Category Archives: Travel

Dürnstein, Austria Dec 17, 2018

Durnstein

Dürnstein, Austria

Dec 17, 2018

Ah! Durnstein. A return to the site of my cycling misadventure. This time, no bike, and when Alan suggested a hike up to the castle, I made the proviso that that there be people to accompany me prepared to carry me back down the mountain. As far as I know, it was only a Californian couple who made the climb.

My decision not to climb had something to do with alcohol. All will become clear.

It was another -2c day with snow on the ground but non imminent and in fact we did see patches of blue during the day.

Durnstein is in the Wachau Valley and wine and tourism are the main sources of income that supports just a couple of hundred. It probably means they are quite wealthy because by my reckoning, they produce a lot of fantastic wine and they have boatloads of tourists almost every day, summer and winter.

The Gruner Vetliner wine is fantastic. Most of the vines are grown on steep slopes that retain little soil, so the wine is very minerally. They say that they are wines that can be aged for many years, and in blind tastings have beaten the worlds best Chardonays. I’ll never know because what I drank here was young and fresh and I’m unlikely to find any to buy back in Aus. I’m going to have to drink a bucket over the next day or so. The vines on the flat land near the gated to the town are all tended by the primary school children. They have their photograph posted on a pole at the end of the row.

Durnstein is also famous for it’s Apricot Liqueur and in time will become renowned for its Saffron products.

Durnstein’s first claim to fame is that Richard the Lionheart was returning to England from Jerusalem after the 3rd crusade in 1192, when he was captured by Leopold V, Duke of Austria. They had had a dispute in Jerusalem, so Leopold held him for ransom. Legend has it that his minstrel Blondel went from castle to castle singing a song that only Richard would known and when he heard him singing it back, he knew where he was imprisoned. The castle was destroyed by the Swiss in 1645, and the ruins are more of a vantage point for looking out on the Wachau Valley than a feature in itself.

Anyway, the Durnsteiners make the most of it, so there are references to Richard and Blondel throughout the town. Also capitalizing on the many Australian tourists who travel on the river cruises, a number of shops sell road signs with Kangaroos on them and “There are no Kangaroos in Austria”. If nothing else, they also educate American tourists.

We stopped at the same shop as last time and once again sampled a little too much Apricot Liqueur. We then walked the town which is particularly attractive running along the hillside with the ruined castle hovering overhead and the river below. We then attended an organ recital in the local church which was o.t.t. and would have kept the peasants in poverty for hundreds of years. We then went to the railway station, which while still in use during summer months is now owned by Bernhard Kaar. Bernard speaks with an accent that sounds very English. When questioned, he said that he deliberately spoke with an Austrian accent because he never wanted to be confused with a German.

Bernard had searched the library at Melk Abbey nearby, some nine years ago, and found numerous references to the growing of Crocus and production of Saffron from around 1200. He then purchase land and began growing Crocus and producing saffron honey, vinegar, chocolate and a rum, orange juice and saffron hot punch. We sampled liberally … again.

Ches and I then had the town to ourselves as most people had returned to the ship for lunch. We went in search of Christmas tree decorations etc. and discovered amazing rhodium and copper plated wire balls. Every Christmas market and town we visit seems to have something different. Not the same old same old tourist trinkets everywhere.

We enjoyed lunch looking out on the river and small villages as we cruised into the twilight, had a nap, returned to the lounge for pre-dinner drinks, had dinner and ………..

Walking, Falling and Soothing Vienna, Austria Dec 16, 2018

Walking, Falling and Soothing

Vienna, Austria

Dec 16, 2018

more from Vienna, Austria

Taste of Christmas Walking Tour (am) , Schonbrunn Palace(pm) and Klosterneuburg Abbey Concert (evening)

Today was going to be a massive day. We had decided to go on a morning walk (3 hours) of the center of Vienna and take in some 4 of the Christmas markets with samples of food and gluvein at three of them. Back to the boat for a quick 1 hour lunch before a coach to Schonbrunn Palace then back for a light dinner and 1.5 hour break before another coach to the concert than back by 10.30 for supper. That’s from 8.45 till 10.30. That meant I was going to have to wait till Monday to complete my Saturday’s blog and find the time for this one as well: It’s now 5.00 am Monday and we are about to dock in Durnstein.

