Well, we have now been back home for over a week and many people have asked what our favorite things were. As we have talked about the trip, we both felt that it wasn’t a typical “sight-seeing” trip. Instead, it was a trip to settle into a community and get to know the area and the people who live there.
We were excited to meet Cristina who served us breakfast most mornings. She and I are now Facebook Friends which I am VERY excited about.
We also enjoyed meeting Luis…..
…..the fun waiter at our favorite “Praia Mar” restaurant.
And then there was the young waitress at another restaurant who would always smile, point to her watch and shake her head when we would arrive before the cafe opened!! And, yes, many of our friends were made over food!!!!
We cant say enough good about our wonderful landlords, Jose and Franchesca. There was a period of about a week where I didn’t post a blog and Jose emailed and asked if we were ok. He was concerned because I hadn’t posted anything!!! It was really sweet!!
And of course, we had a wonderful time driving our little Fiat down all of the narrow, walled lanes and listening to Gwyneth calmly recalculate our route when we missed turns over and over again.
The walks along the beach were a blast, especially as it started warming up a bit at the end of our journey. By the way, it finally hit 80 degrees on the day that we flew out of Porto!!!!
Our time in Austria was enjoyable and Vienna is a beautiful city!!! We had a wonderful time visiting with the two families there and really appreciated them including us in their family times.
Unfortunately we ran into a couple of rude male waiters, one of whom we walked out on before ordering. Everyone else was extremely helpful!
We have never had this before, but both of our Mother’s had some issues while we were gone and twice during the trip, we debated returning early. Fortunately they are both ok now!!
To end up our journey, we flew back to Lisbon for one night, setting a wake up call for 2:00AM so that we could catch a 5:00AM flight to Amsterdam. We had planned to grab some food in the airport, but by the time we made it thru passport control, it was time to board the plane. Fortunately, we had fantastic meals on the plane so we arrived in Atlanta full and happy!!!
Our Daughter-In-Law, Amber picked us up at the airport and we were soon walking into our home and falling happily into our recliners…..yes, we missed them when we were gone!!
We had a great laugh when we got home as our “friends” (Wayne & Kathie and Roy & Diane) had gotten together and decided to prank “rent” our house on AirBNB while we were gone. The prank was elaborate including a letter welcoming the guests to our home…..
There were empty wine bottles all around the kitchen, a one page document detailing local amenities, copies of local event information and even a “guest book” signed by people from several countries…..
All I can say is that I am glad that these people are our friends. If they go to this much trouble to prank a friend, I can imagine what they would do to an enemy!!
All in all, it was a wonderful trip where Michael made scientific connections, helped many students just getting started in Science, and reconnected with many friends in the Scientific community!!
As we were driving out of Vila Do Conde, we walked across the road to take one last photo at the beach……
This should hold us until our next trip…..in SIX weeks!!!!
On Monday morning, we had to move to a different hotel that was by the University where Michael would be working for the next two days. We dropped off our bags, Michael headed to work and I started out again for the old area of Vienna.
I THOUGHT that I could find the train station, but that didn’t prove to easily be the case: however, as with most detours, there were interesting things to see anyway!
The first thing that I came to was this beautiful church……
Naturally, I just HAD to go in for a look around. What I found was an open, domed room with soft colored murals on the walls and ceiling…..
As I watched, a priest came in and started getting set up for a service, so I found a bench at the back of the building and settled in to watch. The congregation was mostly women and they simply stood around the altar as the service progressed. The priest started out with a chant and then the women would join in as a response. It was magical to watch and listen……
I am still not exactly sure what type of church it was, but I think that it was probably Russian Orthodox.
As I left, I resumed my search for the S-Bahn station, finally asking a police officer who pointed to this obscure sign…..
Now how did I miss that!!! I walked back to the station, but then couldn’t figure out how to purchase a ticket that would take me on both the S-Bahn and also on the Metro to get to the city. When an Austrian woman asked me how to use the machine, I gave up and decided to walk to the Metro station and get rid of the S-Bahn leg!! A mile later, I found the metro and made my way back to Stephenplatz.
My plan was to return to St. Stephens church and do some more exploring. On Sunday afternoon I had spent some time going thru the main sanctuary, enjoying the simple stained glass windows…..
