A small hike: nach/aus der Schöckl

On our 2005 trip to Switzerland, we discovered the joys of ‘civilized’ hiking! By that, we mean, a ride to the top of a mountain via a funicular or gondola, and hiking around, to the next valley and down another train …. but not before wandering across a quaint hut selling yoghurt or absolutely the freshest cheese imaginable, or coming ‘round the bend to find a full-scale restaurant, or sitting down to peach cake and beer in a guesthouse plopped right in the middle of a meadow.


valley with huts in Switzerland

Friends here in Austria had told us of places like this in Austria (that is, in most of the country) where huts for food and resting were available in the alms (or meadows) of the high peaks. (Hiking ways and guesthouses are also available in the areas that are necessarily mountainous.) We had hoped to be able to do a real trek to one of these higher destinations, or between several, but have simply run out of time!  So, one weekend, we did the next best thing:  we went to the Schöckl, a popular recreational peak 1400 m. above sea level, and about a half-hour away from Graz (ele. 365 m.).  It is known, somewhat jokingly, as Graz’ ‘Hausberg’.


the Schöckl from a distance


If really good maps of the area exist we couldn’t find any, but downloaded something from the internet.  Our plan was to take the funicular up and hike down. After a bus ride from Graz to St. Radegund bei Graz, we found ourselves at the funicular station.  Everyone disembarked and immediately headed to the bakery counter in the lobby where they loaded up on honey buns and cinnamon rolls.  We decided to wait to get something at the top!


Three restaurants appeared at the top along with a playground, a bobsled-like ride, communication towers, and gorgeous scenery.   We figured we’d hike around the top and then try to find the correct route down.  There were several routes – one basically straight down, and others that ran more around the mountain.  The latter is what we were aiming for – not too steep but not too long a hike, either, plus we wanted to end up in the same town where we started.



the tram station at the top of the Schockl, playground on the edge, the toboggan run, hut



two Germans we met on the bus; one of three restaurants at the top, communications tower


wildflowers everywhere


At the top we found a curious structure, a wooden platform of some kind.  We asked some other hikers about this (auf Deutsch) and they explained (in English) that it was the take-off platform for the hang-gliders.  Now that we know something about, except if this were in the US, it would be surrounded with big “danger” signs, or maybe a locked fence.  We could hardly believe how close some of the hikers (and their children) came to the edge!



take-off point for the hang-gliders, the view


We struck up a conversation with the men.  As with every Austrian we have met, they were interested in what we were doing here, (assuming we were on holiday). We, of course, were interested right back in finding out about them! They wondered if we wanted to have a bite to eat or drink in one of the small seasonal huts.  Naturlich! This hut was not an ‘established’ restaurant, but the family who ran it had permission to operate because they also summered their cattle on the mountain.


Florian and his dad, Rudolf; flowers; cross at top of mountain


We shared the table with the people already inside, who were having cold ‘buschenshank’ type food, or toasts, or cake.  Our new friends ordered hot tea with schnapps, which was another new experience for us!


little hut, inside, outdoor restroom (notice how brown is the tree!)


At the end of our snack, Florian and Rudolf asked if we wanted to walk down with them and catch a ride back to Graz.  It was, they said, only a hike of about 1 ½ hours. (point to note:  these men were quite physically fit!)  For most of the way, it was basically straight down, over rocky terrain, or through woods.


these were not dairy cows; heading down, looking up



I am not sure we ever would have found whatever trail we had intended to take, as there were a lot of signs pointing in many directions, but to us, the numbering system was not all that clear.   On the way down, we had a great discussion of Austrian and US politics, school systems, and the general state of affairs in the world.  Both Florian and his dad were articulate and well-traveled, with a good deal of knowledge of current events beyond their own borders!  We find this often in Europe and wonder how many Americans can claim the same?  We learned more about how the forests in Austria are managed:  and that while there is ‘state’ ownership, a great deal is privately owned, by individual farmers, or ‘clubs’ and the Roman Catholic church!  This conversation was also great because it took my mind off the fact that my left big toe was being hammered against my hiking boot.  (yes, I am going to lose the nail, now. Time for new hiking boots!)


and down....a 'club' guesthouse, flowers


Our flat was on the way to theirs but the first stop was a rural guesthouse not too far from us, that we didn’t know existed.  It was Father’s Day in Austria (a week before the USA celebration of the same) so they stopped to pick up some “to-go” desserts from the guesthouse bakery.  Naturally we had to do the same!  The best part of that?  The warm vanilla cream sauce sent home in a jar!  Most often you see vanilliesauce served with apfelstrudel, but they gave us so much we ended up using for days on every possible food we ate!


looking down one of the valleys; flowers at the end, by the car


One of the pleasures of our Austrian sojourn has been seeing the beautiful scenery – the villages tucked away in lush valleys and surrounded by towering peaks.  But even more memorable are the connections we’ve made – heart to heart and mind to mind – and the generous, spontaneous hospitality of the Austrian people.


I hope that one day, as Arnold said, ‘we’ll be back.’

Back in School

As an educator, I had hoped to be able to see for myself the differences in the Austrian and N. American school systems.  There are some differences.  The day for the Austrian children begins at about 7:45 am and is over by 12:30 pm.  Kindergarten is not public.  Childcare and extra classes (like English) are offered after school but these are fee-based programs.  There are other differences as well, most notably that children enter the ‘high school’ or gymnasium at about age 11, provided they have the test-derived aptitude, and proceed after that to university (which is free for all Austrians!) after graduating at age 18.  At university, one can attend classes or not;  one merely has to pass the test at the end of the class to receive credit but there is NO time limit in which to do so. (well, in Bill’s class at Uni-Graz, there is a time limit, because we won’t be here after the June 30th end to classes.)   Children not passing the end of primary school tests can proceed to a Volkschule where they can learn technical trades and skills (electricians, hotel industry, etc.).


At the primary school level where my friend Christina is a teacher, in Nestlebach-bei-Graz,  the teachers stay with the same group of children for the entire time they are in the school.  She’s had this group of 8 and 9 year-olds since they began at age 6 and will have them for 2 more years.  It’s a small school (maybe 120 students) and the relationships between children and teachers, and teachers and families are close.