As we traveled into town yesterday, the guide explained that the they have a strange concept of law / regulations in Austria. For example, we passed “Grow Shop”. It’s a retailer of marijuana plants. The entire street front windows were unshuttered and on display was around 30 meters of plants under heat lamps. The laws regarding the entire operation are in her words “a little bit yes, a little bit no”. You can buy plants, but not let them flower. In the privacy of your home, you can use them. The staff can sell them to you, but not advise on how to grow and use them to get high. The staff can however sell you books that do tell you!

Other interesting information. Austria has a population of 8.5 million, 1.8 of whom live in Vienna. They have the second highest GDP in Europe, provide several hundred thousand public housing apartments, provide public transport for 365Euro per annum (Yup, a euro a day for use of train, tram and bus) and have a very clean city with little evidence of homelessness.

Uniworld guides always seem to give you information you don’t get from guide books. In the course of the morning, she was regularly pointing out buildings and apartments in which Mozart had lived or written a certain piece of music. It was all contributing to the final conclusion that Mozart was always broke and moved repeatedly. It wasn’t that he was poorly paid, it was because he had extravagant taste in clothing (a dandy like me???) and he was an inveterate gambler. Even his eventual demise wasn’t a result of a major disease and through the neglect of the Viennese, it was because blood letting was the common treatment for fevers and he succumbed to his infection in his weakened state.

The highlight of the markets was the “Fruit Cake”. Well, the culinary highlight. We were amazed at the cost of the decorations on sale. Wonderful glass baubles to hang on your tree for 20 euro plus. Seriously, you’d want to attach very carefully out of the way of wagging dogs tails and kids hands, and it would cost close to $1,000 to decorate a tree.

Footsore, we returned to the boat for lunch and a quick turnaround to Schonbrunn Palace. 1,200 rooms in the palace, however we visited only the Imperial rooms. A dozen or so rooms, some public others private. Marquetry flooring like no other flooring I’ve ever seen. Not timber in geographic patterns but artwork in timber. Rooms with walls made of lacquered artwork. A bed the size of a double king size with elaborate embroidered canopies and covers that was only used to introduce mother and child to the nobles for one night. That’s a ceremonial bed, that among others, Maria Theresia used on 16 occasions over 20 years to introduce her newborn children. We lost track of the Hapsburgs inbred lineage, but apparently another of the women gave birth to 23 children.

Despite the fact that the Austro-Hungarian empire was created through the marriage of Hapsburgs to princes and princesses, kings and queens all over Europe, they inter bred to maintain the familial loyalty to such a degree that eventually the male line died out.

While inside the palace wasn’t as crowded as most we have visited over the years, at 59 euros a head, we weren’t surprised. Outside however it was heaving. Possibly the largest of the Christmas Markets occupied half the courtyard which is possibly 100 m x 100 m. Ches decided she’d rather have a chocolate and apple strudel at the café while I ventured around to the back of the palace to photograph the gardens.

As I worked my way through the crowds returning from the gardens, there was more and more snow and ice among the gravel paths. I identified a spot in the gardens which would give me the best vantage point to photograph the palace and gardens, and headed in that direction. The next minute I hit the ground as if poleaxed. I went down face forward, ripped a hole in my sleeve and my right arm through three layers of clothing, jarred my right shoulder and bruised my hip. I struggled to crawl to more firm ground before someone ran across to help me back on my feet. I still took some photos before returning to the café, only to find that Ches couldn’t be bothered queueing to get in.

Outside on the street, we looked down the lines of buses and the 40 or so palace apartments that are now rented as housing (nice if you can get it). No sign of the bus, so we waited patiently for the others to join us for the trip back to the boat.

