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.


  1. I love Huth. It's where the director of our film gave us our wrap party dinner. The Leberknodelsuppe is light and not at all salty, like it was made of too many bullion cubes. I think I had the Schnitzel as well, but can't remember -- there were so many wines and beers and rounds of Scnapps... Here are some pictures of us there.

    Glad to have you back!

  2. I'm glad I'm not a real man!

  3. Tour de France, ewww. **Yawns**

  4. Welcome back!
    I am one of those few Schlemiels who stay put and loving it. ;-)