Where yesterday went all wrong, today seemed like Opposite Day. What fun!
After a leisurely breakfast, we set out to the far reaches of the city to visit Central Cemetery, where many famous people are buried, not the least of which are some of the biggest names in classical music.
One of the most prominent headstones belongs to — of course, and rightfully so — Ludwig van Beethoven. We also saw the monument to W.A. Mozart (whose arguable “real” grave is in nearby St. Marx Cemetery, which we did not visit), and the graves of Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss, Czerny, Schoenberg, and others.
We looked and looked, and finally had to ask a tour guide where the grave of Mozart’s purported rival, Antonio Salieri, was located. Far, far away from the rest of the composers, in an unassuming row at the very edge of the cemetery, we finally found him.
The gravestones weren’t the most impressive part of our visit to the largest cemetery in Europe, however. That honor goes to the St. Charles Borromeo Cemetery Church, located at the end of the long main parkway that splits the graveyard in half. Its large, domed ceiling, beautiful relics, and awesome acoustics had us sitting in the pews (and it was just the two of us there at that time), singing and speaking softly as the dome took our voices and magnified and elongated them in what I timed as close to a 15-second decay. I sang a G major triad on “ah,” and all three notes resounded throughout the space, until finally fading away as one. I can only imagine a choir singing there…
Leaving the cemetery took us to the adult home of Mozart, where he lived the longest and wrote some of his greatest works (Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Requiem Mass in D minor). No photos allowed, but we saw the space in which he, his wife and children, his father, their servants, and sometimes extended guests lived, all under one roof. When the tour was done, it was time for lunch, which we enjoyed outside, where a cool-ish breeze brought some relief from the 89-degree day.
After lingering over our lunch, we hailed a taxi to the immense Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna’s #1 attraction, and summer home to the Imperial Habsburgs throughout most of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. We weren’t permitted to photograph the inside there, either (you can see hundreds of pictures by doing a search), but the words “ornate” and “Baroque excess” don’t quite do it justice. Every living space had beautiful fabrics on the walls, the windows, and the furniture — all in matching patterns. I can’t imagine heating that place in the winter, holy cats.
Following the tour, it was off to what ended up as a super-fun finale to a very full and informative day. We bought tickets to a demonstration on the fine art of strudel-making, put on by the pastry chefs of the palace. Delightful! The young chef did quite the show, effortlessly speaking one sentence in German and repeating it in English for the entire 20-minute demonstration. And the best part? We got to take home the recipe for the delicious apple-cinnamon-raisin strudel, as well as taste some for ourselves.
We called it a night by skipping dinner and having a snack of coffee, sachertorte and cookies at a nearby cafe. Some Friday, right?
Tomorrow will be the culmination of Suzanne’s and my time together with a visit to Salzburg. Yay, Sound of Music tourists doing idiotic poses from the movie at all the iconic sites! That’ll be us.
Till then….much love.
Wow! What a day, indeed! The history you were able to see is mind blowing. The cathedral is stunning! Thanks for the ride-a-long!