Fiber Arts

Day 7-Sept 29-Ach du lieber

Day 7-Sep 29-Thurs-Vienna, Austria

Norm and I were delighted to find a celebratory bottle of wine and a beautiful orchid awaiting us in our stateroom from his brother and sister-in-law, Jim and Marianne. Muchas gratias!

After breakfast onboard the ship, we were taken by bus from the ship to the old center of Vienna which is encircled by the Ringstrasse (parkway). When Emperor Franz Joseph (1857) determined that the fortification walls were no longer needed, he had them demolished and replaced them with an elegant boulevard that encircled Old Town Vienna.

Once there, we walked with a guide who told us about the history and architecture. Vienna, the seventh largest city in the EU with 1.8 million people and one of the largest German speaking cities that is not located in Germany. It is “The City of Music”, home to Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss, Liszt and Brahms among many. It’s most famous food is Wiener Schnitzel – a veal cutlet or pork pounded flat, coated in flour, egg, breadcrumbs, and then fried in butter. Also known for its Viennese Coffee-espresso infused with whipped cream and served in a normal sized cup.

Another interesting story: Franz Joseph, Emperor of Austria, was the oldest son of Maria Terese of the Habsburg family who had 16 children and ruled over the Austrian Empire. He married Cici. She was beautiful like Romi Schneider, unhappy like Princess Diana, rode horse like Don Giovanni, and assassinated like JFK, but with a knife).

Here are some photos to show some of what we saw.

Norm took a picture of this whimsical character and I googled the phrase to see that I might learn.

In 1679, Vienna was struck by the Great Plague and Augustin was a ballad singer and bagpiper, who toured the city’s inns entertaining people. The Viennese loved Augustin because of his charming humour in bitter times, and they called him “Lieber Augustin” (Dear Augustin). According to legend, once when he was drunk and on his way home he fell in the gutter and went to sleep. He was mistaken for a dead man by the gravediggers patrolling the city for dead bodies. They picked him up and dumped him, along with his bagpipes which they presumed were infected, into a pit filled with bodies of plague victims outside the city walls. Next day when Augustin woke up, he was unable to get out of the deep mass grave. He was shocked and after a while he started to play his bag pipes, because he wanted to die the same way he lived. Finally people heard him and he was rescued from this dreadful place. Luckily he remained healthy despite having slept with the infected dead bodies and Augustin became a symbol of hope for Viennese people. The story, already rendered by the preacher Abraham a Sancta Clara (1644–1709), lives on in the song, which is still popular in Austria. The tune is nearly identical to that of “Did You Ever See a Lassie?”, although “Oh du lieber Augustin” is longer and more melancholy than that song.
Gothic style cathedral in contrast to the Roman Baroque style we have seen more often.
A typical narrow walkway in Old Vienna.
Norm’s dessert at lunch.. Sacher Torte.

We returned to River Adagio ship for our lunch. The soups a delicious cream of cauliflower (Karfiolcremesuppe), weinerschnitzer, German potato salad, and a variety of vegetables for a salad. Our guide explained that wein means wine and is pronounced vine. Wien means Vienna and is pronounced veen.


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Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 6-Sep 28~Slovakia!

Day 6-Sep 28 (Wednesday)
Today was a day to segue to the river cruise. We boarded the bus at 8am and drove 4 hours through the Czech Republic to Bratislova, Slovenia. We ate a delicious lunch provided by Grand Circle in a restaurant usually used by the politically elite, and then took a walking tour of Bratislova which was behind the Iron Curtain until the fall of the Berlin Wall. On our drive, Mihai told us what life was like living under communist rule as a child. It was a fascinating account of his family’s struggle and of how people in general coped to survive. As we took our walking tour Mihai pointed out several lighthearted sculptures.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

Norm with a pig dressed as a knight; Norm with his namesake- Ritter means knight in German; Mary with a French soldier; our guide Mihai with the “charming Nazi”, based  on a real life Nazi whose girlfried was “disappeared” by the Nazis. From then on he walked the streets dress in a tail and top hat, a bitter and disillusioned Nazi.

And we learned what life was like when a King or Queen ruled. Queen Maria Teresa began her rule after her father died with no sons to inherit the crown. Sensing the unhappiness of her subjects, she married a royal prince from a neighboring province, making him King. She then had 16 children and married many of them off to neighboring royalty. Eventually, she ruled the largest kingdom ever because her children added land to her realm.

In the mid afternoon, we arrived in Vienna and boarded the River Adagio Cruise Liner. After getting settled for an hour, we met the crew at a meet and greet in the lounge and were given our marching orders for behavior aboard ship. We had a delicious dinner, getting to know more people. Our table mates tonight were from San Diego and Montana.

Tomorrow we tour Vienna and start our river cruise after dinner in the evening.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 5-Sep 27~just roamin’

Day 5-Sep 27 (Tuesday)~just roamin’

The tour group headed to Terezin Concentration Camp so Norm and I slept in and took the Metro back to the Old Town area at around noon.

