Ten things I learned in Vienna…

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Lately, I’ve been writing these list of ten things I’ve learned whenever I go somewhere.  Our trip to Vienna was my second, but it had been many years since my list visit.  I remembered some things about it, but in other ways it was a total reorientation to a great city.  So here are ten new things I learned while we were in Vienna.

1.  If you visit a cafe in Vienna, the waiter will bring a small glass of water.  You can stay as long as the glass has water in it.

2.  Vienna’s metro system is very easy to figure out and convenient.  It’s economical, too.  Only 2,20 euros a trip if you pay full price.

3.  Beware of the guys in the period costumes.  You’ll find them around all of the major tourist attractions.  They will try to get you to go to a concert.  It may be fun or it may suck.  😉

4.  You can take a train to Bratislava or a hydrofoil.  I recommend making time to see Bratislava.  It’s another world capital very closeby, yet completely different.

5.  Music is everywhere in Vienna, especially classical.  But karaoke is available too, and it’s a lot of fun!

Music is even in the gardens…

6.  The graffiti is fascinating.  So are the signs.

7.  There’s a statue dedicated to the plague in Vienna.

8.  Vienna has an awesome airport!

9.  If you get tired of Austrian food, the Italian food is worth investigating.  I noticed a lot of Italians in Vienna, so you’re sure to find an authentic restaurant.  Here’s one we liked.

10.  If you walk through the Lippizaner stables at around 11:00, you might catch a glimpse of them.

We loved Vienna.  I hope we can go back sooner than 18 years from now!

Vienna, Austria Part 8… coming home!

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Unfortunately, our last night in Vienna was a bit of a let down.  Bill picked up a cough of some sort while he was in Africa and he woke me up in the middle of the night.  I had indigestion, no doubt from all the good food and beer we enjoyed on Sunday.  I managed to grab a little more sleep, but was still kind of crabby in the morning as we packed up to get to the airport.

Bill ordered a cab online.  He says this is a good thing to do, especially if you are coming in to Vienna.  If you don’t pre-book a cab, you end up paying more.  Our trip to Vienna from the airport was over 40 euros, but coming back it was only 32 euros.  Bill rounded up to 40 because he’s a generous guy.  The cab was prompt and arrived at 6:30am, getting us on our way despite the heavy Vienna traffic.

We tried to pre-book my bag but for some reason weren’t able to, so once again we paid 30 euros to check my luggage.  Paying to check luggage is one of my many pet peeves, especially since it’s a rip off.

I must say, Vienna has a lovely airport with lots of nice amenities.  One thing I loved was the free wi-fi.  There are very nice stores in the airport as well as a beautiful food court/gourmet market.  If we’d had more time, I could have had a good time shopping for goodies.  Instead, we had a nice and huge breakfast that I couldn’t finish.  More eggs, sausage, and bacon.  My eyes were way bigger than my stomach, though Bill was able to finish his with ease.

Really good shopping!

One thing the Vienna airport doesn’t have in abundance is electric outlets.  They haven’t followed the trend of other airports that have installed outlets for people who need to charge their electronics.  I managed to find an outlet in the food court area, though the wi-fi didn’t work there.  I guess that’s to keep people from camping out there all day.

The flight back to Stuttgart was uneventful, yet annoying.  The guy in the seat in front of me insisted on reclining for a one hour flight.  The guy across the aisle from me kept farting or something… it wasn’t nice.  Fortunately, the flight was quick and turbulence free and we were soon on our way home… until we got on A8, which closely resembled a parking lot.  I mean it.  The cars were barely moving.  It took forever to get to the exit to A81.  I was feeling queasy from the flight and the smell of diesel fumes.

We got home at about noon and I immediately slipped into my nightie because I knew I wasn’t going anywhere.  Bill went to the Hunde Hotel Haase to get the dogs.  When he got home, he made this for dinner…

One of our Hello Fresh meals…  Zucchini stuffed with basmati rice, zucchini, and gouda cheese.  The base is rice, cherry tomatoes, and peppers.

