Together Towards A Better World For Children, Adolescents and Families was
the opportunity for many to take a little more time getting there hitting favorite
destinations along the way. For some, Vienna became the starting point to seeing
other places such as Budapest. And then there was Vienna itself, a city which offers
so much on so many levels it almost became a distraction from conferencing itself.
An old world city with new world transportation systems, a former royal city of palaces
and parks now a cutting edge republic. This page explores aspects of well, being a
Budapest: taking the sun along the Danube
Self care, recreation, relaxing, exercising, learning, professional development and new experiences all have a place in child and youth care work. Each restores
the body, soul and mission that drives the work forward. Attending conferences and most notably, major conferences tend to tick all these boxes in one go.
Consider setting aside a conference fund just for this purpose using regular installments. Airline points, hotel loyalty points and early planning can made it all
even more possible.
|All rights reserved Council of Canadian Child and Youth Care Associations/Garth Goodwin 1995-2016
Vienna was the capital and center of the Holy
Roman Empire and the Habsburg dynasty for
several centuries. Assassinations, suicide and
the WWI brought the monarchy to an end.
This resulted in a lot of royal real estate
throughout the city and a determined effort to
maintain and tell the story of the second last
Emperor Francis Joseph and his wife
Elizabeth, fondly known as Sisi. Tours are
offered of their winter and summer palaces,
the Hofburg and Schonbrunn Palace,
respectfully along with the crown jewels, silver
and furnishings. The Republic of Austria
functions borrowing part of these incredible
spaces and the silverware leaving the
remainder as a testament to monarchy itself
and an incredible tourist draw. Napoleon,
Mozart, Marie Theresa and Maximilian are
some of the names bound up with Austrian
history. It all gives one an appreciation of
being the humans at the center of such a
world tucked into your suite of rooms and
expected to perform over the rituals of office.
This writer's first and daily impression of Vienna proper was of its canyon like streets and avenues.
Much of Vienna predates elevators being built at a time when folks walked up stairs to their homes.
Buildings tended to be 5 to 7 stories high, often elaborately decorated and usually with businesses on
the first floors. I noted the place across from my hotel dated itself from 1740. Grand apartments had
carriage ways leading to interior courtyards. Once mews, they have given away to natural spaces or
parking. Being a prairie boy, after awhile I began to miss horizons. Buses and trams connect the city
to subways which whisk one to the various regions of the city including the outskirts where there was
indeed horizon. Two such regions stuck out. The one was the high end shopping quarter. Park
Avenue and Knightsbridge have nothing on Vienna. Here the carriage trade involves real carriages
ambling about the luxury stores of legend. Only pedestrians and carriages allowed which added to the
charm. The second was the Prater, a former imperial hunting ground given to the people of Vienna by
the Emperor of the day 250 years ago for their amusement. The Viennese took this quite literally and
have built a permanent amusement park of such a size and scale, it has to be seen to be believed.
Of special note was the respect accorded horses and dogs. The Royal Riding School pampers their
stallions. Carriage horses wear hats and trot about with mechanical diapers which save a lot of
headaches. Water stations greet them at halts. But it was the primacy of the dog that got my attention.
They quite literally have the right of way in the city and are everywhere. Most noteworthy there was no
evidence of them being anywhere with the exception of the corners of buildings which appear to have
sprung a leak at day's end. Like their owners they ride along on whatever is being ridden at the time.
Aside from the subways and trams, the major waterway of history has to be the Danube which threads its way through
Vienna and on to Hungary, yet another former Habsburg nation. Its stone walls attract the Viennese who turn out to just
sit at, fish, row, paddle and cruise the river. Popular spots include what this writer will call pop up beaches. A crib is built
and filled with sand for volleyball in some instances but mostly for beach chairs catered to by nearby lounges and often
with entertainment. Cruises offer tours, beverages and meals to folks who wish to take in Bratislava, the capital of
Slovakia, yet another Habsburg holding and the only capital city bordered by two other independent nations. Swans,
egrets and river tour boats share the river with the cruisers. Along the way, you pass through locks and see a container
port literally in the heart of Europe.
Two and a half hours from Vienna by high speed rail sits yet another Habsburg legacy on the Danube. Buda is on the left and Pest on the
right. It is the capital of Hungary and has a capital building with its renaissance glory may just outshine all others. Certainly, the city does
with its architecture, bridges, history, associations and above all, total cleanliness. It literally sparkles.
As you wander the city soaking it all in, you come across a sculpture on the river wall of shoes. Soon you are drawn into Hungary's
contribution to the final solution for here, Hungarian Jews were brought down to the river in the closing months of WWII, told to strip and
were shot to fall into the river. This writer has been to several holocaust museums and memorials and was told of the impressions of the
camps others gathered on their way to Vienna. Perhaps for they, certainly for this writer there has been no place as respectful and yet
compelling at conveying the sheer sickness of this horror. Each pair of iron shoes informs the viewer of its wearer and their fate. This is a
living monument with roses and pebbles added by those who sit along a bench grieving and contemplating what happened here. This
cannot be denied and must never be forgotten.
A short walk up the river wall and you come to the berthing place of the Viking River Cruise line. As one of the principle sponsors of
Masterpiece Theatre on the Public Broadcasting System, the phrase Only a river...threads through your mind and you realise Budapest is
the far end port for its cruises. Perhaps, some day. Budapest is also known for its mineral spas literally tens of them which suggested this
city as a destination for those serious about self care.
London was this writer's gateway. One never tires of this city. Here there is a Queen and a living monarchy using
many of the royal real estate. There is also diversity, amazing and generous diversity, a legacy of an empire that
has become a Commonwealth. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's husband spearheaded the first world exposition
bringing together nations from around the world in one of the first expressions of what we now know as globalism.
It is a ride many now live out, spread across the globe and very aware of its pitfalls and promise.