This was a NATO Conference November 2005

Vienna, Austria (here is the National Anthum-click pause when required)

Nineteen days before his death on December 5th, 1791 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed his last complete work, the "Freimaurerkantate", KV 623. In parts of the edition of this cantata there appeared the "Chain Song", KV 623a. To this melody the Austrian National Anthem is sung. According to leading musicologists in Vienna, this tune was not written by Mozart, but by Johann Holzer, a Free Mason Brother of his, and composer of many songs. The lyrics were written by the Austrian writer Paula von Preradovic. On October 22, 1946 it was declared Austria's official national anthem.

Sharon & Pierre’s Trip to VIENNA AUSTRIA starting 6 Nov 2005 and finishing 12 Nov 2005. 20th Nov 2005 will be the 29th wedding anniversary for Sharon and I. This trip to Vienna is part of our celebrations. I am a luck man to have such a wonderful wife as Sharon.  We departed Kingston on 4 Nov and stayed with her brother, George Leighton, for the night. George took us out for Thai food, at the "HALA THAI" The next day we departed from St Catherine’s for the Toronto Airport and, while gassing in Grimsby, we returned to St Catherine’s for an information book on Vienna! That is another story.

The flight left on time (night 5 Nov) and we had a wonderful, non-turbulent flight to Vienna. The trouble happened once we were about to land (morning 6 Nov). The airplane developed some difficulties and had to circle to airport to allow time to correct the problem. After we landed, the Captain realized that he could not turn the aircraft so we taxied on the runway to the very end and waited for the service vehicle (our CAA counterpart) to come and tow the aircraft to its bay

For those of you who may not know, Vienna has a population of just over 1.5 Million and covers an area of 415 sq km (by comparison, Toronto Ontario has an area of 630 sq km). The river Danube flows through it and the Danube Canal flows through the city center. Vienna is the capital of the Republic of Austria. Austria as a whole is 83,858 sq kms which puts it slightly larger than New Brunswick which is 71,450 sq km. Vienna has seen many rules occupy its land but since 15 May 1955 after the signing of the Austrian State Treaty (which brought an end to the Allied occupation) Austria was granted independence

Sharon and I got a shuttle-taxi from the airport to our hotel “City Central”. Nice room and well situated to the center of town and close (relatively) to where I went for my conference-since we were there based on my work. We headed out to take a short walk to let it sink in that we were in Vienna Austria and simply enjoy the surroundings. We ate our supper at a local restaurant and Sharon got to have her Weiner Schnitzel at a restaurant called "Lindenkeller" on the Stephandsdom plaza. The odd story about her supper was that the waitress placed two semi-stale buns on our table with our meal and we nibbled at them. When the bill came we were charged 3 Euro (roughly $4.50 Canadian).

On the 10th of Nov was a funny day where not much was achieved. I spent much of the day in my conference and Sharon had tried to meet me for lunch but to no avail. She walked the Danube Canal to see me

This building belongs to "Porzellan Manufaktur". Wouldn't you like to work here?

a Vienna Opera Note:

The Viennese Opera House is without a doubt one of the leading opera houses of the world and has been through a lot during its “life”. Certainly, lots of the big opera stars have played here. The history has a tragic beginning as the construction of monumental building of the “Ringstraße’” became a calamity for its two architects. Due to deep foundation, the building resembled a “sunken crate”. Such criticisms finally made Eduard van der Nüll commit suicide and two months after August von Siccardsburge died of a heart attack. Unfortunately they did not live to see the big opening with “Don Giovanni” in 1869. The imposing building is characterized through its “Renaissance elbow style”.

Inside the Opera House

Always try and start your day with a good breakfast

Belvedere Palace was constructed (between 1714-1722) for Prince Eugene of Savoy, and served as his summer residence. It also served as the home of Archduke Franz Ferdinand until he was assassinated.

Schönbrunn Palace with its surrounding buildings and the huge park is one of the most significant cultural monuments in Austria. The castle was build to rival French Versailles in Baroque beauty and importance but House Habsburg lacked funds to outdo its rivalling nation France.  This is the Palace at night.

Julius Meinl was founded in Vienna in 1862 as a specialist store selling first green and then roasted coffee. A world class Gourmet store was opened in the year 2000 in Vienna's city center.

A stage with a long tradition is the centrally located "Theater an der Wien", which was founded in 1801 by Emanuel Schikaneder, the librettist of Mozart's "The Magic Flute". This stage, that is now famous of its musical productions and opera productions during the Wiener Festwochen, has a long tradition of the opera. After the war, the theatre was home to the Vienna State Opera for ten years before, under the auspices of the city of Vienna, it has since built up a musical repertoire acknowledged throughout the world. This culminated in the original production of Elisabeth and Mozart!, which has been running successfully for several years.

Sharon and I both got up late for the first time in the week. Our intention is to visit some of the outside skirts of immediate Vienna. We immediately go for an excellent breakfast at the hotel and then leave. We buy a day pass for the metro (5 Euro each) and begin taking advantage of the step saving measures. One of the first things we did was go along Ring Boulevard. Vienna Ring Boulevard is 4 kilometres long and circles the city centre. The construction of the Ring Boulevard was initiated by Emperor Franz Joseph I in December 1857.

We stop first at the Yvon Strauss monument in a great park. We take our pictures and then move on.

A little walk later and we arrive at some people skating.

After a few pictures here and there, we get on the metro and bus and move on to Grinzing. L Van Beethoven was said to compose some of his famous melodies in Grinzing. We walked up some beaten paths and looked at some vine yards. It is very beautiful and peaceful. It is no wonder that some beautiful compositions were born here.

In the background we can see the cosmopolitan city of Vienna. We are so happy to have visited this lovely little place as it is typical of what we would believe to be Austria. For centuries Grinzing has been an important center for Austrian winemaking and because of its proximity to the city (just a tram ride away), the wine taverns tend to be fancier, but you can still get a taste of the local wines in a quaint setting. Look for a bunch of pine branches hanging over the heavy wooden doors of certain establishments, an indication that it's a heuriger, a tavern featuring new wine. A law dating back to 1784 allowed Viennese wine growers the privilege of selling their wine and home-cooked food 300 days out of the year without paying exorbitant taxes. The modern-day "open" sign never replaced the branch-like wreath and to this day, heurigers doll up their entrances with bows, branches, and berries to welcome patrons.

Sharon and I stopped for Lunch here and it must have been one of the best meals we have had in a week.

Johann Strauss is famous all over the world as the "waltz king" and composer of the unofficial Austrian national anthem, the Danube waltz and, last but not least, for the New Year's Day Concert given by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Musikverein.


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