Travels with Grace: On to Prague

Posted on July 9th, 2019 by

Welcome to this week’s segment of our 2019 #TravelTuesday series: Traveling with Grace. Today we follow along as Grace heads into Prague during the summer of 1929.


August 18, 1929

Gellert Hotel, vintage postcard. Via.

Spent some time in the pretty gardens of St. Gellerts baths and enjoyed watching the bathers in their very striking costumes and the waves in the pool are quite novel. A fine big hotel is operated here. On the hill opposite is a chapel in a natural grotto. Services broadcast tonight.


August 19, 1929

“What to see in Austria” travel poster, c. 1920s. Via.

We leave Budapest at 9 a.m. The city is in gala array, fan bedecked, and bunting hung, for St. Stephens day tomorrow. At the station we see peasants coming in droves all laden with heavy packs as if bringing all their provisions for a week. On the train they rent a radio earphone plugged in the compartment for about 25 cents and music is broadcast as far as the frontier. It was very warm in Budapest but gets much cooler as we near Vienna, arriving in the latter place at 2 p.m.

We go to Daniel’s for tea and them walk along the Kohlmarket where the shops are most attractive and view the interesting monument of the Trinity or Pestsaule erected by Leopold I as a thanks offering for deliverance from the plague about 1687. It was designed by Bermacini and is supposed to represent a cloud inhabited by an angel choir surmounted by a sunburst representing the Holy Ghost upheld by the Father and Son. I never saw so many beggars as are in Vienna. Tonight, I met a very interesting artist Mme. Schaetzel of Paris, at the hotel.


August 20, 1929

Reproduction, black cat vintage travel poster, Prague. Via.

Tuesday. Leave Vienna at 8 a.m. The train takes us through pretty farm country intersected frequently by lakes and rivers, arriving in Prague in a drenching rain at 2:30 p.m. Locate at Esplanade Hotel.


August 21, 1929

Bohemian National Museum, 1929. Via.

Wednesday. The weather is still disagreeable. We take a short walk, see the Bohemia National Museum (imposing exterior) and monument to Wenceslaus, 1st King of Bohemia. Then visit the clinic of the Prague general hospital. Very crude looking compared with ours. Dr. Merl very kind.


August 22, 1929

Thursday. We take a carriage this morning and ride through the Baumgarten, Prague’s beautiful park. It is quite natural, hilly and large in area. One section is devoted to flowers of which there are some beautiful varieties. Then we continue out through the new residential suburbs of Bubenec and Dejuice where the wealthy citizens have lovely garden villas. Prague is very large in extent, claims two million inhabitants. It is divided by the Moldau River, which flows into the Elbe, and joined by twelve fine bridges. This afternoon we take private auto and visit some of the venerable institutions of this very old and interesting city. We see the Powder Tower; Charles University; statue of Rabbi Lev, a renowned scholar of astronomy about which study he wrote many books and also helped fight against the Swedes. The statue, very unusual in treatment, occupies a prominent place on the cornice of the new Town Hall building. It is at the beginning of the old Jewish ghetto, where there dwelt six thousand Jews.

A view of the Velkodvorská (Grand Court) Synagogue, also called the Bassevi Synagogue. Via.

Here are two synagogues, one five hundred years old, the other fifteen hundred years old. The women were not allowed inside but had a separate building where they could open the windows and hear the services without seeing. There is a clock in this section bearing the Hebrew numerals and hands moving from right to left. The Jewish cemetery is the oldest in Europe, the tombstones black with age and many deep sunk in the ground. The oldest, that of Sara Katz, dates from year 606. Many of them bear crude images of animals whose names the Jews were forced to adopt by decree of King Joseph II, as a distinguishing mark.

Old Jewish cemetery, Prague, 1929. Via.

In front of the old Town Hall, where the Unknown Soldier is buried, we watch the astronomical clock, with its complicated devices for marking off the hours, days, months, seasons, etc., strike the hour of three. Three of the twelve apostles follow Christ before two windows which swing open as the clock begins to strike, then a skeleton pulls the string for the cock to crow three times. Nearby is the John Hus monument with striking group of large bronze figures on a granite base. We see the Parliament building and cross the oldest stone bridge, Charles IV, six hundred years old, on which are thirty statues, one of which represents Christ encircled with an inscription in Hebrew gilded letters, about which diverse legends cluster. Another remarkable group illustrates St. Wenceslaus freeing the slaves. At one end of the bridge is a beautiful Gothic memorial to King Charles IV. There are many picturesque old town gates and towers.

Hradcany castle district of Prague, 1929. Via.

We ride through a section occupied by the former private palaces of the nobility now converted for the most part into foreign legations and state ministries, and up on the hill where stands the beautiful old Castle of Prague and the Cathedral of St. Vitus, one of the finest I have seen anywhere, in pointed Gothic with flying buttresses and gargoyles. The afternoon sun pouring through the lovely stained-glass windows casts rainbow hues upon the pavement. I notice two pretty peasants entering here most attractively garbed, one in yellow, the other in a pink skirt of stiff brocaded satin with white brocaded silk kerchiefs on their heads. From the castle hill we enjoy a fine panorama of the city, the great number of steeples, said to be one hundred, impressing the observer. From the nearby bell tower of Loretto church we hear the sweet carillon toll the hour of five.

