Monthly Archives: February 2004

Vienna: 21st February 2004

Got up late this morning. I had woken at about 6 bloody freezing and had put a jumper on to sleep in. WHen I got up at about half ten I had a lovely relaxing shower which was just what I needed to warm me up. I slobbed around and packed everything away and then said goodbye to Sarah and Tom took me to the train station where I was going to get the bust to the airport – it was SO cold waiting though! My ears are really hurting and so I am dreading flying in some ways as they are bound to pop and be excruciatingly painful.

When I got to the airport they were looking for Volunteers to be bumped off the flight and be paid £125, it would not actually have got me back in that much later than I would have got in and so I put myself forward – it would have helped towards paying off the M/C Bill! I waited an hour ans then went back like they had asked and when I did they thanked me but told me that it wasn’t over booked in the end and that they wouldn’t need to bump me off the plane. A bugger really as the ££ would have come in most useful.! I walked around the airport for what felt like hours looking in the shops and so on and I was tempted by a few more Clinique things. I had a couple of cups of coffee to keep me awake as I can feel myself about to fall asleep on one of the chairs in the airport if I just so much as close my eyes. There is a group of school kids that I think are getting on the same plane as me – I really hope that I don’t have to sit next to any of them. Oooh – great excitement – the plane has just pulled up at the gate! It shouldn’t be too long now. I wonder if I should be calling the car park place from here to say that it has been delayed and so I will be collecting the car later than I said at the time of booking. I can’t see there being any need to as they must be used to delayed flights by now. I just hope that I wont have to pay anymore money – it’s pants frankly if I have to. I will leave it – why pay extra money, I’ll just apologise when I call from Heathrow for them to come and collect me. The flight was really turbulent and the lady that I was sat next to felt really ill – the bad thing was that we were never told when the first lot of it was coming. Luckily I wasn’t sat next to any of the bratty school kids but they were all sat all around me. I had an aisle seat by the emergency exit and so I had extra leg room which was great. The food was ok, it was the deli style. Tom had explained why they had deli style because they don’t allow plastic knives on planes any more I hadn’t even thought of that before! I can so see why they have made that decision though. THe plane left at about 5.20pm Austrian time in the end and I got to the car with no problem at all I was on the road home by about 8pm. I got home at 9:45pm shattered. I had attached the keys to the inside pocket of my coat and when I undid the key chain I managed to drop all of the keys off and it took me a while to find them all and finally get in! I landed on the sofa in a heap after a fabulous few days, exhausted but what a fabulous holiday.

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Vienna: 20th February 2004

Had a bit of a lie in this morning as Tom had taken the day off work so that he could spend some time with me which was great. After getting some stamps we headed off in the direction of the Secession Building trying to find a post box along the way which we managed to find just by it. I only went in to get the postcard as there were some massive buses outside which meant that taking a picture of the building was a bit of a nightmare. Klints Beethovens frieze is in there but I decided that I would much rather see The Kiss at Belvedere Castle as I know that one!

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I managed to take a picture of Bella (the bear that travelled with the children and co on holidays and had its photo taken in random places) on a lamppost by the building and managed to fit the building in too – I had forgotten to take her out with me before now!

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So we got on a tram and headed up to the Belvedere Castle which is the most amazing building as you can see from the picture above. Tom wasn’t going to come around the gallery with me as he had obviously done it before, but he did in the end as he wasnt allowed just into the cafe. I REALLY liked Klints work and spent quite a long time in the end looking at all of his paintings – I could quite easily have brought a poster of one to go up in the house but I decided against it as I already have quite a few which I still need to get framed.

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The ones that I liked were quite similar to some of the work of the Impressionists work with their use of dots which I think is why I liked them so much. They were square in shape too which is quite odd as a painting of a landscape I thought as they are not usually a perfect square. The colours clearly have not come out so well in the postcards as they were ‘in the canvas’! But that kind of goes without saying I guess!

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We then walked to the front of the building and down the sort of French Garden with ornate flower beds (no flowers in them mind – wrong time of the year!) I can imagine that they would be absolutely stunning in the summer. I had to kind of run around the rest of the exhibition apart from the few paintings by the Impressionists which were nice to see – a nice surprise actually as all I had seen in there so far were Austrian painters that I had previously never heard of before coming to Vienna. A lovely Monet was in there that was really colourful, but sadly I couldn’t find a postcard of it though. I called Hugo to wish him a Happy Birthday – it was about half one in the UK and he was in quite a state – I hate to think what sort of state he would be in by the end of the night! He and some friends were planning on hitting all the bars/pubs in Clifton, which as far as I could work out there are either 7,9 or 11 – I can’t remember which must have meant that he kept changing his mind as to how many there were!

