Monday, October 8, 2012


September 16, Sunday:  Roxie and I arrived Flughafen Wien in the late afternoon via Austrian Air from Moscow. Arrival was about ninety minutes later than planned because of a flight delay in Moscow.
My son, David, was patiently waiting outside customs as expected. Taxi to the 9th District, Pramergasse 1/11, where my daughter-in-law, Lori, was waiting at their fourth floor apartment. Beautiful apartment, nicely decorated by Lori—huge rooms with fifteen foot ceilings, comfortable furnishings: living room, dining room, a studio for Lori’s painting, a study for David which doubles as a guest bedroom with an adjoining bath. Large L-shaped hallway leads to the master bedroom and an adjoining full bath near the front entrance. Lori had prepared a big pot of goulash and spätsle for which Roxie and I had little appetite after our tough travel day.

 September 17, Monday: David needed a day of work at IAEA, so Lori took us into the 1st District via Strassenbahn #9, which stops a half block from their apartment and continues down the Ringstrasse past Parliament, Rathaus, and many other sights.


We exited the scenic ride at the Opera. A walk around that imposing building on the Ringstrasse allowed us to discover the house schedule for the days we’d be in Wien. Some negotiating at the box office produced the last four tickets for a mid-week performance of Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani. Walked on from there past the Albertina Museum to Michaelsplatz for a look at the Spanish Riding School and the Lipizzaner stallions. The school was closed for some special occasion, but we did view a short video of a performance to get an idea of what might be in store at some future time.

            We walked back to Stephenskirche, continued past a colorful flower shop in Stephensplatz, then on to a charming restaurant Lori had chosen for lunch. We each had variations on pasta with mushroom sauce. Coincidentally, four of her friends were in the restaurant at the same time so we had a short chat with them after our great lunch. Back to Stephensplatz from where we took the Unterbahn to head home. Two U-Bahn trains and a long walk later we were back at Pramergasse.

The four of us took dinner at the next-door Restaurant Rembetika, a Greek place whose owner received us like longtime friends. I washed down the tasty Greek lamb kebabs with a glass of Retsina. Finally to bed. Dog tired, I fell asleep instantly and slept soundly.

September 18, Tuesday: Lori had a German class this morning, so David took us around by Strassenbahn and much walking to see some of his favorite sights, which included a way-off-the-beaten-path beer house where we had an huge lunch of beer and schnitzel. David ordered some kind of roasted pig’s foot which we all shared, but we still had a big chunk of pork to wrap in foil and carry home. After more S-Bahn and lots more walking we stopped at David’s  idea of “the best little coffee house in Wien,” a place called KIeines Café. Good coffee, but no better than his own coffee “robot” at home.

Our evening at the opera was fantastic. Verdi in modern setting and modern costume is a little startling at first, but everything falls in place quickly. I’d never seen I Vespri Siciliani before, so it was a special treat in a very special opera house. Because our seats were the last available in the house, Roxie and I sat separately from David and Lori, but we all had good seats. After the opera we walked across the street to the Hotel Sacher for Sachertorte and coffee. Yum! Home by a late night Strassenbahn.

September 19, Wednesday: David went exploring with Roxie and me while Lori did a pile of homework for her German class. Back to the 1st District via Strassenbahn #9 to the Albertina Museum. It was a rainy day, so we had to deal with umbrellas. The Albertina had the largest collection of works by Albrecht Durer that I’ve ever seen in one place—even in Munich which is practically his home town. The Albertina also includes a huge guest apartment provided by the Hapsburg monarchs for their visitors. The apartment was furnished in a grand style that challenged the palaces we'd recently toured in Saint Petersburg.

The rain stopped, and we met up with Lori in Stephensplatz. The four of us took an overview bus tour of the city with individual audio devices (in English) to guide us. The tour gave a fine overview of the city including the park which houses the giant Ferris wheel featured in the film, The Third Man. After that we briefly crossed the River Donau (Danube) and had a glimpse of David’s workplace, the IAEA of the UN. More about IAEA later.

Our tour bus stopped for a while at the amazing Hundertwasser Haus, a complex of apartments, bars, and shops designed by a weird architect named Hundertwasser. Judging from his extreme designs, he must have been a fan of Salvador Dali. After the tour, home again via U-Bahn from Stephensplatz.

           We enjoyed dinner at a small restaurant said to be typical and outstanding  Austrian style. Called Stomach, the place required reservations. Extremely slow service, but excellent food.  Lori ate a huge plate of steamed mussels, the other three of us had veal medallions in a complex brown sauce with lots of mushrooms and spiced up with red wine. Roxie had a minor fall over an unexpected step-up when leaving the dinner table. Fortunately he had no significant injury, and we walked home and fell exhausted into bed for another solid night of Viennese sleep.


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