This was healthy, tasted good, and looked pretty.

It’s good to be home again, though I’m already planning our next trip.  The champagne bucket says we’re going to the Canary Islands.  I’m not sure when yet– maybe in June.  Should be a lot of fun!

Vienna, Austria Part 6… Art and Aussies!

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After we walked around Vienna, Bill and I went back to the Albertina Museum.  I like art well enough, but Bill really likes it and is fascinated by graphic depictions of history.  I find art museums kind of tiring, but I always learn something when I visit them.  The Albertina had a Picasso exhibit that I thought would be interesting.  The Albertina was very busy on Saturday and we spent a couple of hours strolling through its many halls of art.  I snuck a few photos.

These three are paintings by Picasso…

Here’s one by Claude Monet.  There was also an interesting Degas exhibit.  I don’t know much about art, but I do remember seeing some of Degas’ paintings in Glasgow, Scotland when we visited a couple of years ago.  


I had to get a shot of this…

I mainly go to art museums for Bill’s sake.  I do like looking at art, but I find museums kind of overwhelming.  I prefer natural history museums to paintings.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that my dad built a second career framing artwork.

After the Albertina, it was time for lunch again.  We wandered back to the area near St. Stephan’s cathedral and almost got hit by a horse and buggy.  Actually, we weren’t in any real danger, but a guy yelled us in German to be careful anyway.  At this point, we somehow ended up in a passageway.  I never ignore alcoves or passageways when I visit cities because I find that’s where a lot of the coolest stuff is.  At the end of the passageway, we found our restaurant for lunch.  We promptly ordered a bottle of wine and I got some interesting shots of Bill…

A very nice Austrian red…

 

Our waiter was a very friendly and charming guy from Serbia who took good care of us…  I enjoyed salmon with potatoes and asparagus, which is in season right now.  Bill had chicken and asparagus.  TripAdvisor says this restaurant sucks, but we enjoyed ourselves.  The wait staff was very pleasant and the food was decent.

I took a photo of this lingerie shop, which was easy to see where we were sitting.  I couldn’t get over the tag line, “Lingerie to kill for…”

Before we left, we tried the Sacher torte, which is famous in Vienna.  It’s chocolate cake with apricot filling.  There was a time when Bill wouldn’t eat apricots because it’s bad luck for tankers.  Since he was a tanker in the Army, he respected the superstition.  He doesn’t avoid them now.  The torte was delicious!  The prosecco was good too.  I saw a lot of prosecco rather than champagne in Vienna.

After lunch, we strolled around another part of Vienna and ended up at the Danube.  It was lucky we went there, since we planned a day trip to Bratislava for Sunday and we wanted to take the hydrofoil boats there instead of the train.

Greek church

 

I love little nooks like these…

Traditional wear!

A “beachy” area on the banks of the river.

By the time we were done walking around the river, I really needed to pee.  We started heading back toward the city center.  We found a public restroom, but only the men’s restroom was open.  I really needed to go, so we ended up going to Billabong, which is an Australian restaurant with lots of Aussie beers and cuisine.  We spent an enjoyable few hours there, drinking beer, listening to music, and glancing at the soccer games on the TVs.

A wall of brews…

Bill decides what’s next…

There’s a sign on the bar that says “Drinking with tipping is like sex without orgasm.”

Bill tried the kangaroo…

I had spare ribs.  Bill ate kangaroo, which tasted a little like filet mignon to me.

Bikers passing as we enjoyed our suds and sustenance.  

We headed back to the hotel somewhat earlier.  Bill had some work he needed to get done.  Unfortunately, the beer caught up with us and we went to sleep somewhat early.

Vienna, Austria Part 5… a long walk around Vienna!

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Saturday morning we had glorious weather.  I donned my Keen sandals, which are the most comfortable shoes I own, and we walked back to Vienna for some breakfast.  On the way there, I took lots of photos of graffiti and signs.