In so many way, though, the schools are the same.  (I did notice how unfailingly polite these children were and the respect they had for each other.)  There are many academic levels represented, even within the same class, and, of course, the helpful ones, the ones that need to be close to the teacher, the ones who are strongly independent, the ones who have that certain ‘spark’ in their eye  –  great intelligence and perhaps also ein bisschien mischief mixed in.


I was fortunate to spend two days in Christina’s classroom.  The first visit, we sat in a circle and I taught them English songs.  We sang some of the same songs we sing in my classroom.  They sang back to me some Austrian songs, one with the SAME tune as in the USA, and some beautiful folk songs in harmony, and as a canon.  Christina uses a guitar in her classroom and leads the School Choir.  I watched the group, with the Headmistress of the school, practice a folk dance they would do in a Folk Festival for parents later that month.   Children recited poetry for the class, and presented research projects on squirrels and on the skeletal system.   I was impressed with the level of scholarship, even though I could understand only a few words.  (This is when one realizes the importance of visuals!)   As you can see the classroom is rather typical, with children’s work hanging up and around on the walls.  Compared to many classrooms in the US, the computers are old…..but this is a small school in the ‘countryside’, so perhaps technology is not as easily obtained, at least financially.



Christina's classroom, my project, their project, the playground in back, complete with stream!


I attended the folk festival, with performances from all the classes, on a late Friday afternoon.  Among the similarities of proud parents, lots of cameras, squirmy brothers and sisters I have these two comments:  1) I doubt you’d ever see a school in Missoula holding an event on a Friday afternoon and 2) at the party afterwards, you’d never have beer and wine served!



Children sing and dance; presentation to a descendant of the Hapsburg family!

Listen to one of the songs at the Festival  here.


The second visit included a presentation by me about Montana – I brought in a ‘poster’ and also made a slide show.  But the main part of the day was a field trip to a woods about a half-hour away from the school.  These children who live in Nestlebach-bei-Graz need no introduction to the woods.  They live surrounded by them, at home and at school.  But it was fascinating to see the ‘nature education’ provided that day:  everything from wood economics (logging, hunting) and identification of animals and plants to team building games and skills.   We arrived on a large, and comfortable bus (for Missoulians reading, think ‘beachliner’).  The children on the bus did what children do everywhere – they chatted and laughed and pulled out their electronic devices:  ipods, smartphones, and handys (regular cell phones).  Once in the woods, they were attentive and engaged.   These woods are mixed – deciduous beech and oak, coniferous fir and spruce.  They are quite hilly and at the last station we came to a cliff with a rope to hang onto while we descended and OMG, am I going to have to go down THAT? descended a ravine (by rope)   to a creek where there was a rope bridge.  I did the descent by rope but opted to jump the stream in order to take pictures while the kids came across.


on the bus, bus backing up, arriving at the woods



looking back from the woods; orientation, learning about forestry practices


learning about wild forest animals



dogs are used for hunting!



time for snacks, a juice stand in the woods, plant identification



the living bridge


picking berries and eyeing beetles



climbing down the ravine and over the creek



After that, we returned to by bus to the school. I was glad we didn’t run into any other busses on the narrow road out.  On our trip to the woods, we met another large bus which had to back all the way up the hill to let us pass!


The hills this day were certainly alive, with the sound of children!











Haus der Stille

People often speak of ‘coincidences’ when paths cross or events that seem related but unusual come together in amazing ways.  Personally, I think there are no coincidences, just those times when our awareness has been broken open and our defenses lowered so that we can see the whole picture.


So, I did not think it a coincidence to discover that our friends, Gernot and Christina, were active meditators, attended a meditation group several times a month and every few months, attended a meditation retreat at the Haus der Stille.


In mid-May and again in late May, they invited us there . The first time was for a Mass at the chapel, and the second time was for a silent weekend retreat.  Bill and I attended together the first, which was followed by a lunch in the reception hall (more opportunity for meeting great Austrian people!), and a hike in the area around the Haus der Stille on the Markus Weg.  I alone attended the second, a Zen-style retreat, with maybe 14 others from various parts of Austria.


The Haus der Stille is located in the countryside not too far from Graz.  It’s surrounded by farm houses and fields.  Once, it belonged to a order of RC sisters, but then was purchased by the Franciscans.  A priest ( Fr. Karl Maderner, OFM, friar, priest) had a vision to create a beautiful space for worship and contemplation.   He succeeded in so many ways.

the Haus der Stille, chapel, Peace, reception area and Christina


Today the Haus der Stille offers individuals and groups the opportunity for quiet and reflection.  The chapel invites one to the same. The Mass held there is contemplative in nature, although a ‘regular’ mass, and it is very inclusive.   Some people kneel on prayer benches or sit on cushions; others use chairs.  It’s inclusive in other ways as well.  The first thing one sees upon arriving is the word ‘peace’ spelled out in a field being used by sheep to (safely) graze.  The second thing is a semi-circle of monuments to world religions (named) and in the center,one to the unknown Mystery.  As we walked up, I was pinching myself to make sure this was ‘real’!


semi-circle of pillars of peace


The ‘Stillegarten’, with labyrinth and ‘stations’ for reflection that consist of readings from all the world’s great religions and poets, is lovely.   On my retreat there I walked that area several times a day.



scenes from the stillegarten at Haus der Stille



countryside, sundial on residence building, roses along the peace wall


Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of the Haus der Stille is not only the immediate area but the path known as Markus Weg (Mark’s Way).  It’s a 4 km long trail with 13 stations of words from the Gospel of Mark,  other words of silence, beautiful sculpture/art and a place to rest.  It connects with another trail, “Ermutigungsweg” which features 7 stations with spiritual encouragement, to make a 8.5 km long circuit.   You may walk alone, as part of a group, and you may remain silent, or you may wish to leave thoughts on paper provided at each station.   This was a project of the Haus der Stille, in cooperation with Holy Cross parish, and the political entities in Styria and it was dedicated only two years ago.




along Markus Weg - sharing my life, responsibility for others, the last station


Walking the ‘weg’ I was once again reminded that the road we travel is already within us.  As I opened myself to sights, noises, smells, tastes and touch (exterior and interior), I became one with the journey that is the way.





It’s for the birds!

When we came to Graz, our plan was to rent a car at some point and tour the Austria we had not previously seen, or at least get to some of the places around the Styria we could not easily visit otherwise.  It turns out that so much the area IS accessible by regional train, or bus!  Plus, we’ve had wonderful friends who have taken us with them on their excursions out of town, so there has been no need for car rental.


