Sunday, August 23, 2015

Some Different Things in Vienna

Unusual site in Vienna

Saturday was the opening of Mariahilfer-strasse pedestrian mall. It’s the largest shopping mecca in downtown Vienna with all the usual big trendy chain stores, including United Colours of Benetton, which we see in every city we’ve been to, and never go in to. Crews have been noisily working on the mall since we’ve been here. Lots of balloons floating around, a zip line which I’d never seen before, two climbing walls and that’s just in the three blocks we walked! All free as far as we could tell and the ages of children doing both were quite young. Bands of musicians of course and scores of people which is why we ducked down a side street for a sushi lunch, crowds aren’t really our thing.

A much quieter Sunday in the Museums Quarter, locals and tourists having breakfast and lunch. I had my first wiener schnitzel, it was house made and good but when I asked in German to take away, the waiter thought just take it away, not take home, again. Looking up the words in translate now! Writing in my little red book I carry everywhere, thanks again Ivan. This is the second or third time of happening and I’m not going to let it happen again. The salad was superb as well so I’m really missing out on good food for later. My fault entirely but frustrating too, okay enough whining… The restaurant is called Corbaci - Look at the tile work on the ceiling, better picture on the website than what I could have taken I think. We’ll be back and I’ll use the correct words for take away next time.

Hear Me Roar Human! Actually she's yawning.

Lexi and I sometimes “argue” she does something bad and I yell no. At night these days she wakes about 04:00 and wants to play. I do not know why, perhaps first light. She sleeps on my legs most of the night quite peacefully, moves when I do and we both like it. The other night we had a round of “no’s!!!” and she took one paw and swatted me in the head! Didn’t hurt but she is becoming more of a pill and discipline problem. Hah, we made an appointment at the Vet’s today for tomorrow to get her nails cut, a kitty pawdicure. Maybe that’ll slow her down some.

Appointment was ignored by the vet and he/she had four people in the waiting room when we went. They weren’t taken in while we were there so I finally went to the desk, behind a door and asked. She said to call first so she could say how many people were waiting. There was a husky dog, quite small, beautiful white blue eyes that had a permanent look of curiosity about him. A cat meowed the whole time, not ours. Mom and daughter brought sandwiches and drinks so I figured the wait was going to be long. We just carried Lexi home again, unboxed her and she looked at us like what was that all about…

We cancelled our trip to Budapest, Hungary. The flat we chose had air-conditioning but the taxi to/from and doing any touring in this heat would have not been enjoyable. This heat wave (a couple of weeks ago from this post) is amazing and not in a good way. It’s affecting all of Europe and not due to leave us for another week or so. Debilitating for those without air conditioning which we thankfully have and is not very common in most parts of Europe. Peter has been escaping to a mountain lodge in Styria where they get amazing views of the night sky, away from the City. It takes two hours and forty five minutes to get there but he says it’s worth it.

Yes, folks, that's a sail boat, bent out of shape on top of a hotel... why?

With all the research done on rollerstuhl taxis, taxis with ramps for wheel chairs, I compiled a list of companies we’ve used or were going to in Hungary. They certainly vary widely in price but part of that is due to distances of course. I will say that every one we’ve used has been prompt, drivers are caring and nice, with the exception of one, well you can’t win ‘em all. Problem is, while they have air conditioning it mainly stays in the front and doesn’t filter to the back where Bruce needs it most. Most are a type of van with no wide opening windows in the back either, which was another consideration in cancelling Budapest.  

What is this? We figured it was for the ducks easy in and out of the pond.

Monday and I’m off to do a shop before noon. One of the Indian restaurants we’ve been to before was open and I stopped in to get some lamb/spinach curry for Bruce especially, although I enjoy it too. Waiting outside with a bottle of sparkling water a woman came up to the table and started the usual speech/imploring to give her money. She is nicely dressed, pregnant and I gave my usual response of I don’t speak German, she kept on so I gave her my partly used bottle of water and left. As doing so the waiter was outside and wanted the water bottle back. Okay faux pas there I would guess and if I go back perhaps he won’t be as friendly. In Germany you pay a deposit or pfand on some recyclable bottles, not here, but perhaps it’s different for restaurants. 

