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architecture and an Old Stone Bridge dating back to the 12th century. Perhaps one of my favorite cities was Passau, Germany. A special treat was to sit in the 17th century St. Stephen’s Cathedral and listen to an organ concert. The cathedral houses Europe’s largest pipe organ with more than 17,000 pipes. Imagine the wonder sitting and listening to the sounds and being surrounded by the beautiful architecture and art. And, of course, we all took advantage of shopping time in this delightful city. Continuing up the Danube River Basin, we landed in Melk, Austria. High on a cliff overlooking the Danube is the Melk Abby, built in the 12th century but destroyed by fire. Rebuilt during the 18th century, it now contains a library of 80,000 medieval manuscripts. Fellow traveler Diana Berry noted, “I found the Abbey at Melk to be a must see. The frescoes in the church are magnificent. The library contains countless medieval manuscripts. It is still functioning and houses a school for 900 students of both sexes.” It was with a great deal of excitement that we arrived in Vienna, Austria, for a two-day stay. I loved the Schonbrunn Palace, the magnificent home of the Hapsburg Dynasty. My friend Joe Concalves and I hiked to the top of the ridge and viewed the palace from the Glorietta colonnade. The palace tour was incredible with the preservation of furnishings and views of the rooms as they were centuries ago. Empress Maria Theresa, the only female ruler of the Hapsburgs, ruled in the late 1700s. She bore 16 children —10 of them survived and married into royal families throughout Europe. She was ahead of her time in her domestic reforms for medicine, education, and civil rights. Vienna has a long history as a cultural center, stretching back to its days as the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. Famous composers such as Joseph Haydn, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Schubert, and Joann Strauss are all tied to this city. Fellow travelers, Lisa and Ernie Faria, took advantage of an optional tour to see the Spanish Riding School. Lisa states, “Vienna is magnificent and right in the center of town is the Spanish Riding School—home of the gorgeous Lipizzaner stallions! GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN february/march 2019 gmhtoday.com 101