Monday, September 28, 2015

Schönbrunn Castle Train and Zoo

Yes folks, I finally looked up how to type an umlaut, the dots above the "o" and other letters in German, about time!

We went with Peter to the Zoo, called a Tiergarten, here in Vienna, it is the oldest zoo in the world.  He hadn't been in a zoo since he was about five years old so he was delighted and we wanted to treat him for all the wonderful things he's done for us. 

First off we took the mini-train around the Schönbrunn grounds and marvelled that we had walked pretty much the whole way a few years ago! Train is easier and better I can tell you. 

Carriage Museum

The woman portrait on the right door is of Empress Elizabeth, called Sisi, read about here here She was one interesting woman and certainly did what she wanted, when she wanted, no matter what the Society norms were. 

We didn't go into the Carriage Museum, we were there to see the animals!

This is Peter, our wonderful host!

The cloudy liquid in the wine glass is sturm. It is a strong, slightly sweet wine that is brewed to be drunk very young and only available now until December. More about it here Since it is still fermenting it needs to be stored carefully so it doesn't blow up - really!

Leopards, the two snuggling, one is licking the face of the other.

On to the animals, we saw probably about half available and still walked a ways.

Elephants one had a large tusk and there was a baby one too!

I didn't catch what kind of bird this is but it was pretty!

Note the very long curved bill on these ones.

A banana tree, lovely.

Orangutang's just hanging about.

Timber wolf puppy we didn't see, did see the adult wolves but they were too far away for a picture. I don't know where this picture came from to cite it, perhaps the zoo.

And now for something completely different. I've never seen this kind of lock on a bicycle before and thought it practical, this wasn't at the zoo.

We had a wonderful day at the zoo and one could go back day after day to walk through different parts of it to see different animals each time. We concentrated on what Peter really wanted to see since it was "his" day. 

Peter sent us this picture of a swimming place called Gänsehäufel in Vienna, classic don't you think?

The taxi cab driver going back to the flat was an expert on driving in Vienna, probably had been driving for many years, he took all the back routes and we wound our way through the City, truly amazing! 

If you like zoos, and I know some who don't, but if you do, Vienna has one of the best we've been to and would recommend a visit. No, they are not sponsoring me to say that, just my opinion.

Next post will be coming to you from Freiburg.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Visit to a country winery and more pictures of Vienna

Secessionist Building
Read about it's history here

Yes, unexpectedly this is a garbage processing plant, the tower...
Read about it here

Outdoor library in Museums Quarter
I don't know much about this but it was colourful and had hammocks for people to laze in as well as these large pillows. It stayed up about two weeks and people seemed to really enjoy it.

Art? Installation on the outside of a lift going to the Museums Quarter
Continues YOU-weed, THEY-weed. This is a Street Art Passageway to the MQ where "Vienna forges an artistic link to the tags and graffiti that mark the streets bordering Vienna's 7th district." Quote taken from a Public Art brochure for Vienna. website for all the projects.

For our trip to the country winery we took a taxi to Peter’s place, picked him and his girlfriend, Margit up and went to a winery on the hillsides above Vienna. 

A bit of a challenge, firstly the lift broke again, forcing us to take the long and winding stairs. Then getting to Peter’s place the taxi driver didn’t want to stay and take us to on the winery, big argument ensued between Peter and him. Finally he agreed, it was a problem with the driver’s dispatcher not telling him and booking another trip. We find this happens more frequently than it should! 

Anyway arrival at the winery and the views of Vienna are fantastic! 

What a View!

The winery’s website is (in German but great pictures) and the general one listing all the vintners is  (English) We tasted two vintages of Gruener Veltliner, common grape here, while sitting under a tree at a picnic table and generally enjoying ourselves. 

Wonderful afternoon!

It was a lovely afternoon, sunny but not too hot. We tried out some of the food: five different dips, pork crackling and pork and vegetables in aspic, served with really good tasty dark bread. Two other neighbouring wineries were open and there were parked cars and people everywhere on the road. Taxi driver coming home was a talkative bloke in almost perfect English. 

Now for one more picture of a building in Vienna, interior.