A hasty light dinner and then back on the bus for a trip out of town to a monastery where we would get to see the most ancient of enameled alter pieces (kinda like a triptych ). In the original dining room, we also had a private concert. 7 musicians and two singers from the Vienna Opera company provided a concert of works by all the famous composers of Vienna. So much better than the many concerts being performed for tourists throughout Vienna, these were fine musicians and they were worth standing ovations.

After a 20 minute run back to the ship, they had a supper set up for us. As the guide explained, a famous sausage was invented in the region, however the butchers name was unknown, so they called it a “Frankfurter”. In Frankfurt they faced the same problem, so called it a “Weiner” (Vienna is called Wein in Austria). The Americans just called it a “Hot Dog”

At 10.30 we retired to our room, me with a snifter of Grand Marnier.

Klimt and Torts Vienna, Austria Dec 15, 2018

Klimt and Torts

Vienna, Austria

Dec 15, 2018

more from Vienna, Austria

Friday night Ches struggled to stay awake again but finally surrendered at 10.00pm and slept till 5.00am. I made it from midnight till 5.00 am. Adding on the 2.5 hour nap from yesterday afternoon, I figured we would do OK. I pottered till around 6.00 when I became desperate for a coffee. Peering out into the gloom, I realized it was snowing. I checked on line for a coffee shop open near by and discovered it was at the central railway station a couple of hundred meters down the street. I rugged up and ventured out into the snow, returning 15 minutes later with coffee and breakfast filled bread rolls.

We repacked our cases and dressed for a day out in the snow. I ended up wearing four layers of tops, a beanie that Dave & Sue gave me, two scarves and two pairs of gloves (inner ones fingerless). Ann knitted me a tube scarf some years ago. It fitted beneath the third layer of clothing. Because three of the layers were Icebreaker merino, it wasn’t at all bulky. Just time consuming putting on and taking off every time we entered a building.

The plan was to put our bags in storage at the hotel, spend the morning at the Upper Belvedere Palace, walk into town to Café Sacher for lunch and then return to hotel and then taxi to the SS Beatrice moored on the Danube by 3.00pm. The plan was executed with military precision.

The Upper Summer Palace is certainly grand with its marble staircase and marble hall (where the documents were signed to return Austria to nation status in 1955) however it is largely an art gallery. The highlights are the extensive collection of Klimt paintings and that’s where we spent most of our time. They were wonderful. By mid-day, the place was packed with northern and eastern Europeans. Talk about anarchy. We had already experienced the German’s reluctance to queue when in Italy, however we didn’t realize the entire geopolitical region was largely anarchic. Just one experience was when a lift arrived and we stood back to let the passengers off, those behind us just pushed through and we were left to climb the stairs. Then there was the chap who when I opened the door to leave the bathroom, just pushed inside, brushing me aside.

Outside we decided to walk down through the gardens to the Lower Palace. Families were playing in the snow; forming snow angels and there I discovered how to make snowballs. One young girl ran at quite a pace, bent over and rolling a handful of snow ahead of her. After about 15 meters it had grown in size and she scooped it up and flung it at her father.

It was snowing quite heavily as we made our way through one of the Christmas markets and up into town where Café Sacher is opposite the Opera House. There we queued in the snow for around 20 minutes for a table. Once inside, we discovered that the majority were just having Sacher Torte and Coffee or Chocolate. We had decided to have lunch, so to distinguish us from the hoi polloi, our table was reset with a table cloth and a smaller serving table placed beside our table. Ches had Goulash Soup and I the sausages (Wieners) with horseradish and mustard. The Goulash was sensational and my sausages best eaten alone as the horseradish cleared my sinuses through to the back of my skull and my eyes ran instantly. Shaved fresh horseradish is much like wasabi, and I had eaten about a table spoon of it. My sinuses just shuddered thinking about it.

We then had a Sacher Torte which was so much better than our previous experience in Vienna and therefore confirms that Café Sacher can rightfully claim to be the upholder of the tradition. To accompany the torte, Ches had hot chocolate with Sacher Liqueur while I had espresso with orange liqueur and brandy topped with whipped cream. Oh my!!!!

