Monday, October 29, 2012

Tears of Time: Drips in the Dark

Obersalzberg, Germany.   Reminders of war and cruelty are hard to avoid in this part of the world.  While I prefer to focus on the beauty of Vienna and all we are seeing, sometimes dark history and its ugly lessons scream to be heard, startling, shaking us off balance and tearing at our hearts.

As disturbing as it is, the concentration camp at Mauthausen, Austria is an important site to visit for the informative, personal exhibits focusing on the persons imprisoned, starved, forced to work and murdered there. Two hours to the west is Hitler's luxurious Eagle's Nest, yet, according to the guides, Hitler was afraid of heights and did not spend much time at that mountaintop retreat. Instead, he spent much time in nearby Obersalzberg, Germany. Today, the Documentation Center at Obersalzberg, stands above his extensive bunker system. (You may be interested to know a bunker system was also made for him near Los Angeles.)    

I was surprised to see stalactites forming in Hitler's bunker, tears of time. I'm also struck by the similarity of the word, stalactite to stalag, the German word for a prisoner-of-war camp.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Zwinger Ceilings

Dresden, Germany.  The exterior ceilings of Dresden's Zwinger, rebuilt after WWII, make me wonder how these ornate designs are made today and how they defy gravity.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Zwinger

Dresden, Germany.  Now a collection of museums, Dresden's baroque Zwinger was originally the outer fortress for the city and later the site for grand events.  Although it had to be rebuilt after the massive bombing of Dresden in World War II, its architecture inspires idealized images of a high level of gentility and civilized behavior.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Boats of Lunzersee

Lunzersee, Austria.  Electric boats with their light hum and the swish, swish, swish of human-propelled kayaks, canoes and paddleboats of the Lunzersee add to the peaceful landscape of this Alpine lake and are items of quiet beauty in themselves.

The view from one of those lovely electric boats is pretty nice as well:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Not My Favorite Thing About Austria

Austria.  It's one of the most beautiful countries on the planet, yet someone in Austria's autobahn department seems determined to hide its lovely scenery from motorists.  Where a year ago you could see a castle, now the view is of a wall.  Such walls are common in Austria and most are without windows.  While no one wants residents to suffer with roadway noise (assuming that's the reason for them), there are studies saying shrubs are effective for sound attenuation.  Austria, tear down those walls!

Monday, October 8, 2012

You Gotta Pick a Pumpkin or Two

Hintersdorf, suburb of Vienna, Austria.  It's about as close to pumpkin heaven there is.  Pumpkins, gourds and squash in a spectrum of colors, shapes, sizes and textures are presented as sculpture, decoration and even food at Franzlbauer's grand and amazing pumpkin emporium.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Pumpkin Patch Perfection

Austrian countryside, between Retz and Vienna.  Austrian tidiness is remarkable throughout its society and perfection in agricultural areas is no exception.  It has long seemed that weeds would not dare to disrupt the orderly patterns of an Austrian field.  Aligned in neat rows without a sign of the vines that produced them, pumpkin harvests offer yet another expression of Austrian orderliness.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Where Wine Flows Freely From the Fountains

Retz, Austria.  Free wine flowing from the main square fountains—your choice: red wine in the fountain closest to the tower, white in the fountain next to it. A recipe for a successful event if ever there was one, enticing us to drive an hour north of Vienna to see for ourselves.  The village of Retz, known for its many kilometers of underground wine cellars stretching into the Czech Republic, its wine production, its working windmill, and its annual Weinlesefest, now in its 58th year, sure knows how to throw a party.

Fountain One, soon to flow with white wine:

The red wine fountain:

The Wine Queen gets the first taste...

...As the photographers and TV stations crowd around to snap away at her and her court.

Then it was everyone's turn.  Most had wine glasses to fill...

But some had plastic cups...

And even paper coffee-to-go-cups...

The whine verdict was that the white was tastier than the red.