Le Moulin des Landes

On the western coast of France, sort of halfway between Nantes and La Rochelle is a tiny community that is tacked on to the village of La Chapelle Achard. This collection of houses in the middle of farmland is where our good friends Danielle and Sylvain live with their four kids and menagerie of animals.

Stone farm house of Danielle and Sylvain.

Stone farm house of Danielle and Sylvain.

This is our second time visiting and we love the slow pace of country life mixed with the chaos of four kids, two cats, a dog, and three sheep. There is never a dull moment in this house, even though it looks sleepy and peaceful from this angle.

Indi the English Pointer

Indi the English Pointer

This is Indi, quite possibly the sweetest English Pointer that ever pointed. He’s still quite young, only three, and is full of pep and energy. I’ve been told when he is out on the hunt everyone calls him “The White Bomb” because he tears across the fields with incredible speed. When he’s home, he thinks he’s tiny because he will try to crawl into your lap for a belly rub. He is not tiny. Nor is he fixed, and his plums are often the source of mirth in the house because they are so… well, plummy.

Who's a good boy?

Who’s a good boy?

Pan the sheep

Pan the sheep

This is Pan. He has a wife named Grovey, and a son named Lamb Chop. All three had just been shorn shortly before this picture was taken. Pan looks delirious with relief her, mostly because we had just been through a heat wave and I am sure he was feeling the burn.

Danielle's hydrangeas

Danielle’s hydrangeas

Danielle has incredible hydrangeas growing next to the garage right on the road. Tourists stop to take pictures of them. This tourist stopped to take pictures of them. They are truly splendid.

Well hello, my deer.

Well hello, my deer.

Sylvain is a part owner in a deer farm. There are three types: Sica, Red, and Fallow deer. These are the red deer. We went to visit them all and bring them lunch, which Mr. Himself is munching on here.

 

Our hosts, Danielle and Sylvain in Nuremburg.

Our hosts, Danielle and Sylvain in Nuremburg.

And this post wouldn’t be complete without Danielle and Sylvain themselves. We found we traveled very well together. They are wonderful friends and Kosta and I love them both very much. It would be nice if we could see each other more than every few years. But (!) they want to visit Greece with us in 2018. It is ON.

Note: I didn’t post any pictures of the kidlets because I haven’t asked permission from their parents yet. If they say okay, I’ll tell you about all four of them in turn. They’re pretty fantastic, as far as kids go.

Bamberg and Munich

There are certain things I can say about our time in Germany. Large quantities of pork, cabbage, and beer were consumed, the last being my favorite:

Munich: Beer good.

Munich: Beer good.

 

We spent two days in Munich. One coming into Germany, one going out. On the day we arrived Kosta and I took the train from Salzburg. We got to our hotel in the early afternoon and parked our stuff. Then we headed out to the center of town to look around. That’s where the above picture happened. We ate pork. (Surprise, surprise.)

Sir, do you have any pork?

Sir, do you have any pork?

We walked through the beer garden at the Food Market, and I am sorry to say we didn’t stop, but we had a plane to meet. Even so, it was tempting:

They keep the line moving. They're very precise.

They keep the line moving. They’re very precise.

Bamberg was our last day in Bavaria. We drove over in the morning and the first stop was the cathedral. We wandered around inside and out. It was a strange placement on the top of the hill and set so there were two west entrances instead of one with a big chapel separating them.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

See? It was odd to see that chapel stuck in the middle there.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

The Adam and Eve portal sculptures were also rare and interesting.

We had lunch in the rose garden of the Imperial Palace which was right across the oddly shaped square from the cathedral. And I will not shock you, I am sure, to tell you beer and pork were consumed.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The rose garden. A lovely spot for lunch.

The garden itself was very pretty and had a series of Greco-Roman statues. I thought Hera with her peacock was the prettiest.

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The great and wise Hera.

