Friday, June 24, 2011

Travelling to Vienna-

Being so close to Europe travelling was so much easier being in London than in Africa .We would put the car on the ferry and off we will go.I also needed to get out of England for a while to renew my visitor's visa.

Vienna City of Music

Neil and I  decided to go to Vienna as we both loved opera and  the Vienna State Opera was one of the top opera houses in the world.

The first stop was Amsterdam. Our friend Elsa lived there where she headed the South African Tourist Board. She had a beautiful  apartment on Von Baerle Street near the Vondel Park.I  met Elsa in Cape Town when we both sang in the choir of the opera there .This photo was taken at the opening of the opera in 1969 at the Alhambra Theater in Cape Town .I designed the emerald green silk shantung  gown she wore.

Alhambra Theater. Cape Town.

Elsa and me Cape Town

Henry + Elsa my 21st birthday party in Cape Town

Elsa, Henry and Lydia in London's Kew Gardens.

Vondel Park.

I loved Amsterdam and we also felt at home there as we could understand the language.
South Africa was colonized by the Dutch and they had a big influence on us as Afrikaners.
My mother was also from Dutch background.

Elsa showed us around and we had a "rijstafel" (rice table) dinner that is part of the Indonesian influence on the Dutch.

Cape Town- South Africa

 South Africa was founded as a halfway house for the Dutch ships on their way to the Orient.
The Dutch had a big  presence  in Malaysia and Java and these countries influenced their culture.
 They also  needed slaves to work in South Africa so most of the slaves at the Cape were brought  from these countries by the Dutch.

After a few days in Amsterdam we travelled by car on to Cologne

Marita Knobel

"Die Zauberflote"

Neil knew Marita Knobel the South African mezzo that was singing with the Cologne Opera at that time and she invited us to stay with her.That night we went to hear her in Mozart's "Die Zauberflote"

Helmut Holzapfel

In Cologne we also met Gretchen  that was studying at the Marionette Theater in Germany and we became good friends.
Her brother Helmut  Holzapfel was also an opera singer in Germany
Gretchen Holzapfel and me many years later in New York.

The next day we started again for Vienna via Salzburg.
It was such a thrill to see Mozart's hometown and the venue of the Summer  Music Festival.

Interior of Mozart's house in Salzburg.
It was after Christmas and it was cold with some snow. It was new to see Christmas trees with only white lights. Very beautiful....This was the first time either of us visited this part of Europe.

Hofburg Palace- Vienna
Vienna was a beautiful city but I found the people very unfriendly and everyone told you what not to do and were not to go....It seemed that all the women were dressed in a green loden coat with a fur collar and a matching fur hat....

We also saw the Spanish Riding School with the beautiful white Lipizzaner horses that fought in battle- as well as danced .

Every Sunday the Vienna Boys' Choir sing a mass in Vienna's Hofburg chapel, continuing a tradition unbroken since 1498.We went to listen to them there.

New Year's Eve we went to the Vienna State Opera and heard Johann Strauss's "Die Fledermaus".
We paid a fortune for standing room tickets.The whole night there was an usher  with a prod and as soon as you leaned against the bar behind you he would prod you...You were not allowed to touch the bar as you stood for hours.

Erich Kunz and Mimi Coertse in "Tales of Hoffmann"

 Erich Kunz was the jailer and he went on and on for hours making jokes and talking about insider politics that had the Viennese in stitches -but for us it was very boring as we did not understand it at all. Some people sitting in the boxes passed us some champagne- so that helped.

Vienna State Opera .
A few night later we had tickets for" Il Pagliacci". The only seats available was in a box.
Once again the usher almost had a heart attack when he saw us dressed more casual and with out long hair....He told us not to sit too close to the  front of the box or lean out .He did not want people to see us.I was very annoyed by this .We were not dressed in short and t shirt .It is was cold so were dressed in  jackets  and wool pants, but we were not dressed in a suit and tie.
For what we paid for those seats they should have allowed us to sit there naked!
All this nonsense left me with a sour taste in my mind about Vienna and the Viennese.

We did not hear Mimi Coertse sing but saw her photo in a hairdressing saloon advertising that they styled her hair.


Neil and the grave of Brahms.

Me in front of Beethoven's grave.


Me on the frozen river
and the Schonbrunn Palace


Being the city of music -and composers -we could not miss the grave yard -Zentralfriedhof -
 where Beethoven and Schubert were buried. Johann Strauss, Johannes Brahms, Amadeus Mozart, and Arnold Schonberg are also among the  famous composers  buried here.

We left Vienna a drove to the Monastery of Melk where we visited the winery.
Beautiful church that one could see from miles away.

We stopped in Innsbruck to do some skiing but their was not enough snow.
 I was not impressed but this skiing resort. The hotel lobby smelled of feet and people were bored and were playing games in the arcade.....  nothing glamorous or exciting to me.
I never tried to ski again.


We also made a detour into Switzerland. Zurich was a beautiful clean city-almost boring it was so clean, this country runs like clockwork. No wonder they make great watches.

Me with the Passat station wagon in the snow of Switzerland.
We got back to London without an indecent -and I received an extension on my visa to be in the UK for another 6 months.


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