Waiting for the metro! It isn’t easy to remember the station names… So many consonants. The decor tells us this is the “red” metro line.

We happened across a restaurant recommended by Cary neighbors. So we stopped for coffee, apple strudel and raspberry créme brulée.


Then we explored the Old Town square by the Astronomical Clock. Mihai recommended an art gallery that featured Anton Mucha, a famous Czech graphic artist.

Buy! Buy! Buy!

We thoroughly enjoyed the gallery and then walked around the Wenceslas Square where we spent some of Czech Crowns which won’t be usable after tomorrow. The next countries will all use Euros.

After a lunch stop in Bratislava, Slovakia, the bus  will take us to the Cantata Adagio, our river cruiser. See you on board!


Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 4 – Charles Bridge, Prague

Day 4-Sep 26 (Monday)


We are greeted in the lobby by Amadeus Mozart. The bar is called Amadeus Cafe and Bar.

We left as a group on the underground metro, arriving at Charles Bridge, named for the last Roman King, Charles IV. Prior to crossing the bridge on foot, we had a tour of the Lesser Town, an area surrounding the Castle District of yesterday, where Mihai gave us an overview of Czech history and government on the grounds of the government buildings. Then Mihai left us our on our own to explore the area further.

After a quick lunch of goulash soup in a bread bowl and some glasses of Czech Budweisr, we journeyed slowly across the very crowded bridge. It is a pedestrian bridge with tall gates at both ends which were used to keep enemies out as needed.

Charles Bridge Gate leading into Old Town section of Prague.

Along the length of the bridge are numerous statues of saints and many artisans ready to sell their wares.

View on Charles Bridge of Prague, the city of steeples.

I stopped in a sidewalk cafe for coffee and a rest while Norm explored a bit more, finding a riverside walkway and restaurant he felt would be a good location to return to in the evening.

Once across the bridge, we caught the Metro back for a bit of a rest. We arranged to attend a concert at St. Salvador Cathedral at the base of the Charles Bridge. The musicians were very skilled and talented. We thoroughly enjoyed the concert.

St. Salvador’s is built in the Baroque style of the Romans which replaced the Gothic style of the earlier rulers. We were on our own for dinner as we didn’t participate in the tour of Sychrov Castle some distance away that included dinner. We found a cafe at the Charles Bridge area and just steps away from the concert which gave us a spot to watch the lights come on at the Cathedral, Prague Castle and the Bridge.

Prague Castle, St. Vitus Cathedral, Charles Bridge at Night.  Prague, The Czech Republic     Photo by Norm Ritter

Appropriately, we enjoyed The Czech Special, which consists of roast pork, sweet red cabbage and dumplings, along with a glass of Reisling. Then we returned by Metro to the hotel. We set the alarm and got up at 3am to watch the presidential debate.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Day 3: Telling time and the Jewish Quarter

Day 3 -September 25 – continues.

Back on the bus, we were guided through a variety of sites, while making our way to Old Town. The Jewish Ghetto and the Astrological Clock were our destinations. Our guide presented an excellent description of how the clock works. If we were to watch it without the explanation, it would seem like a ripoff because it only animates for about 15 seconds. Understanding the symbolism makes all the difference.



  1. The Astrological Clock was designed and built in the Early 1400s, before Chris Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
  2. The top dial is the daily hourly  clock; the bottom clock delineates the seasons.
  3. The verticle hand actually has a golden hand to point out the hour.
  4. The green partial circle represents the earth – no Americas represented of course since it is pre Chris Columbus.
  5. Outer ring of 24 numbers delineate the hours of the day. 18 is at the top because their day ran from sun up to sub down; midnight was not a concept they yet embraced.
  6. We were there at 1pm, which should have been 19, yet it pointed to 18… Due to daylight savings time.
  7. The glochenspiel was pretty primitive and lasted for only about 20 seconds.

Norm and I now had free time until 4:30pm, so we stopped for a cup of coffee (beer) and an apple strudel.  I had a second coffee while Norm climbed the clock tower to get some good overview shots of the Old Town. Here are a couple of them.

(Be sure to click on an individual picture for a larger view and sometimes, commentary.)

The historical photo shows Hitler overlooking the courtyard from the balcony of the Astronomical Clock Tower at the start of WWII. The massive crowds filled the square below him, astonished that the Germans had rolled into Prague so easily. The Czechs thought they had fortified their borders sufficiently.

Later, we strolled the courtyard and enjoyed watching the activities. The bubble blower collected money for his show of bubbles prior to waving the huge wand in the air. Children as well as adults clapped to catch a bubble.


The ghetto history was also fascinating, and the Jewish Quarter lies adjacent to this area. During the days of the Black Plague, the King wondered why the Jews were not getting sick and dying. Of course, it was because they washed their hands and were forbidden from using the public baths by their religious customs. Not understanding hygiene, the King declared that they were the cause of illness, that they were introducing the sickness into the drinking water. The Jews had built a wall around their community to protect their culture and customs. The King declared they could not be outside their wall and made them wear yellow stars as identification. At one time there were 12000 Jews held captive within these walls they themselves had constructed. (Lesson: Don’t be eager to build a wall!) Their cemetary is 12 deep, six grave levels below ground and six levels above ground. There are seven temples within this area. We may return on our own to tour some of them.

