Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Backing up photos

After a frantic email from our daughter after she got back to Canada and somehow wiped out all the pictures she had taken while over here,  I decided I had better get my crap together and back up a few of my own pictures.

Sometimes it's best not to tempt fate.

Oh,  I had all her pictures by the way,  since they were still on the camera she had been using here,  as well as in a folder on my laptop.   I rarely delete anything,  unless it's so out of focus it has absolutely no meaning.  In spite of that,  I've only used about 80 GB of a half Terra byte back up drive up to this point.   That's 500 GB in case you were wondering.  I have a ways to go.

She signed up to a Picasa account and invited me to "share"  some photos,  with the result being that I "shared"  all the pictures she had taken here.  Took an hour to upload.  There were close to 900.
Can you imagine how many rolls of film that would be?  Gloriorsky!

I'll let you do the math on that one.

Now,  you may have noticed on the picture above that there's something "going on" there in a little box on the screen.   See,  my nephew had written a program for the back-up drive that looks to see what files are "new"  and then copies them to the drive.  Keen,  or what?
Well,  back before Christmas some time,  I noticed it wasn't really doing its thing,  so that meant that I had to physically copy entire folders over to the drive from the laptop.  Such a job!
OK,  if you realise that at one point in my very early life,  I've actually had to shovel manure,  you'd realise just how sarcastic that last remark was....

But I digress.

I mean,  all that pointing and clicking....

So,  as it turns out,  by following a certain sequence of events,  I thought I got the thing to work.  It was doing a bunch of "stuff" there  that took a good twenty minutes,  so I was pretty happy.   Well,  except for the realisation that I'm a complete idiot,  but other than that,  pretty happy.

Turns out I'm not that much of an idiot after all.  In spite of doing what ever it was doing,  I still had to go and copy a bunch of stuff.   It was "checking" I guess, but then not much else.
Meh,  no biggie.

With the exception of encountering a huge electro magnet,  the pictures on the drive are now safe and sound.

In other "news" (like any of this blather is anywhere close)  I took a little jaunt down to Bösendorfer Straße to pick up tickets for yet another outing.
We have more guests coming towards the end of the month,  and it never hurts to have a little diversion.

I'll elaborate on that in due time.

 (It's the "Musikverein")

Just so happens,  it was a tad warm out there today.  Can't say that sweating a little is going to hurt me,  but after getting up at five to see my travelling companion off to the Czech Republic,  combined with a couple hours out in the heat,  I was a little pooped this afternoon.

Pretty sure some of the temps we endured in Puerto Rico were way hotter that the 29°C  it got to this afternoon,  but there was always that pool to jump into.  No such luck this time around,  and it was actually a tad hotter down at street level.   I finally relented around 3:00 p.m. and turned on some air conditioning.

I guess I should feel guilty about that if I absolutely have to.

 But then again,  maybe not. 


Monday, June 28, 2010

I see ugly people.


I've been out and about a couple times today, and I'm sure it's not just me.  There's a lot of butt-ugly people out there.
Possibly.  Possibly one in a hundred is half decent looking,  but often I start to make that observation,  and the person (usually female,  I'll admit it)  puts a cigarette up to their mouth.  I don't know what ever happened to that old adage that it was not "lady like" for a woman to walk down the street and smoke at the same time?
Guess that one went out with the notion of wearing proper support undergarments.

I do realise that I sometimes take a second look at the ladies wearing the Halloween costumes, and give them a bit of a wide berth,  since anyone who dresses that early for Halloween really can't be trusted,  but at some point there has to be a happy medium between wearing some smelly hot tarpaulin and well,  the other extreme.

Getting so a feller can only look down at the sidewalk.

You do know what I'm talking about right?   I guess they're all Star Wars fans,  since they do seem to like to dress up like Darth Vader.

Remember that guy?

Some of his more obvious fans:

Don't know about you,  but I see a lot of similarities there.  Well,  except the version above is wearing gloves and a belt.

But possibly that's a "guy" thing.

