Friday, July 31, 2009

We won't have much to hunt in the Autumn

We stayed near Maleny in Queensland with Liz and Darryl and Cate’s mother. Will also came for a couple for days as he was visiting Australia for a conference.

This is a terrific part of the world and we had a wonderful house up high with spectacular views to the coast about 20 kilometres away.

Long rides and walks have taken place here. Yesterday Gwenyth led me on a tour of Jugendstil architecture around Vienna and we had lunch at Kahlenberg - which is the highest point around Wien and has spectacular views.

Melissa arrives today so we will focus on cemeteries but tomorrow Cate has the desire to go to Schönbrunn Palace – which we have still not seen despite now being here for nearly one year.

I am really looking forward to this because you know how much I like palaces – and with any sort of luck there will be a church which I can go into to pray for deliverance from having to visit any more churches. I have a feeling this prayer is not going to be answered.

There are still marginal improvements taking place in the Cat Department and Muffin is not quite as cross as she was – although still hisses and Moni and Sissi.

As it’s news day I provide a report from the Austrian Times:

“Violent hail storms in Salzburg’s Flachgau have left thousands of wild animals dead and many more severely injured, local hunters have claimed.They say tours of the areas hit by storms last week have revealed the scale of the damage.They said they had found thousands of dead rabbits, deer and birds.Hunter Harald Holzer from Lamprechtshausen said: "There is nothing enjoyable about it. The stench is almost unbearable, and it is sad to see how many animals the hail killed. It would be better if they were still alive”

Good so far – but then he goes on to say “We won’t have much to hunt in the autumn."

Great – we are sad that they died because now we can’t blow them to pieces later in the year.
It has been a big day in Vienna as the next article demonstrates:

“Police are investigating after a fire ripped through a Vienna tram.The driver of a line 67 tram evacuated the tram at the intersection of Laxenburger Straße and Troststraße at 4:41pm and called firemen after passengers said they could smell smoke.No one was injured but firemen said the blaze which then broke out caused extensive damage to the tram.Police said the fire had probably been caused by an electronic defect”

I could have been a exploding Igel but if I were the police I would stick with the electrical fault hypothesis for the time being until they find the spines.

Merisi has introduced me to a delightful new German word ‘Ferkelgrippe’. (this is of course for the mild version of the complaint).

Cate and Gwenyth go sailing in Denmark on Sunday so Melissa and I will be left you our own devices. There will not be any churches involved but there may be cemeteries, medical museums and autopsies.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Are you Rapture Ready?

We spent a little time in the Blue Mountains near Sydney with my children and grandchildren. This is a truly wonderful place and we were in a magnificent home designed by Glen Murcutt. Blackheath, where we stayed, is one the places Cate and I love most on the planet.

I just can’t get the hang of Wien without people. Even the dry cleaner has closed for the holidays. It’s just bliss.

We went to Dalmatia (the restaurant) again and on the way home through Stadtpark saw our very first Igel. At least we think it was an Igel. It was prickly and plump and very slow moving. (It could have been Alexander Downer).

This is very exciting as we did not expect to see one in the city.

I showed Gwenyth the bike paths along the Donaukanal and Donauinsel and we have had a couple of long rides. Neither of us has much energy after these so we join the cats in an all afternoon slumber party.

Apart from this we are in such a torpor here that I just don’t have the energy to Blog. I am apparently suffering from post-vacation blog-ennui and there is no known cure.

However, I have booked Fabios for our knees up on Friday night. Baur (of course) is closed for the holidays but Fabios is a very good substitute.

At the bottom of the menu they say ‘WE TAKE THE LIBERTY OF ADDING A COVER CHARGE OF 3 EUROS’.

No mention of why they take this liberty – except that they want to. Good for them I say.
I have found this great website for those of you who are going to be taken up with the ‘Rapture’. You can subscribe to an email service that will let us know where you are.

