We are staying with our very good friends, Eileen and Jim Kendall. They were our next door neighbors in Massachusetts. Jim recently accepted a position with the U.N.’s IAEA. It is wonderful to see them again and exciting to be in Austria. We will also take a short trip to Prague while here.
In the morning we take a ride up to Kahlenberg overlooking the city of Vienna. We see some farm animals and I am remembered always as calling, sheep, sheep, sheep, and having the sheep run over. According to this picture, there are some goats there as well.
Next we stop at a church in Kahlenberg dedicated to the Polish king John III Sobieski. He was the commander in the Battle of Vienna which took place at Kahlenberg Mountain near Vienna in 1683. Vienna had been besieged by the Ottoman Empire for two months. The battle was fought by the Holy Roman Empire against the Ottoman Empire. The H.R.E. prevailed and a church was built in honor of Sobieski.
After lunch back at Eileen’s we go into the Vienna and visit the Hofburg palace. We take the audio tour describing the rooms. The audio talks a lot about Elizabeth, the wife of Franz Josef, who was very discontent. She had homes all over the world and spent her time traveling around. She was also an exercise fanatic.
After returning to Grinzing we have a dinner of wine and hors d’oeuvres, my favorite!!
The day starts off rainy again as we leave Hallstatt. We go through the mountains and it is a beautiful drive up to the A1. The rain stops by noon. We drive to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. “As at other Nazi concentration camps, the inmates at Mauthausen and its subcamps were forced to work as slave labour, under conditions that caused many deaths. Mauthausen and its subcamps included quarries, munitions factories, mines, arms factories and plants assembling fighter aircraft. In January 1945, the camps contained roughly 85,000 inmates. The death toll remains unknown, although most sources place it between 122,766 and 320,000 for the entire complex.” (Wikipedia) There are barracks and a museum. We see a short film on the horror. There is a gas chamber. Many memorials from different countries are represented on the grounds. It is a somber and difficult visit.
Then we drive to the Kendalls, buying a map along the way. They have a lovely apartment in Grinzing, a suburb of Vienna. We have a wonderful time visiting and eating Eileen’s great dinner. They will be putting us up for the next couple of days.
Today starts off rainy. We watch the little train on the other side of the lake and the little ferry crossing the lake make their rounds. As the rain lets up we make our way to the pre-historic museum and then do some shopping. As you can see from this picture of the museum, Hallstatt is built on a narrow strip of land next to the lake and the mountains rise right behind it.
Later in the day we drive over to Obertraum and take the Dachsteinerbahn, a gondola, that goes up the mountain. We go up two stages and then walk around in the snow to take pictures! The day clears up for us and we have a beautiful vista of the lake, Obertraum and Hallstatt on the way down.
When we get back down and into Hallstatt it is overrun with tourists! It is such a small place that it does not take many tourists to make it crowded. They will need to find a way to manage tourism while still reaping the benefits economically. We find a place to have some pizza and beer as an early dinner or very late lunch. After that we are ready for a quiet evening reading.
Today is our departure day from Munich. After a false start trying to find the Autobahn 8, we take a route we are familiar with. We go west out of Munich and then get off and turn around heading east. For some reason either they did not make an east entrance or we simply cannot find it!
Traffic is pretty heavy and we get to Salzburg around 1 PM. We look through their cathedral and then take the audio tour of the Residenz, former home of the Prince Bishops. It is very elaborate, like a smaller Versailles. There are lots of Alexander the Great frescoes on the ceilings. We see many original and period furnishings with many fine mirrors and clocks. We enjoy the tour very much.
We look around for lunch but cannot find anything so we push on to Hallstatt. It is a beautiful ride through the mountains, lakes, and villages. Hallstatt turns out to be a tiny town on a lake. What a beautiful setting. Our hotel, the Gruner Baum, is not as charming as I had hoped but we have a deck overlooking the lake and a very large bathroom. Alas, it is a no shower curtain kind of bath/shower combo.
For dinner we go to the Gersthofen Zauner. I order Vienner schnitzel and John has spare ribs. We also order a salad and cauliflower au gratin in hopes of eating some vegetables.
The television in our room only has two stations. Both are in German so we do not stay up very late!
We start the day with a trip into Munich on the U-bahn to the Staatsgalerie Moderner Kunst. (State Modern Art Museum) We walk through the beautiful Hofgarten of Royal Garden along the way. In the museum there is an impressive collection of Klee and Kitchener and some Picassos and Kandinsky. I think, though, I enjoy the smaller museum in Stuttgart.
In the afternoon we go to Hersching to see Andechs Monastery and eat lunch at the Andechser Hof. The monks brew beer at the monastery and it is served at the Hof. The weiss beer is very good but maybe not as good as Schneider’s. John has maulthaschen which is a layered noodle and minced beef dish and I had the standard wurst and kraut. My wurst and kraut meal is fine but I think I have had it enough times this trip!
After a very uphill walk we visit the monastery. I am very taken aback by the baroque, gilded church. First, why spend so much money on decoration when the money could have been spent on poor people. Second, why did all these “devout” people stand by while the Nazis killed millions.
Later, back in our room, we watch Agassi play Escude. It is incredible that Agassi won! All the excitement of the match means that I stay up until almost 11 PM! Maybe I am finally over jet lag!?
P.S. Spoke with Sarah. She seems happy and is full of news.
Today we take the S2 into the Hauptbahnhof and find the “Times Square,” a cyber cafe. We check our email and are happy to find a note from Sarah. We write back to both Jon and Sarah. As an aside I remember how difficult it was to find internet around this time. We sought out bars, bicycle shops, and other hotel lobbies hoping to find a place to connect. Soon we decided not to stay anywhere that we could not get connected.