Maybe it's because Mariahilfer is some sort of shopping Mecca,  since I do hear a lot of other languages other than German.  Maybe that's it.  Actually,  I shouldn't give too much of a wrong impression,  since the Austrians don't actually speak "German",  as I know it,  but some sort of marble mouthed slang that is hardly understood by most folks north of the 48th.

Meh,  I can sort of make it out.

Now,  Vienna is a cosmopolitan city.  I would expect everyone to be smartly dressed,  and I can make allowances for the tourists,  and they're pretty obvious,  but the shoppers are slobs.
I seem to recall when I lived in Paris,  going to the shopping district was a feast for the eyes.   Everyone was not only shopping for the latest fashions,  but they had no qualms about showing off what they already owned.

Guess the times they are a changin'.  Or I'm just turning into a grinch,  but I don't think I'm alone on this.

 It would also appear that Mondays are "get your meds"  days as well,  since I've been into the Kaiserkrone Pharmacy a couple times today,  and each time the place has been mobbed.   They have something like six cash points open,  and there's a line of six to eight people at each one.  I might saunter over there later today and check it out once again,  but I really don't feel like standing in line for a good half hour trying to fill a prescription.   I'm not even sure if I can get a refill,  since the system they have here is just a tad different from what we're used to.
I have this piece of paper I've been hanging on to since around the New Year that I keep taking back for yet another refill.   They're running out of places to stamp the thing.  It's not really that big.  Thankfully my travelling companion has a doctors appointment in a week or so,  and we can get a new piece of paper.

Other than those two minor rants,  it's simply a beautiful day here today in Wienerland.  Supposed to go up to somewhere around 29°C today,  and be just about the same for the rest of the week.

I can deal with that.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Still here.

But our visitors have left.

That probably wouldn't suck so bad if they had been completely horrid visitors,  but we had a fine time,  and now I miss them.  This isn't any sort of subliminal message that any future visitors get to be complete wankers or anything,  so for anyone planning to visit,  don't get any wise ideas.
Just thought I'd put that out there.

I sort of left off last week some time,  and I apologise for not having stuck anything on here,  but we were kind of on the go there for a few days.   I wanted to write something yesterday,  but to be honest I was ever so slightly at loose ends,  and didn't feel like saying too danged much.  Some sort of withdrawal or something.
Not going to dwell on it.

Thursday we decided to head to the zoo.   I know,  seems odd,  but Vienna has a really great zoo,  and we figured why not?    Besides,  it's not just any zoo,  it just so happens to be the oldest zoo in the world.   I mean,  it's in Vienna so it has to have some superlative or other to go along with it,  right?
I'm not really a "going to the zoo" kinda guy,  but Rob and Kat were game,  and it was a nice day.  Thing is,  from the front of Schönbrunn,  you don't really get a good impression as to just how freakin' huge  the whole place is.  Up to this point I had only seen the front of the place,  since my travelling companion and I hadn't timed our visits to coincide with getting to the back forty. 


Pretty sure all three of us in unison said something along the lines of "Holy Cr*p!"  when we came through the building.    I guess the royal family wanted to have something to look at in the mornings.  I had seen pictures of the "Gloriette" that you see off there in the distance,  but had no idea....

We did not walk all the way up there.   The zoo was way off to the right somewhere,  and turned out to be just as far to walk.  Seriously,  if they had been renting golf carts,  I would have happily ponied up €20 for the privilege.

Glad I took my advil.

I should mention the sub-plot to the whole event,  which was the picture taking of this one particular travelling gnome that Kathryn brought along.  He is in many,  many photos.

The one other thing I should mention about the Vienna zoo is,  unlike say,  the Toronto zoo,  all of the exhibits were open.  What a concept!   You pays yer money,  and you get some value.   Didn't exactly have the stamina to see the whole place,  but that was not through any fault of the administration.

Friday morning we were on the road by nine I think it was,  on our way to Slovenia.   Had to buy yet another Vignette of course.   I guess I don't mind too much,  since the roads these Vignettes pay for are actually very good.   I'm talking right up there with the Dutch roads,  and heaps and heaps better than any road most anywhere in North America.  You can try taking exception to that statement if you wish,  but I'm throwing down the gauntlet on that one.
Mind you,  the back roads in Slovenia can be a different story,  but at least 99% of them are paved,  even though they may be somewhat,  shall we say,  challenging? 
(hey,  they got mountains,  what can I say?)

