Travels with Grace: Vienna

Posted on June 25th, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. Today Grace heads to Austria during the summer of 1929.

August 4, 1929

Statue of King Arthur, Hofkirche, Innsbruck, designed by Albrecht Dürer and cast by Peter Vischer the Elder, 1520s. Via.

Sunday. We leave Bolzano by the 8:40 a.m. train and after a very pretty ride reach Innsbruck at 1 p.m. They remember us at the Tyrolerhof where we stopped two years ago. This afternoon we take a carriage and ride around this very quaint and attractive town, one of the cleanest I have visited. The weather is perfect, and everybody seems to be taking advantage of it. We see many of the picturesque ancestral costumes of the district, the women particularly looking like they have just stepped out of an antique painting. We first visit the Hof Kirche where we see some thirty larger than life size statues of the kings and queens of different lands, including King Arthur of England, done in bronze with remarkable care as to detail – for instance the armor on the men and the jewelry and brocaded dresses on the women. There is also a magnificent tomb – Kaiser Maximilian’s – in the center of the church adorned with 24 panels of carved alabaster in magnificent bas-reliefs. On the altar are ornaments of silver and gold.

Early 20th century postcard of Schloss Ambras. Via.

From here we ride to Schloss Ambras for a look at its fine park, the castle being closed. We pass a pretty little war cemetery on the way where Italians and Austrians are buried. In the old town are houses two or three stories high but so small that they look like children’s playhouses. In another part of the town are old beer houses and cafes uniquely decorated, one old hotel having a sort of register in marble before its door on which are inscribed the names of all the famous guests sheltered here in years past. One house bears a plaque commemorating the sojourns of Goethe and the Mozarts, father and son. There is a charming park where concerts are given daily. Many people are going up and down the funiculars which run to the top of several peaks of the Nordkette.

August 5, 1929

Hotel Imperial, 1880. Via.

Monday. Left Innsbruck at 8:30 a.m. and came to Vienna via Salzburg and Linz. Part of the trip was very pretty going up through the mountains. In the afternoon the scenery becomes flat and then darkness overtook us. Arrive at the Imperial Hotel, Vienna at 10 p.m.

August 6, 1929

Tuesday. We take an automobile with guide this morning and ride around this beautiful city. It is quite flat, the streets very wide and clean (it is a fine of 4 shillings if one throws anything in the street) and the public buildings are very handsome. As most of the avenues are in a straight line, fine long vistas are afforded. One characteristic that I notice is the presence of little white mattresses in all the windows. People lean out on them and they keep the dirt out of the windows. Many places have a bunch of pine sprigs hanging before the door to signify that home-grown wine is sold there. The Ringstrasse is one of the finest thoroughfares I have seen anywhere. We ride through the Prater, a very extensive natural park, once a royal domain, given to the public by Joseph II, son of Maria Theresa. There are fine woodlands, lakes, racetracks, etc. We see the opera, very beautiful, a number of fine churches, one of the prettiest being the Votive Church, Parliament buildings, Universities, museums, a number of smaller parks, the barracks which are unusually attractive architecturally for this sort of purpose, monuments to Goethe, Haydn, Beethoven, Mozart, Schiller, Gegethoff, Schwartzenberg, etc. Ride along Maria-hilferstrasse, one of the principal shopping streets.

Austria Wien Schonbrunn Castle, vintage postcard. Via.

This afternoon we got to Schonbrunn castle where the grounds are very beautiful. There are close-clipped box hedges as high as two-story houses with statues fitted into the niches, a large Neptune fountain and the Glorietta on the summit of a grassy knoll where Maria Theresa used to take her tea and look down over the city. Then we ride out to Cobenzl, formerly a private palace, now a popular restaurant with terraced gardens and on the way, we enjoy a lovely panorama of the city with a glimpse of the Danube included. On our return to Vienna we stop at Demel’s for some lovely pastry. Then we see the Imperial Court, old and new palace with statues and fountains and the Heroes field and monument of Maria Theresa. We go to Schoner’s for an excellent dinner and later Rochenbauer’s where we had good wine and good entertainment, music, singing, yodeling, etc. and met Dr. Melvin Rosenthal.