Now – I can’t be sure about this – but I am not too sure that any of my Blog readers will be going. (I am pretty sure that I will be left behind). But – if you think you will be one who is – you can let us know where you are through this subscription service.

Although it would be nice if you could make a few calls before you left. It’s a bit impersonal to just send an email saying you are wherever you are with whoever. Why not call your mum and tell her. ‘Mum - the Rapture is taking place and I am going’
‘What dear?’
‘The Rapture Mum – it’s happening now and I am going’
‘OK Dear, have a nice time - I hope they are as good as AC/DC’.

There is another service which is free and the message on the home page is

"The rapture: When all the believers in Jesus Christ, who have been born again, aretaken up to heaven.After the rapture, there will be a lot of speculation as to why millions of people havejust disappeared. Unfortunately, after the rapture, only non believers will be left to come up with answers. You probably have family and friends that you have witnessed to and they just won't listen. After the rapture they probably will, but who will tell them?We have written a computer program to do just that. It will send an Electronic Message (e-mail) to whomever you want after the rapture has taken place, and you and I have been taken to heaven.

How is this accomplished, you might ask. It's a dead man switch that will automatically send the emails when it is not reset.If you wish to do something now that will help your unbelieving friends and family after the rapture, you need to add those persons email address to our database. Their names will be stored indefinitely and a letter will be sent out to each of them on the first Friday after the rapture. Then they will receive another letter every Friday after that.This rapture letter service is FREE and will hopefully gain the person you send it to an eternity in heaven.If you would like to see one of the letters which will be sent after the rapture, click here. This is a personal ministry, if you have any questions or comments please address them to: info@raptureletters.comThank you and God Bless You!"

I am not sure that a free service can be relied upon. I think you should pay up.

And what happens if the people running the service aren’t Raptured. Aren’t they going to get the shits and delete all the emails. I certainly would! (Another reason I won’t be Raptured!).

Monday, July 27, 2009

It’s good to be back

Gosh it’s good to be back in Wien. We were so pleased to be back that we went to one of our favourite restaurants on Friday night so that the locals could blow smoke all over us.

We missed this – after a fashion. There was no country we went to on our travels where smoking is permitted in restaurants. So it will take some getting used to again and it will no doubt make us very unhappy until we get the hang of it. Even Turkey is banning smoking in Restaurants. Turkey!

We surprised ourselves and made all our connections on the way back and enjoyed some more sensational food on Austrian Airlines. The beds are a bit wobbly because they are not completely flat but it is possible to get some sleep on them.

We experienced every conceivable variation of airport security during our travels. Some make you take off your shoes, belts and watches – and some don’t. Some want your laptop out of the bag – some don’t. Some want you to surrender your water bottle but in one place Cate dropped hers in the security area and the guard picked it up and gave it back to her. Some have started asking if you have ‘Umbrellas or Parasols’ but when you get on the Austrian Airlines flight you get steel knives and forks.

The whole thing is weird, stupid and inconsistent – and this is what drives travellers crazy. Add to this the Kafkaesque check in procedures by some airlines and it turns what should be a merely unpleasant trip into a truly ghastly experience.

The cats were – how shall we say it – ambivalent about our return. There was certainly no excitement and flag waving – but then no one bit us which is probably a good sign.

They were clearly more than happy with Gretchen who stayed with them and took them to the vet to get their second round of vaccinations.

There were still three kitty litter trays and – to Cate’s great horror – still one in her toilet. I have now taken the extra ones away and we are down to one (large) one in (where else) my bathroom.

Muffin is still sleeping on the ledge at the head of the bed and Moni and Sissi sleep on the bed with us. There is still some hissing and carrying on but it is not nearly as bad as it was. I have reasonable hopes that another month or so will enable us to achieve a détente although a complete rapprochement is probably out of the question.

I was – finally – able to watch the Tour de France and saw the last two stages – Mt Ventoux and the ride into Paris. This was most satisfying but does not make up for the immense deprivation I have suffered over the last few weeks.

