Passau, I Hardly Knew Ye

Passau is in Germany on the edge of Bavaria only a few miles fro Austria. The Danube is joined here by two other rivers–the Inn and the Ilz:

Our first morning was foggy and mysterious–this is on the Inn River:

Passau’s population is 50,000. It principally survives on tourism. Its claim to fame is St Stephen’s Cathedral — in and out of fog:

The bishop of this town used to run the entire region through his army. Yes, I said army. There was a period of time when the pope and his bishops were leaders of armies. This bishop ruled with an iron fist. This is a painting of the bishop and some of his cohorts:

He had a castle across the Danube which he periodically had to retreat to when the townspeople rebelled against his rule. He’d order his troops to shoot boulders and flaming arrows in the midst of the crowds until they disbanded.

But, back to St Stephens. This large baroque edifice is, of course, beautiful (ugh) inside:

But it’s most spectacular offering and true claim to fame is its massive organ built in 1733. It has 17,774 pipes making it the largest in Europe — second largest in the world — there is one bigger located in Los Angeles:

Some of its pipes measure several meters — one pipe that is less than five inches in size. The larger the pipe the louder and deeper the sound. The smallest pipe plays so high it can be difficult to discern.

Later in day I was able to attend a concert in the cathedral. The organist played five pieces including Bach’s Toccata in Fugue in D minor — a musical piece well known to many from the Disney film “Fantasia”. It was, dare I say, heavenly.

The town truly survives on tourism–this means lots food to munch on:

lots of quaint museums like the Dachshund or Dackel Museum.

Don’t you love the proprietor’s love green pants:

These were in the museum shop:

What good would a tourist stop be without a character to view:

This is a photo from the 1930’s:

What tourist haven!

On to Prague!!

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Do you know the way to Cesky Krumlov?

I know it doesn’t rhythm–sometimes things just work that way.

We stopped in Linz, Austria and then went to Cesky Krumlov–located in the Czech Republic:

potty break along the way:

For me it ”twas a return engagement. It was the summer home for the Empress Theresa of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. The castle was built in the 13th century (everything is so damn old!).

It’s a UNESCO site with one of only two Baroque Theaters left in Europe. (Built in the 17th century.)

It also has a bear pit–a Middle Ages anachronism. The bear is the symbol of the Czech Republic:

This is a river town — sliced in two by the Vtlala River:

We window shopped and ate lunch at Papa’s — sat outside by the river:

— recommended by a tour guide — good food — had Italian:

Then walked to the castle garden–more in the throes of fall than summer:

The castle had this sun dial mounted to a building. The time would have been correct, but for daylight savings time:

The castle had a number of frescoes:

A fresco is painting on wet plaster; the drying of the plaster results in almost a lifetime piece of art. This process was originated in Italy and brought to Krumlov in 1588.

I was here 10-years ago and it’s definitely different now.

Still, I loved the visit. What a wonderful day — good weather, good food and good friends.


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Going Up the “Brown Danube”

Today there was only one stop. This was to the Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig. The day was quite beautiful, however, until we reached the abbey which was located on a hilltop overlooking the Danube River it was hard to see or appreciate the density of the thick fog that covered the river valley:

Located near Krems, Austria the abbey was founded nearly a thousand years ago. Currently, 45 priests and brothers reside here. Ranging from the ages of 21 to 94 they provide clergy to local parishes, as well as, agriculturalists, artists, teachers and many other professionals.

Like all Roman Catholic enclaves the buildings shared great beauty:

The abbey was originally built of timber. It burned down several hundred years ago (the flames easily jumped from building to building no water was on the hill making it very difficult to save the site save the Church) and so it was rebuilt to mirror its former design. A general dearth of funds resulted in painting certain exterior improvements onto the new abbey buildings and even its Church — the clock on the right is painted on unlike the the clock to the left. It also includes windows in different parts of the abbey:

Not unlike other churches of that era the inside had the typical gold leaf, statuary and frescos:

Frankly, I’m beginning to feel rather “over churched” — after all if you’ve seen one church you’ve seen them all!

Once we got on our way again the scenery looked great–leaves changing, swans all over the place even moon sightings occurred:

What a pleasant way to live. On to Linz.

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Gotta Love Vienna!

This is the city of Mozart, baroque buildings and art; and great food!