…..and checking out the order of worship from the morning, seeing that they had sung “Praise to the Lord”.
I paid to enter into the main portion of the church and also purchased an audio guide. You had to leave a Driver’s License before you could get the guide and I noticed that the woman in front of me handed in a Georgia license!! I talked to them briefly and found out that they were from Big Canoe……it is a small world!!
I spent time looking at a Madonna and child statue as I listened to the audio guide describing it. The guide talked about how the mother and child were connected by her scarf wrapping around him. It was then that I saw this sweet photo…..
The main altar was beautiful with the painting meant to look like an open door leading up to heaven……
I don’t understand much about the Catholic church so was interested in this seating arrangement……
I am not sure why this one seat is cordoned off!!
As usual, I was drawn to this statue with carved crochet lace in it…..
The metal work on this door was magnificent as well…..
One of the intricately carved pulpits included a self-portrait of the sculptor (peeking out of the window at the bottom)……
I enjoyed looking up into the humongous pipe organ…..
The only sad part about this church is that the main altar is closed off unless you pay for it so ordinary people trying to worship during the day had to do so at a smaller altar to the side….
I also went on a tour of the Catacombs underneath the church. It was built in the 1400’s and we passed coffins filled with the bones of Dukes and Bishops. We entered one room that held many pottery vessels and were told that they were not ashes, but contained the internal organs of many who were interred in the catacomb.
We followed a long tunnel further down into the catacomb, with the air becoming colder as we descended. Now we were directly under the plaza outside of the church. Here there were rooms of bones that had been thrown there during the Bubonic Plague epidemic in the 1400’s. There were openings from these rooms that lead to ground level and the bodies were simply tossed in there. They estimate that there are 12,000 bodies interred in this manner.
At some point they decided that they needed more room in these caverns so they had prisoners clean and stack the bones. The result was rooms of neatly stacked bones with skulls embedded in the stacks…..a bit eerie!!!
So, with those previous day memories in my mind, I planned to visit the Church Treasury. I entered the church and asked a uniformed man how to get to the treasury. He motioned for me to follow him as he opened a small elevator door and wordlessly rode with me up the elevator.
The treasury was filled with art and icons that had been given to the church over the years.
But, I was most excited by the fact that I was on the second floor at the back of the church and that I had bird’s eye view of not only the church…..
…but also the magnificent organ pipes that I had ogled from the ground floor…..
I would have LOVED to been able to sit down and give this a try…..
Also, this Lyre playing angel caught my attention…….
I spent a lot of time standing up here, looking at the church and watching the service that was starting to take place……
….and then reluctantly left the church!!
The next planned stop was for lunch, but then I saw a bunch of women going into and out of a large clothing store so, of course, a bit of shopping had to be done first. I ended up visiting two different stores and was really pleased with the clothes that I emerged with!!
For lunch, I revisited one of the Gelato shops that we had stopped at earlier, but went for a bit larger of a meal……
It was magnificent to sit and eat this delight while watching the tourists stroll thru the square!!
My plan was to visit one of the small churches located just off of the square and walked into this gorgeous chapel……
I enjoyed walking thru the building, but kept hearing a sound that I couldn’t quite figure out. It was a whirring noise and seemed to be coming from the front of the sanctuary. As I sat in one of the pews (some were marked “No tourists….only prayer please”), I finally noticed the man hanging from the ceiling with a vacuum cleaner nozzle in his hands!!
I happily watched as he carefully vacuumed all around the statues, taking particular care to clean around the ears and noses!!! I sat for a while and then noticed a flyer on the seat next to me that advertised an Organ Concert that was taking place at 3:00pm….just 10 minutes away. So, I stayed around to listen a bit. Have a listen for yourself….
During the next piece, I looked up to see the workman walking carefully along the top ledge in the church, toting his ladder!!!
I didn’t have time to stay for all of the concert, but really enjoyed what I did get to hear.
There was one last place that I wanted to check out before I left the main square….Loo’s Loo. The story, according to Rick Steves, is that in 1900, a chemical-maker named “Loo” needed a publicity stunt to prove that his chemicals got things clean so he purchased two wine cellars under Graben Street and turned them into classy water closets, complete with candeiliers and mahogany.
