Thursday, May 27, 2010

A sad day.

OK,  first of all,  nobody died or anything.  If that were the case,  I'm not sure I'd be on here writing about it.  So no, it's nothing that is that important.

I should offer up a slight apology for anyone who has been incessantly clicking the link to read the latest.  Sorry.  I've been busy.

This is the usual sort of thing when we come home for a few days,  since there are so many things that need to get sorted out,  and only so many days in which to do it.
Appointments to keep.  Teeth to clean.  Bank employees to scowl at (I've been nice,  really!)  Hockey games to attend.  Beer to drink.

You get the idea.

Doesn't help that we're having a slight heat wave,  but that's OK as well,  since it could very well be in the single digits at this time in May and besides, we won't melt.
 I suppose.

We broke a few records temperature wise it seems.
I'm so happy to take part....

I should perhaps go back a few days and talk about the trip over.

It wasn't bad.

Austrian Air still has a ways to go to compete with KLM in my books,  but that's rather a moot point,  since it's doubtful we'll get back on a KLM flight any time in the near future.
I've learned to never say "never"....
We thought we'd pony up the extra dough and go for the upgrade,  since I'm sure you're well aware of my opinion of flying coach with Austrian.  It gets to be like a sweat box back there,  and it has mostly to do with the choice of aircraft that some executive made (who no doubt never flies coach)  since there's no ventilation to speak of.
So fine,  we came over in First Class.

Those who know me,  know that I'm pretty,  parsimonious,  but going First Class when the flight is over eight hours is a worthwhile expenditure.  Trust me.
My first impression though  was somewhat less than stellar,  since First Class customers have access to the "fancy lounge" when waiting for the flight. 

You need to take a close look at one of the chairs in the "first class"  lounge. 
I was only hoping the seats in the plane were in better shape.

You have to also understand,  in spite of the general stupor that I put myself in for airline travel,  for me to notice and then want to photograph shabby furniture,  you may very well get the impression that it must have really caught my attention.

" this is the fancy lounge.  Hm...."
'Nuff said.

On the extreme other end of things,  my travelling companion leaned over to me at about the three hour mark into the flight and said,  "we've been eating for two solid hours". 
Very true.  And good stuff. 
They know how to stuff their first class passengers.
Helps to make up for the poor ventilation.  Not much better than coach,  except that at least in first class there's more room to be uncomfortable.  And it's easier to get to the wash room.  They need new planes.

Now,  skip ahead.

One of the slight nagging items on my little agenda of "things to do"  concerned the motorhome,  and what needs to be done with it.  Gah!
We're currently paying storage and insurance on the thing,  and haven't gone too danged far in it lately. 
*sigh*'s gone.  Made some calls,  talked some numbers,   Took it to a dealer.  The cheque is already in the bank.

I had made a half assed attempt to sell the thing over the last two years,  but since I'm not here,  that makes it pretty damned tough.  I'm kinda the one to answer the questions,  and email is less than ideal.  So..enough fooling around.
Our daughter had the unfortunate experience of having to sort out the "looky-loos". Oh,  don't get me wrong,  we had some "looky-loos".  None of them were overly serious,  and one person actually had the nerve to ask if I'd finance their purchase? 
Now admittedly,  it would only be people who KNOW me,  who would never in a million years think to ask such a thing,  so maybe that person just thought I was what, born last night?  Not sure. 
Look at my profile pic.  Is there anything about my demeanour that would indicate that I'd want to finance a complete stranger or that say,  I'm a blithering idiot?
Just askin'.

Plus,  this is the year for the emissions test,  so I couldn't simply go to the Ministry with my money and get a new sticker.  I've never had any issues with that particular money making scheme,  (or, some may refer to it as a "money grab")  since it has always passed any emission tests with flying colours,  but I just didn't want to have to go through all that bla-bla all over again.  The plates ran out in July.   Good time to sell.

So,  one less thing to fret about. 

I'm going to try not to get too maudlin.

I still have pictures....and for the ten years that we owned it,  we had some good times.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One more sleep!

I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that Eyjafjallajökull doesn't send any more ash our way.   There were a couple issues on the weekend,   when Innsbruck and Salzburg airports were closed.  Of course,  there are always the nay sayers,  who figure looking out for the safety of passengers is somehow not that big a deal.

