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Published: June 22nd 2017
Geo: 48.22, 16.37
We arose to see the bluest skies yet. It has been a beautiful day in Vienna. Jeannette's emergency whistle/compass/thermometer (from e-bay, of course) registered 80 degrees in the afternoon.
After breakfast served by Mr. Klaus, we boarded a tour bus that gave us an overview of the city and a guided tour of the Schönbrunn Palace, the summer home of the Hapsburg family, rulers of the Austrian empire for nearly 600 years. The palace was constructed between 1696 and 1711 and was modeled after Versailles. Of particular interest was Maria Theresa, who despite bearing sixteen children in nineteen years, managed to rule the empire with uncharacteristic strength. She had a full time staff of over 2000 people working at Schönbrunn, 200 of which were assigned to maintain the candles (electricity was not added until 1900 and Thomas Edison personally came to oversee the installation). Her accomplishments included counting the population, taxing the population, drafting the population, educating the population, and sparing the population from the death penalty and torture. She ruled from 1740-1780. Her youngest daughter was Marie Antoinette. Much like the Palace of Versailles, Schönbrunn has been used as a diplomatic meeting place through the years, including the
only meeting between Kennedy and Khrushchev in 1961 as well as the SALT talks held between Carter and Brezhnev in 1979.
We learned today that Vienna was, like Berlin, occupied by Allied forces. From 1945-1955, France, Britain, Russia, and the United States oversaw a transition to the second Republic of Austria. One condition of independence was that all memorials constructed by Allied forces had to remain untouched. This is why there stands a Russian Liberation Monument as well as a large Josef Stalin plaque.
The tour company shuttled us back to the famous Vienna Opera House, where we stopped and had lunch at an outdoor café. Being in Vienna, we all ordered (and much enjoyed) Wienerschnitzel and Krügerl. Maps in hand, we ventured toward St. Stephen's and St. Peter's. St. Peter's, constructed in a baroque style, was more ornate and visually appealing than St. Stephen's. St. Stephen's had a lot of horses outside, which announced their presence with smell before sight.
Being Sunday, most stores were closed for the day, but that didn't keep the crowds or street performers away. This did not deter us from taking in the sights. We ended up walking toward the canal of the Blue Danube, which
wasn't blue. Along the canal walk was a great deal of graffiti, which was surprising to see in a city that, according to our tour guide, was ranked the cleanest city in the world last year. Apparently the reviewers didn't take the canal walk back to their hotel.
This brings us to the near end of Sunday afternoon. Tomorrow we plan on visiting the Hofburg museum complex (the Hapsburgs' winter palace) among other sights. We will also be attending a Mozart concert tomorrow night. Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!
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