Archive for the ‘Austria’ Category

Did I hear a Yodel?

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

We have walked a LOT! But most of it has been on cobbled streets.

We finally got a chance to hit the hills in Austria before heading to the boat. Alpine meadow, pristine lake, cog train passing by, and snow just out of reach.

We fell into a postcard!

I’m not sure which was hardest; the up or the down?

I wish I could say the jeans were as loose now as they were at the beginning of the trip. Streudel should be illegal. Oh and chocolate.


Taking It On The Chin

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

The Habsburgs were a crazy, out of control dynasty that ruled for over 600 years (a.k.a. Austro-Hungarian Empire) and were the most powerful European entity since Rome! They started out mostly a peaceful group and found that marrying their royals with other countries’ royals enlarged  their holdings without firing a shot. But this eventually resulted in a lot of in-marrying, and a slew of reasons that this was not a good idea for their gene pool (more in a minute on that).

The 19th Century was their time to shine with Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms, and Strauss, Freud, Doppler and a host of others. At the turn of the century, Vienna was the world’s 5th largest city in the world and had managed to avoid all revolutions and revolts. Then came World War I, (which I could make a case for the greedy Habsburgs starting and losing) and their holdings were split asunder. Then Hitler took over in 1938 and that’s enough of a history lesson for now. I read tons about everyplace I visit.

After a few generations of sisters marrying brothers, uncles with nieces, you get the idea, a few quirky things started showing up in the family Christmas photo. We see hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, and skeletal deformities such as smaller stature and the easiest to spot; ‘Habsburg chin’. This is a very pronounced chin (think Jay Leno x 10). Phillip II of Spain was so deformed he could not swallow or speak.. In this portion of a prominent statue in the city center, you see Leopold I (and Holy Roman Emperor) kneel in thanksgiving for the plague being over. He was married to his niece who was also a first cousin so they weren’t fast learners either.

Habsburg Chin

Habsburg Chin

Classical Culture

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

There are so many exciting concerts and recitals by amazing talent all over Vienna, but things can get pricey if you let them. With a little research, yesterday we went to a two hour rehearsal in St. Peters; organ, strings, and soloists of the highest caliber.

This morning we heard the Vienna Boys Choir: they sing for mass at a small chapel within the Habsburg grounds. We then dashed a couple hundred steps to the St. Augustinerkirche to hear the Vienna Philharmonic and bombastic organ play for another service!  All of it sounded like heaven and the goosebumps were free!

no photos allowed in the churches, so it's me being 'Fall-ish'!!

no photos allowed in the churches, so it’s me being ‘Fall-ish’!!

Prancing in Vienna

Sunday, November 16th, 2014

DSC03244What’s born black, turns grey, and at 10 years of age turns WHITE?

If you’ve been here you know it’s the Lipizzaner Stallions of the Spanish Riding School; you know that drill team of white horses that can leap in the air and seem to glide through their routines.

We went to a practice session (at 14 euros per person , we couldn’t afford the 100+ fee for a show). It was rather enthralling to see them put through their paces and also to train the up and coming colts.

It takes 10 years for them to be show-ready, but they live over 30 years and are pampered like you can’t believe.

We got a special treat when we were ambling around the Habsburg Palace grounds and they were escorted from their stables to a private training ground right in front of us. NO one gets that close!

Advent Anticipation

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

DSC03226Where the United States starts selling Christmas the middle of October and our special holidays have started running into ‘happythanksmas’, here in Europe (or at least in Austria and Germany) no bulb is lit before it’s time.

Advent is the big build up to Christmas, St. Stephens Day, and 12th Night.

I find it exciting that windows are draped to prevent their seasonal decor from being viewed. Crews are hanging huge light displays across pedestrian malls and city streets but NOT turning them on.

There is a build up that is generating enthusiasm as the stalls for the Christmas markets are being built and decorated. Add to that the crisp air, the fragrances of mulled spices, music everywhere,  and drums of fire roasting chestnuts that are already in place and you have a recipe for a Merry Christmas!

