Vienna was the launch point from where we came to Canada. As a young couple living in communist Yugoslavia with two small children, our mom and dad packed two suitcases filled with family photos, a few clothes, and our teddy bears (Johnny and Sally) and off we went to Vienna. We stayed in Vienna for one week while getting visas and vaccines and then flew to Canada, got our landed immigrant status and started our new lives.
So it was only fitting that we should return there, over 40 years later.
We met up in Vancouver and flew from Vancouver, BC to Chicago, then on to Vienna.
Adriane and Marina just can’t get enough of the architectural marvels surrounding them. This is the Austrian National Library.
Arriving in Vienna felt like “we are coming home”. We only had two days to explore Vienna to see if any memories would come back. Things have changed, but the beauty of this elegant city remains the same. We remembered a few buildings and churches; they were so grand to us. We headed out on foot to explore and while waiting at a bus stop we asked directions from a local and the next thing we knew Ayam Alexander cancelled his evening plans and became our tour guide. Over the next two days he showed us the main attractions in the centre of the city called Wiener Ringstraße. Now that’s Vienna hospitality. Alexander was very excited and proud to show us the many splendors his city has to offer. Here are some of the places we visited.
Vienna Parliament building Built from 1874 to 1883 according the plans of architect Theophil Hansen in the Greek-Roman style. A tour through the building brings the visitor back to the ancient Greece. Beautiful Pallas, Athene statue adorns the front of the building.
Karlskirche (St. Charles’s Church) is an amazing church located on the south side of Karlsplatz in Vienna. This church is full of intricate details. It is considered one of the most outstanding baroque churches.
Belvedere Palace. This baroque architectural wonder consists of two palaces (Upper and Lower Belvedere), which today house Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present day including the world’s largest collection of paintings by Klimt. The grounds are spectacular and a joy to walk in.
St. Stephen’s Cathedral is the symbol of Vienna. It is one of the most important Gothic structures in Austria. The construction of this treasure started in 12th century. Rich in history this church was where Mozart was married in 1782. There are many secrets to this church including the catacombs underneath which house the burial place and the mausoleum of the bishops.
The oldest remaining parts of St. Stephen’s date back to the 13th century when Vienna was expanding. Then it took another two hundred years for the building to reach its present shape: the prominent feature of the Cathedral is the Gothic South Tower. The cathedral was decorated with Baroque altarpieces, and the panel of the main altar portrays the stoning of St Stephen, a Christian martyr.
We marveled at the rich architectural design and its rich use of Gothic, Baroque and Neo-classicist styles that was everywhere we looked.
If you get a chance, visit Franziskanerkirche (Wealthy Gold Church) No pictures were allowed, but this church dates back to 1326, decorated of gold, crystal, and precious stones.
Next, we visited the Vienna State Opera House which is world renowned. This opera house is one of the most important opera houses in the world. Opened in 1869, the opera house opened with Mozart’s DON JUAN in the presence of Emperor Franz Joseph and Empress Elisabeth. And it was on our bucket list to see an opera there. So, since we were on a budget and could not afford the tickets, we discovered the opera house projects the performance on the side of the opera house. Wow. It was a huge projection with speakers and subtitles and there are even chairs set up to watch it! Double Wow! We got to see the opera for free. As we lost ourselves to the magic of Mozart, it brought tears to our eyes.
The next day we took a cruise on the Danube River through the locks and enjoyed a few cocktails and watched Vienna from the catamaran.
Then it was time to say goodbye to our new friend and head to Maribor where our cousins Vesna and Bojan would be waiting. Last time we saw each other we were small children, and now, well, a whole lifetime had passed. We were excited and nervous at the same time to finally go back where we “escaped” from and rediscover our roots, our family, and dig for more info about our family’s history and how it relates to Marco Polo’s history.