Friday afternoon Kat and Rob were meeting up with a new found friend in Ljubljana,  and got to watch the football match between the USA and Slovenia.   I don't want to go off on any tangents here about a certain team representing a country the inhabitants of which might be somewhat challenged when it comes to their knowledge of world geography or anything,  but suffice to say there was considerable jubilation when Slovenia was ahead by two goals.
I had other obligations,  so was relegated to getting snippets relayed to me from Magda's cousin whom we went to see out in Sava.

Apparently Rob's wedding vows were vastly different from mine when it comes to the fine print dealing with "driving the car"?

Fine,  I did some of the "touristy things" in a couple previous trips to Slovenia,  so I wasn't too put out with visiting relations,  or looking for obscure land locked plots of ancestral property. 

That's because this place.....

which is sitting on something like seven acres of land up in the hills,  is the birth place of my travelling companions father,  and has sat pretty much untouched since perhaps the late forties?   (or maybe it was before the war?  Need help on that one)  It's rather amazing that it's still standing,  but they tend to build houses in Slovenia to last.  The house only looks crooked in the photo.  It's not.  The problem lies with the photographer.
It could do with a little sprucing up,  even though there was a lace table cloth visible on the kitchen table.   There was no way we could have even tried to get the front door open,  and even if we could have,  I wasn't about to head in without coveralls and maybe a respirator.

Oh, and what do they say?  "Getting there is half the fun"?


But first, we did manage to squeeze in one touristy thing on the way,  since we had come "all the way from Canada",  as Magda's cousin put it,  and that was to make a stop at Bogensperk castle.

If you'd like,  take a gander at the google maps location here 
and you can get a vague idea as to the somewhat twisty back roads in Slovenia.  That was on the Friday night,  and the guide basically took us on our own little tour since,  as I mentioned, we had "come all the way from Canada".

Good thing she didn't see the BMW with the Austrian plates.
....which brings me back to the back roads in Slovenia.

Magda had casually mentioned when we set out that her cousin tends to drive a little fast.   It's one of those moment in a fellow's life when he raises one eyebrow and says,  "really?"
Just practise that one in the mirror.  You'll know what I'm talking about.

There were moments there when I was not only thankful for some sound automotive engineering,  but moreover not at all put out that I had to "keep up".   Just wish I had been driving a standard is all.

Travelling companion had a firm grasp on the "oh shit" handle.

It was also just as well that Kat and Rob were back in Ljubljana having a grand ole time,  since anyone with motion sickness issues (Kathryn)  would have been blowing chunks.

Now,  that whole "blowing chunks" theme is a perfect segue,  but I have to let that one go,  since I need to stay on track here.   Somebody partied a little too hard...and had to have someone stop the car on Saturday.   I can't confirm this,  as it was only a story that was related to me by the alleged "blower",  but I could tell by the way this individual looked.....that there was no doubt as to what had happened.
Not my place to comment any further.

End of possible segue.

Saturday was the day to "find the land",  which we obviously did since you saw the picture of the house above.  Thing is,  it seems that it's never really all that clear just which road it is that leads to this place?   I've heard these stories over the years,  and now I understand. 
We had gone in the morning to visit one of my travelling companions Aunts in Ljubljana who,  at 88 is pretty darned spry and sharp as a tack, and then in the afternoon we met up with the cousin once again for a joy ride in the mountains.   There were a few times there when she stopped for directions,  and judging by the hand motions,  we were going to be doing some twisting and turning.  (along with up and over...)

My travelling companion started to get a tad nervous.

There was some talk of me running on ahead and telling the cousin,  "no,  we don't want to go any farther".

Ya,  like that was possible.   I had no issues keeping up remember,  but not on foot....

Turns out we went up the back way, which was just a cart road,  cut into the side of the hills,  with no second chances.   I mean,  it's not like it was a "straight drop" or anything,  and in most places the trees would have broken our fall I'm sure.

So hey,   no problemo.

