Tag Archives: food

Returning home

Returning home is expensive!

Friday and Saturday:

  • $70+ for Auggie’s bath and haircut
  • $55 at the garden center to purchase perennials to fill the gaps in the garden
  • $50+ at Schnuck’s and Aldi for things to eat
  • $18 at DiGregorio’s for olive oil and such
  • $55 at Herbaria for soap and bath bombs
  • $20 for a much-needed manicure
  • $7 for a Taco Bell fix

It adds up so quickly!

Euro18: and home

I woke on Friday morning to the iPad NOAA warning about extreme temperatures at Rienosslsgasse 3 in Vienna.

Fortunately, I was home in Saint Louis with moderate weather, but more humidity.

At some point my iPad will figure out that I’m in the USA. I certainly know that I am! Witness:

  • Iced tea!! I went for three weeks without it.
  • Taco Bell. I went for 3.5 weeks without it.
  • Airport staffs who are not multilingual (except in Spanish). Such a change from Europe.
  • Air-conditioning everywhere.
  • Cellular service everywhere without having to think of turning the phone on and off.
  • A fridge and a freezer. (Small fridge only, with no freezer, in Vienna.)
  • Loudness. Americans just talk so damn loudly.
  • Diet Pepsi! I went for 3.5 weeks without it.

But as my friend Alice said on Facebook last evening, she has little compassion for the slight frustrations, given what I was able to see and do. And I expect no boo-hoos for the cultural differences and the weariness because of the seeing and doing.

And DO I did.

The research grant proposed outcomes are essentially complete. The draft report is 75% there, with some details and nuance to ponder and finesse. In other words, I accomplished the stated goals. The grant outcome was successful. Now we move to implementation.

Along the way, I was a tourist nearly every day — in fact, save for last Sunday, every single day of the sojourn in Europe.

What did I not do? Well, I skipped the Salzburg and Venice/Dolomites excursions because I just was not feeling well. Summer allergies are, I’m told, quite severe in Vienna this year. I did not make it to all the art museums I would have wished, and since concert season was over, I attended only two musical performances.

What DID I do?

Enough art to keep me happy for months. Less-frequented locales such as the Snow Globe Museum, the Freud Museum, the Schnapps Museum, the Imperial Crypt, and the old Jewish cemetery at Zentral Friedhof. Anglican Church services in Florence and Vienna. Florence. Choral concert by a British choir at the British Embassy Church. A cruise on the Danube. Cooking class. Visited Mahler’s grave. Walked in the steps of Mozart and Beethoven and Schubert and Haydn and so many others. Melk Abbey. Heurigerabend. Organ recital at the Jesuit Church. Churches and parks and the Naschmarkt and gelato and beer and bubbly and schnitzel and . . . well, the whole five-senses experience indeed.

And I kept up with the daily office work. My email inbox is only marginally more crowded now than it was when I left, and no decisions have been punted to next week.

Now home for a few days, and with days off this weekend with few obligations, I can rest and recharge before the onslaught of the run-up to August 20 when contracts begin.

And I can love on Auggie, who apparently did indeed miss me.

Of all the pleasures of travel, returning home is the greatest joy.

Euro18: Sunday in Vienna

I took a slower pace on Sunday and found myself watching people even more than usual.

Without being too creepy (and of course any time one writes that phrase, it’s because something creepy is taking place), here are some local color shots from Sunday–

A whole group of Japanese kids and mothers, the children all dressed this way, approached Cafe Schwarzenberg not long after I sat down for lunch. Only one small group actually sat down (the rest going across the street to McDonald’s), and that group was a mother with twin sons. The boys put me to shame, switching easily between German with the waiter, Japanese at the table, and then English after their food arrived when this kid turned to me and asked in faultless English “Would you please take our photo?”. This must be a school group from Japan? What you are not seeing clearly in the photo is the socks that match the dress shorts, and the black patent leather shoes.

I noticed a woman in traditional garb last week. On Sunday I almost missed this one cross the Ringstrasse at Schwarzenbergplatz. She had just thrown down a cigarette.

My lunch: the Steirischer Backhendelsalat is a hit with me.  Yummy yummy good.  And of course Esterhazytorte is my favorite Viennese pastry.  I love the presentation of coffee — in a little pot, with a pitcher of milk, and always a small glass of water!

On the tram to the cemetery, these two sat down in front of me. I surmised quickly that they are twins. They talked softly all the way to the same stop where I alighted, and they carried with them some greenery. The last I saw of them, they were buying flowers outside the cemetery gate. One wonders whose grave(s) they were planning to adorn. A parent? A sibling? Their former husbands?

Notice they are both in plaid, both wearing pearl earrings (although different styles), and both with the same hair rinse.

On the tram, we passed Tropico Markt, which sells”Orientalische” things like Bollywood films and cosmetics and various sauces.

Later, at gelato, this older man was by himself, enjoying his espresso and ice cream, fairly oblivious to the noise and confusion that reigns at Zanoni. At the next table, another solo man. And I was solo too. We were a trio of solo gelato for a few moments. One wonders if this Sunday excursion is a regular one for the man in the blue shirt and light grey twills?

The organ at the Jesuitenkirche, where I heard an outstanding recital of music by Jehan Alain, played by a 28-year-old organist of the church:


Siebensternbräu is a local institution. Alban Berg used to go there for a beer with a friend. J.P. and Sylvie and I enjoyed a beer and dinner on Sunday.

Euro18: a Saturday off

Truth be told, Friday’s wanderweg-workout wore me out, and I decided to push my Salzburg trip to Monday.

So Saturday was a day off. I left the flat twice: to purchase a Nussbeugel for breakfast and sesame roll of some sort to go with dinner; and at mid-afternoon to take out the recycling and walk around the corner to Spar for more fizzy water, a lemon, and some Prosecco.

And I took a late morning three-hour nap.

Some ruminations . . . .

I can truly understand why Vienna is considered one of the most livable cities in Europe. The annual mass transit card costs less than a dollar a day. Food is relatively inexpensive, whether one is cooking at home or eating out. Art is everywhere. I see few people on the streets asking for hand-outs. Everything runs on time.

This has been my own experience of course, and as an ex-pat spending a short stay abroad I certainly do not see the negatives the way a local would. The government is lurching right in order to keep certain constituents happy, and Austria’s physical location contiguous with former Eastern bloc countries does provide certain current immigration pressures.

But all in all, the local people with whom I’ve spoken love living here.

And of course a Heuriger is only 35 minutes away on public transportation!

My own neighborhood in the Fourth District is considered quite Bohemian and trendy. On the main street around the corner are various restaurants: a vegan place, a Chinese buffet (better than any at home), several local cuisine establishments, a noodle shop, a British-style pub, a joint called Allergikercafe that serves non-allergenic foods. And across the corner from the Chinese place is a Goodyear tire shop, with a medical internist office next door, then a second-hand jewelry store. Across the street is a shoe shop side-by-side with the Red Cross blood donation center, and then my bakery, and then a little art boutique, and then a shop that only sells ladies’ handbags.

On my very block, Jean Sibelius lived in a flat just meters from me while he was in Vienna, 1890-1891. Four blocks away is The Golden Lamb hotel, where Dvorak stayed in making several trips to the Austrian capital. And six blocks from me, Brahms spent the last 25 years of his life in the shadow of the Karlskirche. That building still stands. And these are just the places I’ve discovered so far.

My own German is getting better, but is still totally transactional. Waiting in line this morning for my morning bread, I followed every bit of a conversation between a blind woman and the counter attendant. The woman was buying her bread for today and tomorrow (when shops are closed on Sunday). And yesterday I peppered a work conversation with various specific German words. But don’t ask me to make complete sentences or conjugate. I’ll stick with “Entschuldigung sie, bitte” and “Speisekarte in Englisch, bitte!”.

This whole idea of shops closing at 7 or 8 on weeknights, and only opening on Saturday morning, is so very civilized. One must plan ahead, but c’est la vie.

And I marvel at how, like England, every transaction is peppered with courtesies — greetings, thank you when you order, thank you when pay, various other civilities along the way, and so many different ways to wrap up the transaction and exit the shop. I am so weary of fast-food drive-thru and “Here you go,” if that. The Austrians do commercial transactions so very well indeed.

[Neither of the photos today are mine.  I’m sorry.]