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We couldn’t decide what to do next – I told Tom that I really didn’t mind as there was really nothing now that I was seriously itching to do. We decided to go to the Burgtheatre and do a guided tour – we arrived just in time as it was 3pm and that is when they started daily. It is one of the prime venues for theatre in the German-speaking world apparently. It was built in the Renaissance style to designs by Godfreid Semper and Karlvon Hasenaur and it had to be partly rebuilt after substantial bombing during World War II. The interior was spectacular with stairway frescoes painted by Gustav Klint and his brother Ernst. We even went on stage and backstage which was quite cool. Tom said that the tour wasn’t that great – it was in German and so he was translating most of it for me but he said that the blokey was saying a lot of very mundane stuff too which he had not bothered to translate for me. We sat in the most expensive seats and saw what it was like to sit in a box too and also in the stalls which I really enjoyed! You can watch the performances from standing up the top for E1.50 which is less than the price of a coffee in the cafe the man told us!

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You are allowed to move to one of the seats if you see one free so you could make a saving of E42.50 he was saying. If I spoke German it would have been a bargain to have done really! The performance that was on at the moment is Hamlet but I had done the opera in Buenos Aires standing up in the cheap seats and didn’t understand a word and was really most uncomfortable so I didn’t really fancy it – plus no time left as I leave tomorrow! We then went to Cafe Landtmann which was very posh and I had the same meal as I had when I took Sarah and Tom out for a meal but it came more as a sort of pasta bake this time with some herb cream. It was delicious and very posh, as Tom said, you feel rich just being in there!!

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I also had a Bailey’s latte which was delicious. It was in the theatre downstairs in here that TOm’s play was on in the summer, or rather the one that he had a lot to do with, I think that I am right in saying that he was assistant director rather than actually performing in it which is sort of more Sarah’s thing as far as I can gather as she had just taken a part in The Seven Year Itch which is being put on somewhere in the summer – she certainly likes to keep herself busy! She also has plans to open a second-hand book English Book Shop and is doing loads of proof reading and teaching and making music CDs for children. The thing about her teaching (she hasn’t got a degree in it) is that all her lessons are already planned – she just has to pick up the information and teach what is on the sheet. It’s alright for some I have to say!

From there we then walked back to near the jolly old Irish Pub – all paths lead to that place I swear! Wewnet into a bar opposite called 1516 and met a friend of Tom’s who he used to work with at the Economist called Shaheer (I have NO idea if I have spelt that right. He grew up in Greece and has an Iranian passport and so travelling for him at the moment is a bit of a nightmare!) He had just returned from Dubai yesterday and Tom said he never knows when he is coming back – he just calls when he is in Vienna so it is always a nice surprise! I thought that we were meeting him for a couple of drinks and then going home (it was 5pm) well we didn’t leave there until nearly half nine! They had really nice beer which was their own as it was a micro brewery. Some friend of Shaheer’s turned up to meet him too and they were hilarious together taking the piss of Arabs and so on. Sarah finally turned up and in the end we ate in there. I had a steak sarnie and when we had to pay – well that was the last of my Euros! We headed home with Shaheer with the intention of going out again to the Leopold Cafe (I had been there previously during the day) as it was meant to be a hot spot – not like TGI Friday which one of the free guides that I had picked up said which was a load of balls according to Tom. I really didn’t feel like going but didn’t want to be a boring so and so. It was really hot in the cafe and the music was really loud – I couldn’t hear a thing! Help! I’m turning into my mother!! We left there after one drink (another beer) and moved on to somewhere closer to home called SoHo’s – Health and Cocktail bar. You could have aloe vera in your cocktail for example – frankly bizarre! I had a B52 and chatted to Sarah who was telling me that she used to do loads of drugs – not quite sure how the hell we got onto that topic of conversation – but anyhow!

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Her and Tom have been going out for 3 years nearly – my how time flies! Shaheer left after one drink there to go back to his hotel and we finished ours – Tom had another and we headed home to bed – blimey another exhausting day. Action and culture packed again to put it mildly! Can’t believe that it is time for me to leave tomorrow – this week has gone so quickly it is unreal. I has been JUST what I have needed though and I have loved every moment.