Two trips I took in early May and June were ‘for the birds’.  Literally.   Our bird-watching friend, Sebastian, called and asked if we wanted to go see the European Rollers (May 10) and then to “the best birding spot in all of Austria”, the Neusiedlrsee (June 7).  Unfortunately, Bill was teaching both of those days, but happily, I was available!


Austria is the summer/breeding home to many bird species migrating from as close as Italy and as far away as South Africa.  The European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is one of the latter, and I feel very fortunate to have seen it while it still exists!  Sebastian explained that this area of Austria (right on the border with Slovenia) used to support many breeding pairs. Now it’s down to about 8 breeding pairs, and the day we visited, we could only find one breeding pair.


The man who was driving also was interested in looking at one of the more scenic villages, up on a large hill.


looking toward Slovenia; Straden. Austria


Naturally, we didn’t just drive all that way just to see European Rollers.  Any time birders are out, anywhere is a good place to bird.  Part of the trip allowed Sebastian to release a duck family that had been rehabilitating at Wildtier im Not, the small animal shelter/short-term rehab. facility near our flat.   It was funny to watch Sebastian trying to catch all 7 members of this family, racing around after them in the closure with his net.  If I had not been trying to help, there would be photos.  As it is, we saw many other birds – storks, crested grebes on their floating reed nests, and one slightly angry swan defending his nest.



European Roller, angry swan, releasing the ducks, a stork on the roof


The trip to the Neusiedlrsee (see = lake) was more than amazing.  Of course, almost every bird we see in Austria is a ‘new’ bird for us, even if many of the species are closely related to the ones we see in North America.   At the ‘see’ my Austrian bird list ‘doubled.’   Again, we stopped on the way down to the ‘see’, a large steppe lake (36 km long, and  between 6 km and 12 km wide from east to west) but shallow (no more than 1.8 m deep), surrounded by brackish wet-lands, and lying on the border between Hungary and Austria.  In Austria it’s in the Austrian state of Burgenland.    And we birded all the way back.  In fact this was a marathon of bird trips! We left at 5:30  in the morning (which meant I had to be up by 4:30) and, due to running into a huge thunderstorm and torrential downpour, we didn’t get home until midnight!   I think it was worth it!


The Neuseidlrsee area is a National Park in Austria, but only since the 1990’s, so instead of the purely wild landscape of a national park you might see in Montana or California, there are mostly farms, fields, hunting areas, and so on.  This was fascinating to me.   As well, this is an important wine production area, growing the best red wine grapes in Austria.  The ‘see’ straddles the border between Austria and Hungary, thus there are remnants of the communist era – guard towers, barbed wire, and signs. These have been left up, perhaps as a reminder.  Because Hungary is part of the Schengen Area ,  one does not need to check in at the border when passing through from Austria.



a Hungarian regional train, the lay of the land in the national park (lots of farms and fields!)



the border between Austria and Hungary - the canal is the actual border here



on an old farm - storks, horses (Lipizzaners?), and a kestrel nest under the peak of the roof



guard tower from 'former' times, rooks on haystack, an Hungarian village


We saw many birds (waders, geese, raptors, warblers), and both a cuckoo and a nightingale.  Since the latter two are quite elusive, this was a thrill!  In fact, it is due to the skills with hearing and imitating bird song that Sebastian has developed that we found these birds at all. And it was due to Franz’s knowledge and persistence that we found no less than 3 kestrel nests and several hidden owls!  We also found Hungarian Longhorn Cattle, brought back from near extinction after the two world wars and the communist era.  Christian, the driver of this expedition, told me that after WWII, the US sent some Texas longhorn cattle over, and they promptly died!  The environment (grasses/water)  there was too salty!  We also passed through a hamlet where Franz Liszt lived for a period. (It’s his anniversary year this year -a big deal in Hungary!)



vineyards, wetlands, Grey Lag Goose, wildflowers!



drama in the wetlands - stork attacked by lapwing for infringing on territory; stork flies off; lapwing wins (for now)



Hungarian long-horned cattle, kestrel nest, long-eared owl, birdwatching stand


One curious structure was a little hut which my friends said was a ‘shepherd’s’ hut, adjacent to a well.  These were not for sheep herders but for the herders who took care of the cattle and the horses.  Today they are not used, except perhaps by migrants or hikers. I don’t think most of the wells were ‘active’, although there was water in them!



ancient house with stork nest, Lange Lacke, 'shepherd's' hut and well (with tree growing in it)


Perhaps the most beautiful bird of all that we saw was the European Bee Eater, a bird described in an October 2008 National Geographic article as a bird with a life  “like an epic novel, sprawling across continents, teeming with familial intrigue, theft, danger, chicanery, and flamboyant beauty”.  We had hoped to see these in Spain when we were there over our Spring break holiday, but the weather was awful.  Here, they nest in sandy cliffs, along with Jackdaws, Little Owls, and Kestrels who all live in holes previously excavated by the Bee Eaters.  Before the rain came down, it was an amazing sight and a perfect end to the day.



approaching storm, avocet on nest, Franz gets the last look



more vineyards, European Bee Eaters, Little Owls, cliffs for nesting



Jackdaws nesting, Kestrel feeding, the common grape type, heading home



Americans in France: Part 2 – L’Isle d’Abeau and Lyon

As we rode on the CVG train to Lyon and our friends, the fields of wheat, and rapeseed whizzed by, that is, when we could see them.  With high speed trains, apparently we trade scenery for rapid transit, as much of the journey was in a straight and narrow trench with only occasional glimpses of the French countryside.


Lyon, in the Rhône-Alpes region, is another old city, and is known for its role in silk manufacturing.   It seems all great cities have rivers that run through them, and Lyon is no exception, except there are TWO rivers (Rhône and Saône) which converge just south of Lyon and then flow toward the Mediterranean 230 Km away.  We drove on bridges over both in a little car tour of Lyon before we headed toward the town where Chantal and Andre live, about 28 Km south-east.

