Vienna was the seat of the remarkable Austro-Hungarian empire, ruled for the longest of any by one line, the Habsburgs… from the late Middle ages until World War One. Its territory encompassed much of east-central Europe. Three of its capitals were the focus of this tour, beginning with Budapest, as I described in part one. Vienna is the only one I had visited before, in fact with Stephen’s family on another tour taking us west into Bavaria & up the Rhine River

I’ll need to digitize that travelogue in another post…>.

We have followed the Danube this time by taking our Tauck bus through more farm country than originally scheduled because an accident on the major highway sent our driver on a delightful detour. I enjoyed seeing the territory from such closer & slower vantage, even if I I’m afraid that we impacted a group of bicycle tourists rather adversely. In the small towns & villages folk were out watching this invasion of freeway traffic from behind their garden gates.

I mention the river to continue observations begun in Buda & Pest, who take their identity from straddling the Danube. This frieze of Hippocampi brings a favorite visual of inspiration waiting to become a bell, perhaps, of such waters. I began collecting such mythical beasts in my imagination in Italy, but this one lives in Vienna.

Vienna, however, long ago moved her stretch of the river to avoid repeated flooding… so today the Danube is well beyond the city center, with an island levee which functions as a park & recreational area.

Just as last time we were there the tour bus also took us to see that feat & the neighboring United Nations complex… where Stephen worked when he lived in the city for a year in 1983-1984.

A detail of a Bosch> painting which I managed to capture seems jokingly apropos of that institution… indeed its form might be imagined held inside the curves of those buildings! It also speaks to the languages of this trip. In Austria I am at least somewhat capable with German, but the Hungarian we’d just left & the Czech we will hear next sometimes seemed a bit Babel-ish.

We began our city tour at the summer place of the Imperial family… Schoenbrunn Palace, which I had not seen on our previous visit. The city has grown to surround it but its acres of formally denuded land, punctuated by monolithic structures & planted to stern gardens seemed ‘most curiously anything but cooling…. but this was the Imperial taste at the time.

Cultural inbreeding was perhaps a result of the inbreeding of European Royalty… when four of the reigning heads of Europe at the end of this empire were children of Queen Victoria… All of which might seem more improbable were we ‘Mericans not finished quite yet with a second Bush… Clintonian?>

Here we are… royal in our own right. Why do I suspect we are trying to escape the stuffy staff at that Hofburg place downtown who have been hidebound & habitual there for too many generations?

The wide gravel avenue between garden parterres behind this hideaway was, by prior arrangement, the rendezvous for our nine family members. Smaller groups of us can peel off rather easily, leaving a verbal message with whomever next will be in charge of such information so that anyone within two degrees will know how to answer the question “Where is who?”. Our differences in age, in pace… interest… or capability, at any given time of day gives need for such system. I appreciate how well we travel together.

We take our own points for huddling as well…

Saint Stephen’s gathers us for one of the rare posed shots like this I will make…

It was tender to watch Mark, with help from his Bro, light a candle for their father…

Brother Mark is a great traveling companion & he loves art museums… we have many fine & funny times together.

He & I share birthdays one day apart. We are of course LEOS. so we growl at each other in easy affection & we share a love of discovering images of our totem. Here he strikes one of his poses in the grand stairway of the Kundsthistorisches Museum, with Stephen as some counterpoint to that scene in the background…

Rich as reality is, there always also blooms fantasy… I baldly dream wondering what would it be like to have this head of hair?

The ceilings of the Kunsthistorishes Museum are ornamented like huge frames for glass ceilings sky lighting the collections & which offer blank space for restful gazing… Helen & Mark demonstrate.

On my first visit to this museum in 2003 I rediscovered the Cellini Salt Cellar, which I’d studied in college. It is made of chased gold, but is even more valuable for the fact it is the only surviving work of that jeweler. Besides any of that it is stunningly wrought. Several months later it was stolen.

Much to my delight it has been returned, but now that whole wing is closed for renovation… with better security, no doubt! It is not on display, being rumored to be “in a vault 150 feet underground” so I obviously did not make this photo.

My camera was instead seduced by an exhibit of ivory carvings. Rather perfect subjects for my imperfect skill… the gentle strong contrast at an intimate scale let me capture some notions significant to me.

These studies in geometry are familiar to the numerical process of some of my own designs.

One grouping seems to repeat the war theme with which I was dancing at the end of part one…

I’m not certain who this bit of wrathful energy is…

My love of detail was stimulated by an entire room full of such, even as I celebrate that this material is rightfully banned now for the disastrous loss of so many elephants to the process.

An equally gorgeous material is the creamy marble out of which this favorite bit of schmaltz is carved. It is part of a memorial in the Hofburg’s Imperial chapel which I remember well form before & which still it holds my appreciation.

Sculptural work extends so commonly out onto the street that I took everyday delight in capturing such architectural details as these examples of the ubiquitous faces, or grotesques.

Or this cat creature, playing corbel to hold up a stack of bay windows on this building ornamented with several varieties more of those heads & faces…

Of course, some such patterns suggest possible new bells

But these hunky caryatids continue to be my favorites…

Close by were these Nouveau buildings with more painterly decoration. Stephen lived for an interval in the one to the left.

But this bit of more modern plasterwork also caught my fancy…

A bright breezy pegasus was caught grounded on our flight from the bus window…

The outdoor flea market had produce stalls as well… plus a series of eateries where we had lunch with Peter & Gerda, friends of Stephen’s time here.


Which can then segue to this municipal incinerator, designed by Hundertwasser, an artist I like for his organic sense. This art burns the garbage from such foods to produce electricity, which seems quite intelligient…

I found this soft shop one evening while S & I were out walking after dinner, when I was caught without my camera, so the next day I took several of the Reimanns with me to see it again. I thought Sarah & Alice would enjoy it because it was obviously about fashion & clothing.

David, came along & here reflects his mother Alice’s puzzlement…

Never open… lacking even any sign, the store front wasn’t nearly so dramatic as when gently lit in the dark, but I neglected to go back yet again at night to capture that drama, so it remains as these bits of visual mystery.

We left toward Prague the next day…

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