Sunday March 18, Vienna

Life really shuts down here on the weekend. Even the grocery stores are closed on Sunday! Most shops, except souvenir stands and other tourist shops, are shut. SOME restaurants are open. I knew that small villages would be that way, but I guess I expected the city to be different. Ah well, live and learn!

I had a good day despite the many closures. Started out by touring the Imperial Apartments of the Hofburg Palace. They make a big fuss over "Sisi," the Empress Elizabeth from the 19th century. She had floor-length hair and spent 3-4 hours every day having it styled. And she ran around all over Europe because she got bored being Empress. Mostly ignored her children. And eventually got assassinated by some Italian anarchist while she was running around avoiding responsibility. Seems like a spoiled brat to me, but I do realize that the life of someone so constantly in the spotlight has to be very difficult and wearing. So cut Sisi some slack, Carlyn! :-)

Anyway, the Emperor’s rooms were interesting in their relative plainness – Joseph took his duties very seriously, getting up at 3:30 every morning and working late into the evening, including after state dinners and such. Slept on a narrow iron bed. His main decorations were pictures of his wife and children. And then there were Sisi’s ornate rooms – she had pictures of her side of the family, rather than her children and husband. Very beautiful, ornate, grand rooms. Beautiful, ornate, grand furniture. Everything done in white and gold, with red carpets and upholstery. Gorgeous, but not a lot of variety, except for the _________ rooms, a series of small chambers with floor-to-ceiling, and on the ceiling as well, frescos (or murals, I can’t remember which) of tropical scenery – lush jungle vegetation, exotic birds, animals and fish, etc. Seemed warmer just looking at them!

If you only have time for one palace in Vienna, the Schonbrunn is definitely the better choice – more beautiful, more interesting, and more varied. But it was interesting to see the Hofburg too.

After that, I spent some time just strolling the pedestrian-street section between the Hofburg and Stephansdom. That seems to be what most locals do on Sunday, just stroll the streets, talking, window-shopping at all the closed stores, meeting up with friends, eating at the cafes that are actually open. I found some interesting side streets, almost alleyways, and just enjoyed the Vienna atmosphere. Then I decided to see something completely different, and went to see Hundertwasserhaus, a modern, famous (or infamous) apartment complex designed by architect Hundertwasser – bright colors, odd shapes, unexpected terraces, crooked lines, colorful pillars at odd angles – to me it looked like something Dr. Seuss would create. But it is entertaining and certainly different. There’s a shopping village across the way, also of H.’s design, that’s equally eccentric and amusing.

In the late afternoon, I went to Nancy Van de Vate’s apartment to spend some time discussing her piano pieces – I’m recording a set for her later this spring, so we needed to go through them together. That was interesting, of course. She’s a fascinating woman, and we find ourselves talking about many things. Had dinner with her at a nearby Chinese restaurant – great to have vegetables for a change! And I finally got home around 11 PM.

The weather is due to change now – supposed to be 40 degrees and rainy on Monday, and pretty much through the week. Disappointing, but we’ve had some amazing good weather until now, so can’t really complain!

Love to all,


Last updated 12/07. Copyright 2007 by Richard C. Morenus. Questions? Send email to