You'd think it would be a fairly relaxing day,  since it's not like there's anything to pack,  since we keep some "stuff" at home.  We will be taking along a larger checked suitcase,  since there are a couple little items that need to come back.


We won't mention them.

Well OK,  maybe I have to mention something....
As long as I have room for a few packs of "Stanfields"  underwear and more socks,  I'll be a happy traveller.  I ended up getting a little crowded out of my expected allotment of suitcase space at Christmas time,  so hopefully that doesn't happen this time around.
Could go either way.
I guess there was something in the wedding vows that I must have missed?

Oh,  and I look nothing like the guy on that Stanfield's web page.   Sorry.  Maybe when I was about 17?  Even then,  had way more hair,  which is apparently oh so seventies.

 Speaking along those lines,  (um,  the hidden wedding vows) I had just settled in for my second cup of coffee this morning  when the phone rang,  scaring the living cr*p out of me of course,  and it was my lovely travelling companion,  who on the one hand had no difficulty getting to work,  but had unfortunately arrived there without a truly essential piece of equipment.

Now,  I'm willing to take the abuse and ridicule of having,  oh I don't know,  eight or ten pairs of "cheater"  type glasses between here,  the car and our house back in Canada. 
Matter of fact,  I just bought yet another pair the other day from Pagro Diskont for around six Euros.  Didn't come with a case though,  and I'm told they look like "lady's"  glasses.
OK.  Big deal.   I can see the computer screen.

And if I happen to take them off,  and sort of walk ten feet to the kitchen,  and suddenly need to see something, well  there's another couple pair in the drawer there.

So,  what to do?   The missing glasses were easily found,  right there on the table.

Road trip!   Well,  in my case train trip...since I can jump on the Subway just here at the corner,  get off at Wien "Mitte"  and take the S3 to Strebersdorf for the princely sum of €1,80.
I had done this trip once before when I had to fetch the car,  but this time I figured I'd try for a bit of a record,  since I'm considerably more familiar with the whole scheme.
Plus it was good practise for tomorrow morning....
Never that efficient to stand there gawking at the schedule,  unsure of where to go as the train pulls away.
So this time around, door to door was roughly 50 minutes.   Subway-train-bus.

That ain't bad.

Unlike some other transit systems, the bus actually is coordinated with the arrival of the train,  and sits there patiently while everyone saunters over and gets on.   Matter of fact,  he was starting to bug me just ever so slightly when we were getting into the second minute there and hadn't pulled away.   The company that cannot be named is two bus stops down the road.  I wore the appropriate company apparel,  which always makes for some interesting looks from the worker bees.
I can just see it in their eyes, "who the hell is that guy?"
"and.. where did he get that hat?"


I chose to come home by car though,  since by that time in the morning the traffic has eased up a bit,  and it take only around a half hour door to door.  Besides,  when given a choice,  I'm not really that in to public transit.

And that was the beginning of what has been a day of cleaning,  ironing shirts,  'cause we don't have a flippin' dryer  (need to not leave that many shirts in need of pressing....gah!)  along with the usual changing of the bed so we have clean sheets for when we come back.
Don't know what happened. 
Turned around twice and it was three o'clock.

The other slight challenge of course is to figure out what we'll be eating this evening and then tomorrow morning to as not to leave too much in the fridge.
Unlike Puerto Rico,  where the power went out almost weekly,  (oh man,  we learned that one the hard way!) we don't have that issue here,  but I prefer not to come back to any science experiments just the same.

Keep yer sticks on the ice.

(and hope the Habs get beat)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

When people move you.

And I'm not talking about the latest "touchy feely"  crap having to do with some teeny bopper video on Youtube or any of the other nonsense that seems to creep into our lives.   No no,  I'm talking about when a moving company comes along,  packs you up,  and "moves you".
I do realise that it's a privilege that's shared by very few people,  and I also know that I wouldn't go anywhere if it were not for the services of these fine people.
Case in point,  once we moved into our house in the (dead of) winter in 1992,  I figured I wasn't coming out again unless it was on a stretcher.

No more "self" moves for me,  thank-you.

But that's just me.


