It certainly looks as if Züg, Switzerland, will continue to be our jumping off place for the rest of Europe, (this time to Zurich and Vienna), especially if August temperatures drop to normal. Next time Bern and Basil maybe.
Züg continues its building boom, squeezing out a big chunk of son Micah, daughter in law Veronika and grandson Elijas’s view of the Lake. In fact, there is a growing anti-development movement in the area. But other water parks and lakes remain which are accessible by car, bus and train, so grandson Elijas could care less. He also loves riding the elephant and ponies at the kinder zoo. Most of Veronika’s beach time is spent playing and coaching competitive beach volley ball.
ENTERTAINMENT NOTES (OUTDOOR VERSION): A pretty substantial creek runs into Lake Züg. Suspended over it next to the Lake is an outdoor movie screen, with a sophisticated sound system and bleacher seating, why that structure no one seemed to know. Anyway, the girls and a couple of Veronika’s friends caught “Magic Mike” (in German, of course) while we were there.
ONE VIENNA EVENING… We were having dinner al fresco a few steps from our hotel in Vienna, next to a lovely park. We thought we heard music between our salad and main course and, sure enough, a half dozen young people were practicing their tango moves in the park.
ANOTHER BUSINESS PHENOMENON: The regional airline with the Zurich – Vienna route is called “Nikki.” Its logo is a pretty straight forward representation of …a house fly. The attendants wear jeans. Teutonic whimsy, maybe?
TEAR DOWN THAT WALL!! Vienna is indeed a charming city, like several others, but with a unique feature: the old city was enclosed in an ancient stone wall until the 19th century, when the wall was demolished to produce a broad, almost circular tree-lined boulevard (Ringstrasse). It is truly majestic, a couple of miles of palatial homes, official buildings and still more art museums – we especially enjoyed the wonderful collection of portraits by Dutch artists.
WOLFGANG HIMSELF: Mozart’s adopted city is, of course, pulsing with street life and music, from the massive, restored opera house facing the Ringstrasse to tiny churches and an 18th century monastery where Mozart lived and worked for several years (but not as a monk). The coffee shop next to our hotel was named “The Aida.”
NOTES ON FAUNA: Vienna squirrels are jet black. A glass building with tropical heat and humidity levels shows off literally hundreds of butterflies.
CULTURAL NOTES: Old town Zurich still has a soaring 19th Century train station, but also a fabulous art museum, as well as churches with Chagall stained glass windows. The view where the river meets the lake in Zurich may be the most beautiful city scene in Europe. And the mountains north and east of Züg, with their red-tiled villages and woodland patches are pretty swell too.
FASHION NOTE: Those skimpy shorts now in vogue in the US are even more prevalent in Europe, (although typically not the athletic shorts and halter version, and more likely to be flattering to the wearers). According to Veronika, they are called “Daisy Dukes,” an apparent reference to an ancient American TV series.
On the other hand, the wild plaid shirts worn with clashing peddle pushers, patterned socks and sandals, look tres’ gauche on all their male wearers.
CULINARY NOTE: You can savor decent Tex Mex in Züg, (with piped in hip-hop and reggae, no less).
ART ENCOUNTERS: I couldn’t tell if it was connected to a special event or just an on-going phenomenon, but, if you are allergic to Gustav Klimt (and especially “The Kiss”), stay away from Vienna…he/they are everywhere, and not just in souvenir outlets.
ARCHITECTURE NOTES: Big is not always better…Vienna’s Schönbrunn Palace is impressive but maybe 100,000 or so square feet too big to really appreciate. The adjacent zoo and park have a nicer feel. And Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, in the center of the city, is a huge mishmash of garish roof tiles and mismatched steeples. Too bad.
The tour guide at the opera reminded us that the building was some restoration, but mostly reproduction, the main structure having taken a direct hit in the war, Austria not being an innocent bystander in Europe’s conflicts, however much it has labored to create that impression in the past 65 years or so. But, innocence is a little hard to fetch up anywhere with any certainty these days…