September 20, Thursday: After a late breakfast at home including lots of outstanding coffee from David’s complicated coffee robot along with cheeses, wurst, und brot, the four of us set out by Strassenbahn for the Kunsthistoriches Museum to see its amazing collection of paintings by Bruegel, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Velasquez and many, many more.
After the art we had cappuccino in the restaurant at the Kunsthistoriches Museum.
Then, guided by David’s I-Phone, we found our way to the U-Bahn for a trip across the Donau (Danube) and an in-depth tour of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of the United Nations. The agency is an amazing collection of exciting modern architecture, and we had the added excitement of IAEA's General Conference of all member nations, which was happening during the same week. David toured us through his office and the labs of some of his associates, then we schlepped through the exhibits of some of the attending nations at the General Conference. Along the way David revealed that he’s the “Neutron Expert” on IAEA’s staff who advises the teams of international inspectors what to look for and how best to do it. Fascinating stuff.
Home from the U.N. by U-Bahn plus a long, long walk. I opted out of the rest of the afternoon in favor some horizontal rest time. Roxie, David, and Lori set out again via S-Bahn to The Belvedere, a palace and art museum with a world class collection of Gustav Klimt paintings. I did walk around Lori and David’s neighborhood for a few photos while the others were out.
Dinner was spectacular. A short S-Bahn ride and a quick walk to a Russian restaurant, Feuervogel, where the outgoing and very friendly proprietor easily convinced us to allow him to plan our dinner for four. Well, he did a great job: three huge courses and way too much vodka later we struggled out of there for the S-Bahn ride home. Stuffed and totally satisfied, we slept soundly.
September 21, Friday: I didn’t tell the others, but I had a little bit of vodka hangover this morning. Roxie and I went shopping with Lori who needed flowers and a few other things for the evening’s guests. She walked us nearly to death in the area of Judenplatz.
Afterward we enjoyed a fantastic lunch at a nearby place called Brezl-Gwölb,described in its web site as Alt Wiener Küche, three hundred years old—and we’d attest to the truth of both claims.
Roxie and I really liked the cream of pumpkin soup infused with pumpkin oil, which I learned was squeezed from the seeds, then I had the penultimate Wiener Schnitzel. All excellent. After lunch we wandered back to Stephensplatz for the U-Bahn back to the 9th District and home.
In the evening Lori and David entertained a group of their friends in honor of our visit , mostly folks from IAEA. After drinks, snacks, and good conversation, game night began. We were all assigned to teams of two to guess, then bet on the right answers to some very difficult questions—something like Trivia on steroids. I had several opportunities to talk about my books and distribute my cards. The whole evening was lots of fun, and everybody left in a happy mood, all of us vowing to do it again next year.
September 22, Saturday: A quiet day for all of us: Lori working on German homework, David catching up on computer things and sharing some good conversation with me, Roxie and me packing for the next day’s travels. David and Lori gave me a set of miniature pots from New Mexico’s Jemez Pueblo—pots made by the granddaughter of their late friend Becky, a Jemez native, under the careful eye of her grandmother.
In the evening the three of us walked and walked in dripping rain to search for an open neighborhood restaurant. Apparently many restaurants in Wien are closed on Saturday. After a lot of wet walking, we finally found a typical Austrian neighborhood place, dimly lit, smoky with a very friendly and outgoing wait staff. I had that interesting cream of pumpkin soup with added pumpkin oil, then yet another huge Vienna Schnitzel with the Viennese version of Kartoffelsalat, altogether delicious but a lot more food than I could manage.
Before an early bedtime, we ordered a taxi for airport transport early the next morning.
September 23, Sunday: The taxi driver rang the bell right on the money at 8:15 AM. Traffic was thin on Sunday morning, so the trip was quick. Flughafen Wien was packed with a maddening crowd, but we managed to locate the correct check-in counter after some confusion and a little difficulty. Then, free of most of our luggage, we followed a very long course to our departure gate. Up and down several escalators, a quick pass through immigration, then a long, long walk and there we were. As we expected, David and Lori’s friend Jim, whom we’d met at Friday’s game night, was at the gate when we arrived—he was taking the same flight as us, heading to a meeting in Savannah. We had time for good conversation and a cup of coffee before heading down yet another escalator and boarding the B-767 for our flight to Washington Dulles. Roxie and I were flying in economy class, but we got lucky and had the center section of three seats all to ourselves. Unfortunately, the video consoles in our row were on the fritz, so we were left with airline music, Kindles, and smart phone backgammon. Sleep was elusive.
We expected a four hour delay at Dulles, but things went from bad to worse because our outbound flight was very late arriving, and the delay was more like six hours before our direct flight took off. We finally got to San Antonio shortly after 11 PM—a tiring epilogue to a long intercontinental flight.