Before we returned to meet with Mihai for a lesson using the metro, we stopped for a local treat in Wenceslas Market. It is called Trdelnik and it consists of bread dough wrapped around a wooden rod and grilled over a wood fire. Yum!

Now to rest feet before tripping lightly over to the metro station!

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

DAY 3: a castle, a cathedral and a ghetto

Day 3 ~ September 25, 2016

A very filling and delicious breakfast is included in our stay at the Don Giovanni. It consisted of cereals, fruits, juices, coffee, tea, bacon, sausages, eggs in a variety of styles, breads, desserts… More than needed, but a nice selection.

We boarded a tour bus to see the Castle District and Old Town. Then we followed the tour guide on foot (ouch!) to view St. Vitus Cathedral and the Prague Castle where the Czech Prime Minister was in residence today.

St. Vitus Cathedral is an integral part of the castle where it served as the King’s personal cathedral. We toured only the courtyards. We will tour a cathedral in Cologne that has the window this one was modeled on…. So later… Because it was Sunday there were services and we could not tour it.

These soldiers were just doing their jobs… No fancy ceremony. Colorful uniforms, though. The red “kit” car is used as a touring car, just like the old  horse and buggy. Perhaps this what NYC needs to do!

PS: The hotel connection is slow, publishing is tedious. Perhaps it will be better in Austria. Patience needed on this end! More to come about this day.

Ciao for now!

Fiber Arts

Here we GO again!

Come along with us to seven countries in Europe over a 23 day period: United Kingdom (Heathrow Airport only), The Czech Republic (5 days), Slovakia (1/2 day), Austria (3 days), Germany (10), The Netherlands (3), and Brussels (2). We’ll travel by air, bus and small river cruise ship.

Day 1 and 2- September 23 and 24

We left Raleigh on Friday, September 23 at 6:30pm – many thanks to Joan and Terry for the ride to RDU  and the send-off. We flew directly to Heathrow Airport in London, arriving there at 6:30am European time, but midnight our time.

Sunrise over London. Bright light is at the end of the wing. Photo by Norm Ritter
Sunrise over London. Bright light is at the end of the wing. Photo by Norm Ritter

After a 3 hour layover, we continued to Prague arriving at 2pm, where a Grand Circle representative met us and delivered us to our hotel, the Dorint Don Giovanni. After a welcome talk from Mihai, our guide, we unpacked and rested in our room until dinner. We met up with Mihai for directions for tomorrow. Then he took us for a short orientation walk to point out possible restaurants for the evening. We gathered with four others for a meal at Zelivárna.

Pilsner is a Czech beer, so we all toasted to a joyous trip. Hungry from all the travel and excitement, we each ate a hearty meal.

Norm had his favorite – pork chops – with crushed potatoes. I had a pork hock with pickled vegetables, horseradish and mustard. Pork is the mainstay of the Bohemian diet… Healthier versions to follow! Let’s hope!

Ciao for now!



Fiber Arts

Benefit Auction … soon!

*2016-5 Prairie Breezes-SAQA Auction

Prairie Breezes

Every year I make a 12 x 12″ art quilt and donate it to SAQA. The money raised is used to support art shows and pays for shipments of art quilts all over the world to be shown in collections. Click here to see all of the quilts, or click here to enter my name and find my donation, Prairie Breezes, pictured above.

Watercolor 3 with selected areas – I like the top right best.

This piece started as a random painting from which I selected a small portion, enlarged it and then pieced and quilted. I like the colors and the movement in it reminded me of the fields of grain and ditches filled with a variety of wild flowers and weeds around the Minnesota farm where I grew up.  I used my own hand-dyed fabrics, cut the shapes and worked from the bottom up, creating layers to arrange the design. It is machine appliquéd and quilted.

SAQA’s signature fundraising event starts September 16! Bidding decreases every day until it reaches the $100 level.

From the SAQA web site, here is the auction information:

“The auction will kick-off at 2pm EDT on September 16 with Diamond Day bidding – an early bird opportunity to purchase ANY quilt for $1000. The 12″ x 12″ Auction Quilts will be divided up into three sections for bidding purposes. Each week, a different section of quilts will be available for bidding, starting at $750 and further reduced throughout the week.

This is your chance to own beautiful, unique art quilts by some of the world’s finest artists. Plus, your purchases help increase the recognition for art quilts and the artists who make them while supporting SAQA’s exhibitions, publications, and education outreach.”

The 2017 SAQA Conference “Creation to Curation” will be held April 27-30 in Lincoln, Nebraska. This will be a joint conference with the International Quilt Study Center and Museum.   I am hoping to attend this conference because it will include the museum which I have been wanting to visit for several years.