I had never understood the July/August Europe holiday thingy. I had heard and read that people leave the cities in these months and go on holidays but I had never understood what it meant. Now I do.

Wien is deserted. Restaurants are closed or nearly empty. At lunchtime on Friday there were fewer than 10 people inside Café Schwarzenburg – and only one waiter on duty. Most of the ‘beach’ Bars on the Donaukanal are closed, the streets are deserted, the Prater is empty.

Where do the people go. Why isn’t the city full of tourists? Isn’t it tourist season? There must be some places at the moment which are absolutely heaving – so full that it must be unpleasant to be there - so why go there? Why not stay in Wien where it is blissful!

Gwenyth is with us now and I am showing her the many cycling paths on Wien. We are having a knees up for her birthday on Friday night and I have told the local police that there may be some rowdy people in the city. As it is actually her birthday today we are having a practice knees up at one of our favourite restaurants Dalmatia where the spécialité de la maison is salt encrusted fish.

This takes a while but is worth the wait. The waitress brings it to the table and dissects it with the skill of a surgeon – providing you with fillets of delicately flavoured, firm, moist fish. It is sensational and the perfect accompaniment is a bottle (or two) of Jamek Grüner Veltliner from the Wachau Valley.

We had not had Schnitzel for so long that we went to Huth on Saturday night for probably the best Schnitzel in town (well maybe Plachutta is a smidge better but there is not much in it).

One of our plants has turned up its toes. This is a bit disappointing. I didn’t expect it to get through winter but I though that it may hand on to the end of summer. This shows a total lack of commitment and it just shows how poorly young plants are brought up these days.

I haven’t checked with Fox News yet but have no doubt that Barack Obama is to blame for the poor performance of plants globally.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I have tough teeth

Cate is able to sneak away a bit earlier than planned so we are able to get out of Manila on Thursday night. The catch is that there is only a gap of 70 Minutes between the time we land in Bangkok and the time our flight leaves for Vienna.

I have been imagining all kinds of scenarios – none of them with happy endings – but we will do our best.

I have checked in online and – as usual – we were not seated together. I have been able to fix the flight to Bangkok but on the flight to Vienna we were on opposite sides of the aircraft and the best I can do is to get one row in front of Cate. However, I will give the H1N1 Virus ploy another go and should be able to get someone to move.

There is split second timing required for our departure. A hotel car will pick up Cate at her office at 4.30 and she will come back here where I will be waiting ready to go and with the bags packed. She will change clothes and then spend 20 minutes looking for something that she desperately needs on the flight. She won't know where this is so we will need to empty all the bags onto the floor.

We will then both have panic attacks and hyperventilate while attempting to shout hoarsely at each other at the same time stuffing all our belongings back into bags way too small for the purpose. (On reflection and with the benefit of hindsight I am sure we did not need to bring the Toaster and the Treadmill).

This is why am not too bothered about packing now and am just sort of stuffing it in anywhere. Why Cate has left some of the packing to me I just don't know. It is clearly the triumph of hope over experience as I have form in this area of activity and a distinct lack of common sense and reliability.

Last night Cate accused me of using her toothbrush and said she knew this was so because I brushed my teeth hard and left the brush shaggy. I told her I had tough teeth that needed a solid workout and it was not my fault if her teeth were pussies.

A Dentist to whom I went when I couldn't see Craig asked me what my aspirations were for my teeth. (Yes this is what he asked me). I said that I would like them all to go to university and have satisfying lives. I hoped that at least one Bicuspid might do Dentistry to give something back.

I mention this only because the airlines give you tiny toothbrushes in their little travel bag thingies and these brushes are clearly not for tough teeth. In fact mine laugh out loud when they see these pathetic specimen of brushdom. I do my best but they can hardly wait to get somewhere I can give them a good pummelling with Cate's brush.