Now here's the irony!   When we finally extricated ourselves from the hospitality of the neighbours (Slovenians have to offer you's some sort of code)
and came down the proper way,   which was pretty damned twisty as well but at least paved,  we realised we had been on that very road the last time we were in Slovenia!!

Honestly!   We didn't stand a chance in Hades of finding the place,  but we were actually on the right road!  Who knew?

I could quite possibly find it on my own again although,  I don't have any immediate plans of going back,  since the likelihood of turning the place into a "weekend retreat" would only work if we were contemplating some sort of monastery.
I'm guessing there's water on the property somewhere,  but there's certainly no electricity,  and no access.  (It's land locked)

The other agenda to going to Slovenia for the weekend was to retrieve Magda,  since she was flying out on Monday with the "kids".   Again,  there was "talk"  of a number of them coming back to Vienna by train.   It's about a six hour journey,  and there's a train leaving Ljubljana at noon,  with a stop over in Maribor.   Although not an impossible arrangement,  I would have had to drop off any train travellers ahead of time in Ljubljana,  then head for Sava to fetch Magda.  This would also have meant that anyone on the train would have missed out on seeing Magda's cousin,  and as it turned out,  a mighty fine lunch.
(remember the code?)
Instead,  we managed to get all the luggage and all the bodies in the BMW.   Not the most ideal means of travel,  but we vowed to stop on the order of ever hour or so,  just to keep every one from going off the deep end.   In spite of that, with about 20 kilometres to go on the way in to Vienna, and without cruise control,    I was really starting to get fidgety.
Mind you,  I wasn't the one sitting on the hump in the back seat though,  since Rob offered to "take one for the team".

One of the major considerations one needs to be aware of when arriving in a place like Vienna on a Sunday night is that all the stores are closed.   Makes for some careful meal planning ahead of time.  We had already experienced this sort of phenomenon when we were living in the Netherlands,  so it's not that big a deal.  Pain in the ass just the same.
We had something figured out though,  and had a decent meal of leek and potato soup with some grilled veggies on the BBQ.   Having any sort of meat is out of the question,  since it would either still be frozen rock solid,  or long since spoiled if left in the fridge.

Monday was airport day.   Gabe didn't go to the airport,  since it was once again a work day for her.  The traffic was the usual volume,   but we had left in plenty of time.  

The post flight report is that the trip actually wasn't all that bad.  Rob had unfortunately had a tooth ache the whole time,  and the news is he's been to the dentist and will be getting that situation sorted out on a follow up visit. 
The big stupid summit in Toronto meant having their passports checked three separate times before leaving the airport.

Not a good time to be anywhere near Toronto.   Glad I don't live there.


Remember I mentioned marriage vows?   It's the only way I have of being able to put in this one last photo.  'Cause I have to.

"Here,  hold this...."

Good luck.

And good night.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Busy Times.

Woke up with a sore hip this morning.   Might have something to do with a certain amount of mileage being covered,  and how it's now turned slightly damp and cloudy.
I used to wonder about that when my dear ole Mom would comment,  and now I understand completely.   Just needed to get past that half century mark.

The car has been given a "rest",  and the last few days have been all about either being on foot or on the bike.  I find the bike program considerably easier on the joints,  so I chose to meet our visitors yesterday at a pre-arranged time in front of the Natural History Museum.

The authorities do frown on most anything with wheels on it in the park area in front of the building,  but there were several bikes around,  and nobody gave me a second look.  I didn't want to say anything,  but there's a whole list of fine print at either side,  listing all the things that are not permitted.  With skateboards being so blatantly obvious,  there's no way any boarder could quietly slide through,  so that was just fine with me.

