Thursday Doors/FOTD: Schoenbrunn Palace

July 7, 2019

On our second day in Vienna (and 2nd to last day of our Grand European Tour cruise!), we visited Schönbrunn Palace. This 1,441-room palace was the summer residence of the Habsburg rulers and is a major tourist attraction in Vienna. The palace in its current form was built in the 1740s-1750s during the reign of empress Maria Theresa who received the estate as a wedding present. Her husband, Franz, had the exterior of the palace redecorated in neoclassical style as it is today.

The only female Habsburg ruler, Maria Theresa ruled for 40 years. She and Francis (Franz) I, the Holy Roman Emperor, had sixteen (!) children – eleven daughters, including the Queens of France and Naples, and five sons, two of which were Holy Roman Emperors. Thirteen of her children survived infancy. There is a portrait of her in the palace and when it was pointed out to us, the guide told us the story of Austria’s female empress. We gasped when she told us the empress had 16 children!

The longest reigning emperor of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, Franz Joseph I, was born at Schönbrunn Palace in 1830 and spent much of his life there. He reigned from the end of 1848 until his death in 1916. The end of World War I saw the fall of the Habsburg empire so the palace was given to the Austrian Republic and preserved as a museum.

As with all the palaces we visited in Europe, photography was not allowed inside, so all my photos are of the palace’s exterior and its extensive gardens.

Being able to take pictures on the outside, I managed to photograph several doors and gates for today’s Thursday Doors challenge!

The ornate entrance gate
Another “gate” or archway, within the gardens


Balcony shuttered door
This one is my favorite!
More doors with shutters

For a fee, one can take a horse and carriage ride. I was intrigued by the horses’ “hats”!
20190707_111019Schönbrunn Palace and its gardens were recognized by the UNESCO World Heritage Foundation in 1996 as a remarkable Baroque estate. Many beautiful white marble statues flank its gardens; I posted a few of these a couple of weeks ago for Sculpture Saturday.

Wait…this guy isn’t a real statue, although he remains motionless until you get close! Perhaps he can sing a few bars of a Mozart symphony!

In spite of the summer crowds and the heat of the day, I enjoyed our visit to this former summer home of the Habsburgs. Here’s a vase of flowers for Cee’s FOTD 2/13/20.
Historical information from my personal notes and Wikipedia: Schönbrunn Palace.




Melk Abbey and Town

July  5, 2019

Today we docked at Melk, a town on the Danube known for its abbey, which sits on a cliff overlooking the town. A bus drove us up the hill to tour the abbey.

The Benedictine abbey was founded in 1089. A monastic school was established in the 12th century and the library soon became renowned for its extensive collection of manuscripts.

The Baroque abbey seen today was built between 1702 and 1736. Particularly noteworthy are the frescoes painted by Austrian artist Johann Michael Rottmayr and the medieval manuscript collection which includes a famous collection of music manuscripts.
20190705_093156 Frescoes in the library were painted by Paul Troger, distinguished by their pastel colors and dramatic sense of movement. We could not take photos inside the abbey but I took many of the exterior, with its views of the town and beautiful gardens.

The abbey managed to escape a series of threats, such as dissolution under Emperor Joseph II when many other abbeys were seized and dissolved between 1780 and 1790, because of its fame and academic stature; and during the Napoleonic Wars. When Austria was incorporated into Nazi Germany in 1938, the school and a large part of the abbey were taken over by the state.

The school was returned to the jurisdiction of the abbey after World War II and it continues in operation to this day, with an enrollment of 900 students of both genders.

Melk Abbey has been mentioned or featured in several works of literature and films.

Bad Ischl clock (c. 1810), made entirely from 10 kinds of wood, including pear, walnut, beech, linder, maple, ash, oak, Scotch pine, larch, and European spindle tree. After repairs in 1970, some metal parts were installed, such as the middle spring and middle bar.

Entryways (aka doorways)…

Looking down on the entrance to the abbey…

Views from the upper patio of the abbey20190705_103346DSC01848DSC01862DSC01865DSC01866DSC01870
Scattered around the gardens were whimsical sculptures of animals.


Abbey mascot? I found this friendly Manx cat just chillin’ in the front courtyard of the abbey. She didn’t appear at all fazed by the crowds of tourists. I speculated that her home was one of the houses that are located on the hill just below the abbey.
By the time I saw this cat, I had determined to walk back to the ship – it was all downhill and I could use the exercise. Dale didn’t want to walk, however, so I left him to take the bus back.

I was looking forward to taking a lot of photos of the town, which I did, but in the end, I got lost and ended up having to ask for directions and backtrack to get back to the ship.

On my way downhill, meanwhile, I saw restaurants and small patios wedged between houses on the hillside.
As I descended, I passed through the main commercial area, lined with restaurants and tourist shops. And one shop that sold lederhosen!
And there were a few interesting doors, to satisfy Norm’s Thursday Doors aficionados…
Flower-decorated balconies…
Sculptures and installations…

The Tower of Babel at the Sommerspiele Melk, made of approximately 30,000 Bioblo building blocks.

Close-up of Bioblo blocks (including Bioblo doors! 😉 )
Finally, I reached the bar/restaurant/souvenir shop where we had gathered to get on the bus at the beginning of the tour. (When I saw it, I remembered it…”Oh, yeah!!”)
From behind this building, it was a short hike along the river dock back to the ship! What a relief!

Landscapes Around the World

Nancy’s A Photo A Week challenge this week features landscapes.

These are some landscapes from my travels, and closer to home.

July in Austria – scene looking down from Melk Abbey, where the Inn and Danube Rivers meet.
Austria – cruising the Inn River near Schärding
June at Kinderdijk, Netherlands
February in Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania
Mount Kilimanjaro – on a flight from the Serengeti to Arusha, Tanzania
Des Plaines, Illinois on a snowy February day
June at Devil’s Elbow Bridge, Missouri
June at the Painted Desert, Arizona
May at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
June in Arches National Park, Utah
December along the Nile River near Luxor, Egypt

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge: Leading Lines

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge #80 is about leading lines. Leading lines are one of the “rules” of composition: There are indeed “rules” of photographic composition, which like many other rules, are made to be broken. Whatever their skill level or experience though, understanding and knowing when to use the “rules” of composition can be helpful for any photographer. This week, our challenge will explore a key compositional element, Leading Lines. …Leading lines carry our eye through a photograph. They help to tell a story, to place emphasis, and to draw a connection between objects. They create a visual journey from one part of an image to another and can be helpful for creating depth as well.

This is how I spent the last two Junes, 2018 and 2019.

Our road trip (mostly) on Route 66: Sedona and Winslow, AZ
We visited the Painted Desert, too: first, horizontal lines.
Undulating formations which slope downward.
In Santa Fe, colorful pillars…
and a souvenir shop with paintings lined up along a counter.DSC_0626
When on Route 66, here’s a sight not to miss: Cadillac Ranch. It had rained the night before.

A year later, we were on a river cruise in Europe. One of the first ports of call was Cologne, Germany with its famed cathedral, with stained glass windows reaching toward heaven…
…and soaring arches decorated with sculptures of saints.
Later we crossed the bridge to return to our ship. The inner side of the bridge is covered with “love locks” – padlocks people leave in honor of their sweethearts. They stretch on as far as the eye can see!
Next stop was Marksburg Castle, which afforded beautiful views of the Rhein River and town below (I wish I could photoshop that pole out, but I don’t have the software).
And here’s a different view: a steeple rises up as seen through a turret.
Marksburg is definitely a “must” on any Rhine River cruise. It’s like a fairy tale castle!
Farther on down the river, a swan swam over near our ship.
We were passing through a lowland area.
I loved the small town of Miltenberg, which was so picturesque!
Inside a church, hymnals were stacked neatly in the narthex. One is drawn to the word Gotteslob, which perhaps means hymnal.
Our final stop on the cruise was Budapest, Hungary. A memorable part of the day we were there was a walking tour through the old Jewish Quarter.


Thursday Doors: A Walk Through Schärding, Austria

On the 4th of July, the day we spent the morning in Passau, Germany, we opted for an afternoon tour to the small town of Schärding, Austria (population approx. 5,000). Passau and Schärding are essentially border towns.  We even crossed a bridge on the Inn River that had a small metal plaque in the middle with D (Deutschland – Germany) on one side and Ö (Österreich – Austria) on the other!
The town of Schärding is a major port on the Inn River which is the dividing line between Bavaria in Germany and the Austrian state of Upper Austria.

The Bavarian family Wittelsbach owned the town until 1779. In the Middle Ages, due to its location, Schärding became a center of trade, particularly for salt, timber, ores, wine, silk, glass, grain, textiles and livestock. Originally the town was fortified; sections of the wall remain, but the castle that was originally there is no longer.

