Wednesday, May 25, 2016


The past couple of weeks there have been several doctor visits as I get the yearly checkups.  This year the doc is requiring a mammogram, bone density & stress test.  A benign growth next to my eye is too big to freeze off so a little outpatient surgery is in the offing next month.  As the gp and I went over all the results yesterday, it was determined I am disgustingly healthy...

As I was doing my morning ritual of meditation and prayers one of the prayer focuses grabbed my thoughts.  "Ghana:  Alleviating Poverty through the Harvesting of Honey in the Obotwerie and Yaw Denso Communities" was the prayer focus in the UMW prayer calendar for today.  I had never thought of how harvesting honey could help a person out of poverty.  How often do we humans lose sight of the simplest of foods can change another's life.

Now remembering all the bee hives in some of the fields of farmers when I was growing up in north Texas.  The hives were there and I never thought of them as money makers.  Possibly the difference in that farmer's life.  Or the children of the farmer.  And now for people in Ghana.....

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 17, April 7, Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

Knowing we would be doing considerable walking on the afternoon tour we stayed on the boat for the morning.  I did take time to arrange the flowers we purchased in the underground yesterday.  Some packing of dirty clothes and souvenirs as the room was getting a little messy.  We do still have about 10 or 11 more days to live in this 135 sq. ft.
Many of the folks on the tour had developed severe respiratory problems. Folks were taken to doctors and took meals in their rooms.  So while the knee may have been slowing me down some, neither of us were ill.  Just moving slower than some but pleased to be still going.  A relaxed breakfast and lunch were followed by boarding a bus for the tour of Schönbrunn Palace.  We were first to the bus for a change so parked ourselves in the front seats.  Join me now for the drive from the river to a summer palace, cause you know that other palace was just so hot!

mass transit everywhere but still plenty of cars

typical street view
Then you look to the right

Love all the detail on buildings

A little Dutch influence on the front.

Schönbrunn Palace underground station

Schönbrunn Palace railroad crossing

more pastel houses with the onion top caps
New or Old upgraded with skylights?  Still pretty.
And we arrive to be greeted by this view:
Schönbrunn Palace as with many of the palaces and residences the interiors could not be photographed.  If you will click here you can see the interiors in 360 beauty including the ceilings.   

We did get to take pictures in the outer hall where the lineage of the palace owners was documented.  But they are too blurry to really read in my photos.

The palace was sumptuously decorated.  It is a childhood home for one Marie Antoinette of let 'them eat cake' fame.  Private quarters and other areas were beautifully adorned as you can see in the 360 tour. Opulence at every turn.  There were a couple of little private rooms that were just shy of cozy.

One of the first rooms we visited was the Grand Hall, a room in which JFK and Khrushchev met during the Vienna Summit of 1961.  Communism vs democracy trying to work out the way the world would be divided.  According to wikipedia, "Although the leaders made no official agreement, they did reach a consensus regarding the future of Laos— cease-fire and ultimate neutralization. This agreement proved to be one of the only accomplishments of the Vienna Summit."

To make certain that babies born to the ruler were legitimate, all births were viewed by the royal court.  A special room with  a king sized bed was appointed with silver and gold threaded linens and spread.  We were not told if teas were held during the labor.  No one asked, either.  I must say the Habsburg dynasty left quite a wake in their lives in this area of the world. And Vienna may be its crowning glory.

Once we had completed the interior tour we were at liberty to explore the well appointed gift shops.  Found key chains for the teen girl and boy soon to be drivers.  A book of 'Imperial Vienna' for us to be able to recall what the name of the places we saw. Now we have time to check out the amazing backyard gardens. This photo is a composite of about ten shots from one location as I turned left to right.

The building is almost half a mile from my camera.  We could have spent a full day just in the gardens surrounding the palace per se.   Click here for a map of the gardens.

This is the side garden to the right of the right wing of the palace.  It, too is a composite.  As well as a couple of a couple of shots from the opposite end.