I have just come back from a swim and a lie in the sun – having decided against the Banana leaf wrapping and Hayahay with Jade on the basis of the enormous number of Woggles involved.

I am contemplating the bag of dirty clothes – which by now is the largest component of our baggage.

I have a basic knowledge of physics and know that if we took them out of Austria clean we should be able to take them home dirty – I just can't see how at the moment but still have a few hours before zipper time.

There was a very large lady beside the pool and I have my eye on her to sit on the bags while I zip them up. I hesitate to ask her because she may take it the wrong way and sit on me instead.

Cate and I both have this fear that a bag will burst in transit and appear on the baggage belt as a very large collection of crumpled clothes, dirty underwear, odds, sods and paraphernalia collected from all over the globe.

In these circumstances we would take the only possible course of action and leave the whole lot to its fate in Vienna Unclaimed Luggage.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jade says I look like Bruce Willis

Yesterday was my 200th Blog. Thanks to all those who sent messages, cards and emails.

We had a great time in Australia and caught up with a few people who I won't name as those who missed out might be disappointed (or relieved). I can only say in mitigation that if we missed you (and in the unlikely event that you feel slighted by this) it is not that you are too boring to contemplate being with (although that may be the case) but that we had very little time.

I should mention however that we had dinner with the Drop Dead Gorgeous Llama and Hunk at Manta. Prior to this we had cocktails at the Blue Hotel next door. I had two Cuban Peaches and this enabled me to float above my body and watch myself eat dinner. I am going to email the Bartender and ask him for the recipe.

Our main issue with travelling is the enormous amount of luggage we (i.e. Cate) has because the trip is topped and tailed with work and she has to carry both summer and winter clothes.

The situation was not helped when she leapt into Neiman Marcus In Vienna VA and bought some new outfits (at massive savings –they were all on sale). I did buy a new jumper and some T Shirts so am not without some responsibility but my weight (and cost) don't amount to a hill of beans compared to Cate's epic load.

Anyway –one of our Bags weighs in at 30 kilos so is difficult to lug around. However, on arrival at the airport to leave Bangkok, we were met by a man with a trolley who took us to the check-in where we could sit (Yes SIT) while we checked in on our Thai Airways flight.

This would horrify the people from United who would improve productivity by removing the staff and chairs, installing barbed wire and recruiting armed guards with cattle prods.

When we arrived in Manila we were greeted by people who took us to this weird lounge just outside the terminal where we were given towels and drinks while we waited for our car. Did I mention I like travelling with Cate?

Of course everywhere we go I am treated as the head of the family and this drives Cate crazy (even though I am known by her last name – not my own). However I do of course refer everything to her and always walk a couple of paces behind her when we are being obsequiously ushered about by the hordes of hotel staff.

In a hotel lobby in Sydney you could set yourself alight and burn to death before anyone came near you. In Manila you would be covered in wet towels before you could strike the match. To get out of the hotel you have to greet at least a dozen staff and push your way past hordes of porters, door openers, security people and various others of indiscriminate vocation. It is apparently the job of some of them just to stand there and smile. Pause and look thoughtful and you will be immediately surrounded by uniformed people all offering assistance. Ask to go somewhere and they will not direct you – they will take you.

News from home is sketchy as we are not getting many reports from Gretchen (well.....none actually) but Rozalin has reported that all the Cats ate together yesterday. We assume that this is in the same room and not from the same bowl but it is indeed progress and we are well pleased.

We really do hope that we are going back to a house where there is some degree of harmony and with fewer than three litter trays.

It is a very long time since I have been to Manila but there do not appear to have been any road works since my last trip in 1979. I had forgotten about the phenomenon of power poles festooned with hundreds of cables (they have this in other places including Bangkok).

I don't know why this is so. It looks like every user runs an extension cord from their house to the Power Station but I am sure this can't be the case.

