Passau, Germany

Passau sits on the bank of the Danube where its two tributaries, the Inn River from the south and the Ilz River from the north flow into the Danube.

The confluence of the River Inn, Ilz, and the Danube

This confluence of the rivers often causes flooding of the city from time to time and the worst was in 1501 as shown on the building wall.

Along the river bank is where the old part of the town sits. It used to be the busy merchant’s market exchange center, now it is mostly occupied by artisans.  Passau was an old Roman colony until it was granted by the Holy Roman Empire to the Prince-Bishop of Passau along with a territory that included the present-day Vienna up to Hungary with its capital in Passau.  The St. Stephen’s Cathedral here was the original mother church of the St Stephen’s Church in Vienna.  The original cathedral was destroyed by fire in the 17th century.  What we see today is the rebuilt of St. Stephen’s Cathedral of the Baroque style.

Inside St Stephens’s Cathedral decorated by Giovanni Battista Carlone and frescos by Carpoforo Tencalla
The largest cathedral organ in the world with 17,774 pipes and 233 registers, all of which can be played with the five-manual general console in the gallery
Veste Oberhaus from the river
The view of the confluence of the river Danube, Inn River, and Ilz River from the Oberhause fortress

Veste Oberhause is the Oberhause fortress built 1219 by the Bishop of Passau.
It sits facing the Danube between the Ils and Inn River which puts it in a good position to monitor the goods passing by, therefore it served as a stronghold for the Prince-Bishop to collect tax for his principality.  Today it houses a museum, youth hostel, restaurant.  The ground had been used for open theater.

The Townhouse of Passau
look at the colorful buildings of Passau. It is said the color represents the goods they sell. Such as the pink is for meat products, yellow is for beers and green is for produce.
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Wachau Valley, Lower Austria

Wachau Valley is along the banks of Danube River between the towns Melk and Krems of lower Austria.  This section of the Danube had settlements since the Paleolithic times.  Over the many settlements throughout history at the Wachau Valley, many castles, forts, churches, abbeys, monasteries. were built.  In addition, the rich valley had been excellent in growing grapes since the Middle Ages by Bavarian monasteries for making wine, Rieslings and its step terrace style of cultivation on steep inclines are suitable in growing Gruner Veltliner grapes.  In recognition of its landscapes of architectural and agricultural history, Wachau Valley was given UNESCO world heritage site as “Wachau Cultural Landscape”.

Traismauer, church Hl. Rupert
Krems-und-Stein-in-the-Wachau-Valley
Mauterner bridge over Danube river in Krems
Church spire. Durnstein village on the bank of Danube River with ruin above of Kuenringer Castle where Richard the lion was held for ransom.
Göttweig Monastery, and vineyards, the largest vineyard, for wine in Austria

Weissenkirchen, the largest wine producing village in the Wachau Valley Austria

Hilltops of Weissenkirche, see the vineyards on the hills
St Michael´s Church, near Weissenkirchen St Michael, is a fortified church in a village of 13 houses
Village of Willendorf on the river Danube in the Wachau region, where traces of stone-age human habitation have been found
A medieval ruin, the Fortress of Hinterhaus, overlooks the town of Spitz on the Danube River between Melk and Durnstein.
gothic bell tower of the church in spitz, Austria with tiled roof
Schloss Schoenbuehel on rock outcropping on the side of the Danube River near Melk, Austria
church St-Johann-in-the-Mauerthale, Austria (Rossatz-Arnsdorf)
Schönbühel-Aggsbach: Aggstein Castle, Wacha

Vienna, Austria

Vienna, the city of music, homes of famous composers such as Beethoven, Strauss, Mozart, Haydn, Strauss, Schubert, Schoenberg, Brahms, and others.  Vienna, also the city of dreams, home to Sigmund Freud.  Visitors like to come to the city to enjoy a dose of Vienna’s refined arts and culture which is year round.  During the winter there is the added benefit of the Alps for skiing.

Being by the Danube, early settlements were of many groups of people from the Celtics tribes to the Romans.  It became the resident city of the Hapsburg Dynasty during the Austria-Hungarian Empire and the capital of the Holy Roman Empire.  In 1945, after the Second World War, Austria was split into four areas govern by Soviet Union, France, British, and the United States.  In 1955,  the Austrian State Treaty, that declared Austria would stay neutral, allowed the return of the governing power back to the Austrians.