Along with the privilege of having someone come along and pack you up comes certain,  shall we say?  pitfalls?
When the moving truck finally showed up in the Netherlands (pretty sure our shipping container went the wrong way  around the world,  but we won't go there) we made a couple interesting little discoveries.   Well,  "interesting"  in a very broad sense I suppose,  it was more like,  "oh crap,  what do we do with that?"

We have an entire Rubbermaid® tote full of craft supplies.  I couldn't describe the contents to any extent,  and sad to say,  it wasn't even missed from the plethora of stuff my daughter has collected over the years.   We also ended up with a similar tote full of Christmas ornaments which we sort of spread around the apartment back in December.  That was fun.
Then there are the three brand new door knobs,  still in their boxes,  that I had set aside for the eventual replacement of the old ones in the upstairs bedrooms.  ( Canada)
OK,  it's not because I'm a "hoarder",  it's because the first time I had to go out to Home Despot or where ever to pick up another new door knob,  I had a heck of a job finding the matching design.  So when I finally found it,  I bought enough to do the rest of the bedroom doors in the house.  I just haven't installed them yet.
Hey,  I don't live there,  so it's no big deal.
Just too bad I didn't hide them from the flippin' movers.

I suppose if I cart them home in my suitcase on Thursday I just might have to get around to installing them or something.  We'll see.

That of course, would depend on a few things:  1) I need to figure out where the heck I put them. 2) I'd need to remember to do something with them when we get home and, 3)'s all going to depend on which way the ash blows come Thursday?  Somehow that sounds a little vulgar,  but there's this big "ash hole" up in Iceland that seems to be creating some problems.

We're trying not to fret over here.

The reason that I'm on the subject at the moment is all due to a follow up to our little water event last week.  Turns out we actually did have well over 20 centimetres of water in the basement at one point,  since I could see the high water marks on the suitcases.   Now,  suitcases are pretty impervious to water,  which you'd realise if you've ever sat on an airplane watching the gorillas handle your luggage in the rain.  That's not to say they're water proof or anything,  but for the most part by letting them dry out again,  they're good to go.

  A little WD-40 here and there doesn't hurt either.

I absolutely refuse to buy expensive luggage anyway since,  if you've ever sat on a plane and watched the gorillas handle, well....never mind.

(plus there's a direct relationship between the expense and flashiness of your luggage and the likely-hood that it'll go missing,  trust me.
You want to "check" LV luggage?  Then you have more money than brains.)

What I discovered was,  one of the boxes that got accidentally shipped over,  was a small box of books that I quite honestly didn't know what the heck to do with.  That same box had sat undisturbed in the garage in Delden for the whole time we were there,  but in one of those moments when I ran out of places to put things,  I shoved them in the bottom of one of the suitcases. 

Not the best place.

Out of perhaps 20 small paperbacks,  there were only three that were completely beyond hope,  and they'll be off to the recycling bin I'm afraid.
I'm not sure exactly when I would have been interested in rereading any of them either.

I think the part that I find the most intriguing is that I ever managed to read any of this stuff in the first place. 
Wowsers,   I paid a whopping buck sixty-five for that one in the middle.
Better contact the insurance company.


Monday, May 17, 2010

An Idiot and his phone.

Of course you realise that,  in this particular case, by putting this in the category of "General Stupidity",  it has absolutely nothing to do with anyone other
Probably should be some other category altogether for that, since we're screwing up the stats here,  but that's a totally different subject.

So here we go.

Back in the early fall of 08 I suppose it was,  I broke down and got a Nokia "pay as you go"  type of cell phone.   Had a local Dutch phone number (which I never did really learn off by heart,  but that's not unusual)  so that on the rare occasion that my travelling companion needed to contact me,  and I wasn't right by the home phone,  it was possible.
 (This was considerably better than the loaner phone I had when we first arrived in March of 08,  which was actually based in the UK.  Talk about getting a crash course in that whole country code thing. Yikes!)

