Vienna Days 1 & 2

by Sistaweotch October. 11, 2008 3454 views

The pictures are all from Day 2, as I arrived on Friday, but didn't break out the camera until Saturday. (Too many photos for just one day, though!) I was tired from traveling, and was just happy to spend time with Gustl and Valerie.

On the way from the CAT (City Airport Train []) to their house, Gustl took me most of the way around the Ringstra?e [], or “the ring,” the street around the inner, historical part of Vienna. He pointed out most of the noteworthy buildings and had thoughtfully picked up a map inside the CAT station for me so I could follow along. We stopped to get some veggies and popped into a tabak shop to pick up some metro/train tickets for me.

Gustl and I arrived at the apartment to find Valerie on the phone. Eventually we exchanged greetings and I got settled in. The guest room is Gusti's former bedroom, apparently, and is quite comfy (sorry, no pics; didn't break out the camera until I'd already mussed the covers, lol).

We went out for sushi then walked down the block for some dessert. They are not really dessert types, but were indulging me. Armelle had taunted me with tales of roasted chestnuts in Bordeaux and I wanted some! We didn??t find a chestnut vendor that day, but we had some delicious chestnut-based pastries, mmm!

Valerie's cousin is the head rabbi in Vienna. There was a family dinner that night and Gustl was the only goy invited. And that only because of the long association with Valerie (I guess after 40 something years, they've figured they aren't getting rid of him) – and because he will wear a yarmulke, hahaha! So I stayed home and watched The Librarian [] on DVD and to take a look through my tourist books to plan some outings.

As for Saturday the 11th, we started out by attending an exhibition outside city hall, the "Rathaus []," appropriately enough. ;) The exhibition was about technology and how Austrians had contributed to its advance. It was all set up in an expo tent outside. There was also a large stage with a big screen, speakers, and lots of television cameras. Surprise, surprise, Michael Häupl [], the mayor of Vienna, was outside glad handing people. Valerie, in a move that seemed out of character, said she was too shy to introduce herself, but volunteered Gustl instead, hahaha! After some moments of observation, however, she said the mayor only appeared to be shaking the hands of people he knew, not random citizens. Oh well! I got a few good snaps of him.

We were chatting at a table outside waiting for the next wave of people to be allowed inside the exhibit when Valerie shushed me because the mayor had gotten up onstage. He was discussing the recent death of another politician, Jörg Haider []. Apparently, Mr. Haider was killed in a car accident the previous evening. The news had not made it to the morning newspapers, so it was the first Gustl and Valerie had heard of it. He was a pretty controversial figure, I hear, as he was known to have Nazi sympathies and be anti-semitic. He was also very handsome and charismatic, and managed to become quite popular. The mayor, who is quite left leaning and socialist, I understand, said he did not wish him dead, but rather wished he was alive so they could fight.

Eventually, we entered the exhibition. A bit smaller than expected, but still fun. Valerie and Gustl knew one of the exhibitors, Deborah Sengl [], the only artist who had a spot, which is why we went.

Afterwards, we drove to the edge of the city on one of the sides that is surrounded by forest, and had a very nice lunch. The Weinerwald [], or the Vienna Woods, are lovely, especially at this time of year as the leaves begin to turn. We went to a Styrian restaurant and sat outside in the garden. Styria []is a state (“Bundesland”) in southern Austria. It is known for its pumpkins and pumpkin oil.

Valerie allayed my fears of animal cruelty when it comes to weiner schnitzel. It can be made of pork or veal, you see. I don't eat veal in the US because of the way the young calves are often kept in little boxes and not allowed to move. Apparently this is an American conceit; Austrians don't do that. Also, the owners of the restaurant raise their own farm animals in Styria, feed them organic (“bio,” in Europe) food, and then ship the meat up to the restaurant. So I ordered the schnitzel! Valerie cautioned me that it was not typical Viennese schnitzel, as the restaurant made it in their own special way – in this case, it included having roasted pumpkin seeds as part of the bread coating.