The UNESCO area is around the Ring Road (Ringstraße) which was built during the 19th century, surrounding the historic center which consisted of buildings of various architectural style including Baroque style castle and garden.  Lining the Ringstrasse are grand buildings and monuments.  Statues are everywhere decorating the city within.

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One just could not stop taking pictures of the endless beautiful buildings.

In the center of the pedestrian path is the St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

A very nice restaurant with good food and service.

Very nice Cafe as well.

More beautiful buildings.  This is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.  More pictures of the city to enjoy.

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End with a touch of music from Kursalon Wien.

Kusalon Wien

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hofburg of Vienna

Hofburg, the former imperial palace of the Hapsburgs where they stay mainly in the winter.

St. Michael’s Wing facing the square. Guarding the gate are four statues of Hercules.  The first left statue is Hercules slaying the Lernaean Hydra,

The palace had been built slowly adding expansions, such as the Royal Court Chapel, the Imperial Library, the Treasury, Burgtheater, and a Spanish Riding School long with stables and stalls.  Today, it is also the official working office and residence of the President of Austria.

The stables for the Spanish Riding School.

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Joseph Square houses the Imperial Library, the roof is of attic style by Lorenzo Mattlielli in 1726. In front is a statue of Emperor Joseph II on a horse
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Athena riding in a chariot depicting Triumph
Gaia (Mother Earth) supporting the terrestrial Globe with Geography and Geometry
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Atlas holding the celestial Globe with Astronomy and Astrology
Austrian National Library
Court Library (Hofbibliothek)

Entrance to the most beautiful library.  It was first constructed by Charles VI, the Holy Roman Emperor in 1722 to house the collection of all the valuable books and manuscripts collected since the Middle Ages.  After the collapse of the Holy Roman Empire.  Under the Hapsburgs the library began to take on a new mission to be the place where information and knowledge could be sought and provided.  It started to accumulate a wider field of the 19 century’s knowledge of science and topography as well as some rare literary works of foreign languages such as papyrus collection.  Its splendor signifies its importance to the Hapsburgs.

Entry to the Prunksaal- the State Hall is the central structure of the old Imperial Library open to visitors. Lined with statues of Holy Roman Emperors
Statue of Charles VI in the center of the Prunksaal by Peter and Paul Strudel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the statue, one can see every wall space was designed to store books and reading light provided by the windows upstairs.
The center fresco of the dome is the glorification of Emperor Charles VI held up by Hercules and Apollo. Surrounded by pictorial of Hapsburgs virtuous deeds, wealth and expanded domains.  In between the windows are groups questing for various knowledge.

On the arches above the columns are frescos about war and peace.  See below.

The globe of 18 century

We now know there was a quest for knowledge but look at the Globe, we find that their knowledge then was limited.  So is the theory of a “Just War” which only serve to justify war over peace.  With what we know today,  could there ever be a “Just War” without destroying the only earth we know off?

 

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna, Austria

20171113_113159.jpgSchonbrunn Palace is a popular attraction of Vienna.  The ground used to be the recreational hunting ground for the emperors of the Roman Empire and its name which means beautiful spring is due to the spring water from the well that quenched the royal thirsts.   The Palace in its present form was built and finished during the Mari Theresa’s reign of the Austria-Hungary Empire.  During the Habsburg’s rule, it was the summer residence of the Habsburg’s royals.  Today, of the palace’s 1441 rooms, only 45 rooms which were the royals’ personal living quarters are being opened for visitors.  The rest of the rooms are rentals.  So if you would like to have a palace for your address, you may want to rent an apartment here.

Schonbrunn Palace or the Art Historical Museum
one of the fountain in the front of the palace “Both groups of Naiads (spirits of springs and rivers who belonged to the sea-god Neptune’s followers) were created by Wilhelm Beyer. “

 

 

 

 

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The grounds of Schonbrunn Palace include the once private hunting grounds had been turned into a large beautiful garden by Maria Theresa which contains the oldest zoo, a greenhouse,  Roman Ruin and many fountains and sculptures.  This garden now serves as a park for the public.  The grounds are carefully managed and is a popular venue for filmmaking and live concert performances.

statue of Flora, goddess of flowers and spring leading the Grand Walkway.
Neptune Fountain, and the Gloriette in the background.  In the Gloriette is a cafe.  It sits on a hill of 60 meters high and on its roof gave a panoramic view of the area.  The Gloriette was a monument erected by Maria Theresa for a “Just War”, a war that leads to peace.

