In December of 1971, I was living in Naples, Italy, where I had also spent a year previously, and a friend of mine who was at the time serving on the USS Cascade (AD-16) had a little Fiat 850 Spider. It was decided that we should take a road trip, and so we did. (How George managed so much shore leave was a mystery to me, but I wasn’t asking questions.) We drove up Italy through Cesena to Venice, past Udine to Vienna, across Austria to Lofer, down through the Romansch-speaking part of Switzerland, across the Lake Como area, and back. It was a wonderful trip.
I recently came across my slides from the journey, which I thought I had lost for years, and decided it was worth a post, if only so my friend, with whom I’m still in touch, could see them. The photography is hardly award-winning, but there are some pretty shots here and there.
Near Cesena, Italy
Venice was cold and foggy.
Canal with bridges
I would later return to Venice many times as a consequence of my employment, in much better weather and more pleasant seasons. It is one of my favorite places on earth.
As we proceeded north, we broke out of the fog as we approached the Alps in the vicinity of Udine. The views were glorious.
Clearing the Fog
Found on the wall in an osteria (guest house) on the road – the sign says, “We’ll give credit when this rooster crows.”
A church near Udine
It turns out our route took us past Villach and through Klagenfurt and Graz, cities where I would spend much time in 1975 although I had no idea that would be the case. Wolfsberg lies on the road between Klagenfurt and Graz.
I would also spend about 6 months in Vienna in 1976, but even as early as 1971 I had this fixation on Beethoven, whose piano sonatas I was laboriously learning to play, and Vienna was like making a pilgrimage to Mecca. The weather was gray and wintry for the most part, but for 20-year-old me, it was still a gas being there.
The Beethoven Monument, Vienna. You can tell by the trees that this was not taken in December; in fact, it was taken 5 years later when I returned to Vienna as a missionary. But it’s almost a clone of the picture that I took in 1971, albeit much clearer, so I allowed myself the substitution.
Der Allermeister in all his scowly grandeur
Beethovenhaus closeup – the plaque reads, “In this house lived Ludwig van Beethoven during the winter of 1819/20. The Missa Solemnis was written here.”
Vienna street with overpass
Donaukanal at low ebb
Vienna – Monument to Maria Theresa
Vienna – Parliament
Vienna – Karlskirche
We stopped for cocoa in this warm and cozy restaurant
Vienna – Skaters. I can hear Waldteufel’s “Skater’s Waltz” playing in the back of my mind…
Vienna – National Museum
Vienna – Monument to Richard Strauss
Vienna – Strauss monument closeup
Vienna – National Musem
Vienna – People’s Theatre
After Vienna, we headed west, and spent the night in Lofer, Austria – one of the most picturesque places I have ever seen. It still rivals many others, and often appears on Austrian travel adverts.
The hotel where we spent the night – 100 Schillings, breakfast included. That came to about $4.00, the Austrian Schilling being about 24 to the dollar at the time. 5 years later it was down to 15.
The Lofer church by day.
Church in Lofer at sunset.
Lofer – Haus Anna
Another view of the iconic Church
The following pictures were taken in Austria at various points, but I didn’t have the presence of mind to label them at the time. As a result, the precise locations are unknown.
We continued west through Austria toward Switzerland, and passed through the Romansch-speaking areas in the southeast where we encountered some lovely snow sculptures:
Polar bear with cubs
These don’t rival the ones you find up in Sapporo, Japan, but they were impressive enough for me at the time.
Home and garden near Lake Como
It was a trip not to be forgotten. George, I hope you enjoyed these memories as much as I did.
The Old Wolf has spoken.