Sunday, February 2, 2014


Last fall Lori & I spent a long weekend in Vienna to celebrate, among other things, our 30th wedding anniversary.  Grant was in the US for fall break so it was good timing to visit someplace cultural.

We stayed at the Hotel Sacher, across from the opera house and famous for its Sacher Torte
Of course Vienna is famous for its music and musicians.  There are performances someplace every night….and at every street corner there are people dressed up like this guy selling tickets to the performances.  
The world famous Vienna Opera House.  Built in the 1860's, bombed heavily in WWII and reopened in 1955.  It hosts over 300 opera and ballet performances every year.    The set crew changes the sets and floor about 5 times every week.  
We didn't see an operate, but we did tour the building.  This is one of the public rooms in the opera house that was not damaged by the heavy bombing. 

Famous musicians have their bust around the room. 

The inside of the opera house.  In addition to the stalls shown here, there are standing spots where hundreds of people can watch the opera in a Standing Room Only area.  Ticket prices are cheap, but that's a long time to stand.

On the seatback in front of you is a screen that provides the words (in English) to the opera. 

Just like Hollywood, the Opera House has stars in the sidewalk surrounding the building.  

A great example of the city's architecture

St. Stephens Cathedral

Lori found her own ice cream store.  Too bad she doesn't really like ice cream.  

First opened in the 1600's, the Black Camel restaurant is famous for delicious sandwiches and for the fact that Beethoven used to eat there.  We can vouch for the sandwiches but we didn't see Beethoven.  

Demel is one of the most famous pastry shops in the city.  From our table we could watch the chefs at work.  These ladies were rolling out gingerbread….lots of gingerbread.  The big tub to the right of the front table is full of gingerbread dough.  

This person frosted the entire cake while talking on the phone.  

New meaning to the phrase decorating the Christmas tree.  
Sacher Torte.  Invented in Vienna.  Subject to years of legal battle between Demel and Hotel Sacher as to where it was first invented.  Delicious….especially with a huge pile of whipped cream and a cup of hot chocolate.  

A view of the Hofburg Palace, where the Habsburgs ruled for centuries.  

Like many museums in Europe, the Austrian Treasury museum has religious pieces like a piece of the spear that pierced Christ's side (left)……..

…….or wood from the cross.  

The silver collection of the Habsburgs was incredible.  The museum displays 7000 of the 150,000 items in the collection.  

A table "ensemble" that was 30 meters long

No, this guy is not real.  It is a wax figure outside the Time Travel museum.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to visit.  

Schonbrunn Palace was the summer home to the Habsburgs.  It was Versailles-like in design and surroundings.  Maybe not quite as ornate, but certainly very nice.  We saw 40 of the 1000+ rooms.  

Perfect weather as we toured the palace grounds.  

I was using a new camera that I had received for my birthday.  It has a very sensitive shutter, so I got lots of pictures of the ground, my shoes, people beside us, etc.  

The view of Schonbrunn and the city of Vienna.  

The palace grounds had a hedge maze. 

The highlight of the palace was the Apple Strudel demonstration.  We all got a free piece of strudel while she demonstrated how to make it.  After watching how thin she had to make the dough, I decided I would always just buy it at a bakery. 
Karlskirche, or Karl's Church, was built in the 1700's.  

Inside they have an elevator that takes you up to the dome so you can see the fresco paintings up close.  
After taking the elevator up, you are let out on a less than sturdy scaffold where you climb 10 flights of much less than sturdy stairs.   I think the sign says "Running and jumping are prohibited.  Screaming is uncool".  

This sign warns that a maximum of 10 people should be on the scaffold at one time.  But the way that it's built you can't see how many people are on the top platform.  

Despite the climb, the view of the painting was worth it.  It made a real difference to see them up close.  

The Austrian National Library.  It has to be one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.  

As you walk around Vienna, there are sausage, or wurst, vendors everywhere.  

They sell 5 or 6 types of sausage, including the local favorite curry wurst.  

Asian meets Austrian in one stand. 
I got a plain sausage with mustard.  Delicious.

The subway station near the Opera House had an Opera Toilet.  Listen to classical music while you go.  
I thought this crane was part of a construction project.  No, it's for bungee jumping.  We saw several people do it.

The old city hall. 

People built small shacks right up against the church.  

Vienna had a large walking-shopping area.  

We almost had a stowaway.  Tai Tai thought my camel hair sport coat was nice and toasty.  

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