I suppose I should recap what's been happening over the last few days.  Saturday was pretty much a day that vanished for our jet lagged visitors.  Even if there's a chance of sleeping on the flight,  going anywhere where there's a six hour time difference with put you in a tail spin for a day or so.
Sunday we had tickets for the Spanish Riding School. 
You'll notice that the links I'm putting in for these places are from Wikipedia,  and I do realise there are some shortcomings inherent with the use of that particular source of "information",  but the websites for any of these places in not only in German,  but are quite often poorly done to boot.
I figured we should go to a performance on the Sunday,  rather than one of the "tours" or "training sessions".   Trip Advisor has a host of information on just what to expect when it comes to these types of arrangements,  and my impression was that,  depending on who you get as a "tour guide",  they may or may not actually know that much about the horses.
It was a tad warm in the building,  since the Saturday had been blistering hot here.   Of course that meant that the couple next to me who brought in their spoiled little two year old son felt it necessary to fidget the entire time.   Eventually I just stood up and moved behind Gabe,  since I had visions of pitching the kid over the edge.  Considering it was perhaps 8-10 meters,  he might have got hurt.
I've never quite understood the thinking of some parents who somehow have the notion that their toddler is going to appreciate this kind of thing.   I feel a rant coming on here,  so I'd better let that go.
Just as a side note,  Gabe and I went to Shrems on Friday,  since the company that cannot be named was having an open house of sort,  with a factory tour to see first hand how all the little widgets get made,  and we noticed a building on the way back having to do with the summer residence of the Spanish Riding School.  Since I rarely take these kinds of things at face value,  I asked one of the employees on Sunday and sure enough,  the horses go "on vacation"  for a couple months in the summer.   Considering how hard they get worked for the rest of the year,  that kind of makes sense.   It's an intensive eight year training program,  so by the time the horse is 12, they're pretty well an extension of the rider.  I was going to mention something about teaching at an average college,  but didn't want to upset anyone.

Our visitors have now mastered the subway system,  which was part of the reason I was able to meet up with them yesterday.   I knew there was no way we could cover any more than a small fraction of the Natural History Museum,  but just seeing the building is a sight to behold on its own.
I'll give you a chance to gawk.

I'm sure I could go on and on about this place,  since it's pretty vast,  and unlike a regular art gallery such as the Louvre,  it's not just about the statues and paintings,  since there's also huge collections of most anything you can think of in the "natural" end of things.
In spite of having purchased a yearly pass,  I'm not sure I'll ever really see it all.

Oh,  almost forgot.

Went to the Opera Monday night!

Had a look on-line,  and Madame Butterfly was being performed on Monday,  and there were a few tickets left up in the "Mittelloge".   Had no clue where that was of course,  but any of the seats that had any kind of obstructed sight line were sold out anyway.  It was  either that,  or do that "standing room only" thing.
Don't think so.

Sorry about that link,  it was supposed to go to the seating plan.  See if you can fumble your way around.  There is an English page....

So here's how it works:  You go on-line and submit a "ticket request",  and then wait to hear back about how that might have turned out.  Good thing I didn't screw up my phone number,  since the ticket office called back about an hour later letting me know that well,  the tickets that I wanted were sold out.  That's how we ended up where we did,  since I hadn't set out to actually pony up quite that much dough,  but whatever.
Seems like a bit of an odd system,  since I'm pretty sure with an entity like Ticket Master,  if the tickets are available,  you'll know that right away when placing your order.  Isn't that why it's all handled by these computer things??
I dropped off our visitors outside of Stephansdom on Monday afternoon and walked up Kärtner Straße to pick up our tickets.   Even the ticket office was pretty spectacular.  No idea what it used to be....
Probably could have saved myself a trip and somehow picked them up on the way to the opera,  but I wanted to be in possession of those suckers,  since there was no way this could be a "do over".

Anyway,  in spite of it being once again a tad warm in the building,  it was a truly enjoyable experience. 

Not sure what our plans might be for today,  since it's presently raining like crazy out there.   There was some talk of a couple comic book stores,  or perhaps a trip to the Zoo.

The lines of communication have been open back and forth between here and Slovenia,  since we had no sooner hung up the phone last night from contacting Kathryn's friend Urska,  whom we'll be meeting on Friday,  when Magda phoned to enquire as to our plans.
We hope to be on the road early to get in to Ljubljana in the fore noon.   Slovenia is playing the USA in the World Cup later on Friday,  and we all want to be in front of a TV set somewhere for that one.

I'll let you guess whom we might be rooting for.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

They're here!