After we had sufficient refreshment we wandered down the hill and found the old town. The neat thing about Bamberg is the Town Hall. In the Middle Ages the townspeople wanted a town hall but the Prince Bishop would not grant them land to build it. So the ingenious people of Bamberg created an island in the middle of the Regnitz and built their town hall on that.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

The town hall in the middle of the river.

Bamberg was charming. There was ice cream. We had a nice day.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Werewolf of Bamberg by Oliver Pötzsch. I read it earlier this year and wrote a review of it here. It was really cool to visit a place I had read about like that. It was fun because I looked like a rock star (albeit a totally nerdy one) because I already knew the name of the river and the fact that the town hall was built into the river.  The entire Hangman’s Daughter series I recommend as a whole.

From one nerd to another.

(Because let’s face it, rock stars in general do not read my blog.)

 

Wurzburg and Rothenberg ob der Tauber

The four of us only spent a morning in Wurzburg, had lunch and then went on to Rothenberg in the afternoon.  A few hours of the morning were spent at the laundromat, as we were all beginning to offend with our not so fresh clothes. Afterwards we took a look at the palace and had lunch:

Palace at Wurzburg

Palace at Wurzburg

IMG_6301

Palace at Wurzburg

Lunch

Lunch

Then we made the trek over to Rothenberg. This town was the whole reason for this trip. I had seen a famous picture of the town and said to myself, “I want to be THERE.” And so we went. Rothenberg ob der Tauber is the most well preserved medieval town in Bavaria. It was largely spared from bombing in WWII and still remains as charming as hell. Case in point:

The money shot. This was the place I saw that I wished to stand and gaze upon.

The money shot. This was the place I saw that I wished to stand and gaze upon.

Main square of town

Main square of town

There was also a tour I wished to take: the Nightwatchman’s Tour. The guy who has been giving this tour has been doing so for over 20 years. He’s got a dry delivery and is very funny. The tour itself was highly informative and massively crowded. But well worth it.

George the Nightwatchman.

George the Nightwatchman.

Rothenberg is lousy with charm and I wish we’d had more time to spend there. We did manage to eat at a restaurant that was in a garden that was lovely. Sylvain stole my camera and took some photos, one of which is a favorite snap of my husband:

My happy husband.

My happy husband.

The garden restaurant.

The garden restaurant.

It was a long day full of fun, history, shopping, picture taking, and walking everywhere. Let me leave you with this stinking cute hotel in Rothenberg:

Looks like something out of a fairy tale, doesn't it?

Looks like something out of a fairy tale, doesn’t it?

Bad Windsheim and Nürnberg

We spent four days visiting the “bergs” of Bavaria: Nürnberg, Bamberg, Würzburg, and Rothenberg ob der Tauber, with a day in Munich on either end. We traveled with our good friends Danielle and Sylvain, who flew in from France to join us.  We stayed in the charming little town of Bad Windsheim:

Bad Windsheim

Bad Windsheim

We chose to stay there because it was centrally located to what we wanted to see, and also because my friend Niki used to live there when her husband was stationed in the military nearby.

We rented a house off AirBnb and it was adorable. It had a patio where we sat every night to eat, or have a drink:

Sylvain and Kosta sample the schnapps.

Sylvain and Kosta sample the schnapps.

So. Nürnberg. It was the first city we visited and it was charming for all the notorious reputation is has received from the post WWII trials. We saw the Imperial Palace, walked the city wall, had lunch next door to Albrecht Dürer’s birthplace, and saw some beautiful churches and half-timbered houses.

On the river.

On the river.

Danielle and Sylvain

Danielle and Sylvain

My husband's herring. Ew.

My husband’s herring. Ew.

View from inside the fortified palace on the hill.

View from inside the Imperial Palace on the hill.

IMG_6260

Doofus.

Market Day.

Market Day.

Birthplace of Albrecht Durer.

Birthplace of Albrecht Durer.