I have just returned from the Chi Centre in the hotel where I had fabulous massage at the hands of Jade. This included aromatherapy, the ringing of cymbals and bells and many different types of oils. It was quite sensational and well worth the enormous number of Woggles it cost.

Jade says I look like Bruce Willis but I think she may be short sighted due to all the oils and cymbals.

She said that next time I come in she will wrap me in Banana leaves and give me a Hayahay massage.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Eureka in Manila

After a desperate struggle with my German speaking computer I have finally managed to get my wireless connection working again. As with so many of my ideas that lose their wheels – buying a PC with a German operating system seemed like a good idea at the time. It was a bad idea that gets progressively worse.

However, I am back on the air, albeit at the scrag end of the trip.

I have (of course) much to tell you and will commence this task with some zeal shortly.

We have just checked in to the Shangri La hotel in Manila and Cate has gone off to do whatever it is that she does in these places.

It is a joy to travel with her when she is on business as she gets collected by chauffeurs in limousines and is given her own private check-in on the Executive Floor. Sometimes the hotel rings her when we are on our way in from the airport to see how she is and ask her if she needs anything special (perhaps an Orchid for Ben?)

She also gets free access to all the facilities including the special Clubs where they have free food and drinks from 5.30 to 8.30!

We have not done this yet as she has to work every day and needs to keep her wits about her. I am on a period of abstinence from alcohol after a punishing workout in Australia – where in fact we mainly drank New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc – which I have to say is better than most Gruner Veltliners.

Yesterday we were in Bangkok and near the hotel there were lots of bars with really friendly girls (some of them were more mature). They all wanted me to talk to them and buy them a drink but as I am on a very strict allowance I couldn't afford it.

I will ask Cate if I can have some housekeeping money so that I can talk to some girls here. I don't think she will be too keen.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Michael Jackson Grand Wailing and Gnashing Sobbathon

Steve (who lives in Vienna, Virginia), Muffin and Sissi.
We escaped from Peoria just in time. The National Bible Bowl took place in the convention centre next to the hotel on the weekend and we nearly got crushed up as hordes of Christians poured through the doors of the hotel. We were worried that we might get caught up and spend the weekend in the convention centre shouting 'Praise the Lord'.

We managed to suppress our latent religious tendencies and bolted for the airport. On the way I had a long conversation with the taxi driver about the prospects for the Ponies this year and the impact that the retirement of Tony Dungy had. Cate sent emails on her Blackberry and rolled her eyes.

United has managed to turn checking in into a special torment – using a system devised by the Gestapo. You now do everything yourself and no one will talk to you at all until you have a boarding pass. You go through this process – keying in all the information – while standing in front of the check-in person who now has time to file their nails or floss their teeth while they watch you without the slightest flicker of interest.

Having finally received your boarding pass you can then pass it to the flosser and ask him or her to change your ticket so that you can sit with your partner. You have to do this because the system makes you check in separately.

Well – we were sitting together – it's just that there was an aisle between us. But we were OK on the next two flights. I'm not sure why – perhaps a glitch in the system.

Travelling across America to take an international flight is excruciating because you cannot usually do this without stopping at either Denver or Dallas. There must be something in the Constitution about this.

Airports are one of the very few places in America where you cannot take guns – for a very good reason. The passengers would first kill the airport staff – and then each other.
The flight to Sydney was astonishingly good. United now has flat 'beds' and it is possible to stretch out –although rolling over is difficult - and we both went to sleep as soon as we got on the plane. This had the corollary benefit of enabling us to miss what I am sure would have been a delicious gourmet dinner!
We are staying at the Amora hotel in Sydney. I chose this after careful consideration of Cate's desires and needs. Needless to say she doesn't like it – and her level of hostility increases with each passing hour. As at time of writing she now hates, loathes and despises the hotel and all who sail in her.
One of the problems is that we cannot get our room made up. I don't know why – perhaps it is marked on the plan as a broom cupboard. Yesterday when we got back after lunch it had not been made up and it took us three phone calls to achieve the desired result.