They're looking pretty refreshed for having endured eight and a half hours on Austrian Air.  Didn't hurt that they came over First Class.  About three hours into the flight,  after having been fed constantly for the first two hours,  Rob figured they could just turn the plane around and head back,  since the feeding frenzy was pretty much the best vacation he had had up to that point.
Everyone else wanted to keep heading for Vienna,  so I guess he figured,  "meh,  what the hell".
The airport pick-up went OK,  although it turned out that they came in about 15 minutes early,  and I could very well have dropped Gabe off to go and fetch them and gone around once.  Who knew?   I didn't make it into the terminal before they were well on their way to the parking garage.
Apparently the simple action of taking a parking ticket from the machine costs just as much as parking for a good half hour.  Figures.
Some places actually have a 10 or 15 minute grace period (yes,  in Austria)  that allow you to race in and race out.   Not the airport parking.
Then they wonder why people are blocking traffic trying to pick up passengers?

By that point in the morning (some time around 8:40?)  the temperature was already up around 22°C.
I just now came back from having hoofed it down to Neubaugaße,  and pretty much immediately jumped in the shower,  since I'm pretty sure it's up in the mid thirties by this point,  with the usual hoards of (now hot and sweaty) people shopping on Mariahilferstraße.
The whole experience is just a tad smellier is all.

Once again,  very thankful we sought out a place with air conditioning.
I'm done.  Not going out again.
I think I feel a nap coming on,  and since I'm the only one awake at the moment,  this would be a good time to give in.


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Now we're cookin'!

Not much going on today.   Did go out for a quick burn on the bike.  Wasn't too terribly bad if moving.   Not exactly breezy country weather out there.
This is one of those occasions when I'm oh so glad we put "air conditioning"  on the "need to have" list.   We actually had a few similar hot days last year in Delden,  and there was no air,  and no pool to jump into either.
Such fun.
Still find it incredible that the average Austrian, when asked will say, "Oh,  we don't have air conditioning".


Hello.  It gets hot here.
A fellow who reports to Gabe doesn't have air in his apartment,  and to make matters worse,  the air in his car doesn't work either.  They've ordered the guy his car,  but Lord knows when it will arrive.  There was even some "concern" as to whether he was to have a car?  Again hello,  he's an Ex-Pat.  He gets a car.


Oh,  and speaking of idiots.  There is this one particular lady behind the meat counter at the local "Billa" down the street.  She's never impressed me as being the sharpest knife in the drawer,  and yesterday she was able to establish once and for all her place in my little mental list of dummies.
If ordering cold cuts,  they start a running total on the scale,  and when you're done,  they print it out,  put the little packages in bag,  put the sticker with the items listed and the total across the mouth of the bag,  so it cannot be opened, and hand it over.

Thing is,  I didn't check the contents of the bag until later on,  when I realised that the silly cow had left out one of the packages.
Now,  in the grand scheme of things,  if a few slices of salami that I wanted to put on a pizza were to simply disappear somehow,  I'm sure I wouldn't consider it much of a tragedy.  Typically though,  this individual always gives one the impression that it's somehow an inconvenience to ask her for anything,  in spite of the fact that she's there to get you stuff.
That kind of attitude wouldn't be tolerable in the best of situations,  but in her case it's made even worse since she's such a dipshit.
(By the way,  "dipshit" is a general term used in most service industries used to describe someone who needs to have their ass fired out the door.   Just so you know.)

So it was mostly due to my inability to let even this slight transgression go by the wayside that I bothered to go back at all.

Didn't need much.  Just a container of milk and a cucumber,  but I wanted my flippin' salami,  dammit!

She did that sheepish "Gomer Pyle" kind of grin,  muttered something unintelligible about how it was busy or something (which it wasn't)  and offered her apologies. (sort of)
She did say,  "Dass war meine Schuld".   (that was my fault)
Well duh!   No kidding. 
I said very little,  offering neither a smile nor any other form of acknowledgement that it was somehow "OK"  that she was a dope.
Now,  before you get all pissy about my pettiness over a few slices of salami,  let me repeat this, I probably would have let it go, had it been almost any of the other employees in the place who generally have a half decent attitude when it comes to dealing with customers.  Remember customers?   The ones that pay their wages?