We went to the Naschmarkt on Saturday, very busy, crowded but lovely. For those in Vancouver, think Granville Island. Here is a website that describes it well.

I didn’t realize it was so close, a ten minute walk, although we’d passed it several times by taxi. You see Vienna has many one way streets so it’s easy to get confused about location from the starting point of the flat. 

Chose Indian food for our lunch and it was excellent. Will definitely go back maybe on a less busy week day. Didn’t see a whole lot of fruit and veg but so many restaurants, likely we missed parts of it. Lots of Turkish influenced foods like dried fruits, nuts, teas, hummus and vendors were yelling out to the crowd for attention to their unique products. Saw a tiny dirndl and a tiny sweater, hand made with sheep and goats on it. 


Bought yummy hummus after trying all the vendor’s types and olives - RED olives! Hmm, makes me wonder if they’ve been dyed and reading this article found out they are! They are called Cerignola grown only in a specific area of Italy. They have a unique flavour that is extremely tasty.

Restaurants in the market vary from very up scale to casual dining and it seems all nationalities are represented. It’s an obvious meeting place for people and some were very elegantly dressed. Areas were under construction so walking through with the crowds was a bit difficult but of course everyone managed patiently. Warm sunny day but not too hot so it was a pleasure to be out and about.

We’ve today, Saturday before flight on a week Monday decided to stay another month here. We haven’t seen much of Vienna and feel short changed by not spending more time. This is due to the heat wave and the broken elevator several times. Peter is happy, he likes us, we’re happy. Peter also wants to take us on a wine tour, show us more of Vienna and I can’t agree more that we can explore this wonderful City further.

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Roaring Lexi Cat

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Touring Vienna by Bus

We had decided to go to the Danube River, and just so you know, it is a lovely shade of blue, and since we haven’t figured out the metro system, even yet, decided just to walk/roll and see where we got to. Out through the Museums Quarter again because the elevator system puts us conveniently close to the old district, we walked past more museums in palatial buildings and stumbled onto a hop on hop off bus doing city tours.

Statue of Empress Maria Theresa

Oh well since we are sometimes spontaneous we hitched, paid for, a ride. They have a deal for both Vienna and Budapest so we signed up since we’ll be in Budapest mid-August. Now these hop/on/off busses are really touristy but they do provide a good overlook of a city and we use them in large cities. 

We first stopped at Schoenbrunn Palaceönbrunn_Palace and since we’d seen it we just had a mediocre lunch there. The line ups to buy tickets were horrendous. I am so glad we did the tour of the interior, gardens and zoo when my legs were a lot younger! It is a fabulous place, a not to miss in Vienna in my mind, but I remember hardly being able to walk to the metro to get back to the hotel, so tired. 

Outside Belvedere Palace

Then we stopped at the Belvedere Castle and grounds, again not too much touring but a delightful spot. 

Sphinx Statue, human head, lion body representing strength and intelligence

Meanwhile on the bus we wound through Vienna in one direction, the opposite of where we’d planned, to the river, but that’s okay. We bought a 48 hour ticket so we can go the opposite direction tomorrow or Saturday. 

Parliament Building

Many people, read experienced travellers, think these buses are a waste of money, if you do the research ahead you can take a regular bus(s) at a fraction of the cost and see everything. I don’t agree, firstly because, call me lazy, but I don’t want to do all the research, I want to learn but it’s so much easier just plugging in and listening. Secondly, we can afford the easier way. Thirdly, the tour operators are usually really nice people and yes, they get paid to be, but truly most we’ve met are knowledgable about the city, the tours and the sights. 

Our first driver was a hoot, the ramp coming off was quite steep and she stood in front to “catch” Bruce, scared me, didn’t want her or her toes run over! She had long pretty nails and had to pull up the ramp handle very carefully so as not to damage them which she carried off with aplomb. The woman who sold us our ticket was also very knowledgable and told us snippets of information we didn’t get on the tour, good sales person, friendly but not pushy. Anyway it was a lovely day, not to hot and full of touristic sightseeing. Vienna is a beautiful city and we get to see more of it tomorrow including the Danube River.

Coffee - Important in Vienna! This is the smallest house.