I am not going to let Cate do the checking out as they may ask her if she enjoyed her stay and then we will be there for half an hour why she tells them that she would rather eat her own liver than stay in their hotel again. Of course I say what I always say – that I will never book another hotel room for us as long as my bony bum points to the ground – but we all know what will happen.

When we arrived at 7:00 AM on Sunday our room wasn't ready as the hotel was fully booked so we had to wander around for 4 hours or so and took a ferry ride to Manly and back. This was quite lovely and the harbour was sparkling in the early morning sun.

I was reminded that as a young lad when I lived in Manly and had just started work in the city I used to get the ferry and would pass by the Opera house construction site twice a day. Despite this intimate contact I was not invited to the official opening.

The hotel said that they would call us when our room was ready and – confident in the knowledge that this would not happen - we went back to the hotel at 11:30 and they found us a room – which had probably been ready since 8:00 AM.

Austrian drivers licences are regarded here with some degree of scepticism (well they are in German) so we had some degree of difficulty renting a car but are now the proud temporary owners of a Toyota Seca and were able to beetle out west to see Craig the World's Best Dentist.
We have the honour now of being the people who travel the greatest distance to see him.
I am pleased to see that Sydney's finest traditions are being upheld.

The NSW government is plumbing new depths of incompetence, drunken footballers are still raping, pillaging and defecating on hotel floors and the insane drunken lout culture has reached a crescendo – with more than 100 pubs being identified as trouble spots.
It also seems that there are no longer any street cleaning or garbage collection services in the City - or perhaps we are just being spoiled by living in Vienna.

I mentioned previously that I had planned to watch the Tour de France live in Austria –in daylight hours for the first time ever. When we decided to come away during the Tour I thought 'ah well – I can still watch it in the wee hours on SBS in Australia'
Well – not exactly – I see today that SBS is televising the Test Cricket every night so the Tour has been consigned to oblivion for the next five nights. Terrific!

As the only thing on TV at the moment is The Michael Jackson Grand Wailing and Gnashing Sobbathon I watched some of this this morning. Brooke Shields assured us that Michael is perched up there on a Crescent Moon watching over us.

Now there's a scary thought.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I guess it saves on the washing up

I am not at all sure that it is possible to buy a cup of coffee in Peoria. You can certainly buy cardboard mugs, jugs and buckets but cups are nowhere to be seen. I guess it saves on the washing up but I just cannot drink that much coffee.
Yesterday I had breakfast at Einstein Brothers (a Bagel and coffee). I got the smallest coffee they served and it was the equivalent of 4 regular cups. I could drink only half of it. Same story today at au bon pain.
To me it is awful – but the locals love it and hell – it's their country – I'm just passing through.
I widened my search out a few blocks today and discovered a hairdresser for men, a liquor store and two shoe stores and a comic store (which had closed down). Other than this the centre of Indy is a vast collection of restaurants and offices.
It seems that apart from the Mall in the centre – all the major stores are out of town – and why not – that's where the people are.
They do have really wide roads which all seem to be one way. There are swarms of panhandlers with at least one on each corner. I gave money to the man with the sign which said 'Why Lie? It's for Beer!'

I went for a long walk and checked out the war museum. I have wanted for some time to see the memorial to the USS Peoria which was the last capital ship to be sunk in World War 11. It is a truly scary story about sailors being eaten by sharks while they drifted for days in the Philippine Sea.

Cate is as usual well frazzled by work issues but she snuck away from last night's festivities (bowling and a knees up) so that we could go to Shula's Steakhouse in the hotel. Cate was not at all interested in the fact that Don Shula coached the Miami Dolphins to two Super Bowl wins.