We reboard the train and go to the Isotar stop where the Deutches Museum is located. It is an industry and technology museum. We look at exhibits about food science, telecommunications, computers, electronic toys, musical instruments, bridge building and lots of others. It is all very interesting especially when there are some English explanations.
After our visit we have a late lunch/early dinner at Buon Gusto, an Italian restaurant. John has risotto and Ichoose veal Marsala. While we are there we watch a film crew set up for a TV interview with the chef who used to be an actor. He is very short! John and the waiter speak a sort of Italian to each other. This is a very nice break from German food.
Lastly we head over to the Viktualen Markt for some wine and cheese. Good thing! When we get back to the room we discover that the room cleaners had thrown out all our pretzels and crackers!!
I wake up today and my hip is killing me. So many hard beds have gotten to me. It is too painful to bend over! I take some ibuprofen that we have brought along and think about how I am going to manage sightseeing feeling like this? We go to breakfast at the hotel. I am getting used to having cold cuts for breakfast.
The first thing we do is drive to Pasing where we search out a Citibank. We need to get some Czech money for later in the trip. They tell us that we can only get it at the Citibank in central Munich. Nothing is easy.
We have decided to visit the Alte Pinakothek to see the art they have housed there. They do not have a parking lot or structure. It is just on-the-street parking. Round and round we drive making bigger circles away from the museum. I am ready to give up but John is still trying. Finally we find someone pulling out of a space about 5 blocks away. Then we hike to the museum. Inside the pinakothek we love especially the Brueghels and Durer self-portrait.
After we finish at the museum we go to a U-bahn stop and buy a 3-day pass. We take the train into Marienplatz, the main square of Munich. We find the Citibank and buy the Czech korunas that we will need. We stop for a late lunch at Schneider’s. We dine on wurst und kraut und bier. Yum! Here I will find a life long love of their Weissbier, known as Tap 7. It is the beer we have at our Christmas celebrations, even now some 21 years later.
Lastly we do a little grocery shopping and buy some wine and munchies which we will eat for dinner. We take the U-bahn back to where we parked the car (so glad we could find it again) and then drive back to our hotel.
Today we leave Rothenburg. It is just as well since we are both sore from the hard bed.
Our first stop is in Feuchtwangen. We visit St. John’s church and its cloister. This church was built in the mid-13th century and still has vestiges of its frescoes.
Then it is on to Dinkelsbuhl to visit St. George’s church. It is quite large and has many altars.
Finally we head toward Nördlingen. In our travel guide it tells us that Nördlingen is built in the very large crater of a meteorite. The impact was so intense that much of the carbon in the area fused into tiny diamonds. Many of the older buildings in Nördlingen are built with diamond encrusted rock. The church we have come to see is not open.
At this point we decide we have seen enough medieval stuff and proceed to western Munich to our hotel, the Insel Muhle. Since I have made a navigating error we buy a map of the area from the hotel. We are on the third floor of an old converted mill. Our bedroom is in a loft area while the bathroom is on the floor below. We will see how that works out! We eat dinner at the hotel, enjoying sauerbraten and tornados. The food is fine but quite expensive. We are really tired and in bed by 9 PM.
After breakfast at the hotel where they have delicious pretzels, we set out towards Wurzburg. The ride is through woods and rolling farmland. We stop in Stuppach to see the Stuppacher Madonna, a famous painting by Matthias Grünewald (1475-1528). It is in a little chapel of its own set off to one side of the church. The Madonna is the central panel of an altarpiece. It is strangely luminescent and brightly painted. Angels are descending from heaven with a crown for the Virgin while God the father is cartoonishly outlined in a pink and yellow cloud.
From Stuppach we travel on to Wurzburg to see the fabulous Residenz in Wurzburg. The architect is Balthasar Neumann and it was built in the Baroque style for the Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg in the mid-18th century. The Residenz is reminiscent of Versailles and comes complete with its own chapel and gardens. We listen to an audio tour with much oohing over the Tiepolo ceiling.
Our last stop is in Creglingen to see the Tillman Riemenschneider altarpiece at the Herrottskirche. It is beautifully carved in wood and depicts the life and ascension of the Virgin Mary.
This is our last night in Rothenburg and in wandering around we find the Zum Breiterle near one of the city gates and stop for dinner. There are dedicated tables to groups of men and the eye us suspiciously. We are served nonetheless. We have pork schnitzel. You rarely see pork cutlets made this way in the U.S. unless you go to a German restaurant.
We sleep reasonably well for having just arrived in Europe. We have breakfast at the hotel in their breakfast room where the use actual patterned china. They have the usual assortment of cold cuts and cheeses, eggs and rolls. Then we go out for a walk around the city.
We see a band and stop for a listen.
We go to mini-World, a train diorama, on our way to St. Jacobs church.
Inside St. Jacob’s Church is a beautiful altarpiece depicting the life of St. James. On the reverse of one of the panels is a 15th century depiction of Rothenburg looking much the way it does today (with the exception of tourists.)
We have lunch at the Gesthaus Greifen restaurant on a nearby street.
In the afternoon we have booked a walking tour. We find out that Rothenburg-ob-der-Tauber means “place where they cut down the trees above the water.” We see the town hall with its “stein” clock, a town market, and the old tower with a sundial. It is an excellent tour.
Later we take a ride around the area and end up in the little village of Detwang for dinner at the Gesthof Schwartze Lamm. I have bratwurst and John has venison. This place is much cheaper than eating in Rothenburg! Plus we almost witness a fight between the smoking and non-smoking dogs! Afterwards we go to their little church to hear an organ concert.