Sex shop near our hotel…  

I got a kick out of these signs.  Bill says the dog picture instructs people to put dog crap in a bag.

Apparently, there is a band in Vienna called Catpiss.

Good advice.

SCUBA store…

Interesting place for beverages?

I took a picture of this ad for an insanely decadent spa…  Who needs a TV in the jacuzzi?

We ended up at Cafe Museum, yet another delightful cafe, which had a lot of tempting looking desserts.  Again, the waiters all wore tuxes.

A very nice breakfast for about 27 euros (for both of us).  One of my Facebook friends declared European breakfasts better than American ones.  Frankly, I kind of agree.  

My hot chocolate was delicious!

After breakfast, we took a very long walk around Vienna.  Originally, we were going to go to the Albertina art museum, but we were a little too early.  So we headed back to the Rathaus and rose garden areas, where I took a whole lot of photos.  There was some kind of race going on, so the Rathaus area was teeming with people and more than a few dogs.

 

Hawkers in period costumes were everywhere here, trying to snare people who don’t know they need to see a concert.

The JWs were also hawking their wares…

I took a photo of the 25 hour hotel with its provocative signage.  Apparently, it’s a madhouse.

Runners rounding the bend…

Tulips in bloom!

And the finish line!

Vienna promises a rose garden…

We spent some time hanging out by this family of mallards…  I also got video footage!

 

This sign discourages drinking the ducks’ water…  seems to go without saying!

 

More scenes from the city.

 

I was fascinated by this marble statue of a man about to be bludgeoned…

By the riding school… so beautiful!

Vienna, Austria Part 4… Friendship investment

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After checking out the cathedral, I decided I was very tired and my feet were killing me.  It was the perfect time to reacquaint myself with Vienna’s easy to figure out metro, which I used quite a bit when I visited in 1997.  Bill and I quickly determined our hotel was near the U4 line.  The Stephen’s Dom cathedral was on another line, but we only had to go one stop to Karlsplatz to switch trains.  Before we knew it, we were just a couple of minutes away from the hotel.  While I was on the train, I noticed quite a few young people gloriously free of adult interference.  I couldn’t help but think how Americans would react had we been in the United States.  A couple of the kids appeared to be about ten years old, yet they were doing just fine on the U bahn, all by themselves!

We went to the hotel room.  I took off my shoes and started watching crappy 70s and 80s TV shows dubbed in German.  I never thought I’d see CHiPs on regular TV again.  I was never a Knight Rider fan, but I did watch an episode and realized why David Hasselhoff was so popular in the 80s.  We had plans to meet Herbert and Susanne at 6:00.  We went back to the coffee house we’d visited earlier in the day for a snack.  I had chicken soup and a Gosser beer, which I used to drink all the time when I lived in Armenia.  Bill had an open faced sandwich and a beer.  The same guy waited on us.

Quite a nice Austrian lager.

A little snack.  We thought we’d be going to the concert and didn’t want to get hangry.  I had a bit of an upset stomach, so I went for something mild.  The soup reminded me of Lipton Cup O’Noodles, only it was much better tasting and obviously homemade.  The noodles were similar, though.

Bill thought we were supposed to meet them at the opera house, a massive, centrally located structure.  Actually, we were supposed to go back to the cathedral.  Bill ended up having to call Herbert to connect with them.  By the time we met Herbert and Susanne, it was about 6:20.  We were supposed to go to the concert at 8:00pm.

Herbert and his girlfriend strolled with us around Vienna.  Susanne was born and raised there and Herbert has lived there for 15 years.  They pointed out a TGIFriday’s and seemed rather surprised when I said it was a popular American chain restaurant.  Susanne was a little self-conscious about her English, but it was way better than my German.