Enroute we paid a visit to the home of their oldest daughter for introduction to 4 month-old ‘le petit Victor’, the first grandchild.  Finally, we arrived in at their home in L’Isle d’Abeau, adjacent to a large plaza and surrounded by beautiful gardens.  Chantal was in the backyard, in her atelier, guiding students who come for pottery lessons.  After receiving, for so many years, photos of the house, the gardens, and the workshop (which Andre built), it was wonderful to see Chantal and her husband in their surroundings and in action.  Bill enjoyed chatting with the 8 and 9 year-old students, quizzing them about which singers they liked (Lady Gaga – oui!; Justin Bieber – non!) and testing if they could understand any English (they could, but were shy about using it!).


practicing with le petit Victor, Chantal at work in her atelier, Andre watching, la Tartiflette


Paris may have the renowned tourist attractions but Lyon (and environs) gets our vote for the food, and that began with our first delicious meal with our hosts at, oh, about 9 PM.   Chantal whipped up a Tartiflette, a dish from the Savoie region. It is made with potatoes, onions, reblochon cheese, cream, and lardons. So yummy, but pass the med for cholesterol name!  How do the French manage all that fat content? By walking in proportion to what they eat! After dinner, we took an hour walk up to the church and around the town! Fantastique!


walking to the town church, the city 'hotel' (offices), le jardin, the old town well


The next morning was market day, which meant simply stepping out the front door to the stands set up in that big plaza in front of their home:  more cheese, interesting meats, and fresh fruits and veggies.


Chantal buying the lamb, cheese everywhere!


Then it was off to Lyon, via the metro system leading first to the funicular up the hill of the Basilique de Notre-Dame de Fouvière (a basilica with sanctuaries on two levels and gorgeous mosaics!) and eventually down to old-town Lyon.


Outside/inside the bascillica Notre Dame de Fouviere


old town Lyon, the river, the plaza, Notre-Dame de Fourviere


On a street lined with restaurants (Chantal visited at least 3 before deciding which one would do) we ate salad Lyonnaise and les quenelles avec sauce aux écrevisses (crawfish), quite possibly the best food of our lives.  (the foie gras in Paris pales in comparison and I have officially eaten food I never thought I would!)


la rue des restaurants, Le pere Fillon aux les trois cochons (pigs), les quenelles avec sauce aux ecrevisses, salad lyonnaise, Place des Terreaux, fountain of the 4 rivers of France


Old Lyon is largely Renaissance with a very interesting feature:  traboules,  passageways between buildings, and sometimes between streets.  You will find passageways and courtyards in Graz, but rarely do they rise and criss-cross several stories off the ground.  Although most of the traboules lead to private residences, many city-dwellers have opted to keep the historic traboules accessible to the public.  One only has to ring a buzzer and push on the heavy wooden door to stroll through the tunnel and arrive in a light-bathed courtyard offering a photographer’s dream of wells, stairs and gargoyles.


les traboules!


We finished our day with a visit to the Lyon Cathedral with its astronomical clock, and a walk to the river.


The cathedral also has an astronomical clock from the 14th century.


The next morning was for preparing for dinner with le petit Victor and his family, plus the other grandparents (from close to Grenoble) who arrived at 11:30 AM.    On the menu:  l’oignon tarte, homemade foie gras, little breads with various tapenades, sliced terrines, fresh baby radishes, nuts, and several types of liqueurs, including orange liqueur à Chantal. This was a living tableau of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and those were just the aperitifs!


getting ready for Sunday dinner


Dinner was lamb (including the kidneys!) and vegetables en brochette, tabbouleh made with couscous, bread and wine. Following that, the cheese course.   Et en fin, dessert.  Chantal served a cherry clafouti created earlier that day, with 2 or 3 choices of ice cream, which alone seemed perfect.  But we also had visited the bakery on Sunday morning (bakeries there are open on Sunday; closed on Monday) not only for artisan baguettes, but also an insane variety of dessert pastries.


le boulangerie, les grandmeres, the cook!


the table of aperitifs, brothers in law, Olivier, family shot


dinner (for the dog, too), dessert, rest


We lounged a while in the backyard, entertaining the dog, and then it was time for …. a stroll!  This time we walked to an old amphitheater, and by an old quarry for a view of the Alps.  OK you had to squint to see them, but they were there.


after dinner relaxing, and then...the walk and the alps.


The other families departed, Clementine (daughter #2) arrived for a brief visit, and when the conversation drifted to the royal wedding, the modeling began.  Somehow French women just look better in their clothes, and their hats!

Still, the night was young, so we zipped out in the car for a look at the old chateau that was the reception site for Aurélie and Matthieu’s wedding, again with a gorgeous view.  Between the company, the food and the scenery, we felt absolutely complete!


views of the countryside, 3 generations love NY, our hosts, castle ruins

Clementine in her mother's hat, the grandparents adore the baby, Clementine with her parents


All too soon it was time to depart.


leaving Lyon, Chantal's orchid, a view of the alps, a view of Graz


If I were home this would be the point at which I would pull out my worn copy of Le Petit Prince by Lyon’s famous native son, Antoine de St. Exupéry.  When I continued my French studies in college, I wrote a paper about this brave and adventurous man who shared such wisdom in his novella.  As Chantal dropped us off at the airport which bears his name, we both had tears in our eyes:  Sadness at the parting but joy for the time we spent together. And in our hearts, delicious memories.  No words needed.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only

with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

–Antoine de St. Exupery

Saint-Exupery statue

Au revoir pour maintenant.

Americans in Paris: part 1 of our trip to France

Ah France!  The country of my dreams, thanks to a wonderful teacher in high school who instilled a love for that country.


Monsieur McConnell was a Frenchman, or at least a Francophile, in what appeared to be Scottish skin.  He taught all the classes of French at Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia, for quite a while until joined by another colleague.  By that time, I had continued on to the higher levels and his classes were the only choice.  Lucky us!   What stands out is the last year of our classes – beyond Plus-que-parfait, Passé compose, and Imparfait verb conjugations (yes we learned those, too!).  The 4th year Français was a year of immersion in culture.  We conversed only en français, created or ate French food nearly every week, and learned about the history of the country, from Clovis to de Gaulle, who was President of France at the time.  Hugo, Voltaire, Molière, St. Exupery, all came alive in that classroom. When the holidays rolled around, we sang “Un Flambeau Jeanette Isabella” accompanied by Mr. McConnell on his autoharp.


Mr. McConnell’s specialty was art (well, maybe his specialty was languages and music, but he certainly knew a lot about art, too!), and everything remotely affiliated with the French “stream” – which included all the European painters and sculptors, from Romanesque to modern – came alive via slide shows, reproductions, and visits to the National Gallery of Art.  We learned about the symbolism of colors in early Gothic and Medieval art, and wove our way right through Poussin, Fragonard, David and Ingres to Manet, Monet, Guagin, Toulouse-Lautrec, Matisse, Degas, Rodin, Seurat, Utrillo and Chagall.