Being serious clients, there was no giving us the bums rush. In fact, after trying to get the account for around 10 minutes, we re-dressed (it takes some time when you’re wearing so many layers) and went to the front desk to pay.

Outside it was snowing quite heavily and I estimated that it was around 4cm for the day. We decided to walk down to, and through, the State Park on our way back to the hotel. This took us past the University Music and Concert building. It also took us past the theater we had attended for a concert some years ago. It had been packed with people in sweltering heat and the performance was period over the top Strauss. I prefer my Strauss heard but not seen. I only mention this because tomorrow night we will be attending another concert at a different venue.

Back at the hotel, we retrieved our luggage and had them call us a taxi. We rolled our luggage to the front door and it opened to reveal the taxi driver. He had been parked out front. It was an uneventful 15 min drive to the ship. It was an eventful arrival. We had forgotten about Uniworld customer service. The wouldn’t let us touch a bag as they unloaded and took them straight to our room while we checked in.

We unpacked and stowed everything in the amazingly well designed storage spaces in our cabin then it was up to the bar for a G&T, cruise briefing, meet other travelers and then dinner and more drinks.

We were joined for dinner by Robyn and Alan, a couple from Perth. Both retired, he was a lawyer, ex Airforce and after early retirement at 55, went off to work for one of the big PNG miners in the highlands. Now in late 60’s he still surfs, rides bikes etc. Also into genealogy, we discovered his family had been on the Kalgoorlie/Bolder fields at the same time as my family from the late 1800’s. Still to find out more about Robyn.

On our last cruise, I had adopted the affectation of taking a Cognac back to the room to finish the evening. Ches decided to join me. She argues that she asked me to get a double Baileys because she was basing the portion on the thimble sized one she had on our flight over. She’d forgotten that Uniworld’s singles are anyone else’s doubles. She said she would finish it off for breakfast. It’s becoming a habit. Actually, she guiltily poured the remainder out.

Beef Goulash Soup

½ pound salt pork or uncured bacon, diced small

2 pounds chuck, cut into ½ inch pieces

4 cups onion, large dice

¼ cup red wine vinegar

¼ cup all-purpose flour

2 tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika (regular paprika if this is not available)

½ bottle dark beer such as Guinness (3/4 cup)

1 ½ cups pureed tomatoes (Cento canned kitchen ready is what we used)

6 cups beef stock

2 teaspoons caraway seeds

2 teaspoons marjoram

2 teaspoons dry thyme

8 parsley stems

4 medium peeled garlic cloves

2 bay leaves

2 pounds yellow potatoes, peeled and cut into ½ inch dice

Kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Sour cream, for serving

Chopped scallion greens, for garnish

Russian rye or pumpernickel bread, for serving

Instructions

In a 5 ½ quart Dutch oven over medium high heat, cook salt pork until crisp then remove to a large bowl, leaving fat in the pot.

Sear the beef in three batches for about 3-4 minutes per batch. Remove each batch to the same bowl as the salt pork.

Add the onions, lower the heat to medium and stir to combine. Then add the beef and salt pork over the top of the onions. After about five minutes stir and cook for another three minutes.

Add the vinegar and cook to evaporate, about two minutes.

Add the flour and paprika and cook for three minutes, using a wooden spoon to make sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

Add the beer and mix to combine, scraping any brown bits from the pan bottom.

Add the tomatoes and the stock and raise the heat to bring the mixture to a boil.

While the pot heats, place caraway, marjoram, thyme, parsley stems, garlic and bay leaves in a piece of cheese cloth and secure with twine and add to the pot.

Once heated, reduce to a simmer and cook 45 minutes being careful not to let it stick to the bottom. For the last 15 minutes, we put a heat diffuser under the pot.

After the beef cooks for 45 minutes, add the potatoes and cook 20-25 minutes longer or until the potatoes are cooked through. Make sure to use the heat diffuser and stir to keep it from sticking. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Remove and discard spice bag.

Serve with sour cream and scallions on top, and Russian rye or pumpernickel bread on the side.

