...my DH, Joe, met me at Heathrow and we were off to Züich to begin our twice postponed ‘Sentimental Journey’ to visit friends we’d made in ‘69/’70, spend time in the Austrian town where his dad was born and, this time, I hoped to meet-up with up 5 Pemberleans.
Had a good time reminiscing with our old friends there and they took us into Germany to a lovely island garden owned by a Swedish aristocrat. Beautiful flowers and a wedding where the groomsmen made an arch of tennis rackets for the bride & groom to exit through! Then the B & G batted a few balls back and forth in the ‘castle’ courtyard! We seem to come across brides wherever we travel. What a treat.
On to Innsbruck by train and a stay in a small hotel in ‘old town’ that could have been a museum of folk art. Our first Janeite, Liccie, cycled to our hotel and met us and gave us a tour. We climbed to the top of a tower and had a wonderful view of the historic part of town & the mist shrouded Alps during a brief let up in the rain.
Joe and Liccie in Innsbruck
From there we went to a delightful bistro, Café Toscana (seit 1979) operated by 2 music (mainly opera) lovers. The walls were covered to the ceiling with posters of musicians both classical and jazz, some signed. Maria Callas, Cecilia Bartoli and others. Excellent food, good conversation and a terrific drink called ‘holundersaft’ made by the owner from what we, much later, translated into the blossoms of an elderberry bush. Discovered that the reason Liccie had failed her driver’s test the first time was that she “applied logic to multiple choice questions she wasn’t sure of.” She gave me the name of an Austrian writer, Adalbert Stifter, whose book Brigitta has been translated into English. We talked about more books & movies & her pending trip to Ohio on a Fulbright Scholarship. You all must know by now that she’s in Bowling Green and thriving and driving and meeting other Pemberleans.
From the bistro we went to Café Katzung for coffee. It was a complete 180° turn with stark white walls, sleek red upholstery & very thin waitresses in black; v modern, v dramatic, v good coffee. After more book talk, we walked her back to her bicycle. Hoped to spend more time with her the next day but she had her impending 2nd go at her driver’s test to study for and the weather was not promising so we picked up our rental car and headed for Vienna.
We spent time with Joe's cousin in a small town and one day drove in to Vienna to meet up with Marta and visit with her during a short respite from the rainstorms. She arranged to meet us at the parking lot for Hermesvilla in the outlying area of Vienna. She said we couldn’t miss her in her T-shirt with 3 bald men on it. She was right! We walked along a path by a field of wildflowers to get to the villa to see an exhibit of garden art – paintings & etchings of Eden, palace gardens, etc. One painting of an outdoor feast reminded her & me of the elegant picnic on Box Hill in Emma3.
We located the outdoor tables of the restaurant at the villa and had a v good lunch. In addition to the usual JA, books, movies chat, she was very enthusiastic about her job and was expecting to visit NYC in connection with it (which she has since done). From there we drove to the Gloriette at Schloss Schönbrunn. Waited our turn behind Japanese tourists to have our photo struck in front of one of the horses in the giant fountain. Chose that one because a patch on him/her/it looked for all the world like a huge band-aid. Alas, it doesn’t show very clearly in the picture.
Marta & Peggy in Schönbrunn, Vienna
We then hopped onto the underground and came out in downtown Vienna by the Opera. Joe opted to sit & sip & watch the passing parade (too much JA? – naa, it was a hot day) so Marta & I strolled along the walking street and watched the street performers and ended up in St. Stephen’s. Beautiful! 2 hours slipped by and we finally retrieved Joe and, when we’d fetched the car, we drove Marta home & following her good, instructions found our way out of town.
The storms continued and, due to severe floods, we had to give up our plans to visit Prague & Dresden, alas. That gave us more time in Berlin where we walked miles & miles & miles and then headed for Copenhagen.
Hanne and I had met at the Annual Meeting and I was delighted she has some time to spare for us. We spent a glorious day with her & Malene. They met us at our hotel and Hanne drove us to Karen Blixen’s home, which is now a museum. Hanne is a fountain of information about KB and being there with her was such a treat. Unfortunately, I can’t find my picture of the three of us, but Hanne posted one in her 24 August report of our get together .
We next went to the harbor where the Little Mermaid sits forlornly on her rock. Saw another lovely bride with a stunning bouquet and watched a grandmother make her way across slippery, seaweed covered rocks to get near the small statue for a photo op!
Turns out Hanne & Marta were unaware of each other’s presence in Copenhagen and planned to get together again in the near future. Marta teaches younger children that eventually go on to the sort of upper grade classes that Hanne teaches. There were some laughs about that as there are often complaints by the upper teachers about whether the lower teachers prepare the students well enough to continue on.
After getting ever so slightly lost and a questionable u-turn through the grounds of the Christians Borg (palace) Hanne dropped us off, but Marta remained to have dinner with us. She lead us down ‘Stroget’, the walking street, and through an arcade to the 1st Italian restaurant in Copenhagen, Ristorante Pizzeria Italiano. Well, why not? Delicious veggie pizza and lots of travel, JA, books & movies talk and people-watching from our sidewalk table. Then we took a long walk along Nyhavn to a good ice cream stand. Soccer fans from the big inter-city match that was just over were sitting, standing, drinking and celebrating all over the sidewalk along the waterfront. Malene found out that her team had won and she was looking forward to ragging her students, who were supporters of the losers. Walked her to the end of her block and said a reluctant farewell.
Malene in Copenhagen
We spent time with friends in Stockholm and then met with our last Pemberlean there. Kaarin spotted my RoP tote bag when we walked into her place of business and we were off.
Peggy & Kaarin in Stockholm
Strolled along the quay to a glass elevator that goes up to a walkway connected to the top of a hill. From there we could see lots of Stockholm and the spires of all but one of the 8 central Stockholm churches Or is it 8 out of 9?. Lots & splendid, anyway! We then continued on to the Restaurant Pelikan for ‘authentic home-style Swedish food’ and it was. Yum. In addition to JA etc. chat, we heard about her adventures as a result of her parents’ work taking her twice to Africa to live. She very thoughtfully gave me with a copy of Northanger Abby in Swedish as a memento that, according to her inscription, she didn’t expect me to try to read. Good thing, but what a treasure!
It was a very boisterous restaurant so we had coffee at an outdoor café where it was easier for us to hear each other. Kaarin also told us about her upcoming trip to NYC with her mom. You’ve probably read the report of that and seen their picture, too.
Because we travel by the seat of our pants, with no reservations except for the first night and (usually) the last, our very loosey-goosey schedule creates it’s own adventures. Getting together with these interesting, lovely ladies required a lot of searching for cyber-cafes, the occasional gentleman’s bedroom as you may have noted in my post at Ramble back in August, but did I tell you about the T-shirt shop where we stopped for directions and I ended up using the owner’s computer in his office? Of necessity there was a lot of e-mailing back & forth and fine tuning times & places. Thank heavens for Webbox, a site where we could recover our mail. Of course the results of it all was to enrich our memories of our trip beyond measure.
If any more delightful, charming Austen fans care to meet Joe, he’s advised me to send them in to the library for he’s quite at his leisure!