These are lessons that have stayed with me right up to this day and, when the synapses are all firing (if you don’t use it you lose it), I can manage une petite conversation, as well.  So, imagine my happiness when we learned we would mount a visit to our friends who live near Lyon, with a short trip to Paris beforehand.  Oui!  It was my first.


We had only 2 ½ days in Paris, and saw everything on our ‘short list’: The Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Musée d’Orsay, Les Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Champs Élysées, l’Arc du triomphe, La Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, Musée de Moyen Age, the Latin Quarter, Rodin Musée, L’Orangerie,  Montmartre, Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, and a boat ride on the Seine.  We met some great people from Paris, Norway, the Czech Republic, and even Cleveland, Ohio!  We walked much of it, even the entire length of the Champs Élysées and up all the steps of  l’Arc du triomphe. We lingered over late dinners and enjoyed leisurely lunches.  We had only un petit incident with a pickpocket without any luck on his part.  Yes, we spent only 2 hours in the Louvre but saw all that was possible at each of the other museums we visited. (And frankly 2 hours at a museum as big as the Louvre was enough.) Once again, staying in a non-tourist area (the 10th arrondissement) allowed a glimpse of ‘real’ Paris, if such a thing exists!  A wonderful experience at the B and B, with a charming, helpful and articulate host who prepared breakfasts that should be framed, (they were so artistic) simply capped it off.


Back then, I am not sure if any of us had any idea of the extra work and time Mr. McConnell put into his teaching so that we could experience ‘France’ with as much reality as American teenagers in the 1960’s could. Remember, this is before the internet and easily accessed information.  Whatever Mr. McConnell presented, he had to do the research first.  By hand.   But I am quite certain of this:  his words ‘stuck’ and his love of teaching (so entertaining) shone through.  He was, frankly, brilliant.   I am a teacher and my daughter-in-law is a teacher, so I have some idea now of just how much of himself this man brought to his fortunate students.  But then I didn’t.  It’s time to say, ‘thanks’.   So les chapeaux off to you, Monsieur Adair McConnell.   Merci, merci!


les petites déjeuners artistiques; our host, Jozsef; courtyard of B and B


Day One

scenes from le Louvre



at the Eiffel Tower



Pont Neuf, Les Tuileries, Pont des Arts, The Musée d'Orsay


The Musee d”Orsay was being renovated, but most of the upper galleries, with all the impressionism, had been moved down. There was also a top-notch (and very popular) exhibit of the works of Édouard Manet, who is often confused with Monet.  As my father would say, “Not the same animal, at all.”


Up the Champs Elysées - transport, woman begging, l'arc, view to La Defence, King Tut


Day Two

the amazing Sainte-Chapelle! (favorite church ever!)


orchid from our b&b; palais du justice, l'arc in our 'hood, Notre Dame


While Notre Dame was lovely also (we stayed through part of the Mass for the Ascension of Christ),  with some amazing relics and carvings (not to mention the rosette windows), we so enjoyed the Musée du Moyen Age, housed in the former l’hôtel de Cluny.  This is not a hotel, but the headquarters/residences of the abbots from the Cluny Abbey (Burgundy) when they were in Paris.


les fruits de mers; Cluny Museum (of the middle ages) - Latin Qtr.



Lady & the Unicorn (Sixth 'sense' part) tapestry, Dürer stamp, The Annunication


By afternoon, we were at The Rodin Museum with verdant gardens – a nice respite from the sun.  Rodin’s work is so powerful and evocative.


Hôtel Biron at the Rodin Museum, The Kiss, detail from one of groupings

We finished with l’Orangerie, a tribute to Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, but also a home for other great art from Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau….really, is there anywhere in Paris that great art is not?


details of Water Lilies, Picasso The Adolescents, a young artist


We were not completely finished with the day, however.  After this, we climbed on one of Les Bateaux Mouches for a ride down the Seine, with approximately 1000 998 other people.  And then topped it off with dinner at Chez Francis while we waited for the Eiffel Tower to begin twinkling.  Chez Francis wasn’t the top of the food chain, gastronomically speaking, but it has an unimpeded view of the Tower….location, location, location!

Bridges, Twinkling Tower, Bateau, St. Genevieve, from the back on Pont de la Tournelle

Bridges, Twinkling Tower, Bateau, St. Genevieve, from the back on Pont de la Tournelle


Day 3


We finished our stay in Paris with a morning trip to Montmartre, that hilly part of Paris that was (is) home to artists, Sacré Couer Bascillica, windmills, great food, and, now many tourists!   We found tasty boulangeries and creperies, interesting art, a movie shoot, and some unexpected sights!   Parisian writer Marcel Aymé lived in Montmartre, and is immortalized with a bit of artwork not far from his former home.   He wrote  Le Passe-Murailles, which roughly translates as “the walker through walls,” a short story about a man who discovers in mid-life that he can pass through walls.   The windmills were part of the culture of the hill, which housed many bakeries that needed, well, flour to create the small brown bread of the same name (galette) sold with a glass of milk.


Sculpture, artist, pâtisserie, Le Moulin de la Galette, Sacre Coeur

We left Paris but not before we took a few more photos of the environs.


metro station, crepe maker, le Moulin rouge, fire fighters in our neighborhood of Paris

On the way to Lyon

We left by the Gare de Lyon to Lyon, on the French high speed train (CVG):  two hours nonstop!  (oh, how I wish the US would get ‘on board’ with rail travel!)  The Gare had a great little ‘refreshment’ stand, sponsored by the water companies we are sure, to encourage people to rehydrate.  We were only too happy to oblige!


Gare de Lyon, place de la bastille monument, rehydration station


Et bientôt, Lyon!

Beautiful Budapest – Part 2

So, if you are ever in Budapest, you must take a ride on the Danube at night.  I know, it’s a touristy thing to do, but it is one of the major highlights of our visit to this magical city.    Our friends had purchased a Hop-On, Hop-off ticket which included the boat ride at night and they invited us along.  Thank you, Mary and Charles!  Not only did we learn a little more history of the city and locate particular landmarks, we also were thrilled with the views.  Unfortunately this is point and shoot digital photography at night, so this is the best I could do.