 

Sydney to Vienna and Vienna, Germany Dec 13, 2018

Sydney to Vienna and Vienna, Germany

Dec 13, 2018

 

What you get when you travel from east to west is a day that’s around 36 hours long. That can provide justification for all sorts of odd behavior.

The flight from Sydney to Doha was the longest leg of any journey we have ever made …. 15 hours. As we departed the aircraft in Doha, I suggested to Ches that I expected to get an excellent cup of coffee, being that the middle east is the origin of coffee. Barely into the terminal and I came across Starbucks, and then near our next departure lounge, Jamocca. Actually the Jamocca wasn’t bad but what possessed them to allow a Starbucks.

At 7.30 am we took off again for Vienna. Ches had donuts and Baileys Irish Cream for breakfast. She argued that it was really 5.30 pm. I considered the Cognac but couldn’t even justify that if it was 5.30.

We arrived in Vienna at 11.30 am local time to an overcast day and -1c. I’d chosen the Novotel beside the main railway station in Vienna, because there is a train that runs from the airport to the city. At -1c and after 24 hours in transit, we opted for a taxi instead. Probably not the best option as the traffic entering the city choked on 10,000 Glaswegian Rangers fans arriving for a game against Vienna.

By the time Ches had had a shower and changed, it was 2.00 pm and given that the sun sets at 4.00ish, we decided we wouldn’t venture to the center of town. We definitely needed a walk however. Who’d of though it, leave the hotel, take a left turn, another left turn a right turn and another left turn and what do we find? The Belvedere Palace. Vast gardens and the upper and lower palaces were quite a surprise and even more so, a “Christmas market”.

I couldn’t help but reflect on the fact that both the Belvedere Palaces and Blenheim Palace in England were built by their military chiefs at around the same time and designed to celebrate great victories. Prince Eugene had several major victories against the Ottoman Empire and the Duke of Marlborough (John Churchill) defeated the French and Bavarians and thwarted their attempt to control the old Spanish possessions in Northern Europe. Both Palaces aimed to match Versailles and were built in the early 1700’s.

By the time we walked through the gardens to the upper palace, our hands were frozen … even with gloves on. The Christmas Markets are set up along the front of the Upper Palace. Even though our river cruise is to take in the Christmas markets along the Danube and Main-Danube Canal, I didn’t know what to expect. Yes, there are stalls selling Christmas decorations and clothing but also lots of stalls selling food and crafts, just like markets everywhere in the world. It’s just with a Christmas theme.

We did a circuit of the market to get the lay of the land. As almost all stands only took cash, we then had to find an auto teller and withdraw euros. By this stage, I’d removed my gloves to take some 50 photos with my phone. I’d left my camera at the hotel in the belief that there wasn’t going to be any photo ops. My fingers were freezing, so I bought a Teufelsgriller Hot Dog. A spicy sausage inserted into a hollowed out bread roll with tomato and mustard sauces. Ches went to another stand and bought a hot alcoholic apple drink and an Orange/Rum drink for me. All the stalls selling hot drinks serve them in mini steins. We paid a 4euro deposit each of the steins which was refunded when we finished our drinks. We also shared a massive shortbread (much more cakey than Ches’s shortbread). Finally we bought some pastries to have for dinner and a cone of fried shaved potato. Like crisps, the potatoes are shaved with a fine peeler and fried in long strips, that curl up into clumps.

With frost bight imminent, we headed for home as the gloom descended. This is our first experience of all the lights on at 3.00 pm and the light fading. On the way home, we were passed by a woman on a motorized scooter with a small headlight on the handle bar. We noticed these e-scooters on footpaths all the way home. They were introduced in Vienna in September. Instead of racks of e-bikes like we have trialed in Australia, they have these scooters.

I’m writing this blog as we attempt to stay awake till around 8.00 pm, when we expect to sleep through the night.

Horses and Schnitzel Wien, Austria Dec 14, 2018

Horses and Schnitzel

Wien, Austria

Dec 14, 2018

We couldn’t stay awake past 7.30 pm on Thursday evening. Struggled but collapsed in a heap. While we woke numerous times during the night, we managed to stay in bed until 4.00 am, so 8 or so hours of a kinda sleep. It was worth waking up early as we came in on the end of WhatsApp threads announcing that Malia had been guaranteed a place at UNSW in the B Science Data Analytics and Decisions degree. Wonderful news and a just reward for all her dedication.