We eventually got on the tram and went near the Rathaus, which is a very beautiful building.  We strolled around Vienna’s rose garden, which we were told would be in full bloom the following month.  And then we stopped for a drink.  Herbert and Susanne were worried about us missing the concert, but we repeatedly told them it was okay.  Yes, Bill spent about 80 euros for tickets, but I had read the reviews and had low expectations.  We probably would have spent that on dinner Thursday night if we’d had it.  Besides, while I might have liked the concert well enough, I figure an investment in a friendship is more valuable.  We were hitting it off with Herbert and Susanne, who confessed they’d only been together for a couple of months.

It was great meeting locals and talking with them about life in Vienna.  It made the city more personal and, I think, will make it a more welcoming place when we visit again.  I think we will, too. It’s amazing that all I knew about Herbert was hearing his voice on SingSnap.  Now I can put a face to the name.  He is a very interesting guy, too.

Nighttime shots.  I remembered the above from last time I visited in ’97.  Seems like these are in other Austrian cities, too.  I remember seeing one in St. Polten.  ETA: My friend Susanne posted this…  basically, this was erected to commemorate the plague.  They are all over Austria and Germany.

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at a Wienerwald, a local chicken chain.  Bill and I ate at one in Boeblingen back in 2007 or so and we liked the food alright.  We wanted to have something to eat before bed.  The restaurant was absolutely teeming with kids… again, all unsupervised.  But all they were doing was being loud.  They otherwise functioned just fine on their own!  It was refreshing!

I couldn’t eat much of this, but it kept me from getting really hungry.

A little fun with Viennese ads in the metro…

 

The Viennese U-Bahn is pretty great.  It’s easy to figure out and they even offer magazines to read if you’re lucky enough to sit down.  Ticket machines offer English translation and there’s a flat rate for all destinations within the city–  2.20 euros a ride.  You can also buy in bulk or get multiple trip tickets for less!  Next time, we’ll do that.

Vienna, Austria Part 3… new friends and ditched concerts…

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On Friday morning, Bill and I got up and had breakfast at the hotel.   It was priced at 20 euros a person, though no one was keeping track of who was eating.  I have to admit, the spread was pretty nice.  They had all kinds of fruits, breads, meats, cheeses, and prepared breakfast foods.  One could also enjoy a nice glass of prosecco, though it was a little flat when I tried it.

Breakfast at the Falkensteiner…

Bill and I never have an agenda when we visit new places.  We like to wander around and listen to conversations.  We like watching people, too.  We almost always end up in a situation when we do this.

Friday morning, we were still planning to go to the hokey concert Adrian the ticket hawker had told us about.  I like classical music, though what was on the playlist were mostly well known pieces that Bill and I have heard a thousand times.  I thought it might be fun to attend the show, though honestly I could have taken it or left it.  Bill was charmed by Adrian, who was probably more entertaining than the musicians would have been.  He was certainly funnier.

We walked another three or four miles back into Vienna.  We took a look at an anti-war memorial…

Next, we ended up at the Spanish Riding School just in time to watch them take the stallions out for a workout.  I even made a video!

This was a delight!
 

Here is a video of them actually performing.  We didn’t go see it because I knew it would make me feel too horse crazy.

I spent a good portion of my childhood and adolescence around horses and I never tire of the smell.  Watching the Lipizzaners on their way out of their cozy stable made me really miss having horses in my life.  Maybe someday, if and when we stop moving so often and traveling so much.

The Austrians recognize the Genocide…

Just outside of the riding school is where a lot of horses and carriages hang out.  Bill and I don’t often do the carriage rides.  We did one in Seville back in January 2014, only because once again we got cornered by an aggressive salesman.  The rides in Vienna weren’t nearly as assertively sold to tourists and I was content to just take some pictures.  Then we noticed a church very close to the barn which had a sign commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  Having lived in Armenia, I decided I needed to have a look, so we went into the church for a little while.