August 7, 1929

Maria-Schutz Am Semmering Austria, 1929. Vintage postcard, Via.

Started out at 9:30 a.m. with private auto on trip to Semmering. It is a beautiful day and the scenery gains in loveliness thereby. We go through the following towns and villages: Weiner Neustadt, Neunkirchen, Glogguits, Klamm-Schottwien, Semmering where there are some nice villas and hotels situated on the heights commanding good views of the Raxberg and other mountains. At Kaiserbrunn we have lunch at a typical country restaurant where the tables are laid out in a cool grove and the dogs and chickens get mixed up with our feet. The food however is clean and palatable. Then on through Guttenbrunn, Perietz, Berndorf, Voslau, Baden where they have a floral clock in the Kurgarten, Gumpoldskirchem, Modling where we see a fine old tower souvenir of the Turkish invasion, Petersdorf, Liechtenstein castle a perfect example of 12th century architecture, and on back to Vienna. The trip affords a great variety of scenery through low-lying open fields, forests where buckets are strapped to trees for turpentine, green foothills and rocky mountains of quite respectable height graduating upward. Many of the mountain streams are well stocked with game fish. Up in the Semmering where it is delightfully cool in comparison to the city, we see the reservation fenced off where are the wells and springs, source of Vienna’s good water supply. Tonight, we have dinner at Stadt Park Restaurant where a band of music plays and all are gay and animated on the brightly lighted terrace overlooking the gardens.

August 8, 1929

This morning we spend in the Liechtenstein gallery, one of the finest private collections of art treasures in Europe. There are some interesting bronzes and porcelains in addition to the pictures and all displayed to excellent advantage. Then we visit beautiful St. Stephen’s cathedral and see the lovely monument by Canova to Maria Theresa in the Augustin church.

At 12 noon we go to the Hoher Market to see the Ankeruhr, an interesting piece of mechanism, 12 figures passing in slow review upholding the hours while an organ plays classic music. Each is a character important in the history or culture of the country beginning with Marcus Aurelius, Karl der Grosse, Herzog Leopold von Babenberg with his consort Theodora, Walter von der Vogelweide, Rudolf von Hapsburg 1st of that line, the mater architect Puchsbaum builder of St. Stephens, Kaiser Maximilian, Burgmeister Johann Liebenberg, Graf Rudiger von Starhemberg, Prince Eugene of Savoy, Empress Maria Theresa with her consort Franz von Lothringen and las the musician Josef Haydn. With each comes a different descriptive tune. Tonight, we hear the operette “Rosenaus Florida.” Most everyone seems to have lunch with them.

August 9, 1929

We spend several hours in the glorious Art-History museum, one of the richest in old masters I have yet seen. It has also a large collection of tapestries, jewels, ivories, and other objets d’art. We have lunch at a typical old Viennese restaurant with low vaulted ceilings near the statue of Lieber Augustin, noted for its good Pilsner. This afternoon we see the wonderful old coaches at Schonbrunn, including the monumental coronation equipage with panels painted by Rubens and all heavily encrusted with gold leaf. Also, sedan chairs and sleigh used by Maria Theresa. The latter she insisted upon using even in summer when she had salt poured on the roads so it would slide. Also, the tiny pony drawn carriages that were l’Aiglon’s. Next we visit zoological gardens where the bird collection is most interesting.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


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Travels with Grace: Merano

Posted on June 18th, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. Today Grace spends some time in the Tyrol region of northern Italy during the summer of 1929.

July 28, 1929

1940 botanical postcard, edelweiss in Switzerland. Via.

