Johann Strauss, Jr, the “King of Waltz” in the mid-19th century, made the largest European river famous with his “Blue Danube” masterpiece. But in my many visits to Vienna in all seasons and under varying weather conditions, I am yet to see the Danube blue.
Since this was Elizabeth’s first trip to Vienna, and given that she has been listening to my playing the Blue Danube suite for over a year now, naturally, she wanted to see the great river (see “BLUE DANUBE” III: AN ANCIENT SHAMANIC DREAM ABOUT TRANSFORMATIONAL POWER OF WATER, and SOUNDS FROM THE MUSIC CAPITAL OF THE WORLD (VIENNA)).
Alas, Sunday May 18 was the fourth consecutive day of rain, wind and cold temperatures. Undaunted, Elizabeth and I went for a walk and then attended a church service at Karlskirche, across the street from the magnificent Vienna Musikverein concert hall where we took in the Mozart and Strauss concert the night before.
After that, we went for coffee and cakes at Mozart Cafe, right next to the Vienna Opera. The restaurant even had its own waltz written for it. Way back, when it first opened (see the sheet music below).
Mozart Cafe dates back to the 18th century. It opened in 1794, three years after Mozart’s death. It was rapidly becoming our favorite feeding and watering hole in Vienna. Before we left, we were to visit it two more times.
That first time for breakfast, we enjoyed two Austrian delicacies. They were recommended by my 8-year old grandson who said they sometimes serve them at his school. I ordered “Kaiserschmarn” – a shredded pancake which was Emperor Franz Josef’s favorite. The word would loosely translate into “imperial mash.” Elizabeth had the famous Viennese apple strudel.
We both raved about our breakfast choices. Which is why we kept coming back to Mozart Cafe. If Strauss was the “king of waltz,” then Vienna is the kingdom of delicious pastries, cakes and coffee shops. As well, of course, the music capital of the world. In Vienna, pastry chefs and composers combine to produce unparalleled delights for connoisseurs of fine living.
Speaking of composers, just outside, etched in the pavement around the Vienna Opera House, we noticed Verdi’s star (akin to Hollywood pavement stars). Since we were to attend La Traviata the following evening, one of Verdi’s most popular operas, it seemed natural to be photographed next to his star.
And then we hopped on a train and headed out to Donauinsel – an island in the middle of the great river. This used to be my favorite place to go to, rent a bike, and pedal for miles up and down Danube. That was not in the cards this time. But we did manage a short walk.
Here are some still shots from that cold afternoon…
Once back in the city, the sun tried desperately to break through the clouds. It was a most welcome scene after four days of rain.
We finished the evening at my daughter’s home, playing with grandchildren and having dinner with the family. I also thanked my grandson for his Kaiserschmarrn recommendation. You see, you’re never too old to learn from the young ones.