So, I paid my .5 Euro to go in and use the facilities in Loo’s Loo, and of course I took a few photos as well.
I was escorted into a stall by a uniformed woman and the door was closed and locked behind me……
Quilter’s, note the “Orange Peel” floor tiles!!!
After I had finished, the attendant went in and cleaned and got it ready for the next client……
That night we were met by Michael’s host, Christian, and taken to another Biergarten. Michael and I both opted for a “traditional’ Austrian meal. In my case, I had a slice of ham, a slice of roasted pork and two types of sausages. It was served with a bread dumpling that had a great flavor, but was extremely dense, and with Cabbage that had been boiled in beer. Again, great flavor but an interesting texture.
The next day was our last in Austria and Christian had asked me to meet he and Michael at the University at 3:00, so I knew that I needed to stay close to the hotel. So, I decided to visit the Belvedere Palaces and Museum which were only a few blocks away.
I started out in the Lower Palace which wasn’t much to see, however, it housed an amazing collection of Religious Iconic art…..but no photos allowed. There was a large Ball Room with paintings along one wall and large sofas along the other so that you could sit and enjoy the view.
Many were extremely old and were painted on various woods with most being on Fir. It was interesting to look at these paintings up close as you could see that there was a design etched into the wood as well, so many of the background details were actually etched rather than painted.
There was a series of paintings of the Virgin Mary but these not only depicted her connection to Jesus, but also her birth and death and various times in her life.
Many of the pieces had been removed from larger Altar pieces that would have been made up of 10+ such paintings. I was fascinated to learn that the altar pieces normally had a Sunday side and an Everyday side. The Everyday sides were the ones on the outside of the altar and were obviously more worn. The Sunday sides, which were inside the altarpiece and only opened on Sundays, were more elaborate in design and were in much better condition.
I moved into a room full of statuary and noticed one likeness that had teeth carved in it. It was very unusual as most only had closed mouths. Since I was in “teeth” mode, I found a pottery statue that had teeth but you had to look under the lips to see them.
I returned to the LONG courtyard between the Upper and Lower Palace and made the walk to the larger of the palaces……
…..stopping to chat with a few friends along the way……
This palace held a HUGE art gallery and I spent two hours wandering thru it’s rooms.
There was one gallery that included only self portraits, both realistic and surreal, many dressed in various costumes, including a clown.
There was one exhibition called “Light and Shadow” that contained only works by Kurzweill Max, an Austrian painter who died in 1916. It was well titled as he was amazing at bringing light into his paintings.
One was called “The Dryad’s Death” and was a very dark painting that made you think of the deepest part of the forest. There was a light in the horizon but when I first looked, I couldn’t see anything more. Needless to say, I wasn’t that impressed with it!! Then, as I continued to look, I could see the Dryad coming out of the tree. I walked away really liking the painting!!!
Another favorite was call “A Dear Visitor”. Here is a “stolen” internet photo…..
As I wandered thru the galleries, there were a few other pieces that stood out to me.
I loved this piece by Maximillian Oppenheimer, called “Die Philarmonkier”…..
It is a very large piece and contained SO much detail. You could almost hear the music while you stood there.
In one gallery there was a painting surrounded by restoring equipment. It was fun to look at the jars of paint, brushes, rags and even a vacuum cleaner. There were several jars of gold gilt which made me think that they might have been restoring the frame rather than the actual painting. I wish that they had been working so I could have watched!!
One room contained a series of statues called “The Character Heads” by Franz Xavier Messerschmidt. The interesting thing about these sculptures were the expressions on the faces, and the names assigned to the expressions. This was one of my favorites……
Try googling these and enjoy!!!!
In other galleries, I saw paintings by Van Gogh, Max Liberman, Monet, and Manet. One of my favorites was a Monet called “ DerKoch” which means “the Cook”…..
There was also an intriguing painting called “Seashore in the Mist” by Caspar David Friederich. It is another one that you have to really look at to see all of the story……
Finally, I found my next quilt in a tile piece in women’s bathroom!!! It is a simple pattern…..
….and when I saw it I started thinking about doing discharge dying of some black and brown fabrics that I have and then maybe adding some gold or bronze paint to them as well. We will see what comes of it!!!!