Sunday. We leave St. Moritz in brilliant sunshine at 9:45 a.m. and travel for one hour on the little electric railway as far as Zernez making frequent stops en route. The proprietor gave mother and me each a box of fine chocolates on leaving. At the latter place we board a motor diligence, run by the government and ride over the Ofenpass, through the National park, a virgin and rugged territory where habitations are rare. At noon we stop for an hour at the first hotel, Il Fuorn. Then continuing our journey, we enjoy many lovely mountain vistas, look down into deep gorges through which rapid streams flow, the lower slopes are aglow with a variety of wildflowers, never have I seen such big daisies both yellow and white. Once we stop at a little inn to deliver some mail, for this is a post-diligence, and the proprietress gives us a lovely bunch of edelweiss which now decorates my hat.

Antique print, Chamois, 1836. Via.

In the shallow bed of a river we see some chamoix which have come down to drink as the sun is unusually hot today. When we reach the top of the pass – over 2000 meters high – we look out over the high peaks and see the snowy crest of the Ortler in the distance, the big, best and whitest of all, 3902 meters. We stop at the little villages of Cierfs, Fuldera, Valcava, and Santa Maria, all seem so remote and ancient, the diligence being the only link to connect them with the outer world. At Munster we change into another car and begin to descend into the Tyrol region of Italy. Gradually the character of the mountains changes. They grow less steep and rugged, more verdant and intensely cultivated. Vineyards appear on the slops and little squares of yellow and light green stand out as though illuminated against the dark background of trees. At 5 p.m. we arrive in Merano and locate at the beautiful Palace Hotel – palatially furnished – where the balconies of our rooms open on a lovely park. Adjoining is an old castle.

Luggage Label, Palace Hotel, Merano, 1935. Via.

July 29, 1929

Vintage travel poster, Merano, 1930. Via.

Monday. We take a carriage this afternoon and ride through the old town, very quant and interesting, the shops fronted by a low-ceilinged arcade with painted gothic arches, stenciled and painted roofs bearing the various trademarks of the shop keepers. The streets are narrow and winding and at the intersection one looks out to the mountains which hem in the town on all sides. We ride up through the newer portions of the town where there are many picturesque and even elegant villas and pensions laid out in charming gardens. Vineyards abound everywhere and there are many pear and apple trees. Merano has a fine Kurhaus, numerous parks and promenades for the public, a pretty theater. We ride out through Ober – and Unter-Maria all very quaint and Teutonic looking. The signs are always printed in Italian but most of the names are German and one can easily distinguish the German from the Italian merchandise in the shops. We see several old castles, abandoned and partly in ruins, perched high I the hills.

Vintage postcard, Merano. Via.

Tonight, we go across the street to the little Plankestein Kino to see the movie “Casanova,” very fine indeed. It is my first experience in a European movie theater. Of course, this is a very small one. The only music is furnished by a pianist who does very well. A man comes around twice to squirt perfume through a gun. The film is divided into seven or eight parts and there is a short intermission between each, while a bell is run before it starts and before it ends. But it is a pity to see the German captions relegated to a sort of screen on the side where it is difficult to read them. Also they are written in a miserable script, while the Italian is nicely printed and holds the center of the stage. I have spoken to quite a few of the old residents here and they express a hatred of the Italian rule and claim that the town is much less prosperous than of yore.

July 30, 1929

Our driver gives us a ride all around the valley this afternoon through the towns of Burgstall, Lana, Cermes, and Marlengo. The river Etch intersects this country which appears very fertile and covered with fruit orchards. Also there is a large fruit packing house which ships the products abroad. The towns however do not present an air of prosperity.

July 31, 1929

Panorama postcard, Merano. Via.

Today we go up the Fragsburg, a most picturesque ride climbing a spiral road to the top of one of the lesser mountains. At every turn a beautiful picture of the valley is enjoyed, framed in the opening of the trees. It is refreshingly cool riding through the woods bathed in the spicy fragrances of pines and watered by an occasional mountain stream tinkling merrily in its descent. Below us the town of Merano is seen in its entirety, encompassed by hills and the river shines like a broad ribbon of silver. The vineyards propped on their rustic stilts give the illusion of a vast green stadium when viewed from above. We see the suspended car of the aerial railway pass above our heads. There are two in the vicinity and they run every hour. Mother is doing her best to discourage father and me from trying one. At the summit of the Fragsburg we take tea at the Terrace Café which affords another wonderful panorama of the valley. The German people who run it are so kind and show us the rooms furnished with antiques. Nearby is an old castle.

