Category Archives: Daily Life

Euro18: Monday in Vienna

Monday was a fallow day.

And then I returned to my flat to find out what Trump pulled in Helsinki.  And the world is afire.

On the streets of Vienna today:

Two views of the east end of Stephensdom:

And a sudden downpour on Kärtnerstrasse, the main shopping street:

While she insists on walking the dog, poor thing:


Euro18: observations

I journal daily (sometimes almost hourly) when I travel abroad.

And reviewing my travel journals is a delightful way to recall experiences, feelings, observations from my travels over the last 24+ years to four different continents.

This excursion has brought me some new observations, so reminders, and some stories. I’ve shared a couple of the latter already.  (And also.)

Here are some observations . . . .

My flat in Vienna has no garbage disposal.  I’m having to recall what to do with dinner dandruff!

A very kind Swedish kid was watching videos all the way from Newark to Stockholm.  He draped his hoodie across the side of his seat to that his video screen would not interfere with my fitful attempts at sleep.

How easily people switch between languages in Europe!  So many people are multi-lingual!

In Stockholm, whilst watching FIFA World Cup soccer in the executive lounge at the Hilton: the lounge attendant keeps walking into the room, watching a minute of the game, throwing up his hands in disgust at failed goal approaches, and walking out with a sigh.

My schoolboy German is coming along, and apparently people think I’m local at times, so successful is the accent.  But I’m finding English to be more prevalent than I remember from ten years ago.

The EU is fraying.  Voices of illiberalism are gaining strength. Flames of fear are being fanned by right-wing demagogues who then propose they are the solution to the problem they maintain is present, even though emperical evidence does not support their claims.  Even the young Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, is calling for hardening of the open borders that have been a key element of the European experiment.

Policies of mistrust — panic, even — are replacing what has always been a rational, consensus-driven, lead-from-the-middle governing philosophy.

Angela Merkel almost lost her government this month.  The Italians can’t pull anything together.  Hungary is under the thumb of a right-wing heavy.  Poland is verging on civil war.  And America?  My god . . . .

Cold cucumber soup is a delight!

Americans can be real shits when traveling abroad.  (I suppose people from other countries can be as well.)  Witness, in Florence last weekend:

“Is there a ladies nearby.”  New Jersey accent.  Repeated three times, at louder decibels. Met with a blank look from the Italian.  Finally, “Oh god, I just need a toilet.” And there was the word that made sense.

Why don’t people learn to try different words?  When I talk to people for whom English is not the first language, and I get a blank look, I always try to find another way of expressing the idea.  This seems so basic!

And American and Japanese teenagers and college students: stop tapping on your damn smartphones, and start looking up while you walk!  By the way, children, I learned years ago to look up above street level.  In many cities, some of the greatest glories abound on the façades of the buildings!

My impression is that Italians are not as considerate as their northern neighbors.  Not once did I see anyone at all –and certainly not the oblivious youngsters — give up a seat for a person with a cane, or an older person.  Even tram seats marked as for the elderly or handicapped were taken instead by able-bodied folks, usually youngsters.  In Vienna, half the tram jumps up to offer their seat.  Even in NYC!  But not in Italy, or at least not in Florence.

School email never ends.

I guess I just don’t get conceptual art.  The Klimt Beethovenfries was glorious, but the current contemporary installation was lost on me as I visited the Secession on Saturday.


Euro18: no more Italy

I was to be on a plane to Venice early this morning, and then go on up into the Dolomites, but I’m just not feeling well.  The cough continues, and my energy is flagging enough that I made the decision early this morning to take it easy for a couple of days.

I’ll miss the opportunity to add new places to my memory-list, and of course I’ll miss seeing Jeremy and Marc at the summer program in the Alps.

But at nearly 57 years of age, I’m learning even more to listen to that persistent voice deep inside, and so I shall. A quiet day at the flat in Vienna is perfectly in order.

Here’s what I’m missing:

Mezzano, Italy - where some of my Dad's family is from!

Euro18: slivers of my day

Friday morning. My breakfast consisted of scrambled eggs and something like bacon; some cheese; and a fresh croissant. All with black coffee.

Yesterday’s breakfast also included himbeeren, or raspberries.

As I wandered the 4th District on Wednesday, I found a bakery just a block away. This is dangerous news. Felber is already a compulsive addiction for me. What I’m doing with all the walking (8500 steps on Thursday, with most of the day in meetings or on the subway) may be totally negated by my fresh bread and pastry cravings.

So yesterday and today, after rising and doing the usual important morning things, I pulled on clothes and walked down the street to buy fresh bread. And I intend to do this daily!

As I’ve described my flat to local colleagues, they are each and every one amazed that I found a place with air conditioning (unusual in Wien in private apartments) and with a lift and with a grand piano. And for about $100/night. Thanks be to god for hitting AirBnB at the right time a few months ago!

My flat is just a five-minute, two-block walk from the Taubstummengasse stop on the U1 subway line. This means that Webster University-Vienna is only four subway stops away, and connections to three other subway lines are easily obtained within two stops.

Taubstum means deaf-mute, by the way. So Taubstummengasse is Deaf-Mute Street.

The Naschmarkt is only about a five-minute walk west of my flat. I was there twice on Wednesday, and will go again next week to buy some provisions and taste some local cheese.

Speaking of cheese, the fourth course last evening featured three local cheeses, of which the Bauernrebell was the huge hit. The cheese is soft and creamy and delicious!

My fun glasses stand out here in Vienna, at least on the subway where I am seeing nondescript glasses on people’s faces.

We had rain overnight. In fact, the rain hit just as I was getting home from dinner. I slept with the windows open, and now have a stuffy nose. The storm front clearly brought something with it from the Alps to the west.

9:15 a.m. now, and I should get started on today’s research and then a bit of art-lover tourism, all before dinner with two more colleagues. And tomorrow is Florence!

Here’s the bacon:

Euro18: five courses

Oh lord.  Oh lord indeed.

I dined this evening at the ravishingly beautiful apartment of Jean Pascal Vachon and his lovely bride Sylvie.

JP is a colleague from Webster.

We enjoyed a five course meal stretching over five hours.

Words will never do justice to the meal and the friendship, so I’ll be prosaic and leave it alone.

And I’m happily miserable right now.

First course: dried meat, olives, bread sticks, Prosecco.

Second course: salad of local-grown lettuce, a ham concoction that’s a local specialty, and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Third course: potato cakes with sour cream, trout roe, smoked salmon, and other stuff.

Fourth course: local cheeses.  DEEEEE – VINE!!!

Final course: vanilla and verbena flan, with fresh apricot purée on the top.

And loads of wine.

Lord almighty.

And with that, as I finished writing just after midnight local time, the rain starts.  I have the windows open tonight after two fiendishly hot days.  Saints be praised!