Monday, February 28, 2011

Light Wings

Lighted cables on Vienna's Donaustadtbrücke reminded me of a bird in flight as we drove by on a winter's evening.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Thumsee Winter Morning

Pension Hubertus, overlooking Thumsee, on a winter's morning:

I love the colors of Thumsee's hillside trees and shrubs on this particular morning:

There is a sense of peacefulness in this view of the inlet behind Thumsee's boathouse:

These holes in the ice reminded me of dendrites from a biology class long, long ago:

I've been told this romantic building, Seewirt, where Freud used to visit, is now for sale along with the entire lake and boathouse.

I will so miss this place when we move back to the USA. My heart is forever linked to beautiful Thumsee.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Thumsee Twigs

I found this part of Thumsee intriguing with its shades of gray, a fallen, snow-covered branch resting on the frozen lake and similar twig-like patterns in the melting ice. It seems to me to invite deep thought. It's one of my favorite photos so I'm giving it the day by itself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Room with a View

If you've been following this blog you might recall that beautiful Thumsee, Germany, just outside of Salzburg, Austria is one of my favorite places in the world. We visited this small Alpine lake last weekend and awakened Saturday morning to a light dusting of snow. The view from our room at Pension Hubertus was, to me, staggeringly beautiful. I do so love this place!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reflections on Blue Skies

Vienna hasn't had much sun the past couple of weeks so these photos of our last sunny day as reflected in car windows are adding a bit of bright cheerfulness to today's snowy morning.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Bright Spot on a Gray Day

Dyed twigs at one of Vienna's Naschmarkt flower stalls add a bright spot to today's gray afternoon:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Iron Lace

Elaborate wrought iron craftsmanship throughout Vienna—and Austria—delights my eye and leaves me with a sense of deep appreciation for the skills involved in planning and executing such lace-like, delicate designs from such a strong metal. These are from Michaelerkirche (St. Michael's Church) near the Hofburg Palace:

And because the chancel of this church is also exceptional, I'm including a photo of it even without wrought iron. The ceiling does have a lace-like quality.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

On the Subject of Sauerkraut Soup

Sauerkraut Cream Soup. Oh, my goodness! A couple of nights ago was the first time I had ever even heard of sauerkraut soup and, of course, I was curious about the novelty of it. It was absolutely delicious—so much so that I can't stop thinking about it—the highlight of our meal. If you live in Vienna or plan to visit, I'd say it's a must-experience. It's served from time to time at Zum Weissen Rauchfangkehrer (The White Chimney Sweep) restaurant.

Originally owned by Franz Sacher, of Sacher Torte fame, the restaurant's story is that it was named for a chimney sweep who fell in love with the lady baker next door; her hugs covered his black, sooty clothes in white flour. At any rate, evidently the menu here changes often, so you might want to ask when you make reservations if the sauerkraut cream soup is being served the day you want to visit.

The restaurant's cozy Austrian decor creates a casual, comfortable ambiance.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Happy Hearts

Here's to the strong hearts of people all over the world who are helping others live better lives. May kindness prevail!

These photos were taken at this cute shop in the heart of Vienna; I think the sign reads, "Die Vermischte Warenhandlung," which, according to Google Translate, means, "Mixed were the treatment" or "The Miscellaneous Goods Act" or "The Mixed General Store," depending on how you capitalize the words. No matter how you mix or translate it, I wish you a very Happy Valentine's Day!

The Sounds of Pisa's Baptistry

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is the bell tower for the Duomo (cathedral) and on the other side of the Duomo stands the also-leaning Baptistry of St. John. The Italians, design-oriented as they are, managed to fly in color-coordinated pigeons to model for tourist photo-shoots (I think this is part of the Duomo, but I can't really remember):

The baptistry is Italy's largest and many of its mosaics are best seen from the balcony:

I marvel at the skill of the persons who designed, carved and did the mosaic-work on this panel:

The arches and balcony of the baptistry hold a secret:

They do not interfere with the magnificent resonance of the building, and perhaps even enable the sounds to swirl around. The guide demonstrated (please excuse my broken camera; it seems to have the hiccups):

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Look, Lean but Don't Linger by the Bells

So, back in Italy, here's the iconic image of Pisa's Leaning Tower which, by the way, is open again after being closed for renovation and stabilization for eleven years. It takes some doing to get this photograph as you have to wind your way around nearly every tourist taking photos of each other, arms outstretched...

"holding" the structure up:

The tower is the bell tower for the adjacent cathedral and baptistry:

The white marble tower, Torre Pendente di Pisa, was built over 177 years and was restored to a safer tilt from 1990 to 2001 by digging soil out from underneath the high side.

Beautiful accents:

I thought you might like to see the tower's lovely, worn steps. They were definitely easier to climb in some places than others, presumably the assistance of gravity as you climb toward the low side makes the difference. It's amazing to think of the many people, rich, poor, famous and not who have climbed these narrow steps, among them Galileo and Mark Twain.

A lower balcony provides a nice view, a good chance to catch your breath, and a place to let the descending visitors pass:

The cathedral and baptistry are next to the tower:

A view of Pisa from the top:

I heard an announcement being made over a loudspeaker but could not hear what was being said. It was being repeated in different languages so I thought I'd move toward the center of the tower to hear better and maybe understand a word or two. Then, just as I was standing this close to the bell, straining to hear the announcement, I figured out what the speaker must have said: "If you're smart, you'll move away from the bells because they are about to strike noon." CLANG, CLANG, CLANG....

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Pisa's Rare Illuminated Manuscripts

It's easy to associate Pisa, Italy with its famous leaning tower. However, did you know that in the Middle Ages Pisa was the leading center for illuminated manuscripts? Adjacent to the tower, the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo holds these rare and beautifully detailed pages, many of them religious hymns:

Please click on this photo to see the amazing fine detail around the letter; I suppose today we'd call it doodling:

Real gold was used for decoration: