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October 3, 2016
Up, up we went in a scaffolding elevator inside the beautiful and tall Karlskirche (St. Charles Church) in Vienna towards the dome painted with scenes of heaven. “We’re going to heaven today,” commented a fellow passenger. Petrified of heights and in an open elevator, I replied, “I just didn’t want to go today.” The scaffolding was in place so that the dome could be repaired and restored. Once we reached the dome level and stepped out onto the scaffolding, I froze, the scaffolding trembling and shaky. I saw a chair and asked Kathy to help me to it, somehow thinking that if I sat I would be safer. That is when I saw the narrow open scaffolding going further heavenward to the copula far above where they were restoring. Kathy said, “Let’s climb.” I said, “No way.” I could not believe they would let you, but they did. She insisted and said she was going. I said, “Go ahead.” She did. I cannot tell you how relieved I was when she returned from 236 feet above ground level, and we descended to the main floor of the beautiful church. What an experience!
Schoenbrunn Palace was the summer palace of the Habsburg dynasty, of first, the Holy Roman Empire and then the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. Grand it is! Imagine huge crystal chandeliers in gold and white rooms in room after room, and you get an idea of the grandeur. The grounds are also amazing with magnificent gardens and fountains and statuary.
We are staying in apartments in a historic building in Vienna within easy walking distance to the State Opera and other areas of significance. The apartments are wonderful. Wood floors, separate living rooms, one and a half bathrooms, kitchens, separate bedrooms. While each of our apartments is different they all have the same wonderful amenities. Huge and comfortable, we are quite pleased. We had intermittent rain today, but we managed to stay dry and we ate at a highly-rated cafe coffee house nearby. Rhonda and Allen, Sandra and Mike, Sherlene and Kathy and I say “hello” to all our family and friends. WEG
The Royal Imperial Habsburg’s ruled the Holy Roman Empire and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire. They were industrious, hard working, generally frugal and duty-bound. Emperor Franz Joseph said, “When you have worked until you are exhausted, you have had a good day.” He practiced what he preached, waking at 4 AM for morning prayer and then working 16 hours straight. He slept in his grand palaces on a hard iron framed bed in simple circumstances.
As we toured the Schloss Schönbrunn, the Imperial Summer Palace, we walked through beauty and history. Gold and white rooms with huge chandeliers and porcelain fire stoves, with beautiful paintings of Habsburg historic events and family members went on without end. After all, there are over 1,400 rooms in the palace complex. Silk wall-coverings and Belgium tapestries adorned others. The magnificent ballroom with frescoed ceilings and crystal glass mirrors held many important world events, including the meeting of JFK and Premiere Khrushchev in the 1960s. Empress Maria Theresa married off her daughters to secure the Habsburg reign. One, Marie Antoinette, died at the guillotine during the French Revolution. The Empress said that she only hoped that the daughters would do their duty, take care of their husbands and save their souls–whether they were happy or not did not matter. The Habsburg reign came to an end at the conclusion of World War I, since the Empire was a part of the defeated Axis powers. All the palaces became state museums.
The exterior gardens of the Schönbrunn are gigantic and spectacular. A hedge and flower maze surrounded by a long arbor adorn one side of the palace while the opposite side hosts a rose arbor and garden with fountains. The rear gardens reveal magnificent flower design plantings lined with statuary and sheered hedges. Fountains dance in the gardens overseen by the amazing Gloriette, a white marble fountain with statuary at the base rising up to a masterful building silhouette on the hill above. Truly, this is one of the most wonderful gardens in the world.
Kathy and I are proud of our ability to maneuver with public transportation. Today, without map or help, we moved through Vienna like pros.
WEG – Sunday, September 27, 2015