Vienna: 19th February 2004

I got up when they left this morning as I wanted to have a relaxing shower again but I also wanted to make sure that I was going to make it to the Spanish Riding School in time to see the practise in case there was a massive queue.  I had a tiny bit of trouble in finding it as what I thought it was turned out to only be the museum for it which in the guide-book it says not to bother with. After a couple of wrong turns though and a bit of asking I managed to find it. Of course it set my nose and asthma off but I really enjoyed it.  Having been to the digital shop to find out why my camera wasn’t working before I came out (to establish that the batteries weren’t strong enough, how stupid did I feel!) I was now able to snap away to my heart’s content which was great. I have since managed to drop my ticket to get in and so I couldn’t stick it into the diary but luckily I got some postcards whilst I was there – only thing that I seem to have been buying!

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The flags that you can see just under the gallery weren’t all up but other than that it looks the same! I got a text from Tom wanting to know if I fancied meeting for lunch today as I was feeble and didn’t bother yesterday as I was in the middle of a gallery spout and so after finishing watching the practise at the Spanish Riding School I headed off to meet him. Some of the horses were huge and I think that Mum and Dad would have loved it. I can’t remember if they said that they been here before or not. I shall have to remember to ask them when I get home.

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I really regretted not bringing any gloves as I was walking to meet Tom for lunch my fingers were freezing.  I just tucked them up inside my jacket as compensation. The cafe that we went to Tom had previously mentioned and it wasnt actually that bad. It was a traditional style coffee-house.  Thank god the menu was in English as well as German as I decided to order a coffee whilst I waited as I was a little early and so I had a look at the menu – I changed my mind though after looking at the menu and had a traditional Viennese hot chocolate instead which was blooming lovely.  It had cinnamon and vanilla and loads of whipped cream (well spray cream I think is probably a better way to describe it!) so it didn’t actually taste that warm. I texted Tom to let him know where I was in there as he may not have found me straight away as I was almost hiding! Just as I texted him he appeared from behind the coat rack that I was sat behind – timing or what!

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Tom left to get back to work and told me that the Haus der Musik which was a * in my book, meaning one of the things that I wanted to see was just up the next door street and so I decided to head there for a quick visit before heading on anywhere else.  It was just behind the good old Irish Pub from the first day – anyone would think that I was obsessed by that place.  But anyway it was really modern inside but I had clearly timed the whole thing very wrong as there was a bunch of screaming kids in there at the same time who must have been about 48 I reckon. It was a very interactive place but they were always on everything which really was rather annoying and they were so loud and badly behaved so I made sure that when ever I walked past someone who looked like their teacher I shook my head and put my really annoyed face on. I did however make quite a funky CD which I did by adding bits and pieces together and even myself humming on it.

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Vienna: 18th February 2004

Really didn’t sleep at all well last night – tum was killing & felt hot and cold and just couldn’t seem to get comfy on the air bed. I am sure that I woke up when the others did but when I woke up properly there was no one else here. So I showered and stuff and lounged a bit before heading out. I thought I had best check the digital camera and see that it was working, but it wouldn’t let me take any photos – I could only look at ones that I had already taken. Not much bloody use!! So off I set, guide book in hand, to go and visit some galleries. The first port of call was Museumsquartier which opened in the summer of 2001. It is a complex of culture and I went to two of the museums in it the MUMOK (Museum of Modern Art) and the Leopold Museum.
The complex is a long thin pink sort of building and you go through that to get to the other two museums that I went to see. When you walk through and see this building it is really surreal.
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It’s like you are on another planet – it just seems so out of place it’s unreal. It has firing holes in it like they used to have on castles and it looks like a graphite cube just placed there. The entrance is about 1/2 way up some stairs on the opposite side to the one that you can see in the picture. When you wk in it is very similar to the inside of the Tate Modern – dark and oppressive with loads of really thick glass everywhere and see thru lifts. I was greeted by a young Ozzie Osborne who spoke English like the Germans out of Allo Allo. I was asked to put my bag and coat away – not a problem at all, particularly as it was all free.
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The top of the museum was a temporary exhibit called X Screen which was a combination of art and the cinema but in my eyes it was a pile of shite & I’m certain that I could earn far more money as a modern artist than I will ever do as a teacher. There was such a lot of crap in there, including a totally white chess set and two chairs by Yoko Ono. Amusing frankly but also bizzare! I kind of walked around with my eyes wide open – its hardly surprising really that hardly anyone was actually in the museum! It amused me that on the way out I heard and then saw a Brit having a to do with the guy on the door as he wouldn’t let her walk around with her handbag. For heavens sake, rules are rules just get on with it love. After coming out of ‘The Ark’ I then moved across the courtyard to the Leopold Museum.

