Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Search for Friedrich von Schiller, or What I Did On My Vienna Vacation






When The Bay and I arrived at our hotel in the Vienna Old City, the desk clerk, Wolfgang, handed us a map and told us about some of the sights that we could see. Upon casually viewing the map, we couldn’t help but notice that there was the word Schiller and a – pointing directly at a statue, right next to the Opera House, see Exhibit 1. Now, I’m excited.


I say to Wolfgang, is that the statue of Friedrich Von Schiller, my distant cousin, and world famous (at least in our family, Austrian poet), see Exhibit 2.

He looks at the map, and says, yes, I think so. Now, I’m even more excited.

So off we go on our search for the sights, sounds and history of Vienna, and of course, our search for the statue of Cousin Fritz. Winding our way from the hotel to Schiller Street is not exactly a straight line. As a matter of fact, this is Vienna, pre-cars, pre-horse and buggy, and there is no such thing as a straight line. When we finally get to the Opera House, after a slight detour at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, we are a bit turned around, and aren’t sure where the statue is. So, we circle the Opera House. We do come upon a statue, but it ain’t Fritz, unless Fritz was actually a she. See Exhibit 3.


I drag The Bay around the Opera House in a circle, twice, not believing that I could possibly have missed Cousin Fritz, but alas, it looks like I did.


Very dejected, I grudgingly give up the search for Cousin Fritz and continue along the Ringstrasse on the way to the Hobsberg Castle. You remember those royals, they ruled everybody and everything for around 600 years until the world had enough of them at the end of WW I. Lo and Behold, on the way to the Castle, what do we see, it’s Schiller’s dear friend and intellectual sparring partner, Johann Wolfgang Goethe (Exhibit 4). Now I’m really convinced that we missed Cousin Fritz in his bronze monument. After an attempted sit down strike during which I demanded that we turn around and continue our quest for Cuz, The Bay informs me that if I don’t give up this obsession with Cousin Fritz and carry on to the Castle, I might be spending the rest of our stay in Austria camping out next Goethe.


Upon returning to the hotel and the internet, later that evening, I am shocked and embarrassed to learn that Cousin Fritz is no Austrian at all, he was actually born in W├╝rttemberg, which is located in southwest Germany. Further, the hunt for the great statue has occurred in the wrong city. The famous statue of Cousin Fritz is actually located in Weimar, Germany (Exhibit 5). Further, to add insult to injury there are replicas of the statue in various cities across the U.S. including San Francisco, Cleveland, Milwaukee, Syracuse and Anting. I've been to the majority of those cities. Who knew!


You learn something new everyday.