July 14, 2011
Thursday 14 July 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Greetings from Vienna!
Manuela and I are waiting at the Meidling Wien Bahnhof for a train back to Graz this morning. My mother, Maureen, and Scott are aboard a flight back to California. Manuela and I had fun showing them Austria the past ten days, but now we’re heading home to prepare for a party to celebrate our marriage with her family and friends. We still have two and a half weeks over here, including a week in Greece.
We spent Tuesday afternoon touring Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp with Manuela's parents and her niece Theresa. The camp, a few miles from the town of Mauthausen (about 30 miles from Linz), is well preserved. A two hour audio guide portrays the life of the hundreds of thousands of political prisoners, prisoners of war, and Jews. Over one hundred thousand of them were murdered in the gas chamber or worked to death in a nearby quarry.
Mauthausen-Gusen Concentration Camp, Mauthausen
After visiting Mauthausen-Gusen, Willi and Angela drove us back to the Linz Bahnhof where my family said goodbye to them and Theresa. The five of us continued onto Vienna and arrived back at Hotel Pension Mariahilf in the evening. Maureen, Scott, Manuela, and I rode the subway to Donapark, a city park on the banks of the Danube River. We were treated to a beautiful twilight view of Vienna from atop Donaturm, a 252 meter tall tower in the park. Afterwards we went to Sweddenplatz and ate a late dinner at the food stalls.
We all went to Stephansdom Wednesday morning and debated whether to climb the cathedral's 136 meter tall tower or ride an elevator up the 68 meter tall bell tower; we chose the latter because it provided the best view of the colorful tile roof. Afterwards we shopped at Manuela's favorite candy store, Manner.
There are many historical sights in Vienna's center within walking distance of each other. We strolled down Graben, where there are many upscale stores, and peeked into Demel, a very old pastry shop. We pass through Michaelerplatz, where 2nd century Roman ruins were unearthed in the 1990's. The Spanish Riding Academy, home to the famous Lipizzaner Stallions, overlooks the plaza. Neue Burg, beside it, houses Nationalbibliothek (National Library).
We had a late morning snack at a cafe at the Prunksaal; the adjoining butterfly museum was disappointing. It was another hot and muggy day by noon, so we decided to ride the strassenbahn that circles the inner city; from our seats we could see the Austrian Parliment, Vienna Rathaus, and many of the other historic buildings.
For anyone interested in unique art and/or quirky architecture, visiting the Hunderwasserhaus and Kunsthaus Wien are must-sees. The former is an apartment building designed by Austrian artist Hundertwasser; the latter is a gallery housing a permanent exhibit of his art and architecture. It’s difficult to describe the apartment building, but the artist must have been heavily influenced by Dr. Suess. Or perhaps it was the other way around.
one did a bit of shopping before our last dinner together in Austria. My mother had been looking for a beef stroganoff dinner since we landed on Austria and she finally got it at Hoof Brau. Manuela and I spent the evening watching the Graz Sturm soccer team on television and Scott went to an English language cinema on Mariahilferstrasse to see the latest Harry Potter movie - three days before it's release in the States!
Wiener Mitte Bahnhof, Vienna
The 10:30 AM flight home this morning left no time for sightseeing. Manuela and I rode the S-Bahn train to the airport with my mother, Maureen, and Scott, and we saw them off. They enjoyed their 10 day journey through Austria, but they are looking forward to going home; my mother wants to rest, Maureen wants to try all the new gardening ideas she picked up from Willi and Angela, and Scott wants to hear English again.