Aside, a reminiscence since a fruit fly just landed in my drink. I was with my ex-husband and we met a couple who were friends from Germany. The male friend wore knee length dress shorts, probably lived in them looking at his tan. He was asked to leave since shorts weren’t “appropriate attire” for the patio according to this ritzy hotel’s rules, it is a patio in summer, come on! So he left, went to the nearby hotel, changed, came back, ordered a drink and had a fruit fly land inside it. Not a happy man now, he said “this fly is wearing shorts please remove it and give me a new drink”. 

It's an ATM! At Praterstern permanent fairgrounds with the oldest ferris wheel

Second day of touring Vienna in the opposite direction of yesterday. We got to the Danube and walked to a park alongside it called Bundesbaeder Alte Donau, Federal Bathing place in Donau where we had to pay two euros each to get in. The park was full of families in swimming togs, some having picnics, some eating at the small outdoor restaurant. There were some very tanned people about, so this must be a regular outing for them. Back on the bus to return to the centre and a large family boarded the children were good, just restless and everyone talked the entire time, got a bit tiring for us. The audio function didn’t work which was a shame because that’s an important part of learning what all those beautiful buildings are, and would have helped tune out the noise.

Arsenal Museum

When people come to Vienna they expect and do see many old, ornate buildings but the modern ones are beautiful as well. 

Striking, perhaps maybe a stretch to call it beautiful

Many large companies have headquarters in the Donau District and they have built strikingly modern buildings there. We can see the tops of some of them from the flat so it was good to look at them up close.

So that was our two days of sightseeing, and it was a good thing we did it then, it's very hot here now.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Comic Characters in Vienna

We overlook the Museums Quarter and decided to take a closer look. Three lifts transport us down to the middle of it and it is hopping! 

Look at those spikes on her knees. 

First off we see many, many people in costume with brightly coloured wigs portraying cartoon characters, mostly. They seemed to have professional photographers with them but that didn’t stop the rest of the crowd including me from snapping away. Very colourful and artistic and they brought their persona attitudes with them. Some costumes looked to be professionally done. A sight to see! 

Then there were the two wolves, what a pair of comedians they were, interacting with the crowd. Came over to Bruce and gave him a high five and a hug; knelt on all fours so small children could pat their nose; tickled a fellow’s feet who was lounging on a seat. 

Hams and friends

What a couple of guys!
Note the blue blocks behind, they are seating for about four people, eight if you are good friends. There is a hole in the middle to put an umbrella in and they cover the whole Museum quarter. Handy and extra seating for concert goers or a busy day like it was.

There was also a large rectangular pool where they set up battery operated, radio controlled boats to zoom around, amongst decorated crates depicting drinking bars with Barbie’s attached, yes, somewhat different. Anyone in the crowd was allowed to have a go. 

Barbie and Ken at the bar

The operator brought him in close for the picture - Thank you

A sign on the outside of the pool said “don’t feed the alligators” someone has a sense of humour. Actually the day was cooler than past days and families were out enjoying the weather. Much laughter in the air and the restaurants that line that square were pretty full. This also seemed to be like the Alameda in Sevilla, the alternative lifestyle neighbourhood which would make sense since the venues are called Museums but are geared more to the arts culture. It was a very pleasant day with unexpected viewing of unexpected things, which is, of course, a benefit of travel. 

Double rainbows tonight, a reverse of the main one in colour which I didn’t realize before, picture wasn't great but what a sight, sun shining off the towers and the sky is beautiful!


We've booked part of this winter in Sevilla, will likely stay longer but for booking purposes decided two months would get us going. Our wonderful blogger friends in Sevilla helped us with that booking, you see I found a fabulous looking flat in an area we haven’t been to before. It is devoid of architectural wonders, a working class area for Sevillanos. Thankfully our friends advised that while the neighbourhood was fine, it was quite remote from downtown. Andy and Ali had the same problem when they booked a flat outside and took too long to get to the inner city. So I canned that place, politely of course, and was able to book close to where we’ve lived before, back in the older part of the City. One blogger said she wants to be astounded every time she walks out her door and we agree wholeheartedly. We don’t get that in Freiburg but the flat is new and for a purchase it was a good one. 

More to come, been busy with the camera this last week so have broken up the posts.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat