After returning to Pecs from Istanbul and Athens, we looked at the calendar and realized that we were running out of weekends to make the short trips we had planned (we head back to Evansville in 5 weeks). So we decided to take the train to Vienna for a long weekend that included a day trip to the Mauthausen Concentration Camp. It was, as you might imagine, a weekend loaded with some wildly conflicting energies:
Day 1 – Vienna — “Holy moly, what a beautiful city! What amazing museums! Can you believe this Sachertorte?! So delicious!”
Day 2 – Mauthausen Concentration Camp — “Oh my God…. What a soul-shattering experience… What great depths of depraved cruelty human beings can reach. I just want to cry…”
Day 3 – Vienna again – “Wow, a Michaelangelo exhibit! Look at these beautiful Klimts!”
I took a bunch of photos, but it’s taken me a while to sit down and go through them, partially because we’ve been really busy with stuff that I’ll post about in the next few days, but mostly I wasn’t looking forward to seeing Mauthausen again so soon.
Here are a few photos, in chronological order:
We’ve traveled to and from the main train station in Budapest 8 or 10 times now and I’ve really grown to like it. Though the place is pretty beat up, it’s got that great European train-travel feel to it — lots of natural light in the daytime.
Our first stop on Friday morning in Vienna was the Museum of Natural History – an amazing place — they might have the largest, and easiest to view, collection of rocks and gems and such in the world. There are at least 4 giant room just like this one:
And dinosaur bones.
Next we took a quick walk across the park to the Kunsthistorisches – the big art museum in Vienna – it’s HUGE.
And they allow photography in the museum, which I appreciate. We saw a room full of busts similar to the one below in Athens – I like how they light the pieces to make them look like they’re floating in the air.
After flying through the Kunsthistorisches, we hoofed it over to the center of the Ringstrasse to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral which was undergoing a thorough and much-needed cleaning. Here’s a shot of one of the towers – the top has been cleaned. They hadn’t started on the bottom yet.
After gazing at art and contemplating the nature of our souls, we sat down to a well-deserved Sachertorte and latte in the Sacher Cafe. We were feeling very Viennese at this point.
And that ended our first day in Vienna.
On a cloudless Saturday morning we took the 2 hour train to Mauthausen. In March of 1944, towards the end of WWII, officials in Pecs, by order of the Nazis,turned over some 3,500 Jews to be deported, mainly to Auschwitz, though many ended up in Mauthausen (including one of Margaret’s great, great uncles) where most were executed, worked to death, starved, beaten or otherwise murdered. There is little left of the Jewish community in Pecs, or the rest of Hungary, for that matter. A Fulbrighter friend of ours who lives with his family in a town called Barcs a bit south of here wrote an interesting blog entry called “What Happened to the Jews.” You might want to take a look.
Here are some pix from the trip to Mauthausen – note, I’m trying not to be too gruesome here, but there are a few unpleasant shots:
The camp is a museum/memorial and they have a very good audio walking tour — except for a few areas that were being renovated, you’re pretty much free to roam about the entire camp.
There’s a large field in the camp full of memorials put up by various countries and groups.
We spent about 4 hours at the camp, then called the taxi and headed back to the train station. Driving away in a very nice Mercedes taxi cab, you wonder how people live with this place in their psyche every day – I mean the people (taxi drivers) who live and work in the town of Mauthausen. They must be able to block it out.
I’ve put up a web gallery with more Mauthausen photos – you can see it here if you care to look.
On Sunday we slowed down a bit, taking a long early morning walk along the Ringstrasse (the road and tram line that circles the inner part of Vienna).
We went into the Albertina Musuem (where you can’t take photos of the Michaelangelo drawings or the Picasso paintings) and then the Belvedere (also where you can’t take photos of the Klimts or the Schieles). But you can take a photo out the window when no one is looking.
The Belveder has an amazing Klimt exhibit in their permanent collection.
Though Vienna is definitely one of the most serious and, I don’t know, formal, cities I’ve ever been to, you don’t have to eat Sachertorte and wienerschnitzel at every meal.
We took the train back to Budapest, then Pecs early Monday morning, which was the first day of Autumn Break at the ANK School. It was also the week that included the plaque installation and ceremony in Pecs honoring Margaret’s great-great-great grandfather, Adolf Engel Janosi, whom I wrote about a few posts back. More on that event later.
That’s it for now. Gotta get ready to teach!
Great pictures…thank you so much for sharing!!!
These photographs are outstanding. I especially loved the train station…so beautiful.
Such cool lighting on the floating heads!
amazing photographs! keep it up!
Your photos are gorgeous! Thanks so much for sharing them.
Nice post, it takes me back to a trip where I had the pleasure of going to Vienna and the mixed feelings of seeing Mathausen. I fell in love with Vienna and will definately go back there one day. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.
Wow! Really nice photos!
Mauthausen? Vienna? Wonderful images.
Wow! Love the pictures! I especially like the inside of the museums. Not too many places allow you to take photos inside, especially art museums. Thanks for the post!
I enjoyed your shared exploration; I undertook a similar journey from Pecs to Oswiecim for my own personal reasons. In spite of the grim associations I love nothing better than the European trains and one of my most favourite places is Keleti station in Budapest where it is enchanting to have a beer and watch the world go by (and Vienna’s a good destination, too)
Congrats on being a freshly pressed blog today! This post was awesome; I love the pictures. And you had the perfect balance between pics and text.
Estoy al otro lado del Atlantico, en Medellín-Colombia, y el tener un registro grafico de una ciudad como Viena, me transporta a un glorioso pasado. Muy buenas fotos y muy acorde con los textos.
Your pictures are wonderful and telling. The dogs looking for a smoke made me laugh. Congrats on being freshly pressed.
Came back from Budapest and Vienna last 29 October 2010, awesome cities, especially Budapest. Enjoy your stay there!
A very nice post. You brought back many, many memories for me. It’s been ten years already since I was in Vienna, and I very much enjoyed the photos (I was especially struck by the beauty of the busts and how much cleaner the top of St. Stephens looked. Wow!). I also visited Mauthausen, on a trip with my university, and it was such a sobering experience. I also wondered how the residents of the houses which lived within view of such a horrid place could bear to live so close. The beauty of the surrounding areas creates a sort of cognitive dissonance with the atrocities of the camp.
Thank you for posting such beautiful pictures of the good (Sacher torte – yum!) and the difficult parts of Vienna. I hope you have a lovely trip.
Pingback: Vienna / Mauthausen (via A Magyar Blog) | Altaria, one live, one world, one experience
Great pics :-))
I am glad you enjoyed Wien…I spent January through April in Wien in 1977 with 29 other students(study abroad program from Nasson College, Springvale, Maine) I have returned a few times since(last in 1990). It is a wonderful city and as a student, I had the pleasure of visiting pieces of art for hours at a time and also going to piano concertos or symphonies for free every night of the week( with enough time after the concert to enjoy the ancient wine kellers that were located several hundred feet below the street level! I am over due for a return visit…Iong to walk through the acres of maticulously preserved public parks and gardens! Sehr gemutlicheit…
By the way, check out the EsterhazyKeller (near the Hofberg Palace) Also, a trip to Grnzing to drink the new Heuriger wines and eat delicious wurst and spetzel!!! Grinzing is one of the several wine villages located in the Wienerwald (Vienna Woods) Prost!
Very nice photos…I especially liked the babies head!
Pingback: Vienna / Mauthausen (via A Magyar Blog) « Fatim308's Blog
I did a semester in Vienna back in 1984. there was a great club called the Atruim right around the corner from Belvedere. I lived down the street from St. Stephen’s in a joint called Pension Pertchy.
Brought back memories to see these photos. Thanks!
Oh goodness, that was such a trip down memory lane! I loved Vienna, particularly the people. When we first arrived we were lost, and a lady stopped us to help, even switching to speak in perfect English when she realised we didn’t understand! Beautiful place, beautiful people, amazing history.
What beautiful architecture!
You have a good eye for photography.
Thanks for sharing these beautiful, captured moments of your journey.
And keep enjoying Europe.
Great photos. Vienna is one of my favorite cities in the world… this makes me want to start lookign for flights…lol.
Spectacular photos. Must have been a great experience in Vienna.
Ahh . . . the sachertorte . . . nothing like it! Thanks for taking me back to old Vienna, an elegant city indeed.
It seems the architecture is so old and classical the churches, museums, hotels, while at the same time some of it is so sad ingrained with the sins of yesterday to its very core.
great collection of photos.
nise photos. very good angles selected. specially the rly station roof and the museum roof paintings. thanks for posting
svs ramarao hyderabad india
Vienna is, indeed, a magical place. I loved my visit there — photos on my blog. Looks like you guys had a blast! Really nice photos. Congrats on FP.
By far, Vienna is my favorite European city. It has so many beautiful buildings within walking distance (unlike Paris, which is also beautiful but easily make me tired for walking here and there). I love the parliament building the most.
I also found out that in Vienna we can get meal with about the same price like in Germany, but bigger portion! This is a good thing for me :)
Updates? coming soon to a picture near you?
Cool city with both the ancient and the modern….awesome pics !!!
Beautiful photos, took me back to when I was at Mauthausen myself. Such an incredible experience. The incinerator looking box next to the shower room was actually the camps only laundry machine. They would wash each prisoners clothes once every month, in the case they were still alive and the SS men did not want to smell them, otherwise they would only wash them when someone died and they would give them to the new prisoners. Hope that’s helpful. :) Thank you for sharing such beautiful photographs