Vienna – Crosses, swords, lutes, and beer


Our days in Vienna have settled in to a pattern — sleep as long as we want, get up and drink many cups of coffee, read on our various devices, and then muster about noonish to start our touring. Today’s first stop is the Stephansondom, a gargantuan gothic cathedral bits and pieces of which are more than 800 years old. Turns out the entrails of some of the Habsburgs are in urns in the basement, although exactly why is a good question. We mill around the church for awhile, surrounded by oceans of Japanese tourists. That’s about all we can handle for Phase 1 of the day, and so we stop for lunch at an all-pita all-day outdoor restaurant bar that serves up polar fleece blankets with its sandwiches.

The Hofburg Treasury

We still have some goodness left over on our Fancy Ticket, so our next stop is the Imperial Treasury, where we can see the crown jewels and a great many tabards (articles of clothing that look like sandwich boards, except without the advertising). Once again, it’s clear that the Hapsburgs preferred armorpretty much everything covered in gold. Perhaps the most amazing item in the collection is a nearly 3,000 carat emerald carved into an unguent container.

The treasury contains many, many reliquaries — containers that hold small bits of saints (finger bones, toe bones, hair) and supposed pieces of the true cross. Christine and Liz are smitten with a stone called “schmucksteine,” but can’t figure out what it is so they can buy some schmucksteine jewelry for themselves.

The Neue Burg

The final museum on our three-museum ticket is the Neue Berg, a massive curved structure on Heldenplatz that was built during the last gasp of the empire, when it probably would have been a better idea to calm down a little with the building, already. In 1938, Adolf Hitler stood on the terraced central bay of this structure to proclaim the Anschluss — the union of Austria and Germany.


Here, we see the Hofburg’s weapons collection, including armor, ceremonial saddles, Turkish and Syrian maces, and other bits worn by the Hapsburgs during tournaments and military parades.  Liz and Pat watch a long interactive explanation of medieval tournaments, which is fascinating on two counts — nobody was supposed to hurt anyone else and the women were in charge. Well. Mike is exploring other rooms and Christine has long earlier beaten a path out of there.

The best part of this museum is the Sammlung Alter Musikinstrumente, which includes the finest collection of Renaissance instruments in the world as well as pianos that belonged to Beethoven, Schubert, Haydn and Mozart. Because everything is in German, we can’t tell which piano belonged to whom, so we take pictures of all of them.

Men and craft beer

craftbeerWhat more can we say? Pat and Mike are on a mission to sample every beer in Vienna, especially if it’s a craft beer. Here, they have found yet another beer-a-torium with many, many taps, and somebody willing to take their picture grinning goofily.





Korean flash mob

United Korean Orchestra

Somewhere along the way during our day’s travels, we note two cameramen set up on the square. Soon, a lone woman with a flute steps forward and starts to play — a beautiful, haunting tune. Minutes later, she is joined by violinists, cellists, and a choir of men. A conductor steps forward. The music swells into a crescendo so magnificent Liz starts to cry. As the gathered crowd applauds, youngsters run through the throng, passing out Korean flags and programs for the Korea Kulturfestival, which starts June 24 here in Vienna and features the United Korean Orchestra, which is apparently who we have just heard. We like to think it’s all in honor of Britta, the Korean-born bride whose wedding we are here to attend and who has arrived just today.

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Vienna – Crosses, Swords, Lutes, And Beer

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