This is in a restaurant I mentioned and gave you the link to in a previous post, my photo version...

An aside where I can't resist sticking my nose into someone else's business... I went in to the beauty shop to make another pedicure appointment and the manager was there. I asked if I could speak to him about one of his staff in private, a girl was at the sink and that seemed the best way. I told him about my terrible hair cut in his shop and said this person needed more training. He seemed to appreciate the negative feedback and said "how else were they going to get better if they didn’t get feedback". Duty done and enough said but it felt good to tell him.

Next post we went to the Schoenbrunner grounds and Zoo called Tiergarten.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Monday, September 7, 2015

More Vienna, yes, we are still here ...

We did the shop together, nice since the bike takes all the weight then went directly to the Museums Quarter (MQ) for a pomegranate drink, yum, while we waited for the Leopold Wasser restaurant to open at 12:30 for a grill cooked burger which we shared. Bruce’s appetite is back with the cooler weather! Yeah! 

We watched people and dogs but being Monday it wasn’t too busy there. Nice to get out into the sun and air and enjoy good food, burger was wonderful. Home and a cleaner is cleaning the area around the elevator, he pushes the button for it to open and Bruce isn’t quite quick enough before the door closes or tries to with Bruce caught in-between. Cleaner shoves the door open, we get to the fifth floor and door won’t open. I pried it open with my fingers to get us out. Now the damn thing is broken again. Contact Peter and go through the usual. He said they used substandard parts when putting it in and now they are worn out, as with many in Vienna. Well it’s a major problem for us for sure! 

Days out for lunch, shopping but not really any sight seeing, pleasant days though. I need to take some pictures of the detailed architecture here, works of art, just hanging out over doorways and windows. Here's a start ....

Went out for brunch on Sunday and after had an ice tea each, served in a mini-carafe with lemon, orange and mint. Vienna does know how to make interesting drinks! They will use any fruit like pomegranate and rhubarb and many contain herbs like basil, mint and spice of ginger. You saw the picture where they used roses on a previous post. Very inventive and some are tastier than others to our palates of course I appreciate the inventiveness of their making. 

Street "art" or graffiti, you decide.

On the domestic front I got a long awaited hair cut. Bad cut in Germany, tried a correction which made it worse, and needed another when I came to Vienna. Stopped in a shop up the road from the flat and he’s booked out for a month so make an appointment anyway for now. Get another hair cut to last me over and it’s worse than both German ones! Ugh, should have known I’d be in trouble when she asked me AFTER the cut if my hair was naturally curly or a perm. Who perms these days anyway? Well, now I have a good cut and feel better and have another appointment for trim before going back to Freiburg.  The fellow is truly so very good it was a great stroke of luck to meet him! There are very many hair and personal services in the neighbourhood we are in, difficult to choose who is going to be the best to engage and for what. Example the worst haircut at the shop also gives the best pedicure, obviously by different people, different skill sets. I truly live by my mother’s rule, “if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all”. So I won’t give a bad review to the first “stylist” she’s young and just needs better training. 

We breakfasted out, I had scrambled eggs with vegetables in, asked what vegetables and the waitress said, what ever they had on hand. Well there were chopped carrots and peppers, green onion and while I’ve never had carrots in my eggs before it was tasty. Did the shop, went back to the MQ for an iced tea, a British couple moved tables because of cigarette smoke, I don’t think they’ve been here long, it will become an annoyance to them. On the way back to the flat smelt the grilling hamburgers so stopped for one to share. Quite a warm day but a breeze so nice to be out again. 

Back down to the Naschmarkt market around 11:00 a.m. on a weekday and it’s quite quiet, easier to move around and see more. It’s such a fascinating place for us, and you know how we do like markets, kids in a candy store would describe us well in markets. So many different fruits, vegetables, example black potatoes, and a multitude of other things, spices from all over the world, teas, fish and meat. 

