Monday, August 15, 2011

Vienna Day 2 and, we picked up the car!


Thursday morning we woke up quite early in our room (as O had been out and about sneaking into gyms and buying pastries and such). We pulled it together and set off. L took us by a little grocery store where we picked up yogurt, cheese, spread, and bread (Dad was really quite into the strong cheeses, takes him right back to his days in France) and caught the U-bahn (metro) to the Schronnbrunn palace and gardens. The palace was amazing. It was built up quite a bit by Maria Theresa (Marie Antoinette's mother) and is of similar time and style as Versailles (but it still has most of its furniture and is in better condition, or so I believe they say). We had a great audio guide that told us all about the life of the royals there (weird in some ways, there rooms are really long, not very wide. It is strange because you walk through like the King's bedroom to get to other rooms, creepily un-private). We also heard about Sisi, who was completely bizarre. She was adored by her husband, though she barely tolerated him or her children. The country was not to keen on her either until she was stabbed to death-nothing like a good martyrdom to make a saint out of a weirdo.

Our tour of the palace was followed by an apple strudel cooking class. L and I ordered small samples of strudel for all except Fred, for whom we ordered a large combo strudel and hot chocolate (thinking we could all to share it). Before the class started, we sat down. The waitress came and set the strudel and cocoa in front of Dad. You should have seen his eyes. Then of course, O turns back around, you really should have seen his eyes. He starts gasping and sputtering and asking Fred if he really loves strudel, seeing as how he has a seven pound piece of it in front of him. Fred was just as speechless, also wondering why he had this enormous piece, looking confusedly at our little bite sized things, then back at his dinner plate sized strudel. The cooking class was great, you know how I love that sort of thing. the lady rolled out the dough thin enough to read through, and left us all crazy impressed.

 (I wish I could insert a pic here, but Dad, whom I sent out of the room to look for his computer cord, has now taken up residence on the chair in the hall, and I think the pics will have to wait.)

After the cooking class we meandered through the gardens (Mom meandering, L running 10 yards ahead, then stopping and staring at Mom frantically-a little aside, I asked L today where she was in such a hurry to get to. She said, we just have to hurry). The Hapsburgs really did quite a lot out there. The trees are trimmed in the most amazing ways, making these walkways with arches to enter little tree lanes, very cool (you know how I have long been interested in topiary/bush trimming, I may just have to get a job there if It's a Small World won't hire me). After a 10 min nap on the benches (during which Mom read the guide book and when we stood up the leave told us she had not taken her nap yet), we raced to Belvedere Palace.

Belvedere Palace was the home of Prince Eugene of Savoy. The grounds look a bit like those seen in the Count of Monte Cristo (scene where he comes floating in on a hot air balloon). He was an unfortunate looking man, whom nature was unkind to (audio guides words, not mine), but he made the most of life and, though lacking in looks and stature, he was a brilliant strategist in the war (Turkish war I think). One of the most important events in Austrian post war history was the signing of some document by Kennedy and some other people. The palace does not have furniture but houses art collection-which had many famous pieces. One that most recognize is the painting of Napolean on his rearing horse, charging forward. The collection also included a Van Gough, some Monet, Schiele, Rembrant, and one that is crazy famous by Schuppn (portrait of Eugene) etc. The most famous piece of art in all of Vienna is also housed here-the Kiss, by Klimt. It was amazing and one that must be seen in person, it just doesn't sparkle in the reproductions quite right. M personal fav was another Klimt, in a different style, a lady in a pink dress.
(a bit more about Eugene-apparently he was both physically and mentally frail-so I'm not sure about his strategies-and, about once and hour, my mom says, his heart is buried in Savoy, not sure how that keeps coming up though :)      )

From Belvedere, we moved back to the U-bahn and over to tour the Parliment building. We were all absolutely exhausted, but dragged ourselves onward bc we did not want to miss out on anything! O was particularly interested in the Parliment tour bc he loves the whole government thing.
The tour was great, filled with interesting facts about how the Austrian government works and excellent photo opportunities, you bet I took some of O and D at the mics, with lots of profess flags behind them-I'll blow them up and make them think they really have lived their dreams of becoming politicians (I've always known this was a dream of O's, but, before this evening when D loitered around the American Embassy and mentioned that he would like to become an ambassador, I never knew this was of interest to him)