We decided that breakfast would be a left over apricot filled “bun” and that I would go down stairs for coffee and tea. I struggled back in the lift with two trays. Café late consists of a tall glass filled with frothed milk and an espresso cup of coffee poured over the top. “Over the top” did I say … $AUD7.12. At this point I fess up to having had a cup of Nestle instant coffee at 4.00 am. Out of the darkness I heard Ches say “You’ve gotta be desperate”

The “Apricot filled bun” turns out to be Krapfen. “The recipe for Krapfen was published in a 1485 German cookbook that was printed on the Gutenberg press. Though these delicious sugary treats have been around for a while, they only achieved widespread popularity in Vienna during the 19th century, when the cost of sugar became significantly less expensive.

Today’s Krapfen resemble the old recipe but modern Vienna has created a set of standards that must be met to be deemed worthy of the name. They must contain apricot jam – in fact at least 15% of the doughnut must be filling. And bakers must use six fresh egg yolks for every kilogram of flour used.

The penalty for not adhering to the regulations: a visit and a fine from the MA 59 Inspectorate. This group of magistrates is responsible for ensuring the quality of food and food safety standards in the city, and this means the Krapfen as well.”

35 g (1.2oz) fresh yeast

85 ml (6 tbsp) room temperature milk

100 g (3.5 oz) flour for pre-dough (all purpose or gluten free)

3 egg yolks

1 whole egg

45 g (1.6oz) white sugar

2 tbsp dark rum or whiskey

1 vanilla bean, scraped (sub for 1 tsp vanilla extract)

1 lemon, zested

290 g (10.2oz) flour for Krapfen dough (all purpose or gluten free)

80 g (2.8oz) room temperature butter

8 g (1.5 tsp) salt

canola oil for frying

apricot jam, passed through sieve, flavored with rum

confectioner sugar (with scraped vanilla)

For the pre-dough, mix yeast, milk and all purpose flour together, wrap with plastic
Proof for about 1-2 hours at room temperature
Cream yolks, eggs, sugar, rum, vanilla bean, and lemon zest
Mix pre dough with egg mixture and the remaining flour
Start mixing at medium speed with hook attachment
Half way through the mixing process, add butter and salt, mix to a smooth dough for 4-5 minutes
Measure to 50 g (1.8 oz) pieces, shape into balls, press flat, place on with flour dusted towel and proof
Cover with flour dusted towels and proof for about 1-2 hours. They should almost double the size
Fry in hot canola oil for 3 minutes in a covered pan, flip them and fry for 3 more minutes
Once golden brown, cool them down on a rack, squeeze apricot jam inside, and dust with confectioner sugar

Rapid Vienna defeated Glasgow Rangers 1 nil. Could be 10,000 unhappy Glaswegans in town for the weekend.

We decided that after such a long flight, we needed a long walk. As to where to and to what purpose, not so sure, so the information office probably the best bet. The hotel map we had was good enough to identify that the Belvedere Palace stretched down the hill toward the edge of the city center and from there I thought I could find the i. With the assistance of a chap who we thought had a South African accent, but turned out to be a local who worked as a translator, we weaved through the labyrinth that is at the core of Vienna and found a warm refuge. It was around zero, and taking gloves off to read the map meant that my memory improved significantly.

We had looked at an online guide book before leaving the hotel, so did in fact have an idea about our options and something indoors was looking appealing. I guess we didn’t spend any more than 2 min in the information center. Just long enough to pick up another map (which included 2 walking tours of Vienna) and loose directions to the Spanish Riding School.

The queues at the Winter Riding School arena were chaotic. No supervision, just figure it out for yourself. We figured that the queue out the door and 50m back up the portico was for people who already had tickets. Ours was the shorter, slower moving one to the left. Inside, the pre purchaced ticket holders had occupied all the seats on both levels of the arena. We decided on the top level and lucked it to two standing positions and eventually two seats (after about an hour). Most people only stayed for two of the four 30 minute training sessions. We stayed for 3 and a half.