One more thing we did was visit the Zepplinfield, or the Nazi Party rally grounds. Sylvian is a huge WWII buff and was intellectually interested to see the spot. We stopped there on our way out of town. The concrete risers are still there, although crumbling. I have no pictures of the spot because I did not want to honor it with a photograph. It was interesting, in a morbid way, but I definitely had the creeps being there. Kosta said he felt like he needed to wash the bottoms of his shoes after we left. I still can’t believe it hasn’t been razed.

On a lighter note to send you along your way:

I'll just leave you with this picture of a busker playing the accordion with his dog hanging out on top.

I’ll just leave you with this picture of a busker playing the accordion with his dog hanging out on top. Like you do.

 

 

 

Never Never Never Give Up

never never never give up

Today is an anniversary for me. One year ago today I spoke on the phone with Alex Slater at Trident Media Group and accepted his offer to represent me as a literary agent.  It had been a phone call that was years in the making: two books, and hundreds of queries later and I had done it. I found someone who was head over heels in love with my novel.

I was ecstatic. I had finally broken through a door on the road to becoming a published author. Many times along that journey I had become discouraged and hurt from all the rejection (trust me, there was A LOT). But there was a fire burning in my heart that kept me going. I love writing. This is what I want TO DO with my life. And of course, I have my husband, my parents, and all of my family and terrific friends who have supported me and bolstered me along they way when I got down. I finally felt I had arrived.

Now, a year later, I am still waiting to arrive. My agent, Alex, has been amazing. With his enthusiasm and drive he has worked so hard to find a home for my novel. He has sent it out to over thirty young adult editors and ten adult editors. And while the reaction has been that it is great writing, it just didn’t find a place for one reason or another. In fact, we are about to shelve this novel and I am going to concentrate on writing my third. (I’m about 40 pages in so far.)

Yes, I did the amazing, almost unheard of feat of finding an agent. But the submission process was no less brutal. True, I do have a champion fighting in my corner, and for that I am so grateful and lucky. But this level of rejection is even worse than trying to find an agent. It’s funny because they don’t even use the word rejection–it’s a “pass.” But that doesn’t make it any easier.

As sad as I am that my novel didn’t sell, that fire still burns within me. As much as I am dragging my ass around and moping today I am still going to get my butt in my chair and write tonight. Winston Churchill might have been rallying a nation to fight the Nazis when he said the above quote, but it can apply to anyone and any situation. I will not give up. I will write another novel and I will try again. And if that doesn’t sell I will try again. This is still what I want to do with my life. That will not change.

I may be bruised and tired. But I will never, never, never give up.

Back at it…

It was my first day back at work after a month of vacation. It wasn’t so bad, there were some good things and some not so good things that happened while I was gone, but nothing out of the ordinary. Manageable.

I meant to do more live blogging from the trip but it was very hard. We were running all day and at night I was so tired it was hard to put two thoughts together. A coherent blog post? Not in the cards, not in the stars, not in my brain.

I got a suntan, spent time with great friends, ate some delicious food, and took a couple thousand pictures. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing these with you as I look back on my trip. I hope you’ll stop back and see the photos.

For now, I am going to leave you with one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. It isn’t of a famous landmark, work of art, or anything much. I just thought it was lovely when I saw it for the first time. I hope you do too.

Field of wheat - Vendee, France

Field of wheat – Vendee, France

 

P.S. My Dad came through his surgery beautifully and is recovering by leaps and bounds.

Unexpected Events

Things have been great on vacation. We met up with our friends in Munich, and spent several days visiting Nuremberg, Würzburg, Bamberg, and Rothenberg ob der Tauber. We were treated to such views as this:

Nuremberg. Totally hideous, isn't it?

Nuremberg. Totally hideous, isn’t it?

We have had a wonderful time reconnecting with our friends Danielle and Sylvain, and we have discovered a few things about German culture.

  1. They like cash. I think I only used my credit card to pay for the hotel and the rental car. Cash everywhere else.
  2. Sparkling water is called Sprudelwasser.
  3. The Germans are crazy for pork and cabbage:

    That's a lot of sauerkraut.

    That’s a lot of sauerkraut.