Matthias Church at night

glass concert on the way to the docks















Buda palaces at night



Chain Bridge



Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church at night

Liberty statue
















Parliament Building










The next day we used our guidebook to find the highly recommended Gerloczy Cafe.  We were not disappointed.  From the menu to the food, the experience was sublime and a great way to start the day!


Breakfast at Gerloczy Cafe (the best)



If ever I open a restaurant, I want to have a menu like this.  I tried to figure out how I could stick one into my already packed handbag, but, in the end, decided to photograph some of the choice pages.

No  one was bothered, or emotional, but the quiche (Hungarian style with spicy sausage) was most definitely all right!  How more wonderful can a place be that features Irish Harp?

Bill with Irish Harp behind


The Gerloczy Cafe from the outside















Outside there is a statue of the united city’s first mayor (Budapest was only united in 1873).


From the cafe, we went to the Great Synagogue.  The synagogue, also known as Dohány Street Synagogue (Nagy Zsinagóga or Dohány utcai Zsinagóga),  is located in downtown Budapest.  It is the largest synagogue in Eurasia and the second largest in the world, after the Temple Emanu-El.  What is interesting about this synagogue, built between 1854 and 1859 is its Moorish Revival style and elements (rosette window, organ)  that make it seem almost like a church.  (Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns played the original 5,000 tube organ built in 1859.)   Our tour guide told us that was the idea at the time, to ‘fit in’ with the dominant culture.


The Great Synagogue - Budapest



















The synagogue was impressive [has a capacity of 2,964 seats (1,492 for men and 1,472 in the women’s galleries)] but even more so was the Museum, with articles from Judaica all over the world.  The third part of the visit brought us to the sobering Holocaust remembrance.

Our guide called this The Tree of Life, but it is also known as the Weeping Willow, with names of those lost in the Holocaust inscribed on the leaves.  This sculpture is part of Raoul Wallenberg Park, which sits in back of the synagogue.

The words on the structure at the front read:  “Whoever saves a soul for mankind, saves the entire world.”

Both Jewish victims of the Holocaust and ‘righteous gentiles’ are memorialized here.  Some of the ‘righteous gentiles’  include priests and ministers who buried torahs from various synagogues in their church cemeteries to hide them from the Nazis.



Memorial to Raoul Wallenberg














the stained glass memorial

memorial to the victims of the Holocaust













We spent a long time at the synagogue, and after that, took  a long walk to process all that we had seen.  We know of this inhumanity but there is nothing quite like hearing about it from children and grandchildren of those who experienced it, and nothing quite like seeing the reminders of it on the soil where it occurred.  Never forget.



Budapest is known for its thermal baths.  You would think that Bill, of all people, would be most interested in checking these hydrogeologic features out first hand.  We even packed swimming suits!  Alas, we ran out of time to do anything but make a quick trip out to the Szechenyi Baths, not to get in but to at least see them.


To get there, you take Line 1 of the oldest metro system on the continent (London’s is older but it’s not on the continent!).  The trains look very old and the stations even older, but classic in a sort of  late 1890’s way.


Line 1

one of the stations along Line 1












The baths are located in a beautiful park.


Once there, you have a choice of bathing au naturale with people of the same gender or sharing space together with mixed genders, hopefully with some clothing on.  Next time!









We zipped back to our apartment to change for the Opera and go out to dinner.  The feel of Budapest is very liberating; even the restaurants reflect this style.


if it rained, we were all set!


Budapest’s Opera House is large and about as ornate as Vienna’s which seems less ornate than the one in Graz!  The acoustics were superb and the opera itself very well sung:  Otello, another Verdi opera and we knew the story so trying to read the HUNGARIAN text across the top of the stage didn’t matter. (my next language is going to be Italian, however!)



Hungarian State Opera House



Opera goes enjoying refeshments and break on terrace in Budapest

while computer work gets done on the steps














the stage













the boxes

the dome - ok it IS more ornate than Vienna's!









Iago tkaing a bow

Otehello and Desdemona after Act 4











This was a very long opera.  By the time we found our coats, pulled out the umbrellas (no they did NOT come from the restaurant), and walked to a nearby bar/bakery, we found it was closing in 10 minutes.   There was no time to eat in, so we did what all good Americans do…we asked for take out pastry.  I thought the maitre de was going to fall over, but he obliged and even put our desserts to go on a little (cardboard) gold tray!


dessert after the Opera - our 'to go' tray

I don’t remember the name of any of these but it didn’t matter – they were delicious!

We’ll be back, beautiful Budapest.


Budapest: Days 1 and 2

When we told our French friends that we were planning a trip to Budapest in mid-May, André asked, “Which are going to, Buda or Pest?” (He is funny in whatever language he uses!)  To tell you the truth, I didn’t realize that Budapest was separated like that.  I admit it – I am directionally impaired!  Give me a city like Missoula where the big directional landmarks are visible and the streets are (mostly) laid out on NSEW grid, and I am fine.  Put me in a large city with skyscrapers, and I am a goner.  Even though I managed to actually read the map and get us to our first Fulbright meeting in March (earning my husband’s admiration forever)  most of the time I have no idea where I am going, geographically speaking.    Perhaps it is time for a review of geography, lest I fall into the category mentioned in that question the stumbled on by Miss South Carolina  in the 2007  Miss Teen USA contest!


So, we headed East in May from Vienna to Budapest.  By train it’s about 2 1/2 hours, through small villages, past fields of  flaming yellow rapeseed and enormous wind turbines.

on the way to Budapest, Hungary by train

(note – if you want to see any of these photos in greater detail,just click once and then again and they should magnify in a separate screen)


We had previously met up with our friends, Mary and Charles, on the platform at Wien Meidling Bahnhof and when we landed on the platform at the Budapest Keleti station, we were accosted by no less than twenty people offering taxi rides.  What to do?  We waited until we got towards the front of the old (but very beautiful) station and then got into a taxi.  It was, uh, unmarked, which I think is not a good thing, but it didn’t cost four of us too much in the long run to get to our apartment on the Pest side of Budapest.  Why, on the map, does it look so much closer?


Budapest is indeed a city divided by a river that runs through it (Yes, I did know that!):  The Danau (Danube).   Pest is the side with St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Great Synagogue, the government buildings, Hero’s Square, the big shopping streets and much of the working city.  Buda is the hilly side with the old castle/palace, the Matthias Church and plenty of Medieval-Renaissance streets and buildings.  Both sides arose from Celtic roots to military frontier fortresses, Buda and Pest before being unified under a series of kings and finally, made part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1918.  And if you don’t know the rest of the story, you can look it up!