Schärding’s most beautiful feature is its central square with its rows of colorful, gabled buildings. The buildings are color coded so that illiterate people in past centuries would know what the building was used for. For example, the town hall (Rathaus) was yellow, and pharmacies were green. Nowadays, next to the Rathaus, the green building is a charming hotel, Hotel Stiegenwirt.


The town’s skyline is dominated by St. George Church. It is Roman Catholic; more than 80% of the town’s residents identify themselves as Roman Catholic.

When I was not attending a workshop to make herbal salt (I ended up not keeping it – the salt content was way too high for me!), I joined Dale to explore the streets of the town.
Two interesting clocks!
DSC01836DSC01842 (2)
Schärding’s coat of arms is painted on the side of a building.
Historically, Schärding’s population suffered an epidemic of the plague. A plague pole was erected when the epidemic was over, to thank the Virgin Mary for saving people from the plague.
There is a statue to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers, in the center of a fountain. The fountain is hard to see in this photo because it was surrounded by construction zone fences.
Looking out toward the river from Durchgang Wasstertor.
I don’t know what these masks were for, but they look like instruments of torture!
There was also this display of possibly religious relics, near St. George Church.
And now…Schärding doors!

Posted for Norm’s Thursday Doors 1/16/20.

Some historical information obtained from Wikipedia’s article on Schärding.

Thursday Doors: Passau Walking Tour

The German city of Passau is located in Bavaria very close to the Austrian border, at the confluence of three rivers: The Danube, the Inn and the Itz. It was the last German city we stopped at during our cruise last June-July. We arrived at Passau on the U.S. Independence Day, July 4.  This post is my contribution to Norm’s Thursday Doors 12/12/19.
Passau has a population of about 50,000, of which 12,000 are students at the local university. A devastating fire in 1662 destroyed most of the city, which was rebuilt in Baroque style.

Passau is known for its cathedral, St. Stephan, which has five organs! One of the organs is in the attic and the five can all be played at the same time.  The organ(s) has 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, and it is the 2nd largest pipe organ in the world. We attended a concert showcasing this amazing sound after our walking tour. Concerts are held daily between May and September.

In this square behind St. Stephan Cathedral is a statue of Maximilian I, the first king after Napoleon.

A cathedral door and details20190704_09093920190704_091011

Same door from the inside

Baroque décor characterizes the interior of St. Stephan.

The main organ is in the traditional place in the back of the cathedral.
The priest used to say mass from this golden pulpit, but now stands behind a podium adorned with the eagle of St. John (photo below).



We went out into a courtyard beside the cathedral.
In the courtyard are some extra panels and artifacts from the church.

This angel head fell off during a fire in the church. It gives a perspective of the true size of the sculptures in the church.

We continued downhill from the church on the cobblestone streets of Old Town.
The city has been plagued by floods for centuries, due to its location at the junction of three rivers. On June 2, 2013, the old town suffered a severe flooding after it had rained for several days. The photo below shows how a street of Old Town looked on June 3.

Peak elevation of floods as far back as 1501 are displayed on the wall of the Old City Hall.DSC01738

This glass door is for 16 and 18 Hell Alley! The narrow street gets its name from its proximity to the river.
Looking down Hell Alley, also known as Artists’ Alley, which is lined with small shops and cafes. 

Hotel Wilder Mann

This pharmacy is one of the oldest in Passau. It is painted green, which was the “code” color for pharmacies in times when many people were illiterate.
The Dom Museum entrance – this museum displays artifacts, relics and history of St. Stephan Cathedral.

This door at the former bishop’s palace was deliberately built above the ground. It now belongs to the Dom Museum.

Baroque architectural details adorn the ceiling of the palace.
Passau has a Daschsund Museum! These sculptures are outside the entrance.

“Coffee and love are best hot!”
20190704_103351I found interesting that this shop door has a nativity scene above it.
The sign on this Baroque decorated door advertises a one-bedroom apartment within.

Religious statues high up on exterior walls of Old Town are seen commonly in towns throughout Bavaria.

Prominent above the city is Veste Oberhaus, a fortress founded in 1219.

Information for this post obtained from:
author’s notes
Wikipedia article Passau
TripAdvisor The Höllgasse




CFFC: White Is…

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge continues with her color series and this week is WHITE.

Snow white
Flowery white
Bridal white (two weddings)
20190126_11295420190126_13031620190914_102317 (2)20190914_122656
Swan white
Architectural white (two styles in Amsterdam)
Somber white (American Cemetery, Omaha Beach, Normandy, France)
DSC00451Leisure white
Lawn ornament white
Prickly white
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Styrofoam white