Now,  I didn't exactly have bluetooth on the bike,  so if someone called,  I found I had to pull over.  I've seen plenty of people riding bikes and talking on cell phones both in the Netherlands and here in Wienerland,  but I'll tell you right now,  it wouldn't be only a bike helmet that I'd need if I were to try that.  I didn't learn to ride a bike until I was damned near a teenager,  and it's not exactly a skill I've ever completely mastered.
So no,  no talking and riding at the same time for me,  thank-you.
(both hands on the grips)

So fine,  when we moved on down here in November,  I figured I had to get something local.   Come to find out,  the phone I purchased,  which was somehow tied in to "Vodaphone",  what ever the hell that means,  was "locked",  and for something like €30 I was able to get it "unlocked"  so that I could buy a local sim card with a local Austrian phone number.
What do I know?   Sounds about right?  That didn't include the sim card though,  which I needed so that I could actually start making calls.  The thing is,  incoming calls are free,  and I rarely call "out",  so I've been working on the same €20 since November.   I think I might be down to somewhere around €14 by now,  and I have until next  November to use that up.

All was right in cell phone land.

That is until yesterday,  when I dropped the damned thing.  I had dropped it once before,  put all the pieces back together,  held my breath,  and it lit up and continued to work.
Those Nokias are tough!

Yesterday however,  it did NOT fly apart,  but instead just sort of stayed in that one spot on the floor.
One would normally think that that was a good thing, but I guess all that "flying apart" was some sort of energy dissipation?  That would be my guess,  since it died without uttering a peep.


There's certainly no problem on a street like Mariahilfer when it comes to finding a place to buy a cell phone.  I'd wager that by simply turning my head I'd be able to see two or three places without ever taking one step.
As it was however,  I thought I'd go on over to Kaiserstrasse to the place where I had had the busted phone "unlocked" in the first place,  when I happened to notice a dedicated "Nokia"  store just a few meters on up the street.

Probably not a bad idea to try there first.  Too bad I hadn't done that back in November!

See,  here's where the idiocy continues.   For a whopping €35,  I simply bought another phone.  It's already "unlocked".   Think maybe I got somewhat taken when I got the other one "unlocked" for right around the same amount of money?   Hm?
The things ya learn.

Makes me want to spit.

The beauty is,  I simply put my existing sim card in the new phone,  and it's all good.  Same number,  same amount of time left.

Just feeling a little dim,  is all.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Le Déluge

So it did stop raining eventually some time in the wee hours,  and has been threatening on and off all day.  Puts a crimp in the "hanging out laundry"  program,  but I'll manage.

Typically when I exit the building,  like I did this morning on the way to the store, I simply head down the stairs.   I sometimes feel stoopid waiting for the elevator to come up six flights to fetch me,  when going down isn't that big a deal.
So when I got to about the fourth floor (in this building it's called the second floor...don't ask)  I noticed that the elevator was sitting with the door open. complete darkness.

Now,  there have been times when I've sorely wished that the elevator would normally sit with the door open,  especially after someone has been on with their smelly dog. 
Sorry dog people.  I'm not a big fan of stinkin' dogs. 
I shouldn't really have to bring along a can of some sort of flowery spray either. 

When all is right in elevator world,  it's at rest with the door closed.  So to see it sitting with the door agape was well,  a little troubling.

Remember I mentioned wanting to speak to the neighbour below about whether or not there had been any water coming in her place?   Thankfully,  the report is that no,  there were no issues.  The water that was coming down the chimney chase (I just made that one up)  didn't go into their apartment. 

This is good.

Where a considerable amount of it ended up though,  appears to have been in the basement.

Not so good. 

The further report is that this has happened in the past,  and it has an adverse effect on the elevator.  Having messed around with enough electrical devices over the years,  I'm not entirely sure why it should,  since everything should be isolated and all that jazz, but perhaps the breakers are really really  sensitive,  so perhaps that fits.
Don't breathe on them,  or get close to them with any other hints of moisture.

Mind you,  going up the elevator I do feel like I should hold my breath, but that's for other reasons,  whether dog related or not.

The final report is that her husband called this morning already to give a heads up to the building people. 
Let's keep our fingers crossed.

The chances of it getting fixed before tonight at around midnight when I get back from the airport with my travelling companion?  Pretty damned slim at this point I'm afraid. 
She did say though they've been known to come out on the weekend to sort out this goofy contraption.  (or as I like to call it, "Die Totesfalle*")

The only reason I had to go down to the storage at all was that I had yet another empty box that I wasn't quite ready to pitch out,  and figured I'd stick it in with a couple others.
Now,  since most of my previous experience with storing things on basement floors has pretty much been bad,  I'm not very trusting of simply putting cardboard boxes,  whether empty or not,  directly on the floor.  No no,  we don't do that.
So,  all is well in our storage locker,  thank-you.   I even make sure everything is covered in plastic,  just in case someone gets a little carried away beating the crap out of a veal cutlet in the restaurant above and dislodges a chunk of plaster from the ceiling.