Known for strudel and tortes Vienna is home to the Sacher Torte only available at the Hotel Sacher — we also had coffee and incredibly rich hot chocolate:

It was sooo yummy!! After rolling out of the Hotel we wandered down a large pedestrian mall.

We spotted this gentleman pouring wine for an outside restaurant:

Later, I came upon this ice cream truck — with lots of willing customers:

That evening we had a private concert on Mozart and Strauss music with some of our close personal friends:

It was another day to remember!

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Lookin Forward to Vienna

Four years ago I spent Thanksgiving in Vienna. This time I had a day! And it was marvelous!

The visit began with a walk around the city. One is quickly reminded of why Vienna looks like a mini- Paris:

broad boulevards and wonderful buildings:

Filled with monuments to royalty like the above dedicated to Empress Maria Therese who ruled the Austrian-Hungarian empire in the 18th century. Bet you didn’t know she birthed 16 kids over 19-years. This included the birth of her youngest daughter — the infamous Marie Antoinette the future queen of France. She lost her head during the revolution because her French subjects refused to eat cake or so some say!

Even statues of Hercules abounded see four below as the hero is showing why is a crowd favorite:

Huge — right?

Here is one hundreds of fountains that commemorate Marie’s rule:

Ever hear of little group called the Vienna Boys Choir–their personal performance hall for over two centuries– they mustn’t be boys anymore is located in the same complex located in the same building:

The hall is part a church located in the backside of this building.

It’s fairly private – only the royal family could worship here until the end of WW I — the monarchy ended with war because there was no royal family after the war:

This entrance is to the same building. It is the chapel located in the coronation building — built over 300 years ago — this picture shows the entrance and its gate (original entrance). Look close, there are two spots above the opening that once worked as pulleys that raised or lowered at the behest early rulers. See two items near the top of the door opening:

this is all that’s left of the moat which is below the to the right of the gate:

Under most of the old city (under the buildings) one can find Roman ruins–this walk is nearly 2,000 years old:

So beautiful!

Next time I’ll mention other special things seen in Vienna.


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Bratislava, where is it?

On our way we traveled through the first lock:

It took forever because we had to wait for others to pass first– it was pretty cool once we entered:

After a few hours we were on our way again!

The visit to Bratislava was short, but sweet! Half a million inhabitants. Most were at work (we arrived at 2:30 or so). And it rained for a short time, like 10 minutes.

It’s home to a gigantic space ship:

It’s a restaurant that landed on a bridge years ago! So now you know where Slovaks came from — yes!

Just kidding of course, or am I?

As with all European cities–plazas take precedent because pedestrians take priority over vehicles.

I liked this sculpture in the plaza and in other places too:

As well as this piece that represents St Martin helping a beggar:

and this one — a sewer worker looking up dresses from a manhole:

and this one — a 10 foot crown on a church steeple that represents the coronation of a king:

perhaps this one — created to signify the end of the Russian occupation:

The buildings also look like sculpture:

or this church:

and lastly this government building:

Franz Liszt, a Hungarian composer spent some time in Slovakia — every Slavic country wants to claim him as their own:

Toward end of my visit I saw these fellas enjoying, well, you be the judge:

Needless to say they were animated!

So off once again.

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Where am I?

After flying for nearly 10 hours I finally arrived in:

Yup, I’m right here in beautiful Budapest (two cities — one is Buda (south of the Danube and Pest (Pesht) to the north. For over two days I’ve wandered over 20 miles which included going on a “free” tour of both sides of the river. The guide was Regi, who learned to speak English as a teenager:

We met her in front the tallest structure in town — St Stephens Basilica. She took us literally everywhere–and I have proof:

If you rub his tummy you get sexually enhanced — really!! That’s why his belly is so very shiny:

Ok, this is Hungarian Folklore or is it?

The statuary of the city is almost everywhere and most it is paid for by the European Union — perhaps we need to join so the USA can improve the look of its cities:

Regi took us through all nooks and crannies of the town:

Plazas–this was in front of St Stephens:

A Ferris wheel called “Eye”– sorry London–at least is half the size of the original:

The Chain Bridge:

A monument to the Black Plague survivors:

and Mathias Church which high above the Danube in Buda. Its unusual to have a non-saint name placed on a Catholic Church. Mathias was a king, hence a non-saint:

As an added bonus the Church has crow on on of its turrets that holds a gold ring– representing Mathias becoming king:

Squint and pretend you can see it!

With that thanks Regi for introducing me to this delightful city!!

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