We explored both and loved wandering through the ‘big’ attractions (cathedrals, palaces, Fisherman’s Bastion) but just as much through parts of the city where people actually live and work or in out of the way museums. Staying in an apartment on Király utca, not in a ‘tourist’ area, let us see so much more than we would have staying, say, in a Hilton or a Four Seasons.  We found a morning family fair complete with a Hungarian version of Raffi, and an art festival with booths that went on for miles!  Grocery stores, and bakeries were nearby; learning to work in forints was challenging (think 4 to 6 numeral places-Hungary isn’t totally on the Euro yet, although it is a member of the EU). Reading or speaking in Hungarian (a beautiful sounding language, closer to Estonian or Finnish than any other)  was impossible (for us); even knowing how Kodály is pronounced didn’t help!


I am old enough to remember the 1956 Hungarian uprising as well as the more recent transition from communist satellite to Hungary’s present form and I wondered what we would find in this capital city.  The answer is great beauty and history (back to the Roman age!) and as well, some parts crying out for restoration and maintenance. just like any major city.  Many historic buildings were damaged in WWII or are just feeling their age.  Some are being restored; others are left as ‘reminders’.   The big avenues are clean and bright but so many of the buildings in the inner city (Pest side) needed re-stucco-ing and painting.


People were friendly and helpful and….. always working!  That is one difference between Budapest and, say, Graz, where all stores begin closing on Saturday afternoon and remain closed the next day and on any holiday.  In Budapest, stores were open at all hours of the day and night and people were working (this includes city workers!) even on Sunday! We could hear the jackhammers from our apartment!   Budapest is definitely a city in transition.


Here are some photos from our trip.


breakfast at a little cafe; family fair, city park

The pastries were just as good as in Austria!


little girl in the square in Budapest

easy rider










The tune to this song at the Family Reading Fair sounds familiar but I can’t place it!  Need translation!


St. Stephen’s Cathedral – outside, inside and up top

Stephen was Hungary’s first king and is canonized.  His ‘right hand’ is revered and encased in the cathedral.    We heard an organ concert there the first night we arrived and the next morning, had wonderful views of the city from the top.


Budapest from the top of St. Stephen's Cathedral



Onto the Chain Bridge towards Buda - Budapest

the palace complex (now museums) on the Buda side















Barge traffic on the Danau - Buda on the left; Pest on the right


The Parliament building - pest side of Budapest


Fisherman's Bastion

Fisherman's Bastion seen in reflection of Hilton Hotel - Buda side of Budapest














The Hilton Hotel is a newer, somewhat controversial building on the Buda side of Budapest.  Supermodern in design, it was built right into a 14th-century convent and baroque college.  The Fisherman’s Bastion is not old (just looks that way – it was built in 1905!).

Other scenes….

The Vienna Gate ("be quiet", say parents to kids,"your mouth is as big as the Vienna Gate!)"

national archives building on square near Vienna Gate






Moscow Square - where we had to hike to buy tram tickets

reconstructed window of Mary Magdalene church, bombed out in WW2, on Kapisztran Ter














close up of cannon outside Military History Museum - make love not war!



grave of Abdurraham, last Turkish gov of Budapest "He was a heroic foe."

sign on Orszaghaz utca, street of medieval houses














wedding at Matthias church














It seemed to be the height of wedding season, so we really never experienced the INSIDE of Matthias Church.


on the wedding car the flowers are 'glued" on



There must be a lot of straight A’s  in Budapest!  See below!

statue of Andras Hadik (field marshal in war with Turks) - students rub horse's testicles for good luck before an exam














Birds are an important symbol for Hungary – crow on the left; eagle on the right.

We found Lipizzaners at the end of our walk on the Buda side!  Only 30 € for the show and better seats than we had in Vienna!  We didn’t go, but it was tempting!



wonderful sculptures at an out of the way museum











If nothing else, the Hilton Hotel is great for reflections:  this one is Matthias Church.


We finished our second day in Budapest with a lovely and lingering dinner on the Buda side:  great wine, good Hungarian food, wonderful company in the garden of the Voros Ordog (Red Devil) Restaurant.  Only we weren’t really finished!  We still had a boat ride to take!


Coffee House Repast

One of the things Vienna is known for is der Kaffeehaus.  Tradition has it that you can sit down in one of these establishments, order a cup of coffee, which is served in exquisite china on a silver tray and accompanied, always, by a glass of water and a small spoon; after that first cup, you may spend as long as you want, reading your paper, working on your book, answering email, conversing, playing cheese, whatever, with fresh tap water resupplied at no cost or request.  The word LINGER comes to mind.

I think I mentioned in a previous post about a Starbucks opening in Vienna. We’ve since learned there are FOUR of them.  We saw one, near the Graben, but did not notice one china cup, any trays or water, or any lingering.  I personally think it would be a shame if  Vienna – and the rest of Austria where we have also enjoyed the coffee house gemütlichkeit (warm, relaxed coziness) – were to adopt any of the coffee-grabbing-drink-on-the-run-culture so prevalent in the US.

On our most recent trip to Vienna, we visited the famous Demel Coffee House, which is a konditorei (specialty bakery) with an extensive food menu.  (The actual title is  “K. u. K. Hofzuckerbäcker Ch. Demel’s Söhne” -“Imperial and Royal Court Confectionary Bakery Ch. Demel’s Sons”). It has changed hands several times since the beginnings in the late 1780’s (in the mid-1800’s at its current location) and is now owned by a corporation.    We were there for the midday meal.  It was crowded but we were a little on the early side and were seated immediately.  Deciding took a while, ordering took a while.  Time for conversation and relaxing.  As we ate, long lines accumulated.  We tried to ignore all that and get into the gemütlichkeit.

The waitress was attentive but did not hover or expect us to hurry along just because there were 25 people waiting to eat.  I do not know if she addressed us in the third person formal (what would SHE like?  What would HE like?)  as is the supposed tradition at Demel.  Mostly she said “Bitte?” which is the more common form of invitation to order.   When it was time for dessert, we were escorted to the throne table of desserts (one on every floor where there is seating), where the tortes, kuchen, strudel,and other confections awaited.  Choosing which one probably took as long as it did to eat our meal!  The gemütlichkeit was working!