The Austrian Navy

Saturday, November 1st, 2014

DSC02376We are in Bolzano (Bozan),Italy. This region of Italy has an identity crisis as it doesn’t know if it’s Italian or Austrian. It belongs to an area known as Tirol: think Heidi, mountains, streudal, and beer. Mix with it pizza and pasta and your confusion would be justified.

Up until World War I, Austria had a coast line on the Adriatic Sea (Colonel Von Trapp from’ Sound of Music’ fame was a submarine commander in real life). The entire region for centuries was germanic and then to the victors go the spoils and it becomes Italian.

Today, all signs are in both languages and 85% of the inhabitants speak German. But it is a rich agricultural and industrial area for Italy (tons of apples are grown here, and of course wine) so despite protests and initiatives, it remains  Italy’s domain.

I think it’s the best of both worlds!

Where Next???

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014

We have 3 days to figure out where to spend the next 3 weeks,and we need suggestions!

We drop off our car in Munich next week and are footloose until we have to be in Basel, Switzerland on the 27th of nov.

We were mulling over Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Mittenwald????

We will be on trains and toting our bags.

Any and all suggestions would be appreciated. Tell us YOUR experiences!

After the Fall

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

On August 17 I was running the America’s Finest City 1/2 marathon. Only 3 miles into a 13.1 mile race, I found some uneven pavement and fell, turning an ankle. 7 miles later I decided I probably should stop running. My doctors concurred. I should have stopped sooner. My 1/2 marathon in Parma, Italy 4 weeks later in all likelihood would not happen.

In the ensuing 4 weeks I did my exercises and wore an ankle brace and compression sock any time I was on my feet.

Here in Europe I didn’t do any running, but a lot of walking through Saltzburg. Having made it to Parma, I wanted to experience the excitement with the 6000 (1500 doing the 1/2) runners at the starting line.

Would I be able to run?

Could I complete the run in the allotted time?

Could I walk part of the course?

Could I savor running in a foreign city and just enjoy it for what it was?

The race course zigs and zags through the streets of Parma. We actually ran 2 laps around the downtown section. What a great feeling after running 1/2 mile knowing my ankle was not going to be a concern during the run. It also was a great course for spectating (which I thought I would have to do after the ankle sprain). Debbie and our friends Wally and Pam from Colorado Springs were there to cheer me on at almost every turn. I think they ran almost as much as I did. I enjoyed hearing everyone around me speaking Italian and being encouraged by fellow runners, viewing the architecture of the many ancient buildings, and of course, crossing the finish line to cheers in a tongue I didn’t understand. The Run became the universal language for me and I praise God I got to be a part of it.


Hansel And Gretel Take On Salzburg

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

Maria Von Trapp’s story lives on

Maria Von Trapp’s story lives on

Where were you and how old were you when you first saw The Sound of Music?

It was my 16th birthday on a very special date with a guy I had a huge crush on (Andy Andeck). We were at the Loma Theater was where all the big movies were shown in town and it would show for a year or more (Lawrence of Arabia, etc).

And don’t we know ALL the words to the music?

Heck, my wedding march was the one Maria had in the movie because it wasn’t ‘Here comes the Bride’. Well I guess that impressionable teen lives again in that today we got me a dirndl! (Steve already owns liederhosen). The women in Bavaria wear this native dress often, not as a costume but as everyday nice clothes, and men are in their deer skin pants just like any pair of shorts. It pains me to see Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer get old, but their story or rather Maria Von Trapp’s story lives on.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Once again we have traveled to Sweden to pick up Volvo 2. We have flown to Gothenburg,Sweden as Volvo’s guests and have made our way to Germany via an overnight ferry and down through the entire country to Salzburg, Austria (Autobahn=going 90 and having the feeling you’re standing still)! My new favorite travel companions are noise-canceling headphones and Ambien. The car is a pearl white 7-seater SUV and has 500 miles on it already! We have picked up friends, Wally and Pam, and are exploring Bavaria. Still jet-lagged but doing our share of beer drinking and pretzel eating.

Big grin on Volvo 2 grill

Big grin on Volvo 2 grill