Left: Interior of St. Vitus, c. 1929. Via. Right: Golden Lane postcard, 1910. Via.

In the quaint little Zlata Ulicka, or Golden Lane, we have the pleasure of looking into several homes, the smallest I ever saw; from the rear they look out upon the castle gardens. In one room, 4×6 feet and about 6 feet high, four people live. They sleep on a high feather bed and a couch. It is immaculate and contains some colorful examples of needlecraft. There is only one other room, a kitchenette, smaller still, about 2×4 feet. Around the castle grounds is a crenelated wall because, so the story goes, they were dying of hunger for lack of employment and built this wall as a means to obtain food.

“A romanticizing vista of pre-Hussite Vyšehrad from a lithograph by A. Pokorný, made during the second half of the 19th century.” Via.

We ride through several new suburban sections, where building is proceeding at a brisk pace where three years ago there were only fields Some of the houses are of eccentric cubistic design and some have designs of birds, flowers, etc. appliqued on stucco which remind me of material all over embroidered. One street is named for Charlotte Masaryk, deceased wife of the president and her bust appears in marble in a niche on one of the houses. The Komensky memorial is another of the fine statuary groups with which the city abounds. There are several islands in the river. Some of the old houses along the banks are standing right in the water and as one looks down from the bridge one catches vistas strongly reminiscent of Venice. Male Namesti is the center of the most ancient part of Prague and the lower parts of some of the houses date from the 12th and 13th centuries. In Vysehrad we see the fortifications of the old Citadel of the 17th century with the Tabor and the French gates. The burying ground of some of the famous men and women of this country lies here. We return to the hotel via the new quarter, Karloske Vinohrady where are the National Theater and some fine museums and libraries.


August 23, 1929

Hrad Karlstejn – resting place of Charles IV. Via.

Friday. We go by automobile to Karlsteyn where a large, spruce-forested park and on a commanding height stands the old, fortified medieval stone castle of Charles IV of whom there are so many reminders in Prague. The cornerstone was laid in the XIII century. There are chapels lined with semiprecious stones and fine examples of old mural paintings. Kettner called today.


August 24, 1929

Monument to Woodrow Wilson, Prague. Via.

Saturday. Today we sit in the pretty little park named for Woodrow Wilson. Tonight Mr. and Mrs. Kettner and their two sons spend some time with us.


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: Budapest

Posted on July 2nd, 2019 by

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


August 11, 1929

Germany Baden-Baden Das Kurhaus, Echte Photo, AK. Via.

Sunday, Vienna. We take the electric train for Baden this morning, a ride of a little over an hour. Our pleasure is rather marred by the rain. The Kurhaus gardens are very pretty interspersed with flowers, wooded glades, monuments, covering the mountain side. Perched on high is a round observatory overlooking the countryside. In the Kurhaus is a fine marble salon with a huge fountain whence the surplus water is dispensed. Tonight, colored lights play on a large fountain in the square near our hotel.


August 12, 1929

Left Vienna at 11:05 a.m. On way pass the beautiful town palace of the Rothschilds. Otto Kahn of New York also has a fine residence here which he occupies (according to Dame Gossip) when Jeritza is in town. The trip to Buda-Pest takes five hours and it is very hot. When nearing it we come in sight of the Danube where geese and horses are bathing with the people.


August 13, 1929

Hotel Dunapalota, 1918. Via.

We are located at the hotel Duna Palota one of the nicest thus far encountered. In the evenings there is a gypsy orchestra playing in the garden where we dine and the music is lovely. This morning we go out with a lady guide and ride around Buda, the newer and higher town on the west side of the river. We see the Petrofi monument, many beautiful museums, the fine Central Market Hall where the most abundant and varied produce is for sale. Hungary was formerly almost exclusively agricultural but now they are developing many industries. Here as in Vienna they are very bitter about Wilson’s 14 points and the Trianon treaty and feel that they have been raped. While Austria’s population has been reduced from 56 million to 6 million, Hungary’s has been reduced from 20 odd million to 7 odd.

Hungary Budapest Hotel St. Gellert Artificial Wave Thermal Bath Old RP Postcard. Via.

We next visit the Gellert’s mineral baths adjoining a fine hotel. In the huge swimming pool lined with blue tiles artificial waves are produced by an electric device. A beautiful bronze statue of St. Gelleret upholding a cross stands up on the hill where he suffered martyrdom 1000 years ago for introducing Christianity into the country. We enter the new section of the royal castle (27 years old) and visit a number of the rooms: the walls are mostly marble lined, each room different in color and pattern, the floors beautifully inlaid, the chandeliers of carved wood gilden and in the state ball room they are solid silver and crystal. In the smaller rooms the walls are covered with the same velvet brocade which upholsters the furniture and forms the window draperies. There are many interesting portraits of the royal family and the many ancestral castles, also some handsome tapestries and large pieces of Sevres and Meissen. But it is not overcrowded. The exterior is very imposing. On one side is a fine group of bronze statues with animals of the chase in most life-like attitudes, King Mathias dominating the group. On the other side is a broad staircase descending in terraces to a garden below in the center of which is a statue of Eugene of Savoy on horseback. From the top is a fine view across the Danube. Then we ride up to the Coronation Church surrounded by a group of very imposing structures including the Holy Trinity Monument and Fisher’s Ramparts through the openings of which is framed the lovely Gothic Parliament Building opposite in Pesth. Then we cross one of the large suspension bridges (there are four or five) which spans the river in a single span said to be copied from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Hungarian parliament building. Via.

