For our summer trip this year, Therese and I picked out one old favorite of Therese’s, and one place that neither of us had ever been. And for the first half of that trip, to Vienna (the old favorite), we invited along one of Therese’s best friends (and one of mine), Faith.
In the posts (and weeks) to come, I will do my best to get all of our adventures, as we used to say, down on paper (paper? what’s that?). To see which posts have been completed about which days, keep checking back here to this post. For it’s here that I will give a day by day list of the places we visited day by day, and the hyperlinks to those several specific posts.
So without any further ado, here is that list.
Sunday, August 9: St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hoher Markt
Monday, August 10: Leopold Museum
Tuesday, August 11: Part One: Hofburg
Part Two: St. Peter’s Church and Ruprecht’s Church
Wednesday, August 12: Part One: Art History Museum
Part Two: Dinner at Nikolaihof
Thursday, August 13: Part One: Yamm and Academy of Fine Arts
Part Two: Maria am Gestade Church
Friday, August 14: Part One: Belvedere Upper Palace and Restaurant Sperl
Part two: Votive Church and Rathausplatz Film Festival Food
Saturday, August 15: MAK (Museum of Applied Arts)
Hotel Kosciuszko in Krakow
Sunday, August 16: Main Square, Cloth Hall, St. Mary’s Basilica
Monday, August 17: Kazimierz (Jewish Quarter), Soya Cafe, Jesuit Church
Tuesday, August 18: Part One: Jagiellonian University, Horse Ride, Morski Oko
Part Two: Cracow Free Tours Polish Food Tour
Wednesday, August 19: Wawel Castle, Stained Glass Museum Workshop
Vienna and Wachau Region
Thursday, August 20: (Mostly Travel Day, Not Much Happened)
Friday, August 21: Melk Abbey, Danube Boat Ride, Krems an der Donau
Saturday, August 22: Krems Old Town
I will, before I leave you, offer some observations that colored our experience a bit, and may lurk in the back of your minds as you read my posts. In preparing for our trip, we knew that we would see many paintings by artist Gustav Klimt, and we were aware of the recent movie Lady in Gold, based on the book of the same title by Ann-Marie O’Connor, which concerns one of Klimt’s most famous paintings (which was on display in Vienna for decades, but now is in New York). Therese and I thought that reading O’Connor’s book would give us some insight into both Klimt and the disposition of Klimt’s artworks.
That untold Viennese families suffered at the hands of the Nazis during World War Two because of their Jewishness or connection to Jews we knew. What is shocking in O’Connor’s book is how recently there are – and I say ARE and not WERE because some of it undoubtedly goes on – how recently there are people and institutions and governments in that part of the world that are still largely in denial about what happened. There are still innumerable art works and other possessions that were stolen from Jewish people by the Nazis that have yet to be restored to the families of the original owners. And Viennese institutions have recently been and probably continue to be at the center of this issue, this unresolved immense atrocity.
So as we saw so many incredible things in Vienna, we sometimes found ourselves asking, “is that something that was stolen?” For example, when we were in the Leopold Museum, the more we read, the more it seemed very likely that Rudolph Leopold, whose collection forms the basis for that museum, turned a blind eye to where most if not all of the things he collected came from. We know for sure that some of his purchases in the 1950s, for example, were of paintings and other valuable articles that had been stolen by the Nazis at one time.
How did this make us feel? It made me feel conflicted sometimes. I was glad to see the incredible artwork that I saw. Even after all the artwork is returned, Vienna will still have an incomparable artistic treasure in its museums that comes from its history as the Habsburg capital. But I was sad that one more aspect of the policy of the Nazis continues to cause so much grief even to this day.