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S: Austria, Bavaria, and The Passion Play

BC: Christmas 2010

FC: The Sound of Music European Tour September 2010

1: To commemorate our second European experience! Thank you for sharing another wonderful destination with me. We took more photographs, knew less of the language, and even figured out public transportation! Merry Christmas! Love, Your daughter | Mom

2: To Austria and Germany

3: Day 1 (Sunday) ~ Vienna Sightseeing, Bratislava, and authentic Viennitian Dinner Day 2 ~ Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna Woods, Abbey of the Holy Cross, and the Vienna Opera Day 3 ~ Depart Vienna, Lake Chateau, Mondsee, and Salzburg sightseeing Day 4 ~ Depart Salzburg, Eagle's Nest, Berchtesgaden, Innsbruck, and arrive in Garmisch/Oberammergau Day 5 ~ Passion Play in Oberammergau Day 6 ~ Depart Garmisch, visit Neuschwanstein, and arrive in Munich Day 7 ~ Munich, Dachau, and Farewell Dinner Day 8 ~ Breakfast and depart for the United States | Itinerary

4: Set in the heart of Vienna, the cathedral, in Romanesque and gothic style, began in the year 1147 and was completed in 1160. The roof is laid with over 230,000 richly colored glazed tiles and there are 18 alters in the main sanctuary. | St. Stephen's Cathedral

5: Our first day in Vienna begins in Stephansplatz, the main square. Vienna (Wein) is the capital of Austria and the republic's largest city. The Roman ruins at Michaelerplatz allow a peek to the city long ago. By 15 BC, Vienna was part of the Roman Empire.

6: Hofburg Palace has housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history, including the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Their ruling lasted more than 630 years from the late 13th century to 1918. The palace currently serves as the official residence of the President of Austria. | Our walking tour of Vienna continues with the Hofburg Palace. This former imperial residence consists of 18 wings, 19 courtyards, and 2,600 rooms. The oldest parts date to the 13th century. While we are not touring inside, we do see a grand display from the Spanish Riding School.

7: Hofburg Palace | Michaelertor (below) is the grand northern entrance to Hofburg. An ornate Baroque gateway, the Michalertor, connects the square with a large courtyard, the In der Burg. The monumental gateway is decorated with expressive statues of Hercules.

8: Views of Vienna | Vienna Town Hall (above) serves as the seat both of the | and was completed in 1883. Opening to the public in 1889 were two cultural additions to the Ringstrasse: The Kunsthistorisches Museum (Art History) and the Naturhistorisches Museum (Natural History). | mayor and city council of the city of Vienna

9: The two museums have identical exteriors and face each other across Maria-Theresien-Platz. Opposite one another, the Kunsthistorisches houses many paintings by old masters and ancient & classical artifacts, and the Naturhistorisches exhibits many rarities, including gems and fossils in the 39 halls.

10: The afternoon includes an excursion to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, known as 'the beauty on the Danube'. We saw sights including the house of the U.S. Ambassador and the Bratislava Castle (below). The castle hill site has been inhabited since the period between the Stone and Bronze ages. Under Queen Maria Theresa, the castle became a prestigious royal seat. In 1811, the castle was destroyed by fire and lay in ruins until the 1950's when it was rebuilt. We walk through Michalská brána, St. Michael's Gate (right) and take a tour through the narrow streets of Old Town. At times, we follow the traditional royal coronation path, marked by golden crowns embedded in the streets' cobblestones. A cheese shop captures our attention along the way!

11: Bratislava, Slovakia

12: Schonbrunn Palace

13: The morning of our second day we visit the magnificent palace of Schonbrunn, meaning 'beautiful spring.' The palace was added to the original mansion between 1638-1643. , | The Palace Rooms: (shown left to right) Marie Antoinette Room the family dining room Great Gallery receptions and banquets Millions Room precious rosewood walls

15: Breathtaking views of the extensive sculpted gardens between the palace and Neptune's Fountain. The gardens contain the world's oldest existing zoo, conservatory, many sculptures, and a maze. A gloriette, built in 1775, crowns the hill overlooking the Great Parterre, the name given to the gardens.

16: Schonbrunn was the summer residence of the Habsburg dynasty and today, is owned by the Austrian Republic to be preserved as a museum. We would have loved even more time to explore the palace inside and out.

18: On our second day in Vienna, we venture into the Vienna Woods and visit a monastery, which has existed without interruption since 1133. | Heiligenkreuz Abbey | Above: Courtyard entrance and Holy Trinity Column baroque monument built in the 18th century.

21: The monastery is designed in both the Romanesque (1187) and gothic (13th c.) architectural styles. Most of the stained glass originates from the 19th c. The organ was built in 1804 and is one of the biggest musical instruments in Austria. The choir stalls (previous page) were created in 1712. They consist of nut wood and linden wood. The reliefs portray scenes from the life of Jesus Christ.

22: The fountain was made in Rome in 1556. The high mineral content of the water, has “decorated” the fountain with mineral deposits.

23: The monks of Heiligenkreuz have been offering praise to God seven times a day since 1133. They begin the so-called “divine office” at 5:15 in the morning. The day ends at about 8:15 with Compline prayers. After Compline the monks observe the “silentium nocturnum” until the next day. | The abbey was named Holy Cross as a sign of their devotion to redemption by the Cross. In 1188 the abbey was presented with a relic of the True Cross, which is still to be seen and since 1983 is exhibited in the chapel of the Holy Cross (far left). This relic was a present from the King of Jerusalem.

24: Vienna State Opera | The opera was completed in 1869 as one of the first buildings on the Ringstrasse.

25: In the afternoon, we stroll the Naschmarkt in Karlplatzwe and take the tour of the opera house. That evening we navigate the underground and have dinner at a local cafe, Later, we return to the opera with tickets to the ballet, Onegin, featuring Tchaikovsky.

26: Melk Abbey was founded in 1089 when a castle was gifted to the Benedictine monks from Lambach Abbey. Today's impressive Baroque abbey was built between 1702 and 1736. | Abbey Melk

27: Abbey Melk is our first sight of the third day after saying goodbye to Vienna. The baroque abbey is spectacular, particularly inside the church where every surface is covered by hand painting, hand carving, and gold.

29: The tour continues to Salzburg with a few sights in between. We stop at Lake Chateau for lunch, enjoy a gelato treat, and sun on benches along the lake. | Lake Chateau

30: The town of Mondsee features the Mondsee Basilica, the church used for the site of the wedding in The Sound of Music.

31: Mondsee | After lunch we stop at Mondsee, an Austrian town in Upper Austria located on the shore of lake Mondsee. The town looks like a movie set with vividly painted buildings.

32: Salzburg, the capital of Austria, sits on the banks of the Salzach River and the northern boundary of the Alps. Salzburg is the birthplace of 18th-century composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (top right). The city is also the setting for parts of the American musical film The Sound of Music, | The Sights of Saltzburg

33: Our walking tour begins in the gardens of Mirabell Palace (above). Salzburg's The Alstadt or "Old Town" (left) has renowned baroque architecture, including intricate ironwork signs above the shops.

34: Our fourth day begins 1834 meters above sea level at the Eagle's Nest. Planned as a 50th birthday present for Adolf Hitler, it was to serve as a retreat and place to entertain visiting dignitaries. Hitler rarely visited the property. It has been suggested he only visited around 10 times.

35: Kehlsteinhaus ~ Eagle's Nest

37: We stop at Berchtesgaden and lunch at a 500 year-old inn. It is warm enough to eat potato fritters outside! Then we take in the Austrian scenery on our way to Innsbruck. | Innsbruck | The Golden Roof was built in 1500 to serve as a place where royalty could sit and enjoy tournaments in the square below. It is decorated with 2657 fire-gilded copper tiles.

39: Oberammergau: The Passion Play 1634-Present | We arrive in Garmish for our accommodations. The views are lovely and the details charming, including a magnificent chandelier in the dining room (left). Our fifth day is spent in Oberammergau in Bavaria, Germany. The play begins at 2:30 in the afternoon with a 3 hour intermission for dinner followed by the culmination.

40: History of the Play | In 1632-1633, during the 30 Years War, Oberammergau was ravaged by plague. The Council, known then as the "Six and Twelve Parish Counsillors", hoping to acquire God's help, swore a vow to perform the Passion story if the people survived. The epidemic ceased and in 1634, at Pentecost, the Play of the Suffering, Death, and Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was performed with 60 actors and the vow was fulfilled for the first time. It was decided that the play would be performed every ten years thereafter.

41: Over the past 376 years there have been only a few cancellations of the play. In 1770, Oberammergau was denied permission when all passion plays in Bavaria were banned by order of the Roman Catholic Church. Then, in 1940, the Second World War forced the cancellation of the year's scheduled performance. The Passion Play resumed in 1950. Performances have also been added including those of 1934 to commemorate the 300-year anniversary of the original vow, and again in 1984 in celebration of the 350th anniversary. | Photographs Shown: Scenes from the Passion Play (left) Protestant Church of the Holy Cross (left) Passion Play Theatre ~ Passionspielhaus (above)

42: The Village of Oberammagau

43: We visit the Passion Play museum. Nativities fill one floor and play history is highlighted on another, with the oldest existing play manuscript from 1662 (left). Oberammergau is also famous for the woodcarver shops and for ornate designs of traditional Bavarian themes, fairy tales, and religious scenes painted on many homes.

44: Neuschwanstein Castle

45: Today we visit a fantastical imitation of a medieval castle, Neuschwanstein, sited on a high point over the Pllat River gorge. Begun in 1869 and left unfinished at Louis's death in 1886, the castle is the embodiment of 19th century romanticism.

47: We arrive in Munich to discover it is the 200th anniversary of Oktoberfest. Much of our tour heads downtown to participate in the fest. We have opted for the night on our own. We walk to Viktualienmarkt, a daily market and square in the center of Munich since 1807. We have dinner at Nordsee with fresh monkfish, seared tuna, and mixed vegetables. After a week of absolutely beautiful weather, the rains come. Without umbrellas, we brave the downpours on the way back to the hotel stopping to attempt the underground and peruse pastries. | Munich

49: Our final day is a rainy one. The morning is spent at Marienplatz in the center of Munich. Within the square are the Old Town Hall (1480) and the New Town Hall (1909, below right). The new tower contains the Glockenspiel. We found a lovely cafe where we could watch the chimes and warm up.

50: On April 29, 1945 a white flag was raised in Dachau as the camp was surrendered to the American Army.

51: On our final afternoon, we visit the Memorial site of Dachau, Hitler's first concentration camp. We walk through the few buildings that still remain as part of the camp including the original gates. | Dachau

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