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Vienna, Wednesday 22nd June

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There’s something funny going on. Vienna is half-closed.

Today we crossed town to go to the Kirk am Steinhof. This is a magnificent Jugenstil (art deco to everyone else except the Austrians) church. Three years ago it had its 100-year birthday, and we visited when it had just been refreshed. It was fantastic then, every gold button and gryphon’s beak gleaming.

Today we went there and it was all closed up. There’s stuff going on, over the next few days, but not for us…Oh well. On to something else…

Across the Danube, above the house we live in is a high hill with a church. The backstory is the church was built as a thank-you/honor to the Polish king who led his surprise cavalry charge down the hill and routed the Turkish army besieging Vienna. All old news, this happened in the 1600’s.

Anyway, the view from up there gives you all of Vienna, and of course the house we are staying in, which is fun.

There’s a café at the top and you can walk down the very steep paths and visit a few heurigans (vinyard restaurants) along the way. It’s a lovely way to spend the day, get a view of the place, drink some wine.

But it didn’t go well, either. We caught the right bus, but it turned back halfway up the hill. Ah, yes, there are two versions of this bus, you need to read the timetable carefully. It was hot today, 31, and grinding up and down the hill in the un-airconditioned bus was hard work.

Back at the bus stop again we had another go, and this time caught the bus all the way to the top. Amazingly, the whole place is boarded up, the café has metre-high weeds growing through the terrace. Its obviously been been closed for ages. The view is still there, of course, but I was really looking forward to a cold drink on the terrace.

Looking down over the vinyards, there was no sign of life. No bustle of pedestrians ambling in for a few wines and a meal. The path down is all worn and neglected, and very un-Vienna-like, cluttered with piles of accumulated organic junk, piles of stones from last year’s winter snowdrifts….no one is cleaning the place, which again is just not what you see in Vienna. No cars parked in the heurigan carparks.

Whatever was going on, we could take a hint. We weren’t going to hike over there and find it all shut up. We changed the walk, and aimed for a bus stop on the other side of the hill, then trained it home.

It wasn’t all bad news. While crossing the city from one failed project to the next we detoured to the Prater. If you’ve seen The Third Man you’ve seen the Prater, a massive public park next to the city which includes the caboose-ferriswheel that is a pivotal scene in the movie. The fairground itself is the shabby sort of thing you expect, but it was empty. Sylvia said it has always been like that.

Anyway, in the middle of this creepy, deserted fairground area is a notorious restaurant called Schweizerhaus. One of the specialties of the restaurant is ham hocks. I bought a ham hock only two days ago so I didn’t order that but I wished I had when they were carried past. An American couple visiting their son let him order, and he secretly amused himself at their horror when this gigantic, glistening, roasted and crunchy hock was plonked in front of them.

In Vienna, apart from the hocks, there is goulasch and schnitzel. So we had schnitzel, which I have avoided so far, but Schweizerhaus was the right place to have it. And heavy black beer, at last! They don’t have that in Croatia.

Inspired, by the beer at lunch and the long hot failed heurigan-walk, we stopped off at the supermarket and I bought a few different beers and some odds and ends. When we got home I slipped them into the empty freezer to chill quickly while getting dinner ready. As I was serving I asked Sylvia to get them out.

“Oh, the freezer doesn’t work”, Sylvia’s mother informed me. In my haste I hadn’t noticed, and no one thought to mention it earlier. The beer was warmer than when it went in.

Written by wurstofvienna2011

June 22, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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