Originally published 18 June 2013
Vienna tower cranes
They went on a bus trip today to see a palace in Eisenstadt.....a small town about an hour outside of Vienna. John and Janice, friends from California of David and Sheree also went. I tagged along and saw a bit.
We started out by taking the train to the bus station...an adventure unto itself. The station was under construction, of which I was aware. We tried to buy bus tickets...and wandered all over the station trying to find out where. We finally found someone who told us that you buy them on the bus. Problem solved. So we waited for our bus and finally got on.
The PC police would have a field day with this one in the US
I was observing construction on the train station. Construction is rampant in Europe. There was no place there weren't multiple projects, even in small towns. Sewer reworks, new train stations, you name it....they're building it. As I said last year....if the economy is down, and they're building this much.....I can't imagine what it was like when it was good.
It was nice to be out of the city. Vienna is a very big city of close to two million. A lot of concrete...and it holds a lot of heat. Yesterday, according to the paper, it got to 98 in parts of Vienna. Today, getting out of the city, with an air conditioned ride for an hour both ways was a nice break from the heat. This trip we've dealt with floods in Germany and 30 degrees above normal temps in Vienna. I am looking forward to locusts in Prague and sea monsters in Iceland.
Radio controlled roller
We had lunch and they started checking out exhibits. It's really a big deal to David as he is a music major, and the rest enjoy classical music. It's not really my thing so I just like to wander. In my wanderings I ran into the Jewish ghetto.
A lot of the Jewish ghettos were bombed out of existence during the war. The Jews had already been sent to the camps and the ghettos were bombed and rebuilt and didn't look like they used to....but this small town was of no value so it wasn't bombed. The ghetto was essentially like it was back then. It had perimeter buildings and walls and felt like an enclosed neighborhood. It also had a small Jewish museum.....odd for small towns out in the country.
Jewish ghetto entrance
I continued wandering and wound up in a gun shop and discussed Mauser rifles with the owner. I then wandered a bit and took a picture of some kids playing under a sprinkler. My intent was to show that kids all over do the same thing. Adults came running. Turns out it was a school and they didn't much appreciate that. They were less concerned when they figured out I was a harmless tourist from the U.S.
I've also watched fashion here. They like T shirts with American slogans on them.....in English. The problem is, they're just not things we Americans would say....or say in that manner. And we've seen bunches. One kid had a shirt on that said "Dream the rules". Exactly what the hell does that mean? Another eleven year old girl had one on that said, in neon orange all caps, "I AM THE AFTER PARTY!" I wanted to find the girl's mother and explain EXACTLY what the shirt her eleven year old daughter was wearing actually meant.
Kids being kids, just like everywhere else.
We took the bus back into town and lost an hour due to a scooter wreck in one of the little villages. Looked kinda nasty and they helo'd the guy out. But we got back in one piece. It's still hot as hell in Vienna. Lets hope Prague is just a bit cooler. Next report from behind the Iron Curtain! No..........wait. They took that down. Now a word from my lovely wife....
My Vienna excursions were somewhat of a different nature. Day one we went to St. Stephan's Cathedral and toured in and out what we could without paying more. As you come up from the subway you rise into St. Stephanplatz with this magnificent cathedral in your face. We passed some kid coming up from the subway as we were going down to find the bathrooms and as he got to the top he exclaimed "That's a fucking big church". Pretty much summed it up.
We went from there to Judenplatz - seemed appropriate after an overdose of Catholic grandiosity. Very simple and understated as usual with a memorial and small museum. The bigger museum was a few blocks away and had an exhibit on Jewish humor from the cabaret times to present. It was interesting but seemed very much like something that non Jews put together kind of looking from the outside in. It also had a small exhibit on Chaverim Chasak, a Jewish youth group began in 1913 and was active throughout the war and still has active ken (nests).
Like BBYO but more real, these kids were strong and Zionists, against the stereotype of the down trodden Jew during the war years. The top floor was a very simple exhibition of collection of articles from around Europe that had been salvaged after the Jews were stripped of their property and lives. Just one floor, while the rest of the money and energy was spent rebuilding cathedrals and other Christian icons. There are actually Jews in Vienna again, unlike Salzburg.
The next day we went to the Albertina Museum which is in a corner of the huge palace. We saw Rembrandt, Bruegel (medieval Edward Gorey) Bosch, similar work, Impressionists and a very powerful but disturbing exhibit of Gottfried Helnwein. Look him up, I can't really describe it. After that we toured the Opera House which was exactly how you might thing of it. It was largely destroyed in the was and rebuilt, opening in 1955. They give about 300 performances a year, never the same one 2 days in a row. Every day they tear down and make new sets.
It is Wagner week her so Tristan and Isolde was playing tonight. Tickets are expensive so we caught some of it on a large screen outside the Opera house, provided for us poor folks and those with a limited attention span, of the live performance.Walked back toward the center of the city and bumped into David and Sheree's friends from CA. They went to dinner with us and we had a nice time getting to know them.
We finished the evening with a free organ and trumpet concert at St Peter's church. It was a good venue for that music but the organ makes a lot of sound, too much for my taste at times. We walked past the opera house on our way home and the opera was still playing - its a 5 hour opera.
Eisenstadt today was a nice excursion with a self guided tour of the Esterhazy Palace where Haydn worked for 30 years. It lacked that over the top ornateness of the previous palaces but it also has been redone many times since it was built. Kind of like the white house being redecorated by each sitting presidential family. The Jewish ghetto was small, as usual, but had an intact wall around it making the reality of a ghetto more tangible.
I'm Bill. My wife Laurie and I love to travel and share our stories. We especially love it when we have been able to motivate our readers to start traveling on their own, and making their own stories.
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