She was however terrified by the meat presentation trolley where a young man held up various parts of a cow and explained what they were and how he could cook them. Don apparently grows his own beef and I wouldn't be surprised if he also killed them with his bare hands – he certainly looks tough enough.

Cate was due to finish at lunchtime today but of course she will be working all day and night and will also have to work tomorrow morning.

She will be cheered immensely by the fact that on the first leg tomorrow to Denver we are going on a shuttle so will be in steerage – and can fight about our baggage allowance. However, once at Denver we are able to assume our revered status as Business Class passengers and I imagine Cate will celebrate by having a drink or two.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I like drinking Naked

We had some difficulty leaving Vienna. Apparently this is the first time the airport had been crowded with people wanting to catch planes and they simply had no idea what to do. Me – I would write a training manual so that this doesn't keep happening or they will make people really cross.
Cate was really, really cross – especially after the check in person told her that we were not sitting together. We sorted this out when we got on board as the man next to me was kind enough to change places with Cate. I told him I had been in Mexico for six months working on a pig farm.
She took the early model aircraft in her stride. She knew that it would not be a flat seat and that there would effectively be no in-flight entertainment but she was cheered immensely by the quality of the food – which is indeed remarkable.
A Chef travels on the plane and he serves food from Do & Co. It was truly amazing and was by far the best food I have ever had on a plane – even when I have travelled First Class (those days are long gone).

Everything else about the flight was awful.
Of course we arrived just in time for the Michael Jackson Hysteria Competition and have heard almost nothing else for days.
Our time with Will and Kris was – as always – delightful. On this occasion we even bonded with Steve (the cat) who then spent a lot of time on our bed and – like Muffin – is a night time explorer.
We had always wanted to see Costco so Will took us shopping. Quite astonishing. There were lots of very large people pushing very full trolleys. I always forget how big so many Americans are and it takes some getting used to after Austria.
There are so many colossal tubsters here that I really worry that it is a problem that cannot be overcome – especially by those who pass the bakery counter in Costco and pick up a 7 Pound Chocolate Cake or a 5 Pound Apple Pie.
I discovered some old favourites – including real Bagels - and some new things. My favourites were Salsa of a type I have not tasted before and Naked. This is a fruit Smoothie – mainly Mango but with Peaches and Apples. There are 2 Ponds of fruit in every bottle – Fabulous!
Will took us to the National Air and Space Museum and to Manassas where two Civil War battles were fought and we went to a nice French restaurant in Alexandria on the Potomac. We chose the night that there was a major knees up taking place in the upstairs room so didn't hang around for long.
Cate went to Washington on Monday to talk to people in government (I don't think she saw the President) and Kris and I pottered around Vienna and its environs. We discussed the lack of Chipmunks and some length and eventually decided that Maria the cat from next door must have eaten them. (Last time we were here their garden was heaving with Chipmunks).
I am on a Business Class ticket but the flight to Peoria is a shuttle service that has no Business Class. This means that I had to engage in hand to hand combat to get through without an excess baggage charge, I had to fight to use the Business Class entrances to everything and I could not use the Business Class lounge. I did all this with some élan and did not sweat it at all.
Peoria is a strange place. After some investigation I have discovered that within a six block radius of the hotel there are only two pharmacies – two! But there are more restaurants than I have ever seen in the one place. Perhaps this is why they rank #16 in the obesity stakes in the USA.
The streets are very uncluttered – apart from restaurants and office buildings there is almost nothing else. I have found a shopping centre but it contains no pharmacy and no electronics store (the only two stores I wanted).
There will be a place where all these things are but I haven't found it yet. The average Austrian would not last more than a day here – they would not survive the lack of pharmacies as there is at least one in every block in Wien.
I have just checked in with FOX and have confirmed that President Obama is doing a terrible job, that none of his programs have worked or will work and that his real agenda (as a Muslim and agent of Osama Bin Laden) is to destroy America.
I don't think he has to –I looked inside Cinnabon and I think it can do the job almost on its own.