It could happen. 

I hear pounding.

And no sorry,  there are no pictures,  since that would have meant coming back up here,  getting the camera,  going back down....

You get the idea.

I won't be going back down until later tonight on the way to the airport.

Happy Friday.  Drink responsibly.

*death trap

Thursday, May 13, 2010

And then the rains came.

Cue African drum music.

As mentioned earlier,  I did indeed head out and tool around on the bike.  Tried not to race,  but didn't stop much either.   Went through the Hofburg, and then all the way right round the ring to Schwedenplatz

And,  I have to figure out what this building is.

It's mighty fine.

We've driven by here scads of times,  and I haven't a clue.  Possibly Parliament?  Not sure.  Sometimes there's cops hanging around out front.  Nobody home today though,  just tourists.  (on edit...I wasn't sure until I just now looked it up....yup,  that's what it is.)

Probably was out for the better part of two hours,  and even though I had taken my rain coat along,  when it started to threaten,  I figured I'd head back up Mariahilfer.  (the legs still get wet,  you see.)
Since it was a holiday that meant that the traffic was light (good) but that the traffic lights were only flashing (not so good).  So there was never the hope of being forced to stop for a rest.  Gah!

Of course,  dignity would not permit me to simply pull over.  No no.

So fine,  I was just a tad sweaty by the time I got in the door.
Why does it jump out on my forehead like that?
Thanks Harry*.
Just very quietly took the elevator.  No stairs, thanks.  And thankfully nobody around.

Had I stayed out any longer,  I would have been a great deal wetter.  Of this I am sure, since it started to rain hard at around four,  and now that we're approaching eight p.m. it has only now started to ease up.  (more African drum music...)

Here's the thing however.  At about five,  I started to hear a sound that I had not heard before.  I'm sure you know what I mean.  There's the fridge.   There's the elevator.  In the winter there's the furnace.  (let's hope)
But then if there's an odd sound like,  say someone were herding recumbent pygmies on the roof (ya, get your head around that one) and especially if that were the case,  it's usually a good idea to investigate.
So I could hear this slight "slapping" sound,  that I began to suspect was water....


Turns out we have a slight leak somewhere upstairs,  and today was the day when it decided to let itself be known.
Just happened to have the small camera handy,  and figured there was nothing quite like video evidence.

We have this honkin' big chimney that runs up through the apartment,  which has been nicely enclosed with drywall.  No,  we don't have a fireplace,  but I think some folks below us do.  Anyway,  it seemed odd to me that there was this "missing space", that I noticed when we moved in, but it didn't take me more than about five minutes to figure it out.

It's also a handly location in which to put the water shut off for the two outside hose bibs that we have upstairs on the "Terrace".

There it is.

Didn't figure that one out until the next day.

So whether or not the folks below us are getting wet or not remains to be seen.  I heard them go out earlier today and haven't heard a peep since.  It could be just going down inside the walls.  Who knows.

Take a look.



And,  even though I can't get my fat head inside the opening to see where the water is coming from,  after seeing the third bit,  I now have a vague idea.


And is it just me,  or does that third one remind you of an old John Deere tractor?
Just be glad I could only suffer doing that for about a minute at a time.

I might have to phone the landlord in the morning.

Oh bother.

*Um....reference to my Dad,  not any other "Harry".


It's another Holiday!

Like I'm surprised.

Only thing is,  my lovely travelling companion is in a foreign country.
Hopefully there won't be any Volcanic Ash complications for her return late tomorrow (Friday) night.
She dutifully called from Birmingham just now to announce her safe arrival.  
Apparently there needs to be some closer scrutiny when it comes to the scheduling.  Best to stick to the Austrian holidays,  as opposed to wondering or worrying about what anyone is doing anywhere else.