Much of it is Turkish so there are many falafel stands. We bought more hummus, the stall owner is very liberal with his samplings. In fact, most are and some yell Stop! at their stalls to offer you something. They will ask where are you from and the ruse often works! One fellow, large bloke was dining at a seafood restaurant and they gave him a bib after he spilled on his shirt. This big, almost mean looking fellow, wearing a bib! We had Indian food again, jumbo prawns for me that were some of the best I’ve ever had. Bruce had lamb biryani, the rice was spiced so wonderfully.

I liked the presentation.

This is the mini-sweater and dirndl I mentioned in the previous post.

Picnic supper tasting very small amounts of things bought at the market, pomegranate seeds, messy, more on that in a bit, hummus, avocado, stilton cheese, dried lingonberries, a feast even after lunch. I don’t think you can commonly get lingonberries in Canada. I have a Polish friend who loves them. 

To eat the pomegranate, we looked for videos on the web to see how to seed and every one said the juice stains as item number one. Operation pomegranate: we took the top off and scored the outside which allows you to peal the layers out and fairly successfully get the seeds out except, I popped one, juice everywhere, wall, fridge, my favourite top, which I should have removed prior. Seeds are yummy though and reportedly good for you so was worth it I suppose. 

Saturday and our local artisan market is on. But firstly I decided I wanted new glasses, not really needed, as such, but wanted a change, ones I’m wearing have a small scratch on the lens and I’m just tired of the frames. There is a nice looking glasses shop up the street so went in to “just to” try on frames. A while later I have new glasses, well, not yet in ten to fourteen days while the lenses are being built. Small change in the prescription, left eye weaker than the right but here they are, drum roll please, go to Marken, they are called Gotti, the light blue ones. I’m very pleased!

A stop at the Mexican food shop yields green tomatillo salsa and taco chips, then on to the artisan market. 

What caught our eye and intrigued was a leather belt, more the buckle actually and then I went into the shop to find handbags, beautifully, made in the Czech Republic. Walked out of there with wallets for both of us and a handbag for me. Bruce gave me the bag and wallet as an early birthday present! Thanks Love! They are of a fine quality leather and etched and coloured in beautiful designs. Bruce says he doesn’t think he’s owned anything more beautiful, admiring his wallet now, as I write this. 

Then I spotted some unusual earrings in the next shop and bought them and a ring to match. Packaging is in small boxes with handles on top, lovely too! 

Whew, a lot of money was spent today but we both know that when you find something that is unusual, hand crafted, the bonus is you are helping to support an artist, you fall in love, true love, buy it because you’ll always rue not doing so. 

We’ve both experienced that before, mostly over non-utilitarian items, for me it was a tiny hand thrown pot, so thin light shone through on Granville Island, by the time I thought I had to have it it was gone and the artist wasn’t showing there anymore. For Bruce was a kimono, hand stitched and large enough to be a wall hanging on Salt Spring Island. These things, while beautiful and wanted were impractical. What we bought today is more practical, we can admire and wear them daily so, again, supporting artists, and using the product daily is a win-win. Off the old soap box once again.

We’d stopped for lunch at a favourite restaurant which is in the atria of a pre-school and many other offices of which I don’t know about, mostly arts according to the brochures seen. There was a hoard of people dropping off bottled water, clothing, diapers, all manner of things and all at once it seemed. The street was overloaded with cars and truly swarms of people seemed to inhabit the area with the goods they brought. At first we didn’t know what was happening, only that Bruce couldn’t get by a van to get to a slope in the curb. Watching, since we had no choice, I think they had organized a relief mission for the thousands of Syrian refugees who had crossed into Austria last night, bused in from Hungary. I missed a taped interview that happened while we were there, in English too, being more worried about getting Bruce out of the well meaning fray. I’ll try to find a link to the story for more information, didn't find that particular one but many people are helping out.

A cooler Sunday with wind and we’re out fairly early so have breakfast in a glassed in solarium at the Leopold Museum. We don’t drink a lot of coffee in restaurants but may remedy that since Vienna is said to have the best coffee and having had one it truly was.

I tried sitting or reclining on the blue blocks everyone uses in the MQ but I’m too short and kept slipping down, they don’t work for me…  go to the bottom of the page to read about the design and function of the furniture. Being short or PQ vertically challenged is a disadvantage most of the time, well there are worse things for sure.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat