Schonbrunn Palace - Thursday Afternoon, June 13

At Gary's insistence, I went by myself on the side trip for which we had previously signed up to Schonbrunn Palace.  After a short bus ride, our small group was deposited at the front of this immense building and introduced to our guide Carolina.  She was able to obtain tickets for an earlier entry into the castle than originally planned, so we set off immediately.

It was disappointing to learn that photography is not permitted inside Schonbrunn, but it did allow me to concentrate on all the excellent history that Carolina conveyed to us during our tour.  This included a fascinating tidbit about an American connection to the Palace as we experience it today: When the decision was made in the early 20th century to update Maria Theresia's summer home with electric lighting, Thomas A. Edison was charged with designing a wiring system to accomplish this enormous task in as unobtrusive a manner as possible.  We were able to observe how well he succeeded; the wiring on the original lavish chandeliers and wall sconces is barely perceptible unless you know exactly what you are looking for...

There was an endless succession and variety of opulent decorative styles in evidence as we passed from one room to the next, depending upon the size and purpose of the room in question. From a room at the rear of the building's second floor, we looked out on the grand expanse of lawn and garden that stretches from the Palace to the Glorieta, a sort of Imperial-sized "folly" to which the 170-kilo Empress was carried on fine summer mornings to enjoy her breakfast.  (For the metrically challenged among us, that translates to 375 pounds!  I suddenly didn't feel quite so guilty about that chocolate muffin I had had for my breakfast.)

At the conclusion of this latest episode of artistic sensory overload, I spent some time in a gift shop that was no less grand than its surroundings, and then meandered over to a small cafe for a bottle of water and a soft pretzel before heading outside toward the bus that would ferry me and my companions back to the Ritz.  I have to admit to being somewhat half-hearted in my approach to the afternoon's activities in light of Gary's mishap, so I was anxious to get back and see how he was faring.

Back in the room, he was ensconced in the huge bed with an icepack on his knee and a story of the House Physician's visit to examine him.  This older gentleman (who evidently was quite the character) had wanted to have him taken by ambulance to a hospital for x-rays to determine if more than a sprain or strain was involved, but Gary wasn't up for that one little bit.  (Ladies in my reading audience, we all know about men and doctors, right?!?)  However, the doctor had left some information about a topical analgesic, and so I went for a short hike to the nearest Apoteke (Pharmacy) to obtain this for the patient.

I won't go into the details of the various conversations I had with Alex and Jacob pursuant to our options for the rest of the tour in the event Gary wasn't able to navigate on his own, but they provided us with several options.  Happily, the topical that the doctor recommended, along with keeping the knee iced and elevated, had a better-than-hoped-for effect, and Gary was able by next morning to put weight on the leg and get around (S-L-O-W-L-Y) under his own steam.  Hallelujah!  

We are off to Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, on Thursday.  Even if this little setback means that only one of us can participate in walking tours and the like, we will still be able to finish this travel marathon.

More later - Auf wiedersehen!


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