Seriously. I ate so much pork I thought I was going to sprout a curly tail. Pork at every meal. Cabbage hiding under the lettuce of your salad and of course the ubiquitous sauerkraut. We went to the grocery store and they had an entire Wall O’ Pork. They are totally serious about their pig food products.

We are now comfortably ensconced in our friends’ old stone farmhouse in Western France. And it was good to be surrounded by friends because the totally unexpected happened.

The other day I got a text from my Mom saying Dad had been having chest pains. They went to the ER, ran some tests, and the upshot was Dad had to have triple bypass surgery. It happened today and went extremely well. He is in recovery and all signs point to a good recovery. But the fact that I wasn’t with my mother to sit there and hold her hand while her husband of 46 years had open heart surgery left me a quivering mess.

But my wonderful friend Danielle helped me through with Reiki. If you don’t know what Reiki is, I invite you to read about it here. Basically, it is healing energy from the Divine that a practitioner can channel into another being: human, animal or plant. I’ve been a practitioner for several years now and Danielle is the Reiki Master who has taught me. Together we created a flow of Reiki that was sent directly to my father, thousands of miles away. It was proactive and left me feeling more in control of my emotions and hopeful of a positive outcome. I held it together.

Dad will probably be in the hospital for five or six days. Kosta and I debated over what to do. In the end, (mostly because we can’t afford to change our plane tickets) we are going to continue with our vacation. Trust me when I say it was not an easy decision to make. Most of me is longing to be home with my family. Everyone seems to be coping reasonably well. Mom has been so brave and capable and I am proud of her for surviving an extremely difficult situation.

The last couple of days have been rough, for sure. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much on a vacation before. But Dad has survived his ordeal, Mom is coping with hers, and Kosta and I will deal with ours.

Perplexed and a little frightened...

Perplexed and a little frightened…

 

 

Guest post: Anstrengend

Written by Konstantine-George Athanasios Karras.

On the whole, European vacations tend to be relaxing affairs, and ones taken in Austria are no exception. True, the small country abounds in rugged mountain ranges, but if one is clever, their magnificent peaks are conquered with the eye only and not by the exhaustive expedient of actually ascending them. Preferably this is done from the cozy and comfortable outdoor seating of one of the many cafes or bier halls that proliferate their foothills.

Heavenly views... hellish price.

Heavenly views… hellish price.

Anna & I made the mistake of deciding to ascend one of these lithic giants not only admire the views but to specifically visit a natural site that I had known about for some time. It was the famous Eisriesenwelt ice cave perched high on the side of the Hochkogel mountain just south of Salzburg.

 
Nothing in the numerous brochures or advertisements I read prior to visiting the place mentioned anything about the strenuous physical activity that would sinisterly accompany such a rash decision. Most did mention the two 20-minute “walks” up the face of the mountain on either side of a short but vertiginous cable car ride. But I figured my wife and I are in reasonably good shape. How bad can this possibly be?
The initial part of the journey (via our rented Peugeot motorcar along comfortable roadways) was a delight. The views from the car windows were of the Salzach Valley, with its picture-postcard villages nestled below, the magnificent wall of towering mountains reaching to the clouds above and occasional views of the dramatic Hohenwerfen castle perched on a steep and pine-covered spur jutting out into the river. Had we only known what was in store, we’d have sensibly stayed in the car.

 
Only when one is actually struggling to place one leg in front of the other along a steep, rocky path is one made truly aware of the effort involved. I am from Florida where the steepest incline I must navigate is my front driveway sloping down to the street. But at least amid the exhaustive effort we were constantly rewarded with views out over the alpine valley and we could delight in whooping in bucketfuls of the fresh mountain air.

 
Sucking in oxygen like a pair of Hoovers, we arrived at the lower cable car station. With a perverted sense of delight we noted other intrepid visitors were arriving as winded and as sweaty as us. They jammed groups of us into the small car and sent us up the almost vertical mountain slope for the three-minute ride. Once there, another twenty minute “jaunt” awaited us, a third of this under the protective cover of a man-made concrete awning that protected the hikers from falling rocks and debris. And above it all loomed the cave mouth, always looking impossibly far away.

