Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Where are Rozalin's tattoos?

Alt Wien - outstanding coffee!

We went to Stephansdom to see an Adventkonzert. They have this wonderful system in Austria that when you pay an extraordinary amount of money to sit in a freezing cold and draughty place – the price only entitles you to enter the frosty and windswept venue.

To actually get a seat within 100 metres of what is happening you have to line up outside in the rain/snow/sleet/whatever until they open the door 30 minutes before the start. Your main task is then to stay alive as a heaving, screaming horde of humanity hurls itself inside the stone ice cube to engage in hand to hand combat for cold, hard wooden seats.

They are able to perpetrate these atrocities upon the population because an amazing number of nitwits such as us continue to pay large amounts of money to freeze our bums off in stone ice boxes.

For the price you pay and the crowds that go you expect to see the Rolling Stones and AC/DC on a Double Bill.

But no – and you know you are in trouble when the singers wear ear muffs.

There was a string quartet, a trumpet player, a man who spoke to us occasionally from the pulpit and what was supposed to be the Vienna Girls Choir – which were described in the program as ‘highly enthusiastic girls in the age between ten and 15 are singing choral music on the highest standard’.

There were two girls only and they lacked enthusiasm to a significant degree. One was young and tall, the other was very young and very, very small. But they both sang like I assume angels would if they existed and could be bothered.

I have no idea where the other choir members were – but can reasonably assume that they were even less enthusiastic than the two who turned up. Perhaps they were buying their Christmas Trees.

The trumpet player had less to do than anyone else so fidgeted throughout the entire performance. He had two trumpets and was obsessed with the mouthpieces – of which he had quite a collection – and changed these constantly. He apparently generated large amounts of …ahem….spittle…and shook this all over the place. I hope the other members of the troupe had towels with them.

If I was in charge of this gig I would lose him and add an Oboe player who uses Prozac.

The man whose job it was to speak did so twice. The first time he read – in German – part of the Austrian Industrial relations Act (1954) (as amended). I know this is so because I recognized ‘Mitarbeiter’ and ‘Friseur’. The second time he spoke it was in English but his accent was so strong that I did not realise this until he had nearly finished. My recollection is that he was describing a boxing match and one of the boxers was named ‘Hope’. On the other hand it could have been the 1936 match between Joe Louis and Max Schmeling at Yankee Stadium. What a fight that was!

The overall performance could be described as lackluster but adequate. The most important thing is that we have done it, can tick it off the list – and do not have to do it again until next year.

There is a great sense of community at these types of events and when they are over people help each other lever their frozen asses of the seats and struggle together out into the snow – stepping over the frozen bodies of the fallen.

The amazing Rozalin has introduced us to Christmas Tree blankets.

Well – when you buy a tree it comes standing up in a wooden cross. We assumed that we would wrap this in paper – or even a towel. In Australia I would just shoot a Bunyip in the back garden and use the skin (and toss the Bunyip into the Christmas stew – minus the farnarkles of course).

The Austrians – bless their hearts – have invented covers for the bottoms of their Christmas trees. These are called Wende-Tannenbaumdecke and they are magnificent. Ours is reversible and is gold on one side and red on the other. Of course you buy them at Tchibo or Eduscho – the people who sell coffee and clothing in the one store. Works for me.

Apparently Rozalin has tattoos which are not necessarily all visible to the naked eye. Cate says I am not allowed to ask Rozalin on which parts of her anatomy they reside.


  1. I've staggered out the door of Alt Wien on many late night occasions. In fact, a scene or two in the screenplay I'm writing takes place in there. I love Alt Wien.

  2. Whoops! Thought you meant another cafe. My bad!

  3. Yes - I discovered when looking up Alt Wien on the Internet that there are many of them! This one only sells coffee.

  4. We have those Christmas tree cover things here too Badge - but we call them "Christmas tree skirts". Funny little old women in quilting circles make them in very intricate patterns (so I've been told - of course I have never had close aquaintance with such a device). They probably sell them at school fetes. You will, of course, remember how necessary it is to keep Christmas trees warm in Sydney in December .... it's not just the Austrians that do mad things at Christmas. Jill

  5. Leaping Lizards! I had never seen one until I arrived here. All those Bunyips who died unnecessarily!

  6. "My" Alt Wien is in the Bäckerstrasse. It's a dark, bohemian cafe, and I absolutely love it for drinking Rot Wein late at night.

    I had no idea that there were others.