Europe 2008, with the nieces

Athens | Mykonos | Austria | Prague | London

A sucker for Sacher

Airplane lunch

We checked out of the Backpackers hostel. We'd left the bag locked to an indoor balcony; people in sleeping bags were scattered all around, so I had to climb over them to get the bag we'd left behind. We joined the subway throngs to take the train to the airport, and boarded the flight, navigating lots of lines, with no incident. Some breakfast pastries and coffee helped us through. A boring flight and a more boring meal (a linoleum tile of pasta, mixed salad, strange dessert) did not take long, and suddenly (OK, except for the baggage wait) Roswitha's cousin Birgit was meeting us at the Vienna airport.

Always eat Wienerschnitzel bigger than your head

Once we dropped our stuff at Birgit's apartment, we headed to a local restaurant for a spot of lunch. Second lunch, I guess. I was coming down with a sore throat, so Birgit took us to an Apoteke to get me some antibiotic lozenges, and Roswitha and Hillary headed into Vienna, while I headed home for a nap. They visited the Hundertwasserhaus, its toilet of modern art and Kusthaus, compared Karlskirche and St. Stephans Dom, got a phone card, hot dogs, and train tickets to Prague.


After a lovely breakfast at home (and endless cups of coffee (!)), Birgit and Timo joined us for a day in the city. We took the tram around the Ring, and stopped at the Sigmund Freud House & Museum. It made us feel interested and a little frustrated, since it was poorly organized. It also played to Anna Freud's (his youngest daughter) ego, since she had donated most of the items.

Naschmarkt Pickles

A stroll though the Naschmarkt whetted our hunger, so we had lunch at one of the restaurants there ("fitness" sandwich - lettuce with very little avocado, cucumber, and tomato, a chicken salad, a mixed plate of various Middle-Eastern things). Timo and Brigit killed time while we visited the Secessions Museum to see the Klimt Beethovenfries mural , an overdone fashion/fur = death/blood/war/flayed baby seal crude art installation, and a completely forgettable exhibit. But the Klimt and the building were great.


Timo and Birgit continued sunning themselves while we visited Karlskirche to take the internal restoration elevator ride up to the scaffolding on top, where we could inspect the dome paintings close up. It was interesting, but the sweltering heat up there did not allow us to stay for long. The church also has a small museum of newly collected modern religious art.


Karlskirche dome panorama

I hate Burberry

We then strolled through the center, where I pwned Hillary in our Burberry spotting game, finding a complete blouse, a glittery purse, and a collared shirt. I capped it off while we sat at Demel, comparing Sacher Tortes, finding a woman in a burka with Burberry sleeves. Sacher was legally found to have the original Sacher Torte recipe several years ago, although Demel also serves one, claiming that they bought the original recipe. Roswitha asked at Demel, where they explained, that, yes, Sacher won, but Demel chooses to call it "Demel-style Sacher Torte." Demel puts the jam filling in between layers, while Sacher has it under the top chocolate layer. Sacher's was also moister. We sat outside, where we were served by a waitress who said all the polite things, but her tone of voice meant the exact opposite.

But do you love inoperable?

From there we strolled through the new "Museum Quartier," which looks to be great, but was useless to us since it was after hours. From there we went to the Rathaus, where they are showing films to live music accompaniment, but we did not stick it out. Only as we were leaving did we discover the huge food and drink area, but we were on our way to Donauinsel, a new evening entertainment area along the banks of the rerouted Danube.

Bad Mexican food

Most of the restaurants were themed from holiday lands, such as Greece, Spain, and Italy, so we naturally opted to go to the Mexican restaurant. The "nacho" appetizer of chips with too little salsa and guacamole lulled us into false hope of good food. Actually, the chicken fajitas, tacos, and ribs were better than expected, but still not marvelous, and the constantly blowing cigarette smoke did not help. Still, it was a pleasant evening strolling across the footbridge to the other side, and checking out the very active Salsa dancing.


After a simple breakfast, Birgit drove down to her parents' lovely house in Kindberg, which is about half way between Vienna and Graz, where Roswitha's mother and sister live. They had come up to meet us there. We had brought essentials from the US, including hard-to-find items like Ziploc bags and vitamin C. We'd carried around this bag with us; it weighed the same as neutronium, and we were happy to jettison it. After hugs, introductions and drinks, we headed up to the top of the hill for a very yummy Austrian lunch.

Post-lunch snack

We took a postprandial stroll to the top of the hill to look out on the valley. We could see Kindberg and the railroad that ran through the town, as well as the beautiful green hills surrounding it. We tried to feed the goats. Then we headed back down the hill to where a post-lunch snack had been prepared.

Above Kindberg


The next morning, we took the train to Prague.


Athens | Mykonos | Austria | Prague | London
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