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You had to pay to put your coats in here but I didn’t mind – hey, I’m on holiday! I decided to get an audio guide seeing as I had only ever heard of one of these artists it would be good for me to learn a bit more about them – it would also help pass the time! This place was another random cube in the middle of no where but it really didn’t feel that surreal compared to the other one as it was lighter. The centre gave all the light as it was a room that went all the way to the very top of the building kind of like the Tate again, but this time the original! The paintings weren’t frankly so strange in here but they did start getting that way on the second floor which I almost ran around and saw a sample – or rather a taster of what was in the 3rd floor and decided to take a break from culture – mini overload happening here! I headed for the coffee house – or rather the cafe.

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Didn’t spot a menu – I was getting quite hungry by now! I was glad that I didn’t ask for one when I did find one it was all in German and I couldn’t understand a word of it. I drank my coffee and had my glass of water and scarpered. I popped into the shop for a couple of postcards and got the book that the diary was originally written in too to stick all of the bits in. I found a classic postcard that I am going to send to Hugo which is a cow eating grass – but not your ordinary lawn variety! Thought that he would appreciate that much more than some pictures of Vienna!
The collection of paintings in the Leopold was a private collection of a man called Rudolph Leopold (and later his wife Elisabeth) undeniably there were some odd paintings in there but many of the artists I had not heard of before as they were all Austrian.

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He had been building up the collection for a number of years – from when he was a very young man – I’m sure it’s worth a fortune. I had kind of been rated out by that time and so instead of going to the Museum of Fine Art I decided to make a trip to the Hofburg which is the large imperial palace with its grand sweeping crescent. It is a variety of architectural styles as sections were added over time. The Hapsburgs had based themselves here over 6 centuries from the first Emperor – Rudolph I in 1279 to the last in 1918 – Charles I. I spotted one of the Vienna Sightseeing Tours stopping here – I might get on one of those tomorrow so that I can make sure that I don’t miss out on any of the really important sights! I did a bit of reading of the jolly old guide book to see what was in the palace in case there was anything really worth seeing and decided to go to the Schatzkammer which is the Imperial Treasury. It contained secular and ecclesiastical treasures and the RE co-ordinater in me wanted to see the section of the True Cross, one of the nails of the crucifixion and one if the thorns that is supposed to have come from Christ’s crown.

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There were several amazing pieces of royal treasures including a HUGE emerald in the world. Amazing crowns adorned with fabulous diamonds and other gem stones. Breathtaking but I bet that they would have been really heavy to wear.
There were loads if royal robes too and bishops cloaks which I kind of bypassed as I had seen the main attraction and frankly time was pressing on! Got a couple of post cards and a picture guide to Vienna – a cheaper version than the Golden Book but it looks just as good!

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This is an agate bowl that is believed to have caught the first drops of Christ’s blood when he was on the cross. It is all made from one piece – although I hasten to add that I have no idea what agate is!! Some letters were meant to have miraculously appeared on the bowl that weren’t engraved or anything but I just couldn’t see them! Perhaps it was like those Magic Eye things when it depends how you look at it!!
Another amazing piece was this golden rose

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The whole thing was made of gold but I can’t for the life of me remember who or why it was made?!! The top of the top rose came off so some smelly stuff could be put in there so that it smelt beautiful as well as looking it.

From here I then went on a little miander and thought of just having a stroll through some of the streets to get a bit of a feel of the place instead of just seeing the sights. Wherever I was I managed to end up somewhere near Motzarts House (which Sarah had told me was not worth the time of day) I thought that I might as well go and see it as I was in the area. My god she was right though – not that I doubted her. There was pretty much nothing there and it was not actually that easy to find. To try and entertainthier customers they had made little cover things to go over all of the labels for the random things that they could find that were oh so vaguelly connected to Motzart! At least I can say that I have been there though – hey!

