Camp Martin Travels

These entries will be a combination of historical day trips, graduate level travel courses, and just little stops along the way. I have been teaching 8th grade American History for over 25 years. I am also a Civil War Reenactor and have traveled to Germany and Austria with several groups of exchange students and written about our adventures. Please check all my posts by using the monthly Blog Archive tabs shown below. I have posted over 150 Blog Episodes since 2009... Please explore them all!

Saturday, February 25, 2017

An American Back in Bavaria / Part # 12 / Naschmarkt

GAPP Journal 2014
Part # 12 / Vienna - Naschmarkt

Fresh Fruit from around the World
We scaled the steps up to street level and were deposited at the entrance to Vienna's famous open air market known locally as the NaschmarktA popular destination for locals and tourists alike, the market is a great place to pick up fresh foods, including those from distant lands.  The stands were overflowing with colorful products from fresh vegetables, fruit, nuts, olives, spices, and even specialty teas. Many of the vendors appeared to be foreign from countries to the south and east.  I love to visit the local farmer's markets around my home of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, which often take place on one specific day or two every week.  Root's Market near East Petersburg is always on a Tuesday, Green Dragon happens every Friday outside Ephrata, and Central Market in Lancaster City is only open on Wednesday and Saturday.  Each market has their own specific personality and flavor of goods catering to specific customers.  Central Market is more global and offers specialty foods that appeal to a variety of ethnic palates and restrictive diets more likely found in the city.  The others offered more locally grown, fresh, and basic foods common within the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition of a rural farming lifestyle.

 Interior / Exterior Cafe Seating
 The Naschmarkt, which is open Monday through Saturday, was much more exotic and high class than any from back home.  The stalls were all well maintained, clean, and were neatly organized.  Many of the fine eateries had enclosed seating areas that were chic in design and accented with green plants that provided some privacy from passersby.  Wine was served in fine stemware in some of the high-end booths and the foods they served suggested culinary delicacies.  However, there was something for everyone and I was able to find a Turkish stand touting fresh chicken-nuden in a box to eat on the go!  The market was long and narrow and paralleled the space between the rail line and the edge of the city for almost a full mile.  Everyone was very friendly, obviously very accustomed to encountering the many tourists who stop in to experience one of Vienna's top and oldest attractions.  Two young ladies, who were selling about a hundred different varieties of candied fruits, posed for my camera as I took the shot of their colorful stand.  The Naschmarkt dates all the way back to the 16th century, where milk was sold to the city's residents in bottles made from ash wood, which is how the market received its name.

Global Tea Market
Our kids really enjoyed exploring the market and trying the various foods available for a quick lunch.  I also picked up a few souvenirs for back home, including some unique tea mugs from India for my wife and son, who are avid tea drinkers.  The row of buildings on the edge of the city were very beautiful and mostly the iconic white plaster that flowed throughout the city.  Several of the buildings were accented with various forms of art including Romanesque statues, sculptured planters, and several were accented with subtle color through painted stenciled patterns.  One building that caught my eye had a huge portrait painting of a young woman's face displayed on its side wall upside down, which covered the entire space.  The painting of the woman, with her eyes closed, was created in various shades of blue.  It was very bold, beautiful, and complimented the artistic personality of the city.  It was piece created in the modern art style, which stood out in contrast with the traditional historic white building, which supported the enormous canvas.  Our departure time was approaching quickly and time, the enemy of every visiting tourist, was becoming more apparent.  A few students wanted to take one more ride on the U-bahn to the far edge of the city to see the iconic Danube River and I was chosen to go along for the ride.  All aboard!

 Two Women at the Market
The train from the Naschmarkt to the historic Danube was all above ground and the train flew at such a high rate of speed; it was hard to really see the landscape rushing past the windows.  The train came to a stop at a small, elevated platform above an island in the middle of the river.  The 13-mile long island known as the Donauinsel or Danube Island, which was created when an additional channel of the Danube was excavated in the 1970s, is known as the Neue Donau or New Danube.  The purpose of the channel and accompanying created island is to provide additional protection for Vienna from flash floods that threaten all cities built along the banks of Europe's fabled powerful rivers.  Donauinsel has also become a great space for recreation for the city's residents.  The Danube on either side of the narrow island seemed to appear as two different waterways entirely due to their stark contrast in color. (See Photo Below) The main river channel, which was the much wider of the two, appeared gray in color with the city skyline running parallel with the distant riverbank.  The New Danube was a deep rich blue color, reminiscent of the river's romantic and historic mystique.

 The Deep Blue Waters of the New Danube
The buildings to the east of the New Danube were more modern design with clean smooth lines, many shrouded in a skin of tinted glass.  There were also residential apartment complexes that were also symmetrical and modern in design.  Unlike the center of the city, the buildings of this mixed area of business and residential urban life were less congested with structures placed far apart from one another.  This openness provided a different, more relaxed feel than that of the busy crowded city streets to the west.  The hillside far bank of the New Danube was full of sunbathers taking advantage of the day's beautiful weather but few were in the water.  In fact, the only swimmer was a large dog that was swimming out to retrieve a ball thrown by the dog's owner on the edge of the shore.  A bunch of our students got the brilliant idea of jumping in to go swimming in the channel.  I pointed out this was not wise to jump into an unknown river, especially when there were no other people swimming.  In addition, we were due to leave on our train home within an hour and a half and the long ride would not be pleasant soaking wet.  The students were extremely upset with me and vehemently protested my decision to not allow them their free spirit act of reckless abandon and spontaneity.  Sometimes it is really hard to be the only grownup in the group!

 Lighthouse of Copa Cagrana of the Sunken City
I sat down on the edge of the bank, took off my shoes, and soaked my tired, aching bare feet in the cool water of the river.  I suggested the students do the same to semi-satisfy their intense desire to jump in the river.  However, the students were in no mood to compromise and boycotted my olive branch invitation to join me.  Despite their continuous complaints, I remained unbending in my position and refused to put their safety in jeopardy with our exit pending within the hour.  We had made it through the whole weekend without incident and I wasn't going to risk fumbling the ball near the conclusion of the fourth quarter.   I corralled our group and we headed back up to the elevated platform to wait for the return train.  The station provided an excellent view of the rich blue waters of the New Danube to the south and on the opposite side was the lighthouse of a recreation area known as Copa Cagrana and the Sunken City.  This area comes alive at night with its many restaurants, cocktail bars, and open-air discotheques... but the nightlife would have to wait for some other visit as our train came into view.  We raced back into the city to our designated meeting place at the entrance of the Naschmarkt, where we had a few minutes before heading back to our hotel to collect our bags before departing the city for home.

View of Danube, Danube Island, and New Danube
(Photo Credit /© Bwag Commons Taken from top of D.C. Tower)
A few minutes later we prepared to ride the "U" back to our hotel and counted everyone to be sure we all had returned on time.  Much to my surprise, several of our students who had recently been to visit Danube Island were soaking wet!  Apparently, as soon as we had arrived back at the Naschmarkt, they turned around and jumped back on the train to return to Donauinsel, where they ran down and jumped into the Danube.  Nothing like a little defiance to make the teenage experience in Vienna complete!  I guess they showed me but then again, they were soaking wet and it was a long train ride home.  Hope it was worth it but I guess, when in Vienna... It was a great tip, an amazing experience I will never forget!  Thanks to Wendy for all she did to make our overnight stay in Vienna such a success!  

View of the D.C. Tower from the River

Sunday, February 12, 2017

An American Back in Bavaria / Part # 11 / Schonbrunn

GAPP Exchange Journal 2014
Part # 11 / Vienna - Schonbrunn Palace

Schonbrunn Palace / Main Center Front
Our overnight stay at our hotel in Vienna had come to an end as we repacked our belongings, cleared out our rooms, and met downstairs in the lobby for a light breakfast.  The hotel had agreed to allow us to store our luggage at the hotel so we could continue to explore the city before our train was due to leave for back home to Bavaria later in the afternoon.  I had to hand it to Wendy, who had done a fantastic job with the itinerary of our trip.  She had really maximized our short weekend in the city by scheduling a series of amazing historic sites within our limited time frame in Vienna.  First on tap this morning was boarding the now familiar U-bahn subway to visit the famous summer palace of the Hapsburg Dynasty known as Schonbrunn.  Again, I had no idea what to fully expect, having only a free city map from the train station, which showed the location of the palace and a small picture.  The subway emerged from the underground darkness into the light of the surface.  Apparently the trains of Vienna run both above and below ground depending which direction you are headed.  It seemed the subway emerged on lines that ran outside the city's congested center.  Our train arrived and we walked along a long wall towards the front gateway (Map-I) of the popular palace.

Schonbrunn Palace and its accompanying imperial gardens were first opened to the public in 1779 by Queen Maria Theresia.  As with many magnificent palaces I have visited in Germany and now Austria, Schonbrunn began as a simple recreational location for the sport of hunting for the select members of the royal family and imperial court.  Originally known as the Katterburg Estate, the royal family acquired the rural property in 1569 for its close proximity to Vienna's forest.  In 1612 a spring fountain was discovered on the estate that provided the property with fine spring water, which was so pure, it was bottled for consumption for the Hofburg Winter Palace in the center of Vienna.  The spring was called Schones Brunnl, and would eventually give the grand palace its namesake.  The first constructed house of leisure was almost completely destroyed by the Turks in 1683.  The remaining foundation was soon razed to make room for a new grand structure to be built as a monument worthy of emulating the power of the Hapsburgs.  Over time, the main palace expanded to include over 1440 rooms to house 1000 people of the royal family and the entire royal court who resided there during the warm months of summer.

  Naiad Basin / Lilly Pad Fountain (13)
The massive gardens were so impressive and rather than go on the interior tour of the palace, I went rogue and decided to take the full time of our visit to explore the palace grounds to the rear of the structure.  I walked through the center-arched passageway under the main palace to stand at the extreme edge of the expansive imperial gardens.  The entire site encompasses 436 acres and is more than a half square mile in physical size.  Once again, to our great fortune, it was once again a beautiful sunny day.  Off in the distance on top of a hill was a structure known as the Gloriette (Map-8), which looked down over the palace grounds and appeared to be square with the palace's center.  If time permitted, my goal would be to try and reach the Gloriette to see the view offered of the palace grounds below.  First, I ventured to the left, with every turn in the pathway revealing one garden display after another in full bloom.  There were ornate statues, elaborate fountains, groomed gardens, flower lined pathways, and sculpted shaped shrubs.  I walked at a brisk pace all the way to an impressive fountain spring known as the Obelisk (Map-9), which denotes the history of the Hapsburg Dynasty.  

 Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens Map
Keeping my goal of climbing the large hill to reach the Gloriette (Map-13) in mind, I headed back to the east and passed a large fountain of mock Roman Ruins (Map-12) known by the same name.  I took in the view of the expansive center area known as Schonbrunn Park (Map-6) looking toward the center facade of the palace.  The climb was steep and the sun hot so I took a turn to enter a side road (Map-26), which provided shade from the heat of the sun overhead.  I imagined this was what much of the area resembled when the estate was originally used mostly as hunting grounds.  I came to a crossroad intersection and turned east once again to angle my climb toward the Gloriette, which was completely hidden from view.  I had no idea of my position in relation to the top of the hill, when the grandeur of the Gloriette suddenly appeared before me as I came around a bend in the wooded roadway and out into the bright sunlight.  As I turned to face the palace below, the view was nothing short of magnificent as the colorful city skyline of Vienna was stretched out along the horizon.  Just below the Gloriette on both sides was a large pond that created natural bookends to the structure. There was a grand cafe with large glass widows, offering thirsty patrons a beautiful setting and accompanying view to enjoy a cool drink.  However, tempting as it may have looked, the clock was ticking and all I had time for was a bathroom break and bottle of Coca-Cola Light from a vendor before I began my descent. 

The Neoclassicist Hilltop Gloriette
The Gloriette was built as a monument to all the soldiers who had perished over the centuries defending the empire.  The original grand plans for the summer palace dictated the main palace structure be built upon the top of the hill but construction was determined to be too expensive and the lower location was chosen instead.  The grass-covered hillside is an excellent space for spectators to sit when summer outdoor musical concerts are performed at the Gloriette.  The long zig-zagging pathway down the slope was longer than anticipated and I was beginning to worry I would miss our predetermined rendezvous in the main courtyard more than a half mile away.  However, I couldn't resist stopping periodically to take a few pictures of the beautiful view below.  I finally came to the base of the hill where the Large Neptune Fountain (Map-7) roared with powerful cascading falling water into a large pool below.  The Baroque styled fountain contains large marble statues depicting a mythological scene of the Goddess Thetis requesting Neptune to give her son Achilles a safe passage to the ancient city of Troy.  Stretched out before me was a colorful view of Schonbrunn Park (Map-6) framed by the large side gardens and main palace structure beyond.  It resembled a living work of art where nature and man merged to create something of true beauty. 

View of Schonbrunn from the Gloriette
The ornate gardens of brilliant colors were scrolled out in multiple complex designs of patterned symmetrical artwork displayed on a canvas of bright green lawns, framed by broad stone walkways. As always, I wished we had more time so I could explore the other half of the gardens on the opposite side of Schonbrunn Park.  I later discovered that the other side contained one of the largest greenhouses in the world known as Palm House (Map # 18) and a large zoo, which has been in existence since 1752.  The zoo known as Tiergarten (Map # 22), has been brought up to date as a modern facility and houses a variety of exotic animals such as elephants, apes, and hippopotamuses. There is also a space known as the Maze (Map # 15), a labyrinth of tall green hedges that would have been fun to navigate but time was slipping away.  Unfortunately, I was never able to penetrate the space hidden from view by a line of trees and accompanying statues.  If I ever get a chance to visit again, I will be sure to get the interior tour and then start by exploring the east gardens first.  I made it back to the main courtyard to join up with our students and even had time to explore the gift shop and enjoy another Coca-Cola Light under the shade of a brightly colored umbrella overlooking the courtyard and palace frontal facade.  

Schonbrunn's Neptune Fountain
On our way out, we even had a few minutes to explore the side English rose gardens that had several rose covered trellises that were large enough to walk through, resembling a tunnel of flowers.  The summer imperial palace was absolutely beautiful and it was no wonder why the royal family and court wanted to spend the summer months in residence.  In fact, I wouldn't mind moving into one of the 1000+ rooms of the palace for a month or two, so I could take my time to fully check out the property in full!  We walked back to the small train station and boarded to make our way to our next and final destination before departing the city.  On our train car we met a nice old gentleman who was quietly ministering to anyone who would listen.  He asked if he could pray for us and we welcomed his blessing, which requested safe travels for all of us during the remainder of our stay in Europe.  We got off at our stop and said goodbye to the kind elderly missionary, who continued on the train to destinations unknown.  

Elderly Train Missionary

Site Facts, Figures, and History
Source / Vienna by Lina Schnorr
Published by Harald Bohm - 2014


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

An American Back in Bavaria / Part # 10 / Hotel Sacher

GAPP Exchange Journal 2014
Part # 10 / Vienna - Hotel Sacher

Colorful Street Cafe at Night
After regrouping on the Stephensplatz we began to make our way to Hotel Sacher, which was located right next to the Vienna State Opera House.  The skies overhead were now darkening but the streets had come alive, illuminated with bright colorful lights.  Again, the streets were full of pedestrians on their way about the city.  Several street performers offered passersby a cheaper alternative to the formal venues for which the city is famous.  We passed by a lone violinist who was barely visible up against a nearby building, faintly revealed by a soft light overhead.  His open instrument case lay open at his feet, hoping for some compensation for his efforts.  Perhaps, he was a hopeful student, working his way from the streets toward the larger stage and mainstream notoriety.  I wish him all the best!  The buildings were interesting to look at, so different back home as everything seemed more orderly, clean, and elegant.  The outdoor sidewalk cafes were still very busy with patrons relaxing, sipping coffee, or ordering light fare.  Thankfully, the heat of the day had subsided with the onset of darkening skies.  Vocal salespersons continued to try and fill any and all open spaces within theaters located throughout the city by calling out to the passing crowds.  A few were even in costume to resemble Mozart himself, hoping to stand out and attract attention.    

 Bright Lights, Big City
We continued on our way through the beautiful streets toward the Hotel Sacher, located in the center of the city.  The weather continued to be very nice and the heat of the summer sun had given way to cooler temperatures.  I was so thankful the weather had cooperated, as this experience would have been totally different with heavy rain and storms.  Walking through the city was so relaxing and calm compared with other cities, most notably due to the fact that there were no cars.  The sound of engines and car horns were replaced with the sound of music and French horns within the pedestrian walkway.  The multiple outdoor cafes provided a great place to relax in the open air of the summer season.  I'm sure it was a totally different atmosphere during the winter months, due to cold temperatures and the absence of most tourist visitors.  However, I would love to visit Germany and Austria during the winter and see the beautiful landscape covered in snow.  The traditional Christmas Markets that arise in most city and town centers during the holiday season would be a top item on my list to see and experience.  

Hotel Sacher's Signature Chocolate Cake
Hotel Sacher is a five star luxury hotel in the heart of the city of Vienna, where a basic room can run you $500 a night.  Over its long history, the famous hotel has served guests from royalty to celebrities including Queen Elizabeth II, John Lennon, Grace Kelly, and John F. Kennedy.  Now they could add the students and chaperones of the GAPP Exchange from Warwick Middle School to their list of distinguished guests, even if we were just stopping in the cafe for dessert.  Wendy had somehow managed to get a reservation for all 20 of us in the hotel's restaurant to experience the famous signature chocolate cake known as Sachertorte.  The most famous culinary dessert in Austria was first created by Franz Sacher for a special reception for Prince Wenzel von Metternich in 1832.  As the story goes, the head chef who was put in charge of creating a special dessert for the prince's reception fell ill and the task was then assigned to his understudy, sixteen year old Franz Sacher.  His chocolate cake creation pleased those who attended the reception but did not become famous until much later.  Franz went on to work in several other cities and eventually returned to his hometown of Vienna, where he opened a deli and raised a family.

Sachertorte Creator / Franz Sacher
Eduard Sacher, who was the oldest son of Franz, continued his father's craft in the food business and attended culinary school in Vienna where he became a pastry chef and chocolatier.  During his studies, he took his father's Sachertorte torte recipe and altered it to create his own version.  It was a hit and served at the famous bakery Demel Bakery in Vienna and eventually became the signature dessert at Hotel Sacher.  Ironically, a legal battle later ensued over which famous location had the legal rights to call their version of the cake The Original Sacher Torte.  The disagreement went on for years, right through World War II and eventually wound up in civil court.  For seven years, the legal battle raged over the naming rights of the cake and even what specific ingredients made up an official and original Sachertorte.  Eventually the dispute was settled out of court in 1963 where both businesses agreed to own the rights to serve a version of the cake and both had the legal right to use a variation of the name.  Today the Demel Bakery serves Eduard Sacher Torte and Hotel Sacher calls their version The Original Sachertorte.  All's well that ends well... as long as it's delicious!

  The Window View from Cafe Sacher
We entered the hotel through a side entrance, which delivered us to the restaurant and cafe.  The interior space was richly decorated with dark wood mahogany walls accented with bright red and pink tones.  It was very beautiful and resembled everything you would expect from a luxury level hotel in Vienna.  This was not your run of the mill economy hotel chain.  We were taken to a cafe seating section that ran parallel with the street outside.  The top half of the large windows were free of glass and the view of the illuminated Vienna State Opera House across the street was beautiful.  It was a dining atmosphere that was unique and nothing like I had ever experienced before now.  We all ordered a slice of sachertorte... Sorry, I legally meant The Original Sachertorte!  The cake arrived with the mug of hot chocolate I had ordered, on a simple white plate accompanied by a white napkin and small dessert fork.  It was very elegant in its simplistic presentation.  Sachertorte is a dense chocolate sponge cake with a thin layer of apricot jam in the middle.  It is topped with a dark chocolate icing, which was accented with a round chocolate candy disc with the words "Hotel Sacher Wien" imprinted on top.  It is traditionally served with a dollop of unsweetened whipped cream and no matter what you legally call it... delicious is most appropriate.     

Hotel Sacher Restaurant Interior
We had most of the dining area to ourselves and took in the views of the opera house and the street scene outside.  I went off in search of the five star luxury bathrooms and got a view of some of the other areas of the restaurant.  It was really beautiful with oil paintings portraying aristocracy from Vienna's historic past adorning the walls.  The hotel is said to have a small art museum of collected works from the 19th Century but I imagine entrance to view fine art requires more than buying a piece of cake!  It was a really great experience that we all enjoyed very much. You could order a whole cake to go for about $40 but the dining room atmosphere, which you could never get at home, was priceless.  We left Hotel Sacher to go out and explore the night.  Wendy was leading a group of our students who wanted to take advantage of a free music concert outside the Vienna Rathaus, or city hall building.  I was tempted but was more than beat after walking about the city all day and instead, decided to retreat back to the hotel for the night.  I was joined by a few of our students who were also tired and we walked back toward the subway station together.  Along the way we passed by more colorfully lit social spaces and illuminated historic buildings.  I later regretted my decision because the rathaus was such a beautiful building and I never got the chance to view it, other than from a great distance.  It will be a "must see" if I ever get the opportunity to return to Vienna again.

  Vienna State Opera House
Site Facts, Figures, and History
Source / Vienna by Lina Schnorr
Published by Harald Bohm - 2014

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