For these gardens, alone, the trip was worth the bus ride.  These pictures do not do the garden justice.  Some folks hiked to the distant building cause they were younger or more spry.  As with any fairy tale, tine in the garden must come to an end.  Back on the bus and return to the boat for evening departure.  But a few more glimpses of the things that make Vienna a unique destination.

Unusual architecture, statues to warriors, musicians and men of thought fill this ancient city.  Across the Danube is the new Vienna.  We spent no time on that side of the river.  Telephoto lens allow the distant buildings to come closer.

This is the last night for folks on the first part of this Sojourn so there is an evening farewell dinner.  As well as time for photos with the crew.   These folks really did make this a fabulous experience!

We pull away from Vienna and have a few last glimpses of the views.  Another lock to continue our descent toward our next stop, Budapest.

Then suddenly we are out of the city and enjoying the casual views of normal life on the Danube.

farewell cocktail party in the lounge
V for Vienna

And we enjoyed the setting sun from the comfort of the lounge.  Visiting with new acquaintances that will disembark early day after tomorrow morning.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 16, April 6, Vienna, Austria

St. Francis of Assisi Church
The hills are alive with the sound of ......... buses as they took us for our first look at this grand city!  The Ingvi arrived there about 6 AM.  We were up and at it fairly early as the buses left at 9 and we would not return till about 12:30 PM.  There was mostly riding on this tour so photo opportunities usually had window reflections in them.  After the shooting frenzy in Melk, Krems and the river scenes of yesterday I am a little shot out you might say.  Also, I had intensified my search for letters within structures.  'R and B are not easily found.

We travel on Lassallestraße from the dock area passing the St. Francis of Assisi church.  It was erected in 1913 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria.   Along the way we catch sight of the Wiener Riesenrad.  Several folks from the tour later made their way to the area and rode this Giant Ferris wheel.  Originally built in 1897 it was rebuilt following heavy damage in WWII.

Negotiating the huge tour bus through numerous unexpected detours we travel streets filled with beautiful architecture. The goal is to travel Vienna's Ringstrasse.  This circular avenue was built along the site of the old city wall.  Along this boulevard we saw palaces, Parliament and so many stunningly appointed buildings.

As with other cities there is the modern touch added in now and then in the older parts.  The new part of Vienna lies across the Danube.  Street side open flower markets are a delight to see.

Stadt Park - Johann Strauss Statue
Votivkirche, Votive Church
Monument to Mozart, Burggarten

Tile design on cathedral roof.
Since Vienna is so closely associated with music, there are tributes to Strauss and Mozart.  There are tributes to so many dukes, kings, generals, etc. frankly I can not even begin to remember a fraction of them.  It was like information overload.
We were sitting in the rear of the bus so I was taking photos out of the back window. The angles were such that identification of many of the buildings is impossible.  One is Hofburg Palace, winter residence of the Hapsburgs (Habsburg).  Hofburg is home to the Spanish Riding School and the Lipizanner horses. Had hoped to see the horses but they were not practicing the time we had available the next day.
Have no clue.....

Another building is the State Opera.  After several hours researching on the internet and books purchased in Vienna, I declare uncle!  Just enjoy the beauty of the detail on the buildings and call it good!  I have identified where possible from my memory.
Old city train station on Karlsplaz
Hofburg palace
Once we made the loop on the Ringstrasse the bus tour came to an end.  We began the walking part of the tour.  As with other cities on the tour, the WWII treatment of the Jewish communities is addressed.  We were led through the Jewish Ghetto.  On the Kristallnacht (Crystal Night the pogrom of Jewish communities in Germany and Austria) all the synagogues in Vienna were destroyed.  Except one.  It was behind a courtyard entry.  The Nazis did not recognize it as a synagogue.  Those photos I recognize.  Back in 1670 Leopold I had destroyed two synagogues and built Leopold Church on their ruins....  Antisemitism not just a Nazi thing.
Seitenstetten Gaffe street
signs were on the buildings!
Entrance to only synagogue to survive
Crystal Night in Vienne

backside of Anchor clock
From this heart wrenching area we wound through the narrow, cobblestone streets to the Anchor Clock.  It was past the top of the hour when we arrived at the clock location so we missed the change of statues.  Still, quite the clock for an insurance company hall way.  Wonder how many little widows did not get the pay our to build this puppy!
Anchor Life entrance
Josef or wedding fountain

The area is named Hoher Market.  Another memorial statue.  Can you see the netting over the fountain? This is how to handle a bird poo problem.  We saw it throughout the trip, netting.