This has been a bone of contention of mine for some time,  and as the company that cannot be named is a US firm, they have no qualms in making demands of Ex-pats no matter what the day happens to be in the foreign country.  That is of course,  until they started dealing with the Dutch,  and now the Austrians.   "Op Vacantie"  was one of the first things we learned in Dutch,  and most Europeans have no qualms about leaving their office on a Friday afternoon for four or six weeks,  and leaving absolutely NOBODY in charge of their job in their absence.
As aggravating as that is,  it seems to work for them.  So it makes you start to go,  "hm....are we doing something wrong here?"

Ah well,  the time will pass quickly I'm sure*.

Speaking of which.   SEVEN MORE SLEEPS!

I already have our tickets to take first the U-Bahn (subway/underground/metro....use whatever term applies in your country)  and then the Schnellbahn,  but I'm beginning to think we might save those tickets for when we come back,  since I was just at the Wien/Mitte train station the other day,  and it's a bit of a confusing mess.
Construction is ongoing and so,  I think we'll be going with the smelly cab program.

Don't think I need the stress of wondering if we're on the right train when it comes to catching a flight,  plus there's that tax refund that we need to get when at the airport, and I'm not going to miss that chance.
When we went home at Christmas,  we stopped in to see the good folks at the customs office (or whatever it is)  and they very kindly gave us about €110 back in taxes we had loaned to the European Economic Union with some purchases we had made.
See,  if you buy stuff from certain stores in the EU,  you can get your tax back when you leave.  This is one "tourist attraction"  that we try to never miss.

Dead simple.
Has to be,  if I can do it,  anyone can.

Since the weather is still more or less hanging in today,  I just might head out on new and shiney and tool around some old buildings.  We have a few of those.

I'll try not to race this time.

See,  that's another slight problem that I have.
How shall I put this? 
There's a tendency among sailors that whenever there's another sail boat on the water headed in more or less the same direction,  then it naturally follows that the race is on.
Guilty as charged.
I too have some issues on dry land being passed by other vehicles,  no matter if they have two wheels or four.
This would be OK if I actually had the physical stamina to beat the hell out of anyone trying to pass me,  and there was only one guy on a racing bike yesterday who blew my imaginary doors off,  but I would have beat that bastard too if he hadn't been about 19 and built like Lance Armstrong.  


I didn't seem to have this "problem" in Delden,  but perhaps that was because we were mostly in the countryside,  so I didn't mind so much being passed by little old ladies on their souped up €2000 technologically advanced (sometimes electrically assisted!)  bikes.

Of course,  when it comes to the cars,  it's  infinitely better just to keep ahead of those guys,  'cause they sometimes like to pass a wee bit too close.  There was a really nice Audi SUV that just about lost a passenger side mirror if I figured I could have done it without breaking my flippin' leg.

Oh,  and let's not even talk about manufacturers like BMW,  Audi or Porsche making SUVs! 
That's just wrong!
That's all I'm gonna say.  Missing a mirror wouldn't have been a crying shame.

Happy Thursday.

*by that I mean both until tomorrow night,  and until we go back to Canada for good....just to let you know.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blip Tv files.

Not sure what transpired there,  since I had pretty much given up on uploading a couple files on Monday.  Monday?
I guess it was Monday.

Far be it for me to question these things,  but I just signed in to my Blip TV  account and see the files had finished uploading.  I hadn't counted on that at all.  Some sort of internet miracle?


Anyway,  here are a couple snippets from St. Augustine.

Clip one

and Clip two

Last time I checked (just now)  they worked.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Another Monday.

But this Monday is the penultimate Monday before we go home.
I just taught you a new word.  Yes,  that's an actual word.  It means, "second last",  as opposed to I suppose,  "ultimate", which would be next week.
Today is also the day when I can start counting "sleeps" until we go home.  We're at 10 sleeps.  I figure we shouldn't really start counting "sleeps" until down around the 10 to 15 day mark.
Any more than that is kinda silly.
For those who may have had some experience in the Air Force (say)  you may wish to also count the travel morning as a "wakie".
So,  "ten sleeps and a wakie"  would be the proper terminology.

Aren't we learning heaps of useful stuff this morning?  Hope I didn't make your head hurt.

One of my nieces is counting the days until she retires and is at something like 2100.

That's just messed up. 