It mildly amused me that it was called the Figaro House before I realised that he named the opera after his house and not the other way around! Quite sad really! I certainly wouldnt call an opera No 55 Faulkland Road – but then again I am not writing an opera so I dont need to worry about the naming of one! Motzarts House was really near Stephensdom – St. Stephen’s Cathedral which has the brightly coloured tiles on the roof. It was really quite gothic inside and incredibly dark. Some amazing stained glass though. Quite a freaky blue and red one sort of behind you when you walk towards the alter. There were loads of beggars outside which is typical for the church in a city – impinging on people’s good will I suppose. I had a coffee in the Museumsquaiter on the way home in one of the little coffee houses there – did it all through pointing and vacant looks! I promosed to take them both out for a meal to thank them for having me and so we did that this evening. They chose the venue – a Vienese style restaurant wherew I had some typical Vienese pasta sort of dish with oninos, ham and egg – it was quite nice really and then I had some chocolate pudding which Sarah had recommended – equally delicious but I just couldnt fit it all in. My ears went really funny during the meal and I couldnt hear a thing. I tried popping them but that just made the really hurt loads. After supper Sarah went home to do some more proof reading that she ahd to do by tomorrow and Tom and I headed back to the Irish pub which he had left me in yesterday, to watch the football as England were playing a friendly against Portugal. Kick off wasnty until 1015 and we missed about 25 mins of the first half but that was ok – frankly it was a shocking match ending in 1 all but the Portugese had a free kick which led to a goal but just beofre that the ref had spotted a very clear hand ball. It was good to watch though – even if it was a littel surreal! There were a couple of people in there that Tom knew from work and some of them had been in there since straight after work – they finish at 6! We got home at about 1245 and went straight to bed – blister ont he left foot really stinging! Got another blanket and so hopefully I will be warmer tonight and so have a better bights sleep.

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Vienna: 17th February 2004

So here I am, escaped from a life of teaching to have some me time, some relaxing time. My aim – to catch up with Tom, meet Sarah, see the sights, go to a few museums and get back on the plane on Saturday afternoon. Will I achieve it or will I just sit in a heap and not get the energy to move?
The flight and arrival were no hassle what so ever. Everywhere is so clean here it is unreal. They had loads of different coloured bins and things around the airport to recycle everything I assume. They have little smokers corners (that’s what they actually call them!) everywhere which have metal railings in a square with ashtrays on the metal bars and above them there is a fan to take the smoke away. Very clever idea that I have to say.
I found my way to the CAT train fine – clearly sign posted thank god, so I wasn’t going to have to babble in some idiotic form of German from the phrase book. I was going to be adventurous and find the normal underground to go on as it is meant to be cheaper but I gave up on that idea very quickly when I saw signs for the CAT and not the other. Gave Tom a text to tell him I was here blah blah blah and waited for the train. When it arrived I couldn’t help chuckling to myself as it looked like a clean version of the personnel trains in Romania. I sat waiting on the platform the other end waiting for Tom as instructed. I watched a train come and go and then thought to bring out my mag and read that for a while. I am sure that nearly all foreign tubes look the same as in Romania but it really felt like it! I suppose also because I don’t use the tube in Bath, because there isn’t one! Anyway Tom couldn’t stay with me as he had to go back to work which wasn’t a problem at all – I had my books, mags and papers that I had picked up on the way out. It was nice to be able to read them cover to cover like I once used to but just don’t have the time to do anymore.
So I was left in Flanagans Irish Pub (1, SchearzenbergstraBe 1-3) which was just near to where he works. I only had something soft as my monthly fiend (yes I meant to put that!) had decided to make an unimpressive early appearance so I was thankful of the ladies to deal with that little problem! Heard from M&D who had arrived safely in Tenerife. Tom collected me after work and we made our way what felt like half the way across Vienna but looking on the map it really wasn’t that far! I managed to orientate myself a little and worked out that everything seems actually pretty close together.
Once getting off the final tram and walking to the house we bumped into some people who knew Tom & Sarah and were heading back to their flat too. Can’t for the life of me remember their names but they are from Alaska, visiting their friend Tyla (or ‘er’ I’m not sure) who is a friend of Tom & Sarahs from when they were living in Saltzberg and he was back at the flat. I got all confused for a moment as I thought that they were all staying at the flat too and I thought that I had picked a really bad time to visit?!! They weren’t though, panic over! I got put all of the stuff that they asked me for which went down well and I relaxed a little.
My Tim was going around and round as it always does when I arrive in a new place and I get those immediate pangs of homesickness – grow up woman you are 25 for gods sake! The flat is really nice – loads of stuff from Ikea as it came unfurnished when they rented it but it has been done really nicely. I LOVE the rope lights that they have. It’s open plan with those big glass cubes cutting off the bedroom. The bathroom and hallway are separate. Tom & I went out for a drink after supper at about 10 to a place around the corner called Caffe Latte. A really nice place with lovely dark wood tables and chairs. Then came home & my air bed was inflated and we all crashed. Eee bi gum was I exhausted with an early start and the release if pressure I was sure to get a good nights sleep.

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