cheese in it, another, mushrooms.
We spent all Sunday with Maria’s family traveling in two cars, swapping children at every stop. At Eisenstadt we went into the church that Haydn had worked in and were just in time for the service that included a mass by Haydn. He is buried in a side chapel. The organ is the very one played by Haydn, Schubert, and Beethoven. Marvelous!
Down the street was the palace of the Esterhazy family who had employed Haydn. The building is still owned by the family living in Switzerland, though the state administers the building.
We ate near the quarry where they get stones for repairing the cathedral in Vienna. Since this was near the Hungarian border, we ate goulash soup and paprika-spicy sausages with white grape juice to drink. At the big craft store next door, Maria bought Lisa and Kate each a necklace of serpentine gem stone mined nearby; and we bought a pottery covered bowl made from local clay.
We continued on to one of the largest lakes in Europe that is also very shallow – not more than three to four feet deep. Rushes are the big harvest crop used in matting for plaster work. Rust, the nearby town, is noted for stork nests on rooftops; we saw numerous nests and storks on two of them.
Franz said Hungarians do escape over the lake, part of which is on the border. Since Hungary is fairly prosperous now, not many are coming over.
On Sundays, the news shops are closed, so newspapers are hung in plastic bags on sign posts and light poles. The bag and little money box are held in place with a metal band and small padlock. Not many papers fit in the bags, therefore, there are many bags, making papers more accessible on Sundays than weekdays.
We visited an old mountain castle which had never been sacked by the Turks, also still owned by the Esterhazy family. It was full of portraits, saddles, guns, sabers, spears, helmets, breastplates, a Turkish tent, flags, and books. It was really a contrast to the Rococo palaces we’d seen recently.
On the way back to Vienna, Franz had a word with several army guards and escorted us into the church of the military academy where he had gone to school and had stood guard duty himself. He explained that Emperor Maximillian I erected a super fancy tomb for himself in Innsbrook, so that most people think he is there. He isn’t. He is buried under the steps to the altar in this church, having expressed a wish to lie where a priest would stand over his heart when saying Mass.
We returned to Vienna, and Maria prepared soup with semolina dumplings, a platter of cold meats, and son Franz cooked crepes. Then they presented us with gifts – the necklaces for the girls, a record of Austrian music for John, a Viennese cookbook in English for me, a tin of chocolates for $, and from the boys one of their super trucks and a metal car from their own collection!
We stopped in Nuremberg just long enough to buy supplies for the LGB trains.
After a LONG drive to Calais and the dash home, we pulled in at 10 p.m. We had enough time to make a mess of the house by dumping laundry all over and to get it cleaned up by the time our New York pastor and his wife arrived 17 hours later. The nice thing about that timing is that we didn’t have any let-down as often happens when returning from a nice vacation.