What kind of internet logarithm do you find to tell you how many days until you retire?  And why do you need to know to the day?  It's fine to have a vague idea,  but this sort of precision amounts to what I refer to as "wishing your life away".  It seems to go by fast enough,  no point in wishing too far ahead.

But that's just my dim-witted philosophy.

Saturday was almost another shopping day,  but we couldn't agree on the terms,  so the whole idea was scrapped.  I was willing to go out to one of the burbs to a place like Obi or Bauhaus and look for a plant or two for the space upstairs,  but I drew the line at sheets and pillow cases.
Just wasn't happenin'.

On Sunday though,  the walkabout committee was considerably more successful,  as we managed to visit both a Church and a Museum.
Everything is so close at hand in the first district of Vienna,  that it's almost a shame not to spend a couple hours wandering around.
The Church we chose was St Augustine's and naturally we didn't realise until we set foot in the door that the place would be packed due to the whole "let Mom drag us to Church for Mother's Day" program.
So we ended up actually sitting on temporary chairs way up past the altar.  We know enough now to head for one of the back rooms for a couple chairs,  since that seems to have been our experience on a couple Sundays up to this point.
The other reason for the place being packed was,  in spite of the information on the website indicating that concerts wouldn't start until June,  there was a full ensemble doing works of Haydn.  Had I known we might have been able to get there a bit earlier.  Haven't managed that up to this point.
Hate being late.
If you go to that website,  you'll notice that the Church is kind of long and narrow,  with sides that are quite plain,  with each end being dressed up to compensate.

I did grab a couple video clips after the service if you're remotely interested.

(and it looks like I'll have to add those links later,  since Blip tv seems to be taking it's sweet time)

Our Museum visit was to the Kunsthistorisches Museum or the Museum of Natural History if you insist on the English version.
You may recall that a few weeks back I had purchased a couple pieces of paper....

Lovely,  aren't they?

 You remember these,  right?

So the deal is,  when you make your first visit,  these things get turned into passes with our names on them,  including the date.   We now have a year to get to all the places on the list.  If you go to the website and mouse over the "home" area,  you'll see the list of places we have access to.
For us this is not only a good deal, but since neither one of us can handle wandering around a museum for much more than about an hour or two,  going back for repeat visits is pretty much mandatory.
I mean,  we live here fer heaven's sake,  so we need to make that work for us.

I have to say,  just the building itself is incredibly beautiful and worth the visit.  We only saw one tiny section on one floor,  so we'll be back there a few times.

There are a couple half decent videos posted on Youtube.  This link is one that's not too bad,  showing the Egyptian items that we also saw yesterday.

Whenever blip tv get's it's act together,  I'll upload a couple more clips of my own.

Check back.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

What's with the honking??

There's not a whole lot of noise that makes it's way up to nirvana here,  but every so often some idiot decides to lay on his horn.  I have no idea what they think they're going to accomplish,  but I'm really trying to resist the temptation of the "dark side" here with thoughts of side cutters and duping people into opening their hoods for me.
Just one little snip.  That's all I ask.

Pretty sure the cops are too lazy to get involved,  since that might mean getting on the radio or something. 
And really,  it's best to not get the Vienna police involved in any actual policing matters,  since they're liable to either shoot someone or just beat them silly.

These signs..

are clearly on display at every point leading into the city.
Maybe the average motorist in Wienerland figures since their horn doesn't actually look like that,  that the law doesn't apply to them?
Wouldn't surprise me.

OK,  now I feel better.  Sort of.

Meanwhile I thought I'd better do a little follow-up to the "Slovenian weekend".

It was fine.   Really.

The trip there came in at just under the four hour mark,  or something like that,  since we did make a brief stop along the way for a little snack and coffee.  I try not to overdo it in the coffee department these days,  especially if I'm going to be in a confined space for any length of time.

Let's not go there.

Since we were booked in at Vila Bled,  I simply left it up to the navigation system to take us there.  It's worked splendidly up to this point,  so I saw no reason why there should be any issues.   What I didn't quite fathom though,  is the fact that we have these things called MOUNTAINS just to the west of us here,  that do tend to dictate the method by which one may actually get into Slovenia.
Oh,  and don't even get me started about how to get there by train.  It's a six hour train ride...
  Part of the border between Slovenia and Austria is made up of what is referred to as the "Southern Limestone Alps",  which means at Graz you can either choose to go south and head for Maribor and then on to Ljubjlana,  or turn to the west and head for Klagenfurt.
So getting to Bled actually meant going all the way to the Karawanken Tunnel,  since Bled is actually quite a few kilometres north of Ljubljana.

