To Vienna and Back

The next couple of days were pleasant just as the first, and maybe even more because my lovely friends accompanied me around town and showed me some cool places. More excellent food was eaten, of course,  thanks to my italian food expert. He was also generous enough to cook two amazing dinners of fresh pasta to die for. Happiness in my belly!

I also developed a special appreciation and slight obsession with Prosseco, after trying some Italian one from a company called Canella.

I visited the Schoenbrunn Palace where the last emperor Franz Joseph used to reside before the abolition of the monarchy. It was a very interesting tour across the various rooms in the palace which displayed the possessions and habits of the royal family. Franz Joseph’s grandmother, Maria Theresa, for example, had something 16 children, 12 of which were females. She married all but one of her daughters to princes/ dukes of other nations for political reasons when they were 15 or 16 years old. One of such daughters was the famous Mary Antoinette. Anyways, back to Franz Joseph: Franz was married to Elizabeth of Bavaria who was an extremely beautiful woman, nicknamed “Sisi”. According to the tour guide, Sisi was obsessed with her looks and used to exercise a lot, spend hours attending to her hair, and often was absent from family dinners. She also seemed to not be too interested in her husband and chose to travel a lot and spend as little time as possible at Shoenbrunn. She was said some things about the institute of marriage, which I found amusing for someone of her epoch to say: “Marriage is a preposterous institution. You are sold as a child of fifteen, you swear vows you don’t understand, and you regret them for thirty years or more, but you can never break them.”

Schoenbrunn

On the way back to Tel Aviv, I had an interesting incident in the boarding line. There was a group of girls, aged 16-17 or so, that I am guessing went to Vienna for a tennis tournament.  They were accompanied by their coach, a lady in her early 30’s. I was standing and minding my own business when I hear one of those girls,  after helping one of the chaperons fix something on his iPhone,  come up to her coach and tell her in full arrogant “I -know-it-all” tone: “Let me tell you, YOUR generation, you don’t know ANYTHING about technology!!”. Wow.. I really wanted to punch this little brat.

I also enjoy my Continental Gold status access to business lounges and have some thoughts on this which I may share in my next post..

Advertisements

Of imperial palaces and naked cyclists or my second day in Vienna

Oh what a glorious day!

The day started with my friend’s Filipino maid coming to clean his apartment. Let me tell you — this lady was so well dressed that she put me to shame.. she also carried a Longchamps bag and was perfectly made-up. I at first thought she made a mistake and arrived at the wrong apartment. She also scared me that it’s raining and going to rain all day long but I decided to risk it and leave the umbrella at home. I was lucky! It never rained and even became sunny in the afternoon. Boo to weather forecasts!

I started with a stroll across the city center, walking past many many tourists. I pretended I am not one of them and gave them scornful looks. It worked really well because non of the hundreds of Mozart-dressed tourist vulture salesmen bothered me the whole day. Putting an evil look on one’s face helps as well. Works like charm to scare away hagglers. Anyways, I first went to the Vienna Musikverein concert hall, where I got tickets to the afternoon rehearsal, directed by the one and only Zubin Mehta (5 Euros!!!! for standing places). Also was featured Daniel Barenboim, who is according to wikipedia, is a very famous conductor and musician and also a critic of Israel, despite being Argentinian Israeli himself. Regardless of his political opinions, his performance on the piano was phenomenal.

Musikverein
Music Hall Ceiling

After picking up the tickets, I continued to the naschmarket, which is an outdoors fruits and spices market and after passing many cheap asian restaurants sports some really cute brunchy type cafes. I had some excellent coffee and a turkish breakfast (feta with honey: yummy, yummy!) while reading Brothers Karamazov on my Kindle (best purchase ever!).  I then continued on to the museum quarter to visit the Leopold Museum who is now on my top 3 museums list after the MOMA and Tate Modern. I saw some excellent Egon Schiele pieces. The Klimt collection was really small unfortunately. Neue Galerie in NYC had a much better collection when I was there a couple of years ago. In any case, the visit was worth it with some interesting photography and european jewelery exhibitions.

Pink cadillac - Mary-Kay salesperson??
Art work at Leopold Museum...

After the museum, I hurried through a bunch of palaces turned museums back to the Musikverein to make it to the concert but ended up waiting for 1.5 hours before the concert actually started and later on realized I am an idiot because I didn’t adjust my watch to Vienna’s time and therefore arrived an hour earlier than when I was supposed to. At least I wasn’t late for a change..

The later afternoon was then spent in the beautiful Burggarten park (next to yet another palace), feasting on a chocolate bar, among bong smoking teenagers and some druggy lady that kept asking everyone for something (I don’t understand German but I assume she wasn’t asking for directions..). Brother Karamazov continued to keep me company.

On my way home I encountered an amazing sight: Police motorcycles accompanying a huge group of cyclists to the sounds of blasting music. Many of them were dressed in costumes, some of them were completely naked (yes, I saw EVERYTHING). There was one couple on a double bicycle with the rainbow flag. There was a guy on a super tall bike with a skeleton mask. There was a guy dressed in a bear costume. There was a naked girl with her body painted green and on her naked back written “Dyke on a Bike”. There were also kids on bicycles in their underwear, and sheets attached to their neck (supermen style).  It was hugely entertaining and also super crazy!

Afterwards, I headed for dinner on the banks of the Danube river. Passing by saw many bars, where the owners brought sand and turned them into beach bars. The highlight of that was Tel Aviv beach bar which really felt like it was transported directly from Israeli (except for the attendants who did not resemble any Israelis..).

Tel Aviv Beach

I ended up going to a Mexican place for enchiladas and a glass of sangria. Globalization is amazing: Eating enchiladas de pollo in Vienna, served by a middle eastern looking guy (I am guessing turkish) accompanied by a drink made by an African bartender, while reading a Russian novel in English. LOL. This would be unthinkable of not so many years ago..

I encounter ladies dressed in sacks, posing for a photoshoot.

I arrive to Vienna

After 3 hours of fascination with the uniforms of the flight attendants of Austrian Air (who wouldn’t want to wear red stockings with red lacquered shoes??), I landed in Vienna. 3 minutes in passport control, 30 seconds walk outside, took me to the bus stop. The bus was right there, new and air-conditioned. 7 Euro, and 15 minutes later, I was in the city center, ready to go. This is what I call efficiency.

I met my friends and went for a walk around the city center. As always with such European capitals, everything was spotlessly clean, and very well maintained. Every building was something to look at. I had some Viennese schnitzel, which was not so impressive.. Israeli schnitzel definitely takes it!! This was followed by amazing vegan (!!!) ice cream. i.e. gelatto!!

Unfortunately, today the forecast is light rain but that won’t stop me from charging forward to explore the city. Time to visit a local cafe for espresso and light breakfast..