Bespolka Home Page   Summer 2002
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The Travel Journal of Jacqui and Lars

 

Vienna, Austria  -   2-5 July, 2002

 

2 July, 2002:  Food and Ice Cream

3 July, 2002:  More Food and Ice Cream (and a Visit to the Bermuda Dreieck)

4 July, 2002:  Karls Kirche and Shopping

5 July, 2002:  On Our Way to Norway

 

 

Weather: Mainly clear, sunny and hot.  Thursday was cloudy with some heavy rain.

 

 

2 July, 2002:  Food and Ice Cream

The overnight train from Venice arrives on time in Vienna just before 6:30 AM.  We had a good nights sleep - in fact so good that we got up a bit late and had to rush to get ready.  Unloading all our stuff was a bit of an adventure and we had to go in search of some trolleys to deal with it all.  As we did not have breakfast on the train, we were given vouchers for one of the restaurants in the train station.  It was great - we were able to enjoy the semmel that we have missed so much over the years.  Why can they not make bread like that else where in the world.

 

Friends of the family were kind enough to let us stay at their place, so we loaded up two taxis and made our way there - located in the 19th district on Krottenbach Strasse.  Right near where we used to live when growing up in Vienna.  We waste no time - we have lots to do while here - so we drop off our stuff and head out.  First stop is the Prater.  For two reasons - the children will love it and we want to have lunch at one of our favorite places.

 

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After a ride on the famous Ferris wheel and banging about in some bumper cars, we meet up with an old friend, Airan, and head over to the Shwarzwalder.  What a place, and to think it was almost torn down and replaced with a McDonalds - now that would be a good reason to curse the Americans.  It is a huge place with many tables spread out in numerous sections in the outdoor garden.  We find one in the back corner.  As with any good Viennese restaurant, the more abrupt the staff, often the better the food.  We order our schnitzel and beer and have a great time.

 

The rest of the afternoon is spent going to some of our favorite ice cream places and getting huge amounts of ice cream while we wander the streets of the old city.  As we have children with us, the rest of the evening is spent back at home taking it easy and catching up on some sleep.

 

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3 July, 2002:  More Food and Ice Cream (and a Visit to the Bermuda Dreieck)

After a bit of a slow morning, we head down town to do some sightseeing and doing the things one should always do in Vienna - eat, shop, have ice cream and go shopping.  So, we were good at first and went to the Spanish Riding School and some of the other buildings in the inner city, before we fell temptation to the more important things.  We had lunch at the old pizza place we used to come to as kids - the same old pair of Italian owners are running the place.  The great thing about Vienna is that nothing really changes.

 

We follow this with ice cream, some shopping and then a well deserved rest in one of the many coffee shops that dot the city.  In the city that invented coffee shops, we are not sure how Starbucks survives.  In the later afternoon we return to the apartment, before heading out for dinner at Figlmullers in Grinzing - the home of the world's largest Wiener Schnitzel.  We sit outside at the wooden tables and benches with the grape vines forming a ceiling above us and the waiters rushing by in their traditional outfits feet crunching on the gravel.  Being their with children brings back the nightmares our parents must have gone through - the locals would rather take their dog to the restaurant than any children.  And we must not have been quiet children.

 

We send Carl, Ro and the children back to the apartment and then head down for a drink to the old city to the Bermuda Dreieck (Bermuda Triangle - so named as many go in, but not all find their way out after a night of drinking).  For a Wednesday, it is pretty busy and we go and have a drink in one of the small, dark, smoky places that is so typical of Vienna.  Large and small groups of people are crowded around the small tables stuffed into the place, with smoke forming a haze in the dark shadows.  Luckily we make it out of the dreieck and get safely back to the apartment.

 

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4 July, 2002:  Karls Kirche and Shopping

The breaks cloudy with some pretty heavy rain.  But we still head into town - we have things to do.  First stop is at the Karls Kirche - one of Lars' favorite churches in Austria. It has a great design and beautiful interior.  But when we get there, it turns out that they are now charging admission - as we have been there many times, we decide not to go in.

 

As it is still raining, we head off to find a coffee shop to relax and warm up.  Lunch is at an old restaurant that has been around for eons - the Stadt Beisal.  You can get all the great traditional food here.  As today is our last full day, we take advantage of being here and order tons of food from baked cheese to goulash to main courses.  And of course, beer to wash it all down.

 

The rest of the afternoon is spent shopping - fortunately the weather has cleared up.  We wander up and down and around the main shopping street - Karnter Strasse and the Graben.  We have some success in looking for things to buy.  Jacqui gets some shoes and a hang bag and Lars gets a new jacket.  The other highlight of the afternoon is seeing the Secretary General of the United Nations.  He is here for some meetings on Iraq.  We had just stepped out of a shop when a bunch of tall men in suits brushes by us with a man in the middle of the circle talking on a handphone.  The voice sounds very familiar and we turn to each other and say Kofi Annan.  It appears that we may be following him, but he is going the same direction we are - to the Ring.  So we tag along.  Lars wants to go up and say hello, but is deterred for two reasons - he is talking on the phone and it would be rude to interrupt and the security guards seem very serious about what they are doing - namely protecting him.  We have great respect for the man and Lars' father is one of the "Last of the Mohicans" - an organisation of UN staff that joined the UN right after it was founded following the Second World War.

 

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Anyway, after that we head back to the Karls Kirche where we are meeting up with Ro and Carl.  Based on their reports of the church and the renovation, we decide to go and pay the admission fee.  The renovation is very extensive and they are even restoring the paintings on the ceiling - way far up where you can usually never get a close look.  But fortunately during the renovation, if you pay an extra fee, you can ride right up to the top and take a close look at the paintings and go up to the very top of the tower and look out over the city.  What an experience - for this we do not mind paying.  They are doing great work and allowing the public to participate.

 

There is a playground out front and we spend some time playing with the children.  Then it is back up to the 19th district and Krottenbach Strasse for dinner.  We decide to have dinner in one of the Heurige that all over this place.  As it is a bit cool and damp, we decide to sit inside.  We get the traditional food and wine, including bread, meats, vegetables, salads and spreads.  It is basic, but very delicious food.

 

We decide to walk some of the food off, so we take the short stroll back down the main street to the apartment.  Once there, we take it easy and pack for our trip to Norway tomorrow.

 

5 July, 2002:  On Our Way to Norway

We are up early this morning - 6 AM.  Carl, Ro and the children are catching a very early flight back to New York.  So we help them with their bags and see them off.  After that we snooze for a while, but then it is our turn to get ready to head off.  But first, we head down to the local supermarket to purchase a large supply of extrawurst semmel with emmentaler (rolls with baloney and Swiss cheese).  Sounds crazy - but no where else in the world are they like this.

 

That important mission done (much better than the airplane food), we head back to the apartment, wait for the taxi we have booked and then head off to the airport when he arrives.  Vienna has a small, but efficient airport, so we are soon on our way to Oslo.

 

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