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!

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

An American Back in Bavaria / Part # 7 / Vienna - City Tour

GAPP Exchange Journal 2014
Part # 7 / Vienna - City Center Tour

The Hofburg / Imperial Winter Palace
We continued on our way down toward the historic heart of the city.  We entered into an open area known as the Heldenplatz or Heroes' Square, which contained a large arching ornate Gothic style building that once served as the Imperial Palace of the Hapsburg Monarchy.  The Hapsburg Dynasty ruled Austria for nearly 300 years and designated Vienna the capital city of their empire for the majority of their reign.  The Hofburg was first constructed in the 13th Century and has been continuously expanded with each ruler adding his or her own personal touch to the ever evolving architectural monument to Austria's power.  Today the former imperial palace serves as the home and workplace of the nation's current president, contains government offices of Austria's Congress, and houses several museums of priceless works of art.  We sat on steps in the shade of the Heroes' Gate as several students took turns presenting on various sections of the impressive winter palace. 

Handsome Cab on Heroes' Square
It was amazing how much history, culture, and artwork could reside is such a contained space.  Additionally, to think of all the powerful men and women who ruled from this beautiful palace over the centuries was quite an amazing thought to comprehend.  It was a beautiful day as we strolled across the vast Heldenplatz, past the Festive Hall Wing, and then entered through an arched passageway that led us into the center of the Old Citadel, which is also known as the Swiss Wing and is one of the oldest sections of the Imperial Winter Palace.  The Swiss Wing contains the Hofburg Chapel, where the famous Vienna Boy's Choir performs every Sunday morning.  Horse drawn handsome cabs frequently crossed through the ornate passageway on their way to beautiful sites in every direction.  It appeared to be a very elegant way to tour the city, which complimented the historical ornate atmosphere of the surrounding architecture.  It was literally like walking through a fairy-tale-like urban landscape.  Everything was adorned in bright white and was complimented with subtle etchings, scrolls, and tasteful accents that were embedded in each structure's design. It was beautiful.  

Imperial Palace / Festive Hall Wing
During the exchange, we are always running on a busy event filled schedule and it is sometimes hard to look ahead to what's next when you have so much in front of you to absorb in the present.  As a result, I was not really aware of what all I was going to experience on this side trip and did not get a chance to research all there was to see in Vienna.  As is often the case on my day trips throughout the three week exchange, I am often pleasantly surprised to see something totally unexpected and exciting.  As we proceeded on our self-guided walking tour, we passed through the circular rotunda known as Saint Michael's Wing.  I was admiring the dome and surrounding passageways when I noticed a advertisement of depicting a beautiful white stallion standing on its hind legs.  My father loves horses and remembered watching and admiring the famous white stallions on television when I was a kid.  I thought maybe they were on tour and possibly visiting Vienna to host a performance.  

 The Spanish Riding School Palace Stables
I soon realized after exploring a little further down one passageway, this was the home of the famous Spanish Riding School.  I was able to risk going a little further to see several of the beautiful horses who were out in the summer riding courtyard.  I didn't want to get separated from our group but I couldn't help but get in a position to get a few photos of the beautiful horses.  I stood along with a small group of people who were also admiring the horses but was immediately reprimanded by a stable staff member who sternly gestured me away.  Apparently, I had stumbled into a private tour group viewing the horses and photos were reserved for paying tour members only.  Oh well, I got my pictures and just chalked it up to another instance of being a clueless tourist.  Plus, I had once again been verbally scolded in yet another city or attraction in Europe, keeping my perfect record intact!  Now that I could cross that off my list, I could proceed forth with high expectations!  It was amazing to see the horses and proved once again that you never know what amazing sites you might fall into around any given bend in the road!    

 Roman Ruins / St. Michael's Circle
We continued on our way through the interior tunnel through the winter palace and emerged out into the sun filled Saint Michael's Circle, named for the famous church nearby.  Known locally as the Michaelerplatz, the center of the space contains discovered ruins of a Roman era wall and house that remain exposed for public view.  Really amazing to see Roman ruins in person, pure physical evidence of how long human beings have called the area of Vienna home.  We walked from ruins of long past into a pedestrian street known as the Kolhmarkt, which is where the historical streets of Vienna merge with rich modernity.  The area is known as one of the most expensive shopping districts in Europe and is hosted by the likes of brand names such as Rolex, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Company, Michael Kors, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Cartier, and many other stores I could never afford to shop.  The streets were extremely crowded with locals and tourists alike both exploring the high-end retail shops.  
Jams and Jellies of the World
We continued on our way down the Kolhmarkt toward a small grocery shop known as Julius Meinl, which was touted as one of the most expensive in Europe or even the world.  The store had foods from all across the globe, displayed and arranged by country of origin.  The walls were a rich dark wood and an escalator took inquisitive shoppers to the second floor merchandise and beyond.  I stayed on the ground floor but later learned there was a stylish cafe, sushi bar, delicatessen, and wine cellar.  Apparently, fresh caviar from the Caspian Sea is a specialty but I decided to pass.  Instead, I sought out some of the American displays to see what items were worthy of shelf space in such a grocery boutique.   Coca-Cola products and Hershey Chocolate were two notable items prominently displayed.  I was thirsty so I decided to buy a Coke Zero for the walk ahead.  I think I paid over six dollars for a small plastic bottle but when in Vienna... I little taste of America was worth every cent and now I could say I'm a shopper of fine goods at Julius Meinl!  It was an excellent vintage and the carbonation was exquisite, very agreeable with my sophisticated palate!  Tune in next time as we continue walking the beautiful streets of Vienna!

     Vienna High-End Shopping District      

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


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