Little cable cars, climb halfway to hell...

Little cable cars, climb halfway to hell…

 

We finally made it to the cave entrance where hordes of visitors were awaiting. Anna was handed an oil lamp by our guide and a group of about thirty of us entered. Once inside, the horrible realization took hold as the sight of our physically-fit guide, Johannes, should have warned us. It was a continuous flight of wooden steps with accompanied aluminum handrail all the way to the top. And it was only now, when one was inside and deep into the adventure that the guide in his thick Austrian accent informed us that we were about to embark on a 700-step climb up into the cave system. It was the equivalent effort of ascending a 40-story building! And this was to be accomplished at an altitude of more than 1,600 meters above sea-level. Lit only by the feeble oil lamps a few of us carried, I’m certain in the darkness, Johannes stated this with a malevolent gleam in his eye.

We weren't the only suckers...

We weren’t the only suckers…

 

And so it began… the ascent. Never in my life had I experienced pain like this. I wasn’t aware that the human body could produce such agony much less endure it for the time I had to. The initial hundred steps or so were bad enough; but then there was the creeping sense of having made a huge mistake as those steps doubled, then trebled and still they ascended before me. But I couldn’t stop. I dared not. My wife—ahead of me—God bless her, was soldiering on. How could I ever face her again if I quit? Shame and shame alone forced me to fight through the pain and continue.

 
And then I noticed something else. The people behind me had fallen silent as well. The chattering and light laughter that had accompanied us to that point ceased to be. It was replaced with a dogged silence broken only by occasional grunts of effort. I know now what slave rowers on the bottom deck of an ancient Roman galley must have sounded like as the swift trireme full of murderous Cilician pirates was bearing down on them and they were forced to pull at their oars for their very lives.

 
Indeed, I wanted to scream out in my own rage at having gotten myself into this misery, but I could muster nothing more than a continuous and pathetic wheeze as the altitude and the exertion combined to turn my lungs into something resembling a pair of pink deflated birthday-party balloons. I couldn’t even whimper which was all I felt like doing. And still those evil steps continued.

 
By this time, midway through the ordeal, my legs had long since become absolute rubber—pasta cooked well beyond the al dente stage. I knew, or I guessed the Austrians must have had a word for it… anstrengend: strenuous, exhaustive, demanding. Why had they not used that word in their brochures about this place? Surely that would have deferred my decision to take this on. But I never read it anywhere in the literature and so we paid the price for my folly.

 
Suffice to say we completed the journey for there was a leveling off at the top of the cave system and that alone saved us. The ice formations were impressive and it was something I was glad to have seen. I think though I will simply remove my legs and stick them in a box in the back of the closet as I will have no further use for them.

A bit of Heaven and the lowest circle of Hell

We left Vienna yesterday morning. We went back to the airport picked up a rental car and zoomed off towards Salzburg. We are no different from other tourists who have done this because we stopped in the village of Melk where there is an impressively large monastery.

Monstery at Melk

Monstery at Melk

We toured the monastery and grounds. We were impressed with the library with its musty smell of old books. We also came into the church as a noon service was in progress and we were properly blasted by the pipe organ. It rumbled right through your chest and had a marvelous sound.

Garden and pavilion at Melk Monastery

Garden and pavilion at Melk Monastery

After our tour we went in to the gardens, had a drink in the pavilion, walked through the dappled shade and viewed the Danube’s lazy progression down stream. Afterwards we walked down to the town of Melk and looked around a little bit.  We tasted schnapps – hazelnut and bought a bottle. We’ll see if it makes it back to Florida.

After climbing the big hill back to the car we continued on towards Salzburg. We arrived in the late afternoon, and thanks to the GPS, found our hotel easily. After checking in we laid down for a bit (we were tired) and awoke with surprise around 7 p.m. Even though we were still tired we needed to eat and decided to drive into town (we are staying on the outskirts) and find someplace for our supper.