Somewhere in there I was accused of choosing this route for the simple notion that I might possibly get a charge out of saying the word "Karawanken"  but really,  I'm not that sharp.  I had no clue which way we were headed,  but figured if we ended up in Italy,  it might be time to check a map.

Or haul out a different dictionary.

And yes,  I do like to say "Karawanken".

Karawanken. Karawanken. Karawanken. Karawanken.


It just sounds too much like "Willy Wonka",  and I can't help it.  Sorry.

Speaking of dictionaries,  it was rather surprising how well the Slovenians speak English.  Mostly that is.  I do recall that when we met this one cousin of the my travelling companion,  (last year) we probably had a better chance of communicating in German than English.
We didn't meet up with anyone this weekend,  since we really just wanted to poke around a little and generally be somewhere else.

The trees in front of the hotel were pretty huge,  so there were really only two views from our balcony.  Luckily we were on the third floor.

The big pillar didn't help either.

This island is considered to be the only island in Slovenia....

and the only slight consideration to being where we were,  was the number of times the bell rings,  or gets rung,  but the passing tourists.  Also,  on the Sunday morning at seven,  somebody was ringing the cr*p outta that thing.
And since there we absolutely no bugs,  it was perfectly fine to leave open the door to said balcony.  Up until that is,  seven o'clock on the Sunday morning.

Right at the bottom of the stairs leading up to the hotel,  there are boats waiting to take you over to the island.  We chose to give it a pass,  since it was quite windy and choppy on the water on the Saturday afternoon.  Plus,  after you go down the steps from the hotel,  there are another 99 going up to the Church.

Maybe next time.

Oh and apparently there seems to be fish in the lake,  since we happened to be in the vicinity when one of the local yokels hauled a 14 kg carp out of the water.
We only know that since he brought along his scale to weigh it,  before slipping it back into the water.

I guess a fellow needs to know these things.

And no,  that's not me with the camera.  That's just some annoying little bald man getting in everyone's way.  I was the tall bald man,  glaring at him.

So that was pretty much it.  I could go on and bore you with some more bla bla bla.  Suffice to say,  all the bugs that were not flying into our room were hanging out on the highway,  since the first thing we did when we got back to Wienerland was find a car wash.  Yikes.

Many many dead bugs.

There was no memorial service.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bob's Baking Bonanza.

So fine,  that's a complete exaggeration,  but there was some alliteration calling me,  and besides,  any baking on my part,  is pretty noteworthy.

I equate my baking ability to that of some people when it comes to driving a car with a standard transmission.
First of all,  there may indeed exist the required skill-set but moreover,  one is never really sure of the result,  and therefore the obvious choice is to simply not do it.

Just the same,  I start to get bloody tired of throwing out overly ripe bananas,  so I figured I'd take a stab at baking up some sort of concoction.  In the best of all possible worlds,  I'd have enough freezer space to maybe put them aside for an occasion when perhaps someone with more baking skills could then do something?  but freezer space in this place is pretty much at a premium.
 Don't want to get off on a rant here,  but suffice to say,  there's no "doubling up" of anything.  Need to buy extra bread?  Better check first if there's the required 50 cubic inches of space in the freezer! 

The other slight concern is getting the proper ingredients.  When a recipe calls for Baking Soda,  and not Baking Powder,  there's no hauling out the big ole box of Cow Brand.  It comes in these tiny little packages and it's called "Natron" in German.  No clue as to the etymology of that word,  but trust me,  that's the stuff.

There's the other slight problem in that I don't have an actual mixer,  but it turns out a potato masher worked just fine.


We're talking banana bread here,  OK?  There's some mashing involved.

And there we go....

Of course,  it would hardly be fair to go without a taste test...

The texture does seem a little course,  and that's partly due to my potato mashing technique I'm sure,  but I did notice that the flour does seem to be a little bit on the rough side. 
Maybe that's why I'm not overly keen on the bread here in Wienerland?

Doesn't matter. Tastes just fine.

Trust me.