St Stephen's Cathedral
Reflection of the Cathedral in a the modern building next door
I spent the evening working on reports for work. If I had more reliable internet access, I could work anywhere. Our first stop of the day was Schonbrunn Palace. This is the “summer home” of the Habsburgs. History is such an immense subject. What was 2 days in Western Civ course in high school took place over 600 years. Frankly Austria, let alone Hungary were just a small footnote. Hardly even real places. It was in this palace that a 5 year old prodigy Mozart gave a concert to the Empress Maria Teresa. This is the next step on my Mozart tour. We also took in an apple strudel baking show and Frederick’s Mom got to participate. We’ve seen palaces and castles of this size before, but this one, for all its opulence still looked like someone’s home. It was a refreshing change. After the palace tour we took the subway into town and walked around the main tourist area. Vienna is a large and vibrant city, new and old stand side by side. Growing up in the US when you think about the workings of a city in our earliest days, say 1790, you don’t picture a huge metropolis. European cities were as big and busy as NYC is today in the 1600’s and so much of the architecture survives. As we walked through the main square, Alex and I saw the same guy who sold us the tickets to the concert the night before. We wanted to keep telling all his new “victims” not to buy the tickets, until he gave us our money back…but we were thwarted by the rest of our traveling party. Something about not wanting to make scene or get arrested. Whatever! A stop at St. Stephen’s cathedral and a stop at Momma’s for Schnitzel (loving the Schnitzel) and we were ready to head back to the camp ground. It’s the middle of World Cup Mania and all the campers are huddled around TV’s watching the matches. Ultimately, as you know, Spain won, but the Netherlands and Germany advanced far…it would have been fun to be in the country that won it all, just to see the spectacle.
Next up is Salzburg for 3 days. We were going to head down to Innsbruck, but the roads are pretty twisty and we are losing a day in Salzburg because it’s Sunday. Everything in Germany is closed on Sunday except gas stations, restaurants and stores at the train stations. So, it just a useless day when you travel. Also during the week, the stores all close at 7PM…what a pain! And…hardly anyone takes credit cards. Even IKEA is cash only….yes I’ll have a NAASKSIK book case and a IHFAAAKD desk and here is my wad of CASH. Eughhh!!!!
We’ll make a quick stop at Mauthausen. This is a concentration camp my grandfather help liberate in 1945. I didn’t mention it before, but we also went to Terezin prior to heading to Budapest. This was another work camp run by the Nazi’s. Alex did a play called, I Never Saw Another Butterfly where he portrayed a 17 year old boy who actually was housed in Terezin and eventually died in Auschwitz. It’ was really moving for him to see the actual place where this person spent his final years.
Salzburg….what’s not to like….it’s the city of SALT!!!! It’s named for the Salt mines nearby that brought the city all it’s wealth. It’s also the city where Mozart was born and lived as a child when he was not traveling as a musical sideshow. Oddly, I find so many parallels between Mozart and Michael Jackson. Both were child prodigies exploited by their fathers, both never grew up and tried to recapture the childhoods they lost and both died early.