Sunday, December 29, 2013

More Paris

St. Severin
Chocolate Christmas trees
Beautiful antique doors...just window shopping.

Delicious Vietnamese lunch..salt and pepper shrimp

Caramelized beef in clay pot

Really expensive seafood restaurant next door to our hotel. 100 euro platters.

Window of a Polish book store

Amaryllis in bloom....

Last nights raclette plates. Cheese wedge is melting under the potato pile.

Finis! Flying home in the morning.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Today in Paris

Latin Quarter food on display....

Notre Dame was mobbed.
A little calmer and more beautiful at night.
Waiting for raclette for dinner.
Sunset at St Sulspice-merry go round lights at bottom of photo.
Thought about Nancy and Barbara at this antique book store.
Caught a short concert at St. Severin.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing Day in Vienna

Visited a few more beautuful churches.

Spent a couple of delightful hours with Hayden, Mozart, Beethoven, Strauss and Mahler - who was the first conductor to insist that lights be turned off in the audience. Our visit to the Music Museum was enjoyable.
You can hear various city sounds by sticking your head in the holes.
Gorgeous jackets in a store window on the windy walk home. Temperature has gone way up...but wind chill factor makes it feel wintery.
Richard's Christmas carp dredged in poppy seeds. A terrible picture but I wanted to be reminded of how thick the poppy seed layer was.
Packing up to move on to Paris tomorrow. Guess whose suitcase is on the left? I'm from the "jam it in and close the lid" school. Richard's case always looks like a picture of packed clothes in an ad. 
Opposites attract!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sepia Saturday 208 - Christmas Tourists

Merry Christmas to all my fellow Sepians. In Vienna every downtown street is an extravaganza of lights. Here below is my husband enjoying it all*. We were walking back to our rented apartment after hearing a Christmas concert at the Imperial Hall in Beethovenplatz. 

The Vienna Royal Orchestra we heard is a drastically slimmed down version of the original. Three violins, one viola, one flautist, one clarinet, one cello, one bass and a piano. The expected Mozart and Strauss pieces were performed with humor and enthusiasm. The first violinist looked uncannily like Mr. Bean. His eyebrow antics were amusing to watch. A few duets were sung by a soprano and tenor - just to make the program extra touristy Christmasy, they threw in a little ballet. Oh well, we weren't expecting much more than we got. Only the final Silent Night, a sing-along **(insert an eye rolling "Oh No") was really gruesome. Shifting uneasily in their chairs, the Japanese, Chinese and Italians sort of groaned along producing a discordant hum which we were all glad finally ended. After that, you can't wait to get out of there and so, one guesses, it's a well thought out tactic. 

The cooler weather and Austrian uber-exuberance for the season were just the diversion we were longing for. Enough however is enough and we're looking forward to getting back to our avocados and shedding the heavy outerwear.

Happy New Year!

* Blogging on the Ipad is very limiting....getting pictures inserted correctly is a struggle (for me).

**Is there a "curmudgeon" icon in the smiley face library?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve Vienna

One of the main shopping streets...all lit up. Lots of strollers tonight.
Chirtmas dinner menu.
Big presents, two to a floor.
Angel at the Belvedere this afternoon. Saw the famous Klimts and took this single picture inside the building. Severely reprimanded - no photography. Felt like a clod.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The Modern Art Museum

Spent the day in the modern art museum. I'm too tired to write in all the artist info. We enjoyed all of it..even though I don't get most of it, in particular the collages. There was a puzzling installation which consisted of an empty room into which salinated air was being pumped. It was slightly foggy - so were most of the people standing around with us scratching their heads.

Collages? Empty pill foils, an iron?

Two enormous women having tea.

This is a clock and is very amusing on the hour every hour.
This figure was so realistic you had to look a couple of times to check that she wasn't breathing.
Look at her feet!

Accidental Dinner Companions

Last night we made our way over to the famous Figlmuller for the world renowned schnitzel. Crowded to the max, people were milling around reading the menu, waiting for friends, waiting for tables. After we made it to the front door, with few words, we were bustled into the restaurant by a big burly man and shown to a huge booth occupied by two young people. The restaurant was pushing everyone together trying to accomodate the crowds. After a few awkward moments, our young table mates seemed to warm to the idea of sharing and we began talking.

We were packed in like sardines; you could feel the energy in the air. Waiters dodged and weaved between the diners balancing huge trays loaded with dinner plate sized pieces of schnitzel. When I saw the portion size I thought we were doomed. Not another "success by excess" kind of place. But I was wrong.The schnitzel was delicious with a light crusty breading, not a bit greasy. Once the lemon was liberally squeezed over the surface and a dusting of salt, applied, I'd say it was the best schnitzel I've tasted, although I could eat only half of it.

Our dinner companions were Stanilaus and Elena, young bankers from London on vacation. He's Bulgarian from Sofia, she's a Russian from Moscow and Peru. Besotted with each other, they told us they were getting married soon. He kept alluding to Tiffany's and a ring in his back pocket. We had the feeling the engagement ring might appear on Christmas while they planned to be in Prague.

He was a rugby player during his college days. Went to Vassar for a while, the London School of Economics and the Oxford language school. She had some Master's degrees in business, economics. She works in mergers and acquisitions with a grueling schedule; her hours are 9:30 am to midnight, daily. We asked what they saw for themselves in ten years. Immediately, they responded...."kids, family, home". They are looking for another place to start their family life and are considering Australia. Such a talented couple...whoever gets them will be lucky to have them. 

Instant bond, we felt parental, well, grand parental. We picked up their check - the first wedding present, she quipped. 

One of those lovely experiences you have once in a while when traveling.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shopping and grazing. 12-22-13

Warmed up a little...bumped into a very nice Market full of hand-made products.
Klimt-like ornaments...
I was warm enough to remove the knit hat I've been wearing for days. Fresh cooked potato chips, greasy and salty made a delightful snack.
Sausages, brats........and more potatoes