The Lipizzaner stallions are bred around 3 hours south of Vienna. They are born black or dark grey and only turn white after around 15 years. Kind of like me. Obviously we had greater expectations in the white horses, being older. Again, much like me.

Magnificent horses and riders and amazing relationships established between them. Perhaps the highlight were two horses who took all their weight on their back legs and just lifted their forelegs off the ground with their bodies still parallel with the ground. Not raised up on their hind legs with their center of gravity shifted back, but just forelegs lifted. The older of the two could even achieve it while mounted, while the younger with the rider standing beside him.

Back out in the freezing cold, Ches took over the navigating and after we spent 30 minutes, lost, returned to the riding school and retraced our steps to the information center, from where I guided us across town to Purstner at Riemergasse 10. 2,859 reviewers on TripAdvisor give it a 4.5 ranking. I was on a mission. Before visiting Vienna some years ago, I researched Schnitzel extensively and left disappointed. This time, I was determined to find a schnitzel that I could sit on without any oil staining my pants. Apparently the secret of the best schnitzel is that they be fried in oil with little oil remaining on the crumb. Purstner may not serve the best schnitzel in Vienna, and I don’t have time to try all the contenders, but it was excellent. My serviette didn’t come away greasy after patting the schnitzel. I only have three pairs of jeans and wasn’t going to risk them. We also ordered Pork Ribs.

We made it through the schnitzel but only half the ribs. Our host, in Lederhosen and checked short sleeved shirt (It’s mid-winter … really) wrapped our ribs in foil. They sufficed for dinner. We barely ate any of the potato however couldn’t resist the sauerkraut. No room for desert but just enough for 2 500ml glasses of Pils. One dark the other light.

We needed another long walk. We therefore headed down to the State Park before heading across to the Summer Palace and back up the hill to our hotel. At some point I made the observation that I was warming to Vienna. It was 1 degree. Ches and my father would have ganged up on me at that point, so in defense I argued that us right brain people just come out with lines like that. We are the creative people. Vienna had left me cold in mid-summer those many years ago. Sorry, couldn’t help it.

Back in the hotel, by 3.00, with the light fading, we decided on a 60 min nap. My timer didn’t work and we woke up 2.5 hours later.

Now it’s 11.00 and time to try for a full nights sleep.

Countdown to departure

We’re off to Europe and UK next Wednesday for a 7 week holiday. We begin in Vienna for three days before the Christmas Markets cruise to Nuremberg and then on 23rd fly to Southampton for Christmas and London for New Year. On the 2nd we drive to Moushole (Mozzle) in Cornwall for ten days, then Dartmouth for a week before returning to Southampton till the 31st January when we return home.

Just as a teaser and to get this blog started, I’m sharing a photograph of the Royal Castle Hotel in Dartmouth. We’ll be having dinner (or lunch) with a cousin who lives nearby. Margaret and I share a 5th Great Grandfather from Grantown in Scotland. While my family moved to Ireland and then Australia and back to Scotland and the U.S., hers moved south to London and then one line to South Africa. I’ve been in touch with Margaret and my South African cousins for some years now.

The Royal Castle was built in 1639, but there was evidently a previous hotel or inn on the site because Sir Francis Drake reputedly stayed there. Many of the mistresses of Charles 11 were said to have stayed at the hotel. In 1688, Mary stayed at the hotel after she and her husband William (who later became William 111 of England) arrived in England from the Netherlands to claim the throne.240px-The_Royal_Castle_Hotel,_Dartmouth

Europe trip planning

From mid December, Cheryl and I will be traveling in Europe.  We begin with three days in Vienna, a river cruise from there to Nuremberg and then Christmas and New Year in Southampton and London.  Much of January will be in Cornwall, Devon and probably Wiltshire.  We finish with a week in Southampton to celebrated Drew’s birthday.  I will post daily trip reports here.