Still later, we went to a friend's gallery. She imports lots of north African jewelry and textiles. Every now and then she has an open house. So we went!

We had dinner back at the apartment while watching German cop shows, lol. I am putting those pictures, and most likely many of the other apartment pictures, on a separate page.

Here is the mayor, Michael Häupl [], looking very mayoral.

Das Wiener Forschungsfest! Google translates that to, “The wiener research finds.” Sigh. Google has no respect for the Viennese.

The Rathaus []!

Detail of the Rathaus, taken because I love the flowers on the outside and the chandeliers on the inside. How lovely! (I bet this looks great with snow on it, too!)

We stopped briefly at an exhibit about the Maasai in Tanzania, since I'm going there in January. Fortunately, the young lady who approached us spoke English. :)

The work they focus on is how to standardize dairy health and hygiene practices among the Maasai.

A boy takes in Deborah Sengl []'s exhibit, Lab Rats. ;)

Alas for pesky reflections!

Gustl and Valerie listen intently.

After careful consideration, Gustl is not impressed.

The park next to the Rathaus.

Auf wiedersehen, Rathaus!

Sturm []!

Frittatensuppe [], aka, pancake soup! How excellent is that?

The garden area of the restaurant. So lovely in the autumn afternoon!

Valerie's lunch. I can't remember the names of most of it, but the sliced meat was not unlike prosciutto. The pink stuff in the cup was… spicy beet sauce? I think it was horseradish flavored.

I took a Rick Steves guide and a DK Eyewitness Travel "Top 10 Vienna []" book with me. The DK book lists Gustl's dinner, Schweinsbraten mit Semmelknödel [] as one of the top 10, along with the pancake soup from above. :D

This is a pumpkin dish, one of the specialties of the restaurant and Styria []. It had lots of dill in it, quite good!

Ohhh… the salad was so good. I love the tomatoes in Italy, but so far I have not been a big fan of the lettuce, so this was a nice treat. The dressing was made with pumpkin oil, mmm!

This is the slightly modified, Styrian version of Wiener Schnitzel []. I actually found it a bit dry, but loved the idea of roasted pumpkin seeds in the breading.

The fruit on the side was an object of much debate. I believed it was lingonberry, but Valerie was not so sure. Our waiter spoke some English and informed us it was cranberry. This surprised me, as it was not very tart, as are most cranberries I've tasted. It reminded my much more of the sauce I'd had with the Swedish meatballs at Ikea, lol.

I now believe it was, in fact, lingonberry []because lingonberries are also known as… mountain cranberry!

Now on to the open house…

I took this photo to remind me of one of my absolute most favorite moments in Vienna. I was in the back of the car, heading to the exhibition outside the Rathaus. We passed a shop that said, “Alter Schmuck,” and I asked Valerie what it meant.

She said, “WHAT?!”

I repeated “The sign back there. It said, ‘Alter Schmuck’.”

She thought about it for a minute. “Oh! Schmuck!” she said, pronouncing it, ‘shmook.’ "Hahahaha! It's German, not Yiddish! It means ‘old jewelry.’ …Yes, you wouldn't have a sign up advertising the other thing []!"


I commented how much I liked the design of the clasps on some of the necklaces. Turns out Valerie is the one who introduced the owner to the design. She found them in some part of Asia and brought a bunch of them back. It's so lovely and practical!

I keep looking at this and keep looking… I don't know if this is an ensemble of necklace, earrings, and bracelets or if it's something more sinister and uncomfortable. Perhaps it's just meant to decorate walls!

If only I had big enough hair to warrant the use of one of these. The lady who cuts my hair in Naples commented on how fine my hair is, but that there is a lot of it. She calls it, in her exuberant Italian voice, “Your big baby hair!” Hahaha, she's a delight. I keep threatening to bring a video camera into my hair appointments.

Stealth mirror photo. ;)

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