 

 

 

 

Budapest, Hungary ( anUNESCO Heritage Site)

Budapest,  the capital city of Hungary sits on the Danube with Buda part of the city on the west bank and the Pest part of the city on the east bank.  It is one of the large city in the European Union.  The Pest part of the city is on flat land but the Buda side is on the hills.  They are connected by the Chain Bridge and the White Bridge or Elizabeth Bridge and 5 other bridges.

Below is the night scene of the bridges.

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The White Bridge  and the Liberty Bridge over the Danube River

Budapest has 80 geothermal springs and the largest underground thermal water cave system.  This is why there are a lot of public bath houses here.

 

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One of the famous bathhouse in Budapest along the Danube on the Buda side of the Liberty Bridge.

Being a major city during the Roman Empire as well as the Ottoman Empire and then became the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It was the center of cultural exchange since ancient time so one will find a blend of the finest of east and the west.  Especially in its architectural style.

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City Park

On Castle Hill of the Buda side is named Fisherman’s Bastion, due to the fact that this stretch of the Danube used to be protected by the fishermen’s guild in the Middle Ages.  The terrace on top of the Castle Hill has a panoramic view of the Danube River, Pest part of the city, Margaret Island, and Gellert Hill.

Here is the view from Castle Hill.

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The Great Market Hall built in 1896 at Fovam Square near Liberty Bridge.  It is the oldest and largest indoor market in Budapest.

Scenes from the indoor market

 

 

I wonder if they sell horse meat here or Hungarian wine. Whatever the mural is interesting.

 

 

 

Too cold for ice bar but we had delicious hot apple cider here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The market leads to Vaci Street, the famous street for pedestrians.  It has a variety of shops and restaurants but walking in a -4 degree Centigrade temperature only resulted in 2 pictures, that was after I had a deliciously warm cup of apple cider.

Budapest is a beautiful city by day, but by night the banks of Danube becomes spectacular.

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Alishan National Forest in Taiwan (阿里山)

Alishan National Forest an area of approximately 415 square kilometers  is located in Chiayi County.  It is a resort and tourist area with good quality of mountain trail for hiking.  Excellent quality of fresh air with fragrance from the famous cypresses known for this area.  It is said that the fragrance has a calming effect on the nerves that it would settle the mind during the day and promote sleep during the night.  I think I can attest to that.

Alishan’s climate is versatile, it can change momentary so a light rain proof jacket is recommended.  It is because of this versatility, one can see a massive amount of drifting clouds, layer upon layer ever-changing making lots of wonderful picturesque scene of nature. 

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Dawn from Yushan, neighboring mountain which is also the highest mountain of Taiwan very good for professional mountain hikers.

In addition, there are a lot of beautiful rare birds acclimatized to this area which makes Alishan a good place for bird watching as well.

 

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I was told that this is one type of  song birds

In the summer, Alishan has cherry blossoms along with many wild beautiful flowers making Alishan one of the top choice for photographers.   But most people come here to be infused in the cypress forest air.

 

It was during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan that mass logging for the precious cypress in Alishan started.  The Japanese build a railway just for moving the logs down the mountain.  It was estimated 300,000 yellow cypress was cut down.  Therefore there is no yellow cypress in Alishan over 100 years old.

Any giant trees that are left are all of the red cypress variety.  The yellow cypress was chosen over the red cypress is because the yellow cypress is solid while the red cypress has cracks inside making it not as solid and prone for disease cause by bacteria and mold.  I guess sometimes imperfection is an advantage.  One can see a lot of cypress grew out of the dead cypress and they call these second generation cypress.  Each one of these second generation cypress has a unique form which is open for imaginations.

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This is actually a third generation cypress which is a new cypress took root on second generation cypress and in turn the second generation cypress took root on the first generation cypress.

The Alishan Forest train left by the Japanese would take you up the mountain to greet the sun in the morning.  If your lucky, you will be able to see the sunset from the top of your hotel.  They can be both exuberant and  beautiful.

We made a stop at Fenqihu (奮起湖) , an old town midway up Alishan where workers use to replenish their supplies.  Due to the destruction by typhoons, these days, this is the last stop for trains going up Alishan.  There is a museum of old trains for visitors in town.  However, we stopped for the famous old railroad lunch box.

Along the way down Alishan, another good place to stretch your legs is Chukou Village.  You will appreciate the stop due to the winding road of the mountain which was finished in 1980

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A mountain view of the  winding Alishan highway with it’s open tunnel finished in 1980.