Vienna is a beautiful city. Like Paris, it has a fairly low skyline, though there are some buildings taller than seven stories. The architecture is similar to that in Paris and actually Buenos Aires. There are many old buildings and they are not brightly colored in general but are decorated in detail around the windows in particular. Even the most mundane businesses, e.g. banks and post offices, reside in buildings with grand facades.
I arrived by train yesterday and was able to put my bags in the apartment I had rented right away, and then I was off to do some shopping. Shops are mostly closed on Sunday here except for food based establishments and shops at airports and some train stations.
I found my way to Stephansplatz where St. Peter’s church dominates the area. It has a beautiful tiled roof and is very gothic in architecture otherwise. It was overcast and gloomy and very windy so I didn’t go up to the top till today. However, the area was packed to the gills with tourists and shoppers. I went down Kartnerstrasse, Carinthia Street and wandered in and out of shops till they closed around six. There’s a huge Swarovski crystal shop there, three stories of earrings, necklaces, and figurines. The photos below are from the window display.
I had an early night, then today started with a trip up the tower in St. Peter’s church. It was overcast when I went up but by the time we went down the sun came out and the views were nice. It was particularly nice to see the tiles on the roof up close. The interior of the church was lovely too but mass was taking place so we could only see the entrance.
Next up on the agenda was to see the Spanish Riding School horses, the Lipizzaner horses, perform. The performing horses are all stallions. This breed of horse is grey or dark grey when young but as they age they become pure white. We first saw some younger horses do dressage steps, then older horses did some more intricate dance steps and jumps. It was quite interesting, though I was on the side in the upper balcony so could only see about 2/3 of the performance. The horses are trained daily and in the summer take a vacation, so I was lucky to see them before they went on break. No photos were allowed though. The photo of the individual below is courtesy of the web (fredadamsphoto.blogspot.com). The other is from pinterest.
After lunch which I had in an Italian restaurant in a little courtyard (thank you google maps), I went back to the Hapburg Palace and viewed the silver collection. It was amazing…the place settings are intricate and that’s just the way the napkins are folded. They ate only on silver for generations till they finally relegated silver plates to placeholders for porcelain. I also went to the Sisi Museum (based on Austrian Empress Elizabeth’s life). She was tragically assassinated in 1898. So what struck me out of all the information on her life was that she was about 5’8” and under 110 pounds and had a 20 inch waist! (And they had a dress of hers…the waist was like that of an 8 year old girl). Also, she had an exercise room complete with gymnastic rings and after exercise had a massage each day. Oh, she was beautiful too and her husband, Emperor Franz Joseph 1 adored her…but on the other hand she was married by 16. So there’s that. After learning about Elizabeth, called Sisi, I saw that state rooms which looked much as state rooms from that era do…lots of red and gold and high ceilings and paintings.
Tomorrow it’s back to California and the USA.
And that’s a wrap on this European trip. Till next month Europe!