We found an ideal little place: Zum Wilden Mann. It was decidedly cute, had good hearty food and of course, beer. We properly filled our gullets and then took an evening constitutional around the city streets. We saw Mozart’s birthplace and the fanciest McDonald’s sign I’ve ever seen. The sun was setting, the light on the Salzach River was lovely, and the air was cool. It was a bit of heaven.

My wild man at Zum Wilder Mann.

My wild man at Zum Wilder Mann.

 

Sunset on the Salzach.

Sunset on the Salzach.

Today we set out by 8 a.m. towards a town about 40 km south of Salzburg called Werfen. It is home to the largest ice cave in Europe and also boasts a well-kept medieval castle called Burg Hohenwerfen.

But first things first. We needed breakfast because we just hadn’t eaten enough the night before. On our way up the mountain to the ice cave we stopped at a little guesthouse/restaurant. We were the only two folks in there while we dined on fresh baked rolls, cheese and jam with excellent coffee. Our host, a gingham-bedecked man named Casper plunked himself down at our table when we finished eating and we tried to make conversation between his broken English and my broken German. He was a friendly cuss and we laughed at our miserable attempts at conversation.

Me and Casper the friendly Austrian.

Me and Casper the friendly Austrian.

Up, up, up the road we went to the ice cave. Kosta had read about it online and it said that the trail was a little tough: first a twenty minute climb through the woods, a three-minute cable car ride, and then another twenty minute climb to get you to the entrance of the cave. It was a slog, especially for the two of us who haven’t been working out as we should. But we made it, panting, to the mouth of the cave, donned our sweatshirts and waited for the tour to begin.

At the start of the tour our guide told us there were 700 steps inside the cave itself. That sounded like a lot, but we had just hiked a long way and paid a lot of money to see this cave. So we went, despite any foreboding. What our sly tour guide, Johannes, didn’t do was give us a comparison until we were nearly through with our 700 steps. Did you know that climbing 700 steps is the equivalent of climbing a forty story skyscraper? No? Well let my quadriceps tell you about it. It’s agony. And of course, we were at the front of the line and directly behind Johannes, who barely paused while he ascended. I asked him how many times a day he did this and he replied, “Three to seven times.”

The road to the mouth of hell. Dante Alighieri would concur.

The road to the mouth of hell. Dante Alighieri would concur.

Obviously, Johannes is one of the devil’s tour guides.

Kosta says the reason why they don’t let you take pictures in the cave is so there is no photographic evidence of all the people trudging up endless risers, heads down, not speaking, only the soft noise of labored breath and whimpers for the end can be heard.

Did you know that Dante pictured the lowest circle of hell as a frozen lake of ice? The thought was present as I held my gas lantern and ascended through an icy landscape in the dark, not knowing when it was going to end.

The ice cave was beautiful. It was cold, it was impressive. I am glad I saw it but I am never, ever doing that again. When we found ourselves blinking in the sun again we were both surprised to be alive. Then we had to walk back down the hill on gelatinous legs, wait for the cable car, walk down the other set of switchbacks until we got to the entrance. I had to pee but the WC was down another flight of stairs and I wasn’t sure I would be able to make it back up again. I skipped it and we drove away, our innocence of just a few hours before shattered like a falling icicle.

Now, let me tell you about Burg Hohenwerfen. If you know my husband at all, you know his favorite movie is 1968’s Where Eagles Dare starring Richard Burton and Clint Eastwood. It’s a thrilling movie. The plot centers on several WWII special agents sent to raid a castle deep in German territory to liberate a crucial prisoner. There are secret plots, murder, treachery, and a nail-biting fight scene on top of a cable car.

Burg Hohenwerfen, or the Schloss Adler.

Burg Hohenwerfen, or the Schloss Adler.

