31 July 2009

Wine and Castles

As I can't remember doing anything particularly noteworthy on Thursday, I'll skip ahead to Friday and our tour of the Wachau Valley, which stretches from Melk to Krems on the Danube River. On account of the fact that our AC adapter has been emitting sparks, however, I'm afraid our own pictures are temporarily unavailable, so you'll have to follow the links below to see pictures.

Our itinerary was simple. Drive down the valley on one side of the Danube and then back up on the other side. Stop and explore castles when we come upon them. Stop and buy another bottle of wine from whatever vineyard we happened to be passing when the previous bottle ran dry. Grüner Veltliner is the typical wine of the region.

Our first stop was Burgruine Aggstein, the ruins of a castle which was once the stronghold of a band of robber barons who liked to impose hefty tolls on passing river barges. The poor old Toyota van struggled to make the steep ascent, chugging along in second and sometimes even in first gear.

We stopped for lunch at a picnic table at the edge of a vineyard directly afterwards, where we sampled our first wine from the region, and then drove on toward Krems.

As we approached the town Sara noticed a magnificent looking building atop a hill overlooking the river, and Peter discovered from the map that this must be Stift Göttweig. Those of you who own the brilliant book The Bad Catholic's Guide to Wine, Whiskey, and Song may turn to page 72. Needless to say, we bought another bottle of wine.

Crossing the Danube at Krems and then driving back up river on the other side we came to Burgruine Dürnstein, the ruins of the castle which once held Richard Lionheart prisoner. He was captured by Margrave Leopold V of Austria as he was returning to England from the Third Crusade and held at Dürnstein.

Finally, we stopped to explore Burgruine Hinterhaus, another castle ruin, this time above the town of Spitz. I know nothing of the history of this one, but it did have a great tower which we were able to ascend. That may have made it Peter's favorite.

29 July 2009

The Ötscher

Next up was an assault upon the Ötscher, which at 1893 meters is one of the biggest mountains in our region of Austria. Peter, Sara, and I drove to Lackenhof at the base of the mountain, and from there reached the cross at the peak in just under 3 hours.

28 July 2009

Stift Melk

After taking a breather on Monday - we only walked to Schleierfalls outside of Gaming - we hit the road again on Tuesday for a visit to Melk Abbey, an impressive baroque Benedictine monastery dating to 1089 when Leopold II, Margrave of Austria, gave one of his castles to the monks.

The Abbey is superbly located on the Danube River.

And features a magnificent library.

26 July 2009

Salzburg on the Feast of St. Anne

Sunday, which was the feast of St. Anne, we left Munich early in order to make it to Mass at St. Sebastian's in Salzburg. After a glorious Liturgy, we had lunch and did the usual walking tour of Salzburg. We then took the funicular up to the fortress, and wandered around a bit. Here is a picture of the fortress from Mirabell gardens.

When we had seen everything that was to be seen in the fortress, we hiked along the mountainside until we came to the Augustiner Brewery, which came highly recommended to us by nearly every Bloomfield we have ever met. A few beers and schnitzels later, we left for a lovely stroll through Mirabell gardens, and then into the car for the journey home.

Sunday was also Christina Anne Poynter's birthday! So Happy Belated Birthday to you!

And Happy Name Day to all three of the sisters!

25 July 2009

Mad King Ludwig's Castles

On Saturday we drove south of Munich to visit the fairytale like castles of Mad King Ludwig.

A view of Neuschwanstein from Hohenschwangau.
Hohenschwangau from above.

The view of Neuschwanstein from the Marienbrucke would have been spectacular had it not been for the extensive scaffolding on that side.

24 July 2009


Friday it was off to Munich. First we stopped by some members of Bread of Life community near Munich to drop off our stuff. Two families had very graciously offered to give us a place to stay while we were in town.

We then rode the train into the city. We were all pretty ravenous at that point, so we went first to an open air market, grabbed some food, and then settled down to eat with huge mugs of beer to wash it down.

After lunch, we did a quick walking tour of Munich.

Maria was sleeping when we ate lunch in the market, and was quite hungry when she awoke. When asked what she wanted to eat, she quickly responded that she wanted a pretzel as big as her head.

Dinner was more beer. We went to the biggest beer hall in the world, of Oktoberfest fame, the Hofbräuhaus. A grand time was had by all. Here is Peter slamming down his liter mug of beer.

23 July 2009

Sankt Wolfgang

The place where we stayed in Sankt Wolfgang had a boat which they allowed us to use. We were out on the water for quite a few hours.

Peter rowed us out into the lake.

Maria watches as Daddy disappears with a splash.

22 July 2009

The Salzkammergut

On Tuesday we drove from Trumau to Gaming (via Mariazell) so that we could get an early start for our Wednesday drive into the Salzkammergut, the lake district of Austria South-East of Salzburg.

We first stopped in Hallstatt.

Our rooms in Sankt Wolfgang had lovely views of the lake.

Dinner that evening on the Wolfgangsee.

20 July 2009

Schloss Laxenburg

Schloss Laxenburg is one of the Hapsburg's imperial family palaces and it happens to lie quite close to Trumau. The highlight is the island castle in the middle of the palace gardens. All things considered, however, it may not have been worth the plague of mosquitoes that we endured there.

19 July 2009

7th Sunday after Pentecost (in Vienna)

After everybody's arrival on Friday and a quiet day inside on Saturday (it was raining), we drove to Vienna for the day on Sunday. The TLM at the FSSP church was a little bit disappointing in comparison to our experience of the same in Salzburg, but such is life I suppose. Then we had the usual tour of Vienna: Stephansdom, the Hofburg, the Opera House, gelato at Zanoni and Zanoni's. Peter and Sara had a look inside the Schatzkammer, the treasure collection of the Hapsburgs.

17 July 2009

Safe Arrival

Lisa and the kids made it safely back to Austria after their two packed weeks Stateside. After the relatively short drive to our new home in Trumau all three of them are fast asleep. Hopefully the jet lag wears off quickly, though, as Peter and Sara are arriving from Rome in less than four hours.

We still have no kitchen, but I did find a refrigerator, so at least the beer is cold!

14 July 2009

St. Bonaventure

Bishop, Confessor, and Doctor of the Church

There's been some progress on the apartment. We now have furniture, although the kitchen is still conspicuously absent. Who needs it, though? Bacon wrapped sausages turn out just fine on the electric griddle. The beer, however, was a touch warm...

13 July 2009

The New Place

This might be more interesting to Lisa, and maybe to Katie, than to most others...

First off, the kitchenless kitchen.

The living room / dining room.

The hallway.

Maria's bedroom.

KATIE'S ROOM / the guest bedroom,
where the kitchen things are patiently awaiting the arrival of the kitchen.

The master bedroom,
where my things are piled awaiting the arrival of furniture.

The bathroom.

Finally, the WC.

10 July 2009

Wir haben eine Wohnung!

After a two hour chat with Sebastian this afternoon, I have a set of keys in hand to an empty apartment here in Trumau. And I mean empty. The kitchen should be installed by Monday. That means that I'll have about a week to dig through the mountains of furniture that are piled up all around here after the move to pull out some furnishings for the place before Lisa and the kids return and Peter and Sara arrive on the 17th.

The Pope has written a new Encyclical Letter, by the way. It is dated 29 June, but released, I think, only on 7 July. It's called Caritas in veritate (Charity in Truth). I haven't read it yet, but am looking forward to doing so.

09 July 2009

Back in Trumau

Henri and I arrived back in Trumau around 2:30 AM, after our all day drive through Italy. The terrasse is as beautiful as ever, and a great place to continue my German studies, while inside the Schloss the work progresses.

It would seem that they've gotten as far as blowing out big holes in the walls where they want doors to be.

08 July 2009


The rest of my time in Norcia passed quietly and peacefully in a regular rhythm of prayer and study. On Wednesday morning I boarded the bus to Spoleto and then a train to Florence to meet Henri. En route, I enjoyed the beautiful Umbrian landscapes...

...including a great view of Assisi.

After meeting Henri in Florence, we stopped for two hours each in Padua and in Venice. Unfortunately, I don't have any good pictures from Padua, but here are a few from Venice. We approached by boat.

San Marco's was closed by the time we got there around 7:00 pm, but we were able to enjoy the splendid facade.

04 July 2009

American Independence Day

On July 4th, some extended family gathered at the family home in Michigan, and little Thomas met his godfather for the first time. Here he is with his godparents, Aunt Katie and Uncle Tom.

I'm told that the kids are enjoying themselves with their grandparents, uncles and aunts, et al. In Norcia, meanwhile, I began my study of German with some good coffee.

I also had dinner with the newly-weds, who seem to be doing very well for themselves there.