As is his habit, Bill got a bit emotional during our few minutes in the church.  This one in particular was very peaceful and pleasant, which is more than I can say for St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

More photos from near the church and the Spanish Riding School…

My feet were hurting because I wore clogs that were a little too big for my feet.  I needed to sit down for awhile, so we visited our first Viennese coffee shop.  The place was adorable.  The waiters were pleasant older gentlemen in tuxedos.

Bill soaks up the atmosphere.

I had a Maria Theresia, which is strong coffee with orange liqueur, whipped cream, and chocolate dust.

He started with a Melange.  Note the glass of water.  In Vienna, as long as the glass has water in it, you can sit.

Next, I had an Irish coffee…  Bill was good and had mineral water.

The outside… we visited here twice on Friday!

 

We rounded a corner and I took photos of fancy cakes…

And then, I realized it was time for lunch…

We ended up at this amazing Italian place near St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  It was tiny, but very authentic.  Bill ordered a bottle of pinot grigio.  I had a delicious branzino (sea bass) with spinach and Bill had saffron pasta with shrimps.  It was a delightfully long, luxurious, and delicious lunch.

We wait for our food.  The store next door was having renovations done, so it was a bit noisy.  A few times, we laughed because the saw sounded a bit like loud farting.

This fish was amazing.  The server (and I think one of the owners) brought it out on a silver platter and deboned it right there in front of me.  I watched her lift the bones out of the filets as if she was removing a violin from its case.  

I liked Bill’s pasta, too.  It tasted homemade.

I got my greens!

Well worth visiting if you go to Vienna…  this is a very authentic place.  I suspect the owners are from Venice because I noticed a lot of masks on the walls.  ETA: Apparently, they are from Bari.  Also, almost everyone else who came in was speaking Italian.  I could tell this was a well-regarded restaurant among local Italians.

After our sumptuous lunch, Bill and I went into St. Stephen’s Cathedral.  We had to dodge several ticket hawkers.  Then, when we went in, the place was crowded, noisy, and not all that spiritual.  I saw no tears in Bill’s eyes this time, but I did manage to get a few photos.

Vienna, Austria Part 2… karaoke time!

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I had been itching to do some karaoke in front of a live audience for some time.  I do a lot of karaoke on SingSnap.com, which is an online karaoke site.  But there’s nothing like performing live.  Babuder’s is a nice place located on a side street called Tiefer Graben.  When we arrived at about 7:00pm on Thursday night, the place was just opening up.  Bill and I selected a table and ordered a couple of local beers.  Herbert was already there, but we had never met in person before.  I only knew him from comments and private messages on my recordings.  Sometimes Herbert joins me in duets and I’ve come to enjoy his witty observations.

Anyway, I was feeling a little shy.  Karaoke at Babuder’s is a little different than what I’m used to.  Instead of looking through books of available songs and handing the KJ slips of paper with requests, you just go up to him and ask him for songs.  They have a database with over 30,000 songs, so chances are good they’ll have what you want.  But not being able to browse through a book means you have to think of something to sing rather than have something suggested.  You also have no idea what version of karaoke song you’ll get.  They are not all created equally.

I started with “Blue Bayou”, which I’ve done hundreds of times.  I got up on the little stage, feeling oddly nervous in front of all the Viennese locals.  There weren’t actually that many people there, but I was jittery anyway.  I eventually relaxed and enjoyed the rush.  I spotted the resident Queen Bee in the corner.  She was very cute and probably at least twenty years younger than me.  She had a couple of girlfriends with her and one of the guys who worked there, a young guy with muscles, appeared to be hitting on her.  I have to admit, the Queen Bee had a good voice.  Fortunately, our styles were different.

