Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mike: A weekend in Vienna in Words

The last stop on our Austrian road trip was Vienna. Jan (my mom) did most of the driving from Mayrhofen to Vienna but we changed drivers once we approached the city. Our rental car came equipped with Bridget (a nice GPS persona who couldn't quite master the pronunciation of German street names) who guided me to the two-bedroom apartment that we rented for the weekend. We stayed just on the outskirts of the Inner Stadt (city center). Once we got to the apartment the owner met us with keys and informed us that the elevator (lift) was broken and we would get to carry our luggage (3 bags, 50lbs each) up 7 very long, uneven, centuries old flights of stairs.

Ah, Europe.

Once we were settled we completely failed at finding groceries on a Saturday evening (everything shuts at 6:00PM in case you were wondering) and eventually went out to Café Europe in Stephensplatz for dinner. Their food was quite good and thankfully I had read online that you should go upstairs in the non-smoking room if you do not want the nicotine/tar/tobacco taste included in your dinner. Wait, that enhances the flavour of your schnitzel, right?

The next day we went to the Kunsthistoriches (art history) museum. We were also able to find one of the four grocery stores in the entire city of Vienna that is open on Sundays. Vienna's population is 2 million people, so you do the math and imagine how much fun shopping cart/trolley derby with a thousand other frantic Sunday shoppers was. If you're ever in Vienna, get your groceries before 6pm  Saturday. And if you're desperate/crazy, the grocery stores open on Sundays are located in train stations and airports.

Saturday evening we went to the State Opera house to see a ballet. I’ve been dragged to a lot of ballets, symphonies, musicals, concerts, and Sharon Lois and Bram events (okay, the last one was my idea circa 1994). I other words, I've had so much exposure to the 'arts' that I actually enjoy, have taken part in, and can recognize when such performances are good.

The ballet was something French from the 1950’s and although I have no idea what/why they were dancing, it was quite entertaining. But the people attending the ballet were almost just as entertaining. When people moved or clapped when they shouldn’t, they were promptly shushed. Old ladies who obviously go to performances every week also had very effective and well-timed claps and “Bravo’s!” and liked to dance around in their seats and pretend that they were conducting the orchestra.

The reason that I may not have understood the ballet was probably that I was watching the old lady in front of me watch the ballet instead.

The next two days were spent visiting the Albertina art museum, the Vienna cathedral, Schonbrunn Palace, and anywhere else that was open and warm.

It was nice to spend some time travelling with Jan but I think our family has decided that winter travel in European cities (during cold snaps) is not quite worth the effort/frost bite. 

Jess and I have now spent the last two Valentine’s Days travelling with our families/mothers, which doesn't leave a lot of room for romance. Next year, no visitors on February 14th please. It makes me look like an ass.

- Mike

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