 

Inner courtyard of Burg Hohenwerfen

Inner courtyard of Burg Hohenwerfen

The castle in the movie, the Schloss Adler, is none other than Burg Hohenwerfen. It was a dream come to life for my husband. While we were there he pulled out his iPod (yes, he still has an iPod) and listened to the soundtrack while looking around with the ecstasy of a 12 year-old boy. It was pretty adorable.

We did take an interesting tour of the place, though had to skip the falconry show, as it took place on a steep incline and we didn’t think our legs would make it. But we did climb all the way up to the bell tower and down again. Somehow. Through sheer iron will, I believe, because there was no muscle left in my legs.

After our tour we went down to the village of Werfen and had a beer at a cafe, and laughed in the way people in shock do about something traumatic that has just happened to them. We still can’t believe there wasn’t more warning about how strenuous the tour at the ice cave was. If it had been America (and I’m glad it isn’t) there would have been a lawyer at every switchback, handing out his card and pointing to the warning signs.

We are back at the hotel now, barely moving, groaning, and wondering what will become of us tomorrow. Pray for us. We will need it.

Guest Post: What… no Brahms?!

Written by Konstantine-George Athanasios Karras:

I’ve just spent three days in Vienna, Austria and must confess I am severely disappointed in the Viennese people. It’s certainly not because of their lively and clean city filled with beautiful public buildings and pleasant squares, palaces and coffee shops and musical venues. No. It’s certainly not due to the denizens themselves who are polite and cultured to an extraordinary degree. The reason for my well-placed ire is the Austrian capital’s almost complete lack of honoring one of their most famous and beloved (admittedly adopted) sons: Johannes Brahms.
This is the City of Mozart. Now I’m the first to admit that Wolfgang is no musical slouch and only a mad, uncultured lout would think his music anything but a noise close to musical perfection, but jeeze!—after walking around the city a couple of days you’d think there was only one classical composer in all the world. Wolfie is everywhere… and I mean everywhere. His likeness graces candy boxes, liqueurs, (he’s got his own brands), refrigerator door magnets, posters, store-fronts… he’s got his own venue across the straße from the city’s grandiose opera house where his minions are dressed in the lacy, periwig-donned, white-hosed attire of 18th C. court musicians who stand on the street corners and squares throughout the city peddling programs for his nightly concerts. I’m frankly surprised that his mug was not displayed on a package of “Die Zauberflöte”-brand prophylactics in the local pharmacy! C’mon, Viennese… where’s your sense of fair play?
Only by the most assiduous planning and painstaking preparations was I able to uncover two meager traces of my beloved Johannes in this, the City of Music. The evidence of him can be seen a little ways east of the city center in the humungous Zentralfriedhof, Wien’s main cemetery. It was to that sprawling boneyard that I had to travel to see evidence of his earthly remains. They are buried under a simple yet graceful monument in section 32A (plot #26) of the cemetery in an admittedly honored spot. He shares the distinction with fellow dead musical alums Beethoven, Strauss, and Schubert, although I’m forced to admit Wolfie, who heavens-to-betsy, cannot be forgotten, has insinuated himself in the area with a monument placed in the center of it all, even though the marker has no body laying beneath—it’s interred elsewhere.

I'm very excited to be within 6 feet of his moldering body!

I’m very excited to be within 6 feet of his moldering body!

The only other place Brahms is to be publicly seen (if one is to discount the little corner given him in a room of the Haydn Museum on the Haydngasse, is his statue located within the leafy environs of the Resselpark, one of the main parks of the city. It sits beneath a pleasant canopy of trees and the stone effigy of Hans looks out solemnly onto the roaring traffic of the Karlsplatz. After gazing at it adoringly for several moments I thought the sculptor captured the rather gruff and earthy composer quite perfectly, although the overall attitude of his stocky body seems as if he is about to rise from his seat and change the channel on his TV set because his remote is broken.

"Scheisse! Another Mozart program. Now I haf to get up and change der channel."

“Scheisse! Another Mozart program. Now I haf to get up and change der channel.”

So, my simple message to the Viennese is: more Brahms!