This afternoon we see the beautiful monument to Vörösmarty who wrote the national hymn. He is surrounded by expressive figures representing all classes of the people. Also monuments to Frances Deale and Stephen Szechnyi. Then we go into the huge Parliament Buildings, handsome as a palace. The staircase is most magnificent. All colors of marble are used in its construction (it took 17 years to build) and there are lovely windows with coats-of-arms and national heroes done in panels of stained glass. Also, huge oil paintings of legendary subjects, battle and other historic scenes. We enter the chamber of the Lords and of commons, the reading and lunchrooms, the large round room where the Regent convenes the new Parliament when both houses meet together. The decorations are very fine. The place of the assassinated Count Tissa has remained empty since his death, the seat having been taken out as a memorial. Also, in the square monuments have been erected to the lost provinces and the flag remains always at half-mast as a sign of mourning.

We ride through the lovely park on St. Margaret’s island where there is a fine swimming pool with a capacity for 40,000 people. There is a natural hot sulphur spring in the park which has been known to flow for thousands of years and fine bathing establishments, restaurants, a hotel, tennis courts where one can play in bathing suits, a polo field, etc. I notice in the city the women of the lower classes wear no hats, but a kerchief tied around their heads. We see one fine synagogue.


August 14, 1929

Start out with guide this morning. See court of justice and beautiful memorial group of Kossut and his ministers. We ride along several fine residential avenues (see home of Vanderbilt, Czechnyis), and enter the beautiful city park, at the portal of which is a semicircular marble colonnade with colossal figures of all of the rulers of Hungary in bronze and below each a tablet in bas relief describing some events in their reigns. Before this is the grave of the unknown soldier and a cavalry officer always stands at salute on guard. On either side of the entrance to the park stands a fine museum, one of which houses the art collection. Just within the gates is an artificial lake used for boating in summer and in winter ice machines keep it always ready for ice skating. Beside the lake are erected a most picturesque group of buildings modeled after famous old Hungarian castles in different parts of the kingdom. One of these houses the agricultural museum. The park contains a number of other fine buildings used for exhibition purposes, some pretty statues, one of George Washington erected by Hungarian-Americans, botanical gardens and a zoo modeled after Hagenbecks in Hamburg. There is also a large medicinal bathing establishment.

This afternoon we visit a factory where lovely Hungarian jewelry is made, also silverware, all copied from antiques. Also see some of the very colorful Hungarian embroideries. Then take a lovely ride up to St. John’s Hill to enjoy the fine panoramas of Buda-Pesth and the Danube. Visit St. Stephen’s church, a large modern structure. On St. John’s Hill is a large observations tower, memorial to Queen Elizabeth beloved by the Hungarian people, who used to frequent this spot.


August 15, 1929

Waterfall on Margaret’s Island, 1928. Via.

Spend this afternoon on Margaret’s Island which is crowded, this being a holiday. It is quite a sight watching the bathers on the strand. We see a number of peasant women barefooted, kerchiefs on head, purple dresses with voluminous skirts under which show dozens of red petticoats like old fashioned ballet dancers. Tonight, we have dinner at a nice Jewish restaurant – Neiger’s – afterwards go to a large café where there is a good Gypsy band and then we go to a fine cabaret – Jardin de Paris – where there are a variety of excellent numbers until 1:30 a.m. The people are much in evidence on the streets and in the park at this hour of the morning. Mr. Weiss escorts us.


August 16, 1929

Spend part of the day in zoological gardens and tonight go up on the roof garden of the hotel, of which they are quite proud as they consider it so up-to-date and Americanized – they call this hotel the Waldorf-Astoria of Budapest – and from here we have a wonderful view of the city which is very brightly illuminated. In Buda, across the river, the old citadel at one end and Fischer’s ramparts at the other, stand out brilliantly lighted by a system of concealed lamps which have the same effect as a searchlight. A jazz orchestra plays and sings.


August 17, 1929

Saturday, Budapest. Sat in one of the parks with which the city is generously sprinkled. A band plays and it is interesting to watch the people, especially the peasants in their colorful and numerous skirts, who use it as a thoroughfare. A woman comes around with a basket of mammoth pretzels. Tonight Mr. Weiss takes dinner with us after which we take a ride on the island where the hundreds of lights from the many restaurants make it look like a veritable fairy-land. We go to another cabaret in another part of the city near the zoo. There is a good trained dog act in which one dog walks a tightrope. The natives eat plenty of bread and drink quantities of beer. Vendors of flowers and cheap souvenirs abound.



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: 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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