August 1, 1929

Antique luggage label, Hotel Bristol, Bolzano Italy. Via.

Merano is another place which will go down in our “red-letter book of memories.” We leave amidst the warm farewell of the entire staff at 10 a.m. and arrive an hour later at the Bristol Hotel in Bolzano. The train ride was short and sweet. We follow the Adige for most of the way, the mountains on either side liberally sprinkled with old castles in varying degrees of decay usually situated on a crest overlooking a small hamlet where the overlord of the district was wont to hold sway. Also, there are occasional old forts, with look-out towers, bastions, etc. to strengthen the ancient hold. In the valleys between the ranges the fruit trees are quickly maturing toward the harvest. One often sees large leaved cabbages growing around the base of an apple or pear tree and grape vines are everywhere.

Bolzano-Gries vintage postcard, 1929. Via.

This afternoon we take a carriage around Bolzano, which resembles Merano in many ways, its setting, architecture, arbor culture, etc. There is a fine monument with fasciti design, to Victor Emanuel III, a pretty municipal park, promenade paralleling the river, theaters, casino, etc. In the principal square is a pretty church with sloping roof of colored tiles, a monument to the bard Walter von der Vogelweide. We ride through Fries, a town of villas and pensions, formerly a separate community but no incorporated with Bolzano. Here come many visitors in autumn to take the wine or grape cure and in the winter, there are the popular winter sports. We ride out through the country lanes sweet with hay, bordered with vines and fruit trees, and catch fascinating glimpses of the Dolomites and the sunset over the Catinaccio or Rosengarten.

August 2, 1929

Vintage Dolomites travel poster. Via.

Friday. In spite of a steady rain we start out at 9:15 a.m. in a private auto for a tour of the Dolomites. Our route starts out along the stupendous gorge of the Eggenthal, looking positively eerie through the veil of slanting rain, Nova Levante, Carezza, Karersee – a deep blue-green in its hollow of pines – Passo di Costalunga, big o di Fassa, Campitello, Canezei, Pordoi pass – 2250 meters high – Arabba, Piece di Lirinaflanga, Passo di Falsarrego – 2117 m. high – Costina d’Ampezzo, Lake of Misurina, Carbonin, Dobbiaco, Brunico, and Chiusa di Bressamone, the oldest town in Tyrol. The way is dotted with resorts more or less pretentious and good hotels are not infrequent. We have lunch at a modest one high in the mountains. The road is often a mass of serpentine curves and we several times encounter snow in our track. The views of the mountains are somewhat spoiled by the rain and heavy mists which float like clouds over the crests, but it gives the advantage of a dustless journey and everything looks so clean and green. At the inn where we lunch is a dead chamoix shot this morning, which they have fixed up in a natural position which at first fooled me into thinking it alive. Many people are out hiking and riding in spite of the unfavorable weather. It is really quite cold. Returned to hotel at 7 p.m.

August 3, 1929

Saturday. Sat in the park today and enjoyed the local color. Talked with some of the natives and all express the same feeling of unrest and discomfort with the present form of government. Even the children, whom we watch play, have serious, thoughtful faces. They use the German language in their games, but their elders regret that it cannot be taught in the schools. We have dinner in the garden restaurant across from the hotel, this being the first hotel of our acquaintance where meals are not served on the premises.

Thanks for reading “Traveling with Grace,” a series where we’re sharing (and annotating) posts from the travel diaries of Grace Amelia Hecht, native Baltimorean, b. 1897 and d. 1955. As mentioned in my introductory post transcription errors sometimes occur and I’ve made my best guesses where possible, denoted by [brackets]. – Rachel Kassman, marketing manager


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