Thursday, May 08, 2014

A Day of Discovery in Vienna

This morning, in Vienna, I learned quite a bit about my grandfather, Carl. 

This afternoon, in Vienna, Tom learned quite a bit about his grandfather, Franz.

A few months ago. I received an email from a woman named Julia who identified herself as the Researcher of Provenance at the Albertina Museum in Vienna. She was researching my grandfather, Carl, who was a passionate and prominent art collector in the 1920s through 1940s. Carl was also a Jew whose source of income, his partnership as a bank owner, was taken from him by the Nazis. Julia is looking into the question of whether Carl sold some of the art in his collection "under duress" in order to pay the new taxes levied on Jews or whether he sold the pieces of his own free will and was paid fairly. I find the entire question fascinating, both from a personal and from an historical perspective. 

My two hours with Julia was an inspiring, emotional, informative, and personally intense experience, and certainly a highlight of the trip for me. Plus, I made a new friend!

Julia was kind enough to give us all free admission to the Albertina. We could have easily stayed all day, gazing at original paintings by Monet, Michelangelo, Dürer, and others. 

After our visit to the Albertina, we walked across the street to the Sacher Hotel and had Eis Kaffe and Sachertorte. "We," at this point, meaning Tom, Elisabeth, me, and Elisabeth's boyfriend, Danny, who was able to get away from work for a few days to join us!

Vienna is an extremely expensive city! Would you believe that four coffee drinks and one Sachertorte to share cost us over $50?!

Once we'd re-fueled, we walked around the immensely huge and magnificent Hofburg Palace. The crazy thing about Vienna is that there's so much magesty and so many incredibly beautiful and architecturally impressive buildings that it's easy to lose sight of how much work it took so many men to create the absolute splendor of this place!

The Peterskirche is one of many incredible churches in Vienna. I now know why my atheist Bavarian mother absolutely loved churches. It's easy to have a "religious experience" in these beautiful churches!

The Stepnansdom stands in the center of Vienna and serves as its beacon, figuratively and literally. I am awe-inspired every time I see it. 

We even have a view of it from our hotel each morning as we eat breakfast!

I love how varied the architectural sizes are here! Look at Tom and Elisabeth, each at a door!

A few months ago, as I was researching Tom's family on, I came upon a ship's manifest which contained the name of Tom's paternal grandfather, Franz Schneiderbauer. (His name was changed to Frank Snider in the states, though we're still unclear as to when or why.) On that manifest, the address of 12 Stubenbastei, Vienna, was given as Franz's home address. That address is just four or five blocks from the Stephasplatz! We were thrilled to find the building when Tom's grandfather grew up and were perfectly satisfied to take some photos outside...

...but then a woman started to let herself into the building. I explained to her who we were and why we were there, and she was kind enough to let us in!  Look at this amazing place!

What a thrilling day for both of us, as we felt the presence of grandfathers we'd never met!

One can walk for miles in Vienna and be awe-inspired with each step!

We ate dinner at an old restaurant directly next to Tom's grandfather's home. How odd to think that he had likely eaten at the same place (as a restaurant had been there, according to the waitress, for a "very, very long time")!

Vienna is as beautiful at night as it is during the day...

...which reminds me that we have one more full day here today before heading to Budapest on Saturday, where we will meet up with Kat, Peter, and Aleks (who have been absolutely loving Croatia)! Our plan is to climb to the top of the Stephansdom, to visit the Nachmarkt, and to explore Mozart's experiences in Vienna. 

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