The guide now has us heading out again toward the St. Stephen Church, a center piece of the old city.

St. Stephen Church
Inside St. Stephen

Poo bags are strapped below the horses
Ornate for sure but not like Melk Abbey which was a former palace.  We putz around the plaza after checking out the inside of the church.  Looking for mini beer steins for our son.  Gotta conserve room in that last suitcase.  Not being taken by anything we decide it is time for some Viennese coffee and strudel.

We position ourselves in the street side chairs and enjoy people and horse watching.  There is a series of for hire carriages directly across from the cafe.  It is soon time to meet the troop to head back to the bus.  Oops, we heard the wrong time and missed the crew but a second group is heading back so at Deanna's encouragement we join them.  I saw a truck with a fun picture of sausages, not a USA sight.  Once more by the ferris wheel and we are back at the boat.

each of those gondolas will hold 12 people for a dinner
Back on board we have lunch then time for a little exploring on our own.  Hubby wants to ride the underground over to find the coffee shop where Freud would join friends for conversations and coffee.

With a marked up map, fresh doses of advil and plenty of euros off we go on yet another adventure.  We manage to get tickets with our euros cause the credit card is rejected. (no pin # >:( )  We work our way to the trains and are immediately without a clue. Finally I approach a nice young couple and, yes, they can speak English.  The young man shows us the basics of the words that are not a language we can read.  And tell us to get off at the 4th stop. And we are off for a cup of coffee.  Counting stops and negotiating escalators, stairs and quick doors to make the connection at a different platform.  And pushing buttons as we learned that lesson in Amsterdam.

We exit the underground at the exact location our sweet Tamara had recommended.  And head in the direction I think we should go which is opposite from Hubby's pick. Two blocks later we stop a lady and her daughter.  Again, multilingual family and we are sent in the proper direction.  Hubby was right so we hike the opposite direction and there it is.  Only Hubby does not believe me cause, well, my recent track record on direction.  He asks the waiter who is dressed in a tux and it is confirmed this is the place. BTW the ladies had said the place was expensive.  Tux = expensive?  That's a story for another blog.

We choose to sit outside and do more people watching.  Espresso for Hubs and cafe au lait for moi.  A lovely pastry to share and table side flowers complete the scene.  We savor the coffee, pastry and atmosphere.  Eventually we step inside for a loo break and quick look around.  The basement area has the oldest small stage in Vienna.  Interesting how everyone seems to want to be the oldest of something or the biggest of something.

Hubs is ready to head back.  I suggest we should walk around and see if we could find those mini steins.  We can take in a few more sights of this University area.  I even convinced Hubs to take a different route back on the underground to reach the station near the boat.

More amazing architecture but no steins.  Back to the underground, elevators instead of stairs and a little shopping in the underground shops.  Still no steins but flowers to replace our faded tulips were right there calling my name.  We made all the transfers just fine and exited exactly where we wanted.  Stopped by a drug store along the way to get a few supplies like nail polish. This money thing is getting a little easier.  The check out line felt like a Walgreen's.  Now, back to the boat.

We had almost 10,000 steps when we walked onto the boat.  I was so ready for down time.  And that heated floor in the bathroom was wonderful on my tired feet.  Late dinner in the Aquivit and off to bed.  Aaahhhhh, but that ice sure felt good on one tired knee! Night now and tomorrow we visit more of the Viennese beauty.

letter hunting

How many letters can you make out of the objects in this photo?