St. Stephen’s, Vienna

Between tours we had some time to explore St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  The current form of the cathedral dates to the mid-14th century, a combination of the Romanesque and Gothic styles.  The first church on the site was consecrated in 1147.  The Wikipedia article has detail on the cathedral’s ring of bells, which is still in use, although we didn’t hear it.  I’ve been interested in church bells since reading Dorothy Sayers’ The Nine Tailors.  The Wikipedia article has much interesting information about the cathedral.

In some towns, the Dom or the church is up on a hill (so people can take refuge in it when the river floods).  I didn’t check the topo map for Vienna, but the Dom here is right downtown, in (of course) the Stephensplatz.  In fact it’s right across the square from some of the most modern architecture you can imagine:

St. Stephen's, Vienna

St. Stephen’s, Vienna

The bulgy glass edifice is Hans Hollein’s “Haas Haus.”  Wikipedia doesn’t have much on it, and neither did any of the tourist sites I found when I Googled it; it’s just a building.  It seems to have been built deliberately to reflect the Dom.

Notice the elaborate tile patterns on the Dom roof.  You’ll see it again in Budapest, where it’s even gaudier, when I get that tour posted.  I don’t know if that’s a Central European thing or what.  None of the other cathedrals had patterned tile roofs.  Notice also the three black gables with Gothic arches, on this side of the Dom below the tile roof.  Those are not black because they’re in shadow.  They’re black because they haven’t been cleaned yet, from seven hundred odd years of wood and coal smoke!  That’s what the scaffolding is all about, next to them.

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Driving Around Vienna

Well, not entirely – but a good deal of our “Vienna city walk” was done on a bus, hence the odd things that sometimes appear in my photos.  You’ll only see the ones I could reasonably salvage.  If you just want to go look at photos, you’ll find the Vienna gallery at this link.

The first thing we saw as we turned into town was the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, in Mexicoplatz:

St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Mexicoplatz

St. Francis of Assisi Church, in Mexicoplatz

Also known as the Kaiser Jubilee Church and the Mexicokirche, it was built around the turn of the 20th century to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, and consecrated in 1910.  I was interested because of the combination of church styles:  all those round arches are very Romanesque, and yet it has a handsome set of flying buttresses, usually associated with the later Gothic style.  The bus turned a corner, and we continued our tour.

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And I Didn’t Have a Camera

Returning from the gym on Easter Sunday, in the course of an errand I was driving down San Pablo Avenue near the 580 overpass, instead of rolling straight home on the freeway.  While driving, I saw a truly wonderful sight.  Two cars in front of me was a car containing a person in a white rabbit suit, waving to the people on the sidewalk!  I couldn’t see the details until we both got into a left turn lane.  The car was an ancient pale yellow Dodge GT convertible, top down, with an original California license plate from the ’60s – 3 yellow letters and 3 yellow numbers on a black background. It had fins.  I couldn’t tell you who was in the rabbit suit because all I could see was the back of its head.

And when I dived into my purse for my smartphone – I realized I’d forgotten it.  So all you get is a verbal description from me; but it absolutely made my day.  Happy Easter to all.

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The Wachau Valley and Dürnstein

Having left Melk Abbey around noon, we sailed on down the Danube toward the Wachau Valley.  This was the first day we had had unfettered access to the soi-disant “sun deck,” and of course it was overcast, although by the time we set out the rain which had poured down on Melk had slacked off.  As usual, this post includes some but not all of the photos I took that afternoon; you can find more of them at the gallery Dürnstein and Wachau Valley.  You can also see larger versions of anything in the gallery.

on the Danube

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Melk Abbey

Melk Abbey is a famous Benedictine abbey in Austria, in the town of Melk on the Danube River.  (Well, famous to the cognoscenti; I never heard of it before the trip.)  I can’t give you the panoramic photo from across the valley because, first, we never saw it until the buses dropped us in the parking lot, and second, the day we visited, it rained buckets, off and on.  Here’s a view of the town and the river, from the walls of the abbey, part way through the tour.  If it looks as though rain is pouring down, it is.

Melk, from Melk Abbey

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The Old Quilt

We visited my sister right after Christmas.  Among other things she was recovering from a fall which chipped a bone in her foot, so we didn’t get out much, but we had a good time anyway.  Jim and I went hiking in the Red Rock recreational area, especially the Calico Hills:

Calico Hills

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Museumsdorf Bayerischer Wald

Museumsdorf Bayerischer Wald translates as “Museum Town Bavarian Forest” – isn’t the German nicer and more euphonious?  This is an open-air museum some miles from Passau, in Tittling.  (Yes, really.)  The bus ride took us about an hour, as I recall, through the Bavarian countryside.

Bavarian countryside

You can barely see a range of hills through the mist – we were told that was in the Czech Republic.  It was a lovely day if rather warm.

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Visiting Passau

We were supposed to dock in Passau at 9:45 AM and spend two and a half hours walking around the town and attending a noon organ concert at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, before returning to the ship for lunch.  You’ll find all my photos in this gallery.

I’ve mentioned before that we had trouble with traffic jams at locks.  At 9:45 that morning we were stuck in a major traffic jam at (I’m fairly sure) the Kachlet lock on the Danube, just upstream of Passau.  I don’t know exactly how long we stayed there; my diary says that “we” (the passengers) suspected the Embla of paying off the barge Loretta so they could use its dock long enough to offload the passengers into buses.  No proof of this except a photo of the Loretta, floating near the dock.

The barge Loretta

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Electricians

This is one of those “Why didn’t we do this when we had the house all torn up last fall?” situations.

Last fall during the big remodel, we rewired the entire kitchen and downstairs powder room and two upstairs bedrooms.  For reasons which seemed good at the time (I hate to say how much that job cost!), we left out the front bedroom, and the miscellaneous wiring in the hall and entryway, all of which was ancient ungrounded knob-and-tube.  This fall (after having been turned down by three insurance companies because we still had working knob-and-tube wiring) we brought back Scott the electrician, and asked him to replace all the remaining knob-and-tube.

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Sunset over the Bay

I took these photos on October 12 – that’s how long it takes me to get around to things.  On October 12 I attended the Oakland East Bay Symphony‘s 25th Anniversary Gala (I’m a board member of the parent organization, East Bay Performing Arts).  The Symphony decided to have its Gala in the new Penthouse suite in the remodeled U.C. Berkeley Memorial Stadium; and I figured it was the only chance I’d ever get to see the penthouse suite, since I don’t attend Cal football games, and if I did I’d be sitting in the cheap seats.  I’m also annoyed at the U.C. Regents for (among other sins) spending all that money to reinforce a stadium which is still sitting Right On the Hayward Fault – the fault trace runs the length of the oval.

But it was a nice party, and the food was good, and the view as the sun set was amazing.  I’ve taken panorama photos of San Francisco Bay on other occasions (see my gallery Views of S.F. Bay, which includes these photos and a few more from this session), but usually I’m using my Canon T3i or its predecessor.  In this case the only camera I had was my old smartphone, an HTC Droid Incredible 2 (since replaced).  Also, I’m usually somewhere on Grizzly Peak or Skyline Boulevard, looking down from a much higher vantage point. I think I got pretty nice photos that evening, I hope you agree.

Here’s the Campanile at dusk:

Campanile at dusk

The Golden Gate Bridge and Marin Headlands:

San Francisco Bay

And the Campanile as the lights came on:

Campanile lights

By that time it was getting too dark for my measly phone camera to cope, so I quit.  But it was a lovely evening.

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