In the evening we were taken to Christian’s home and spent several hours enjoying time with his wife and twin sons. Then it was back to the hotel to get packed up to start our return journey!!!!
On Saturday morning we had one goal in mind…..to visit the Butterfly Garden at the Hofburg Palace. We were trying to follow the signs, but without any English it was proving hard to do. Finally, we looked up and saw the Big Butterfly…..
Hooray….we had arrived!!
Now, here is when it is helpful to have a biologist along as Michael was able to point out the various types of butterflies and moths. There were stunning black ones with either red or yellow spots…..
And large moths…
….whose inside wings were a brilliant blue…..
I tried, in vain, to photograph this small orange butterfly, but he simply wouldn’t slow down long enough……
There were two large Atlas Moths that were mating, attached to a lower branch. It was a perfect opportunity to get an “up close and personal” photo…..
This female was about 7 or 8 inches in width while the smaller male was about 5 inches…..
The garden was beautiful and had gorgeous bunches of flowers that I happily photographed.
Then I turned around and saw a sign saying that these ARTIFICIAL flowers were sprayed with honey and was a feeding station for the butterflies…..I am SO gullible!!
We returned to Stephensplatz and enjoyed a Gelato Cone and watched the people milling around, intermingled with Oom-pah bands wandering thru the crowds……
I was happy when they set up close to us and started to play. It was an interesting group of musicians with a wide age range….
I was able to video a portion of their performance….check it out…..
At 1:00, we were scheduled to meet Harry in one of the train stations where we took two other trains and a short walk to arrive at his and Cristina’s house. They live in one of the smaller villages outside of Vienna and it was so refreshing to be away from the tourists and also away from the noise. We walked toward a Biergarten in town, accompanied by their two daughters, Mika and Lena. They both are amazing at languages, speaking German, Spanish and English We had a laugh at their English as they both had California accents, probably a result of too much American TV watching!!
The restaurant is associated with one of the small, local vineyards. They are only allowed to sell their own wine products and can only be open for a certain amount of time each year. Consequently, there are a group of restaurants that rotate which days they are open. A lit lamp (or light bulb) indicates which one is open on a particular day…..
The restaurant was really cute and had a huge garden area which was where we sat……
We started out with drinks, and Cristina ordered a local specialty…..Coke mixed with an Orange soda. I didn’t try it but it did sound good.
Michael and I both had Weiner Schnitzel and tasty potato salad…..
We had a magnificent time sitting under the trees, eating wonderful food, drinking German beer and enjoying the family dynamics…..
The girls headed back home while the rest of us went for a much needed walk around the area. I loved the village sites……
Many of the street corners had blind curves so these mirrors were everywhere…..
We initially walked down several residential streets, enjoying the architecture…..
We eventually arrived in the more rural area, enjoying the views around the Vineyards……
We eventually arrived at another restaurant, this one located in an old monastery….
Michael opted for Schnaaps while I had an interesting desert of sweetened cheese balls, white chocolate balls and strawberries……
The dessert was ok but the most interesting part was that it was served on a slab of slate!!!
There was a birthday party happening at a nearby table and we were astounded that the servers sang “Happy birthday”…..in English!!!!
One aside here…..the Austrians love their dogs and they are allowed everywhere. In hotels, restaurants, stores and trains. I was impressed that this restaurant had a special drinking area just for our four legged friends…..
When Lucy, the family dog that was accompanying us, wouldn’t drink there, the waiter brought her a special bowl of water. Such service!!!!
Harry and Cristina dropped us off at a train station and we quickly made our way back to our hotel.
On Sunday morning, we had tickets to see the Lipizzaner Stallions at the Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule). According to Rick Steves, “these horses have been bred since the 1500’s to create an intelligent breed with a noble gait and Baroque profile”. They are born black and slowly fade to gray as they age. They don’t turn their trademark white until adulthood.
We entered the 300 year old hall and found a darkened ball room complete with chandeliers and soft, classical music….
As the time drew closer, the lights came up, the chandeliers were raised to the ceiling and the show began…..
Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photos during the performance, so the time was spent recording the performance in our minds!!!