After Parliment, we had picked up our second wind. We stopped by a stand to get hot doggies and We went to the Sacher Hotel to have Sacher cake, the most famous cake in Vienna (lots of places have Sacher cake, but the hotel started it all and is the only one with the original recipe!). We ordered a few cakes, Mom ordered a Viennese sausage plate which L's host mom told her was just so beautifully served. The nasty waitor (can I just say Europe has no concept of customer service) said every person had to get something so I ordered an expensive drink that I think was just tang put in some soda water. The most hysterical moment of the day came when the waitor came with Mom's meal. First off, he had come and put down a nice napkin and silverware in front of her, so she started getting all excited. Then he dropped off the cakes and the Tang. Finally, he arrived with the sausage plate.

I have the most priceless photo of this moment, I'll post it as soon as I find the camera cord. Mom's lovely sausage was just two extra long (as in, like a foot long each) Hebrew National raw-looking skinny hotdogs with a little pile of horseradish (I'm used to hotdogs with grill marks on them and just find the pasty looking ones creepy). Mom looked more than slightly dismayed, as she cut tiny bites of her "beautiful sausages".

To cheer her up, we talked a lot about the horseradish-what it was (quite literally, Mom kept saying, "what is this?", and we would say "horseradish", and then she would say, "no, I mean what is this" and we would say "horseradish", and on the third time, after O responded "I think it's horseradish" she nearly screamed "don't tell me it is horseradish, I want to know what horseradish is"), how it tasted, and all that. Mom kept offering everyone a taste and finally Dad gave in. He picks up a bite and mom tells him to dip it into the horseradish (the only other thing on the plate). He takes another bite and says "what is this stuff?" and we all say "horseradish" and, strangely, its as if he missed the whole horseradish conversation-so of course we had to go through once again, what horseradish was. We laughed for like 20 min, all the while trying to get mom to let us take photos holding the naked foot long sausages in our bare hands, basically giving credit to all the stories about the vulgar American tourists :)

By this point, we were all seriously tired. However, you nothing can keep us (particularly Mom) away from a good shopping moment. The boys headed straight for the hotel but us girls managed to drag ourselves through a few H&Ms and Zara's before returning to the hotel for a quick nap. I completely passed out for an hour, could not even respond to O's questions about shopping nor find out where he had been roaming about this time :). After a short respite, we pulled ourselves together and went up to the Rathaus, the Town Hall (though much more fabulous than any town hall you can imagine) to watch Madae Butterfly (in the summer the put up a giant screen and show musicals, operas, ballets, and other artsy things for free several nights a week, it is wonderful!).

Well, as you can imagine, that was quite a day. (if you have made it to the end of this post, I imagine you are also feeling quite exhausted. Though it is hard to believe, I have actually skipped a few things, such as how O would disappear at strange hours of the night or early morning, zipping off into other hotels workout rooms and picking up treats for us at nearby bakeries, as well as the sleeping situation. With all the pressure of the marvelous Spain lodgings (castles etc) I went for 4 star hotels (sort of Art Novoue-ish) I only got 2 rooms and figured we could squeeze L somewhere. Well, squeeze we did. I slept on 1/3 of L's bed and 1/3 of O's, which meant that their two beds were pushed together and I was sleeping along the crack. Thankfully, doped up on Ambien as I was, I did not mind, and none of us seemed to dwell on the bizzarreness of it all. In fact, it only occurred to me when, M came in the last morning, looked around, and said "where does L sleep?" which gave us a good laugh) Anyhow, I really must be less wordy, otherwise, we'll never get out of Salzburg. So, I'll be preparing much shorter posts of our future days!)

ps: L is rather affronted that I suggested she has used the bidet at the Daw's. Apparently, she never used it, just looked at it frequently. 


erika said...

That sounds like a whirlwind of a day. I seriously can't believe you did it all. Can't wait for the pictures. I didn't know O was so interested in working out while on vacay! Also, how was the Sacher cake? It seems that the sausages overshadowed it.

erika said...

Also, I can't wait to hear about your driving experience. I hope the roads in Austria are like driving on the autobahn which I hear is the ultimate driving experience!

Kathy C said...

I was laughing so hard about Fred's streudel that when I read about Kristy's Rain Man moment with the horseradish that tears came to my eyes!