As the night wore on, Herbert and Bill started bonding.  Herbert is a very interesting guy.  He’s in his early 60s.  His parents were Czech, but he was born and raised in Ludwigsburg, which is a town very close to Stuttgart.  He speaks English, German, Polish, Russian, and, based on one of his karaoke performances, French.  He has three master’s degrees and a voice that reminds me a bit of Bob Dylan’s.  He and Bill really seemed to hit it off and they talked a lot while I got up and sang stuff by Alison Krauss, Kate Bush, The Carpenters, and more Linda Ronstadt.  To my knowledge, no one filmed me… I’m glad of that!  One thing I did notice was that most of the people at Babuder’s could sing quite competently.  It also appeared to be a very gay friendly place, though most everyone was subdued.  One guy started speaking rapid fire German to me and I answered that I speak no German in German.  He switched to English.  It turned out he was a Brit.

Bill is unimpressed…

Decent beer.  They had peanuts and pretzels, but I didn’t notice any other food.

The party was winding down.

Not the best photo of the sign outside.

 

Herbert wanted to get together on Friday night so we could meet his girlfriend and they could show us around Vienna.  We left Babuder’s at about 11:00 and caught a cab back to our hotel, where we both promptly crashed.  I would have liked to have gone back to Babuder’s, but there was a lot of other stuff we wanted to see and do.  Herbert says Thursday nights at Babuder’s are good because it’s not too crowded.  If we get back to Vienna, we will have to visit again.

Vienna, Austria Part 1

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A couple of months ago, after Bill and I visited Regensburg, Germany, we took part in a fun ritual we have for choosing where we travel.  I got out our trusty champagne bucket with slips of paper bearing names of famous and exotic cities.  Bill drew, and Vienna, Austria was the big winner.  I was excited to visit Vienna.  I was last there in August 1997 on my way home from my Peace Corps assignment in Armenia.  At the time, I was unmarried and traveling with a couple of friends.  We were broke, so we stayed in a university dorm/hostel.  It was decidedly no frills traveling.  The night we left Vienna, we took an overnight train to Venice.  That was the night Princess Diana died.  I didn’t know about her death until the day after the world found out.  We were in Florence, Italy, and I saw her picture on a newspaper with the blazing headline that she’d been killed.  I was pretty shocked.

Anyway, this time I was happy Bill and I were going to stay in a hotel.  I had another reason to be excited about the trip.  My friend Herbert from SingSnap.com wanted us to meet in person and do some karaoke together.  I am a sucker for karaoke.

I won’t lie.  I was a little apprehensive about flying Germanwings to Vienna.  Oh sure, I knew our chances of dying in a plane crash caused by a mentally ill pilot were slim to none.  Still, it was very soon after that tragic crash in the French Alps last month.  As it turned out, our flight to Vienna was smooth as silk.  Bill and I had a row to ourselves, even though we booked the cheapest fare and had to pay 30 euros to check my bag.  I’m not too wild about Germanwings’ new tiered fare program.  Because we booked via Expedia, we got the most basic fare.  Next time, we will book from their Web site for a fare that includes luggage and such.

The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend and we stayed in a nice hotel, the Falkensteiner Wien Margareten, which isn’t all that close to downtown Vienna, but is handy to both a metro station on the U4 line and a tram stop.  The staff spoke English and the hotel had a bar, a restaurant, and a spa.

We were in a lowbrow “comfort” room, which had a city view and a shower…

There was a desk and free Internet…

A neat little makeup table for the ladies…

A TV where I watched CHiPs and Knight Rider in German…

And a nifty Nespresso machine…

The bed was comfortable.  There was a chocolate on the pillow and a weird “scent” towel that was supposed to provide “aromatherapy”.  Unfortunately, all it did for me was give me a headache.

That towel smelled good, but it was a bit strong.

 

I wasn’t totally wild about the housekeeper who insisted on removing the keycard from the switch while Bill and I were out.  On our last full day, she actually took the card from us, which pissed me off.  But overall, I thought the hotel was fine, especially for the price.  We got a good deal on Expedia– four nights and round trip on Germanwings cost about $1100.  As I mentioned before, next time I will book directly for the flight.  That way, I won’t get the cheapest fare and end up shelling out for luggage.