The performances were not flashy but showed the beauty of a horse and rider working together in perfect harmony, The horses have been trained using the “High School of Classical Horsemanship”.
e first performance was by the younger stallions, many who had not changed to their classic white coat. We were told that they might be a bit more skittish but we didn’t see much of that. They calmly walk around the arena, changing gaits and movements as their handlers instructed them.
Next came four rider-less horses who performed various jumps and rearing up on their back legs. Two of these horses were handled by one person and the other two had a second handler with a long rein.
The final performance was by an 8 person team and is called the “Ballet of the White Stallions”. They walked and trotted their charges thru various displays and in various formations.
In between the performances we were given information about the teams and the horses. The color of the saddle blankets gives information about what type of training that particular horse has received. The clothes worn by the riders also reflect their experience and it was fun to hear that a hidden Sugar Cube pocket is sewn into every uniform!!
It was unsettling to watch a horse event accompanied to classical orchestral music. It just wasn’t the same as a West Texas Rodeo!!! Also, between performances, a gentleman with a “pooper scooper” came out and cleaned the field. We were waiting for Bubba on his tractor!!!
Finally, it was interesting to see the horses exit the arena and walk into palace halls!!
After the Performance, we had one thing in mind…..Bratwurst from a street vendor!!! The sliced sausage was served with mild mustard and rye bread…..
We ate it with little wooden “forks”, standing at the side of the stand……
Previously I had seen a sign advertising the Albertina Museum so we decided to go there and see the various artwork.
There was a large permanent collection and we loved seeing paintings by so many of our favorite artists. Here are a few…..
….Henri De Toulouse-Lautrec……
….Claude Monet ( have ALWAYS loved his water lilies)…..
Michael challenged me to make a quilt in this pointillist style!!
Although we didn’t know this painter, we loved the intense light shown in this painting by Alfons Walde…..
And, finally, I adore the landscape scenes by Pablo Picasso…..
There were several smaller local artist temporary exhibits which were interesting in that the medium was different. One used mixed media and the other used large block prints.
As we were walking back to the hotel we passed two interesting “foot related” sights. The first was this pair of shoes, apparently abandoned the night before…..
….and these large feet associated with one sculpture. Someone had taken it upon themselves to give her a pedicure, complete with silver nail polish…..
Finally, we were back in the Riding School area and heard a whinny coming from one of the buildings. As we walked past a series of windows, this is what we could see……
On Wednesday it was time to clean up our apartment, pack our suitcases, say goodbye to Gwyneth and head to Vienna, with an overnight stop in Lisbon.
In the airport, the attendants would immediately speak to us in English and finally Michael asked how they knew. The young woman smiled shyly, drew a circle around her face with her hand, and said “it’s the shape and look of your face”!!
We arrived in Vienna at about 2:30 on Thursday afternoon and checked into our hotel, the Pertschy Palais Hotel. From the information provided by the hotel, there is evidence that the building is very old, as early as the 1400’s. In 1605, it came into the possession of Count Cavriani who turned it into his personal Palace. After World War I it changed owners and has been run as a hotel since 1964. It currently has 55 rooms that are slightly irregularly shaped, but with delightfully creaking floors, chandeliers, and wide stone stairwells connecting the floors. It is located in the center of Vienna and, although a bit loud at night, has been a perfect base for our wanderings!!
We were hungry when we arrived and asked the woman at the reception for a suggestion of where to go, preferably somewhere that locals would go. She sent us to the perfect spot (Brezl Gwölb) and we started our meal with soft, salted pretzels…..
We followed that with a Salad, Weiner Schnitzel and Potato Salad……..
The biggest surprise of the meal was the Potato Salad. It was served cold, and flavored with an oil and vinegar dressing…..
Naturally, we had to finish things off with a traditional Austrian dessert….Apple Strudel and Apricot Schnapps….
Now our tummies were full and it was time to take a walk and get our bearings….also known as getting COMPLETELY turned around and lost!!!
The main plaza in the old town is called Stevenplatz and was surrounded by old, architecturally wonderful buildings and LOTS of tourists….
We wandered our way down the Plaza, eventually arriving at St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The first views were exciting……
….especially as the bells started ringing to signal the arrival of 6:00pm.
The view got even better as we walked further around and could view the marvelous tile roof…..
We walked the perimeter of the church, gawking at the amazing architecture….