On the way out, we watched the pastry chefs work and wandered a bit around the shop to oogle all the enticing treats.   It was too bad we had to catch a train back to Graz, or we might have stayed all day!


the cheese souffle, and ceasar salad, Bill with cappucino, outside of Demel, chandelier from Murano, chocolate truffle cake


Konditoren working at Demel


some of the confections available at Demel

Below, a list of types of coffee to order in Vienna….



Kleiner Schwarzer – small espresso

Grosser Schwarzer – double espresso

Espresso – basically the same as Kleiner Schwarzer

Kleiner Brauner – Kleiner Schwarzer with milk

Grosser Brauner – Grosser Schwarzer with milk

Melange – a less strong Grosser Brauner with a little steamed milk

Mocca – klein oder gross – synonymous with Schwarzer

Kapuziner – black coffee with milk added until its color is that of a Capuchin monk’s robes

Franziskaner – black coffee with still more milk, to achieve the lighter color of a Franciscan monk’s robes

Nussbraun – coffee that resembles the color of nuts

Nussgold – lighter still, like a “golden nut”

Gold – coffee the color of gold, i.e. quite light

Milchkaffee – half coffee, half milk

Verlängerter – an espresso that is “lengthened” by a shot of hot water

Einspänner – originally, the name meant a one-horse carriage. In coffeehouse parlance, it means a Grosser Mocca with whipped  cream on top, sprinkled with cocoa and served in a tall glass

Fiaker – named after Vienna’s horse-drawn carriages and their raucous drivers. Strong, black coffee laced with hot kirsch, topped with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry

Türkischer – Turkish coffee, sweet and black, served in copper cups

Eiskaffee – cold black coffee with vanilla ice cream, topped with whipped cream

Capuccino – in some Viennese coffeehouses, black coffee topped with whipped cream; in other coffeehouses and Italian restaurants you get it the original Italian way: topped with steamed foamy milk

Kaffee Maria Theresia – Mocca with orange liqueur and whipped cream



Vienna Walk-About

The great thing about many European cities is that they are immensely walkable.  When we’ve stayed in Vienna for a few days (mostly due to Bill’s professional meetings) I’ve had the time for and pleasure of walking around.  Sometimes there is a small trip via the well-positioned and timely U-bahn but mostly it’s step by step.  It’s my favorite way to explore a city.    Maybe you don’t get to all the tourist destinations but you see so much more that way.

Quite near our favorite pension just off the Grauben, there are two lovely but quite different churches and then a little further away, the amazing and in-the-throes-of-reconstruction Karlskirche.  Vienna is primarily a city that exudes Baroque/Rococo and Neo-classicism.  Aside from Stephansdom, in its Gothic splendor, many of the churches and Important Buildings reflect the embellishment, massiveness and, to modern eyes, sometimes-over-the-top gilding of the late 17th century to early 19th century architectural styles, inside and out.  Ruprechtskirche, a Romanesque church, and the Secession building, offer refreshing oasis in the midst of all this opulence.

Here are a few glimpses of some of the sites and impressions in my walk about Vienna.

On the way to Karlsplatz, one finds the lovely museum, the Secession, an icon of the Secessionist movement in Vienna. From Wikipedia: “Unlike other movements, there is not one style that unites the work of all artists who were part of the Vienna Secession. The Secession building could be considered the icon of the movement. Above its entrance was carved the phrase “to every age its art and to art its freedom”. Secession artists were concerned, above all else, with exploring the possibilities of art outside the confines of academic tradition.”  The building is commemorated on the Austrian € 0,50 piece.

a bit of whimsy! Love it!









Across the street was a surprise, however!  The Nashmarkt – hello Missoula Farmer’s Market X 100 !  Asparagus in 3 varieties: white, green and wild, cheese whose smell knocks one over, fish, meat, flowers, prepared food from any culture you can name!  Too bad it was only 10:00 AM and not time to eat or drink!



As one heads from the Nashmarkt to Karlsplatz, you find the unexpected:  The  Vienna University of Technology with some pretty interesting ornamentation, the old Karlsplatz stadtbahn station (another icon of The Secessionist movement), a park with children, ducks on/people by the reflecting pool in front of the Karlskirche, and someone setting up for maybe an outdoor concert.


And then, right there, is Karlskirche, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI’s tribute to his saint namesake (Charles Borromeo), in gratitude for the end of the plague (1712).



It’s huge.

Inside it’s as baroque as they come,










but the outside is perhaps more famous, with the huge dome and the two towers of bas-relief.  They are working on Karlskirche, restoring the frescos and other elements.  You can take a ride almost all the way up to the very top, and then walk up the rest of the way, so I did.  (You know, in the US, they would never permit people to do this!)  I doubt I will ever be as close to a ceiling fresco again.  It’s amazing how UN-detailed the painting is close up!



view from through a high window, ceiling fresco closeup, money=prayers, the way up


Rick Steves says not to bother with the museum that is also part of Karlskirche but I bothered anyway.  Aside from a wonderful exhibit of modern photos of the church, there was an exhibit of various depictions of Christ.  Amid the drawings and sculptures by school children,  there was this, by artist Oskar Kokoschka whose work I had also seen in the Belvedere a few days before!


Later that day, I wandered into the Peterskirche, another baroque church, and just in time for a horn and organ concert.  If I had been on some kind of timetable, I would have missed it altogether!  This clip is actually from the rehearsal, just prior to the concert.



The next morning, I strolled past Peterskirche, and over toward the Danau Canal, and Ruprechtskirche, quite possibly my favorite church of all I’ve seen in Vienna.

Although there is currently some debate whether the Ruprechtskirche is truly the oldest church in Vienna (possibly founded between 796 and 829), it is simple in design and felt  like an oasis to me.   It is dedicated to Saint Rupert of Salzburg, patron saint of the salt merchants of Vienna and is located in one of the oldest parts of the city, the section of the Roman Vindobona. It’s not a parish church today but used for religious meetings…maybe even meditation?  I had a little conversation (auf Deutsch) with the caretaker who was present about the age of glass (~700 years old).  The one you see in the center below is  Romanesque.


Ruprechtskirche was notable for the absence of tourists – only two other people and myself were there that morning to enjoy the stille.  But we were the lucky ones.

Thanks, as always, for reading!