After settling in, Bill and I took our first walk into the city.  From the hotel, it was about three or four miles.  The weather started off nice when we set out, but within minutes, a chilly wind picked up.  I had no jacket with me and was wearing sandals.  We walked briskly and got hung up at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, where Bill made the mistake of looking at a city map.  We were quickly spotted by a man named Adrian in a period costume.  He was there to hawk concert tickets.

I was in no mood for Adrian’s bullshit, but Bill is a lot nicer than I am.  I had my mind on getting to a bar called Babuder’s, where we would meet Herbert and I could do my karaoke.  I hoped we’d have time to score dinner, too.  But nothing doing…  Adrian was on the case and was intent on getting us to buy tickets to a classical show with dancers, opera singers, and a small orchestra.  Bill ended up buying us a pair of tickets to see the show– it was about 80 euros and included a free drink.  We went to Babuder’s where Herbert was already waiting for us.

Why do people question my travel plans?

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I usually save my rants for my main blog, but I’m going to put one here because I’m ranting about a travel issue today.  Bill and I are headed to Vienna this afternoon.  We will be flying on Germanwings.  This will be our fourth Germanwings round trip flight, but the other three were before the tragic crash that happened last month.  Although logically I know the chances of us crashing today are slim to none, I made a little crack on Facebook about how I hope the crew on our flight is feeling stable.  If not, it’s been nice knowing everyone.

Again, it was just a joke.  I am positive we’ll be fine and, later today, I’ll be enjoying a nice meal in a Viennese restaurant.

Most all of my friends wished us a good trip.  Some said they looked forward to photos.  A few reminded us to see the famous Lipizzaner stallions at the Spanish Riding School or learn to waltz.  And then it happened.  Two guys, both fairly opinionated, questioned our decision to fly to Vienna.

One guy, who has told me before that he is not as well traveled as I am, suggested that I take the train because it might be more convenient and fun.  Given what happened to a Germanwings flight last month, I did consider the possibility of taking a train.  However, we soon found out that it would be more expensive and take longer than flying.  Using the train involves going either to Munich or Nuremberg.  Having recently gone to Regensburg by train via Nuremberg, we know that there is no high speed ICE train that goes to Nuremberg, so we’d be on a slower train for a couple of hours.  There probably is an ICE train to Munich, but it would still take longer than flying.  And again, it’s not that inexpensive, though I do find train travel to be less irritating than plane travel is.

Another guy, who has lived in Germany and tends to be a do it yourself-er, suggested that we drive because “Vienna is only four or five hours away.”  I wanted to ask my friend to take a look at a map.  Vienna is on the extreme Eastern side of Austria.  If we encountered no traffic and didn’t need to stop anywhere, it would take about seven hours to drive there from Stuttgart.  And we don’t actually live in Stuttgart.  Stuttgart is nicknamed STAUgart for good reason.  Traffic around here is terrible.  So add another hour for that and perhaps one for lunch, vignette buying, gas, and what not.  Then you have to find a place to park.  Besides, Bill hasn’t yet gotten his international driver’s permit.  Chances are good that he’d never be stopped, but the one time you do get stopped and don’t have one, you get a big fine.  No thanks.

It just boggles the mind, though.  I mean, do people not think I’ve considered other ways of getting to Vienna other than flying on Germanwings?  I could have taken another airline, but that would have involved layovers and in most cases, more money.  I’m going to throw caution to the wind and fly today.  We have beautiful weather.  And God willing, I will live to tell about it!

In fact… I already have an invitation to karaoke tonight…  😀

A lovely day for a balloon ride…

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This was what I saw this morning while letting the dogs pee…

It’s not so uncommon to see hot air balloons in these parts…

 

It sure beats the everloving hell out of a view of Interstate 35, which is what we had in San Antonio.

We are off to Vienna tomorrow until Monday, so hopefully I will soon be back with honest to God travel posts.  I think we may try to take a trip to Bratislava, too.  It’s not far at all.