Michael noticed a building that was across from the Cathedral and noted how cool the reflection was……..
We passed open carriages, drawn by bored horses…..
….each with it’s own “poop catcher” bag following behind them.
We decided to head further down the road to see the Opera house, only getting there with the help of a nice woman who stopped and asked if we were lost…..how could she tell??
The outside of the opera house is fairly non-descript which could be one of the reasons that we couldn’t find it. There is a large screen outside and an equally large group of people sitting around watching it……
We continued on down the road, arriving at the edge of one of the Palaces. We stopped to get a drink and I was given a Coke “Life”….not “Lite”. It actually tasted more like a Diet Coke than any others that I have had.
It was relatively hard to get a good photo of this fountain as there were SO many people standing around it!!
A look skyward told us that we needed to head back to the hotel and start again in the morning…..
The first move for Friday was to climb up the North tower of St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The 300+ stairs were narrow and went around and around and around and around…..you get the idea….
Although I didn’t get a great photo, I loved this gargoyle keeping watch over the staircase….
Unfortunately the top was not open to the air, but there were windows where you could see the city below and take decent photos……
We spent a few minutes watching a workman walk along the top of a five or six story roof with no harness…..
He was walking as if he was strolling down the street!!!
Meanwhile, outside the church, this artist was getting set up to throw himself into his work……
We walked toward our next destination, passing this group of wee students on a field trip…..
While walking we passed one fountain that I failed to take a photo of. However, I did take a close up of one of the attached statues. I love the look on her face…..
We made our way to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, located across the first ring road (Ringstrasse), and part of the “Museum Square”…..
The exhibits were organized and we not only gawked at them, but also at the ceilings in the various galleries…..
Of course, I did a bit of floor gawking as well……
We enjoyed exhibits from all over the world and from all ages, including relief images carved in wood…..
This piece was about 10 inches wide and the detail and depth were impressive!!
I appreciated the detail designs in this metal work bowl…..
I have said it multiple times on this blog, but I am astounded at the way an artist can make marble look like soft, flowing fabric……
I appreciated the shape of these tiny vases….
We entered a room filled with heads……carved ones. The carvings were spectacular, but the show was stolen by the striking manner in which they were presented…..
We entered the “Egypt” room and I was confronted with the largest collection of Sarcophagi that I have ever seen in one place……
….and this photo shows only about 25% of them!! They were collected by the Austrians over many years but finally Egypt put an end to them being removed.
I appreciated the intricate beading on this one…..
We quickly skirted thru the gallery of Italian Baroque art….
Although, I did have to stop and take a photo of one painting by Carvaggio (in honor of David F. who spent most of his time in Rome looking for this artist’s works!!)…..
Many of the galleries did not allow photography, but I did bend the rules to take a photo of this woman working on a copy of one of the paintings……
I was most interested in the use of the wooden bar to steady her hand and keep it off of the previously painted areas……
By this time we were tired and hungry, so we wandered around until we found a Cafe that looked promising. Michael enjoyed a wonderful salad while I noshed on a Spaghetti dish that reminded me of the yummy Cacio e Pepe that I had in Italy.
Yes, that is pepper sprinkled liberally on the spaghetti!!!
Since we were once again revived, we decided to go for a walk into the government district, including the “City Hall”…..
….and this building that we never figured out……
I had a giggle at the “Walk” and “Dont-walk indicators……
Obviously, you never walk alone!!!
We passed thru a glorious Rose garden, many with a sweet, alluring fragrance….
I wish that this blog had smell-o-vision!!
We found a place to stop and enjoy a drink….wine and Schnapps!!…..
As you can see, I REALLY like the Schnapps….
That evening we met up with Harry and Cristina Meimberg, a couple that we had spent some time with back in 2009 when we were in Porto previously. They took us to a “typical” Austrian place….a Biergarten located in the middle of a large carnival!! The food was great…..
…and I especially enjoyed my ORIGINAL “Budweiser”…..
We enjoyed the ambiance…..
….and delighted in the company of our old friends…..
The evening ended with a typical Austrian desert, although I have NO idea exactly what it was called. It was a thin crepe filled with a Sweetened Cream cheese and was SUPER rich…..
So that makes day 1 and 2 in Vienna……more to come!!