Glad I got that off my chest.

Managed to find a "tool store"  on Mariahilfer that my sister-in-law said she saw when she was out walking last week.  Apparently  she walked quite a ways.

Usually I have to make sure I have the car and go to one of the outlet type places out in the burbs if I need something.  Had no clue there was anything on Mariahilfer.  It's just a hole in the wall,  with not exactly the best prices in town,  but if I suddenly have a crying need for a package of screws, at least now I know it's there.

Keep it between the ditches.


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Running the roads.

Originally I had thought of another title for this particular entry.  Something to do with laundry,   but that just happens to be something I need do while writing this,  so not all that worthy of being a blog title.

The kids are coming Saturday.  That's all I'll say.

If you need to refill your coffee or go to the bathroom,  now is a good time,  since this could take a while.
Our company arrived some time Friday afternoon.  I was snoozing on the bed watching a DVD I had brought over on turning boxes.  I'll probably watch that one a few more times, (um,  need to stay awake?)  since even when I was in peak lathe operating form,  I was never as good as the guy doing the demonstration.
Gah!  Not sure I'll live long enough.
It's right up there with my "guitar playing".   Pitiful.

There won't be any gratuitous pics of these folks,  since I didn't get them to sign a waiver or anything,  however you may recall that we did go and visit them at some point when we lived in the Netherlands?  Yes?
I just now went looking for the entry when we made that visit.  This is the way I evaporate a considerable amount of time,  since minutes have past,  and I didn't find it.   Enjoyed reminiscing over old blog entries though.

Let me see if I can get this straight,  the lady is the daughter of the God Mother of one of Gabe's sisters.   The connection goes back to when many Ex-pat Slovenians moved to Austria after the war,  either looking for work or due to having fought against what later became the government under Tito.  I think that's the way it worked.  I could be wrong.  I sometimes get these things mixed up.
Anyway,  for a lot of folks,  hanging around in Slovenia after about 1947 wasn't a good thing.  Many of them eventually came to Canada.

Thing is,  our Friday visitors were on their way to Spittal,  where they still keep in contact with Slovenians who never moved from the area.

She and Magda had actually corresponded over the years after the God Mother passed away,  but had never met.
Since they were now both on the same continent so to speak,  it would have been a shame to miss the chance to see each other.
Who knew we'd be living in Vienna so these little meetings could take place?? 

So now you know.

They packed up and headed out on Saturday morning,  and we were on the road not long afterwards.
A while back,  when we knew for sure that Magda would be coming for a visit,  my travelling companion ordered tickets for the Passion Play in Oberammergau.

What's that,  you say?  Well I'm putting in all these links,  since I'll be here all day trying to adequately describe the whole experience.  If I could so boldly quote one of my nieces, it was definitely a "once in a lifetime",  although I did meet a few people and overheard others who said they had been to Oberammergau on several occasions.  There were many people speaking English,  or something that might pass for English,  since some of the Americans (and Brits)  have their own little quirky nuances.  My impression was that most of the pilgrims were Americans which,  according to this guy doing a little carving,  is a good thing,  since the average German no longer has any interest.

The time spent waiting for the performance to begin can be spent in one of the many tourist trap type shops throughout the town.

 This certificate basically says that the guy whose work is on display can be referred to as a "Master Carver".   

Often I pretend that I don't speak any English,  but I did get sucked into the roll of interpreter between the guy carving the huge statue of Mary (above) and an American gentleman who had started to dabble in wood carving.   Turns out he was a retired dentist (the American,  not the German)  and I find it noteworthy that many doctors and dentists do drift off into woodworking when they retire,  quite often with a high degree of skill.
The wife of the retired dentist did compliment me on my diplomatic skills, in light of my having to get around telling her husband he needed to learn how to sharpen his tools.  This was in answer to one of the questions I had posed to the mallet wielding carver dude about cutting across the grain....
I mean geez,   I knew the answer,  but it always has more credibility coming from the expert.

 The astounding thing is,  the production runs from mid-May until October,  and the 4700 seat theatre is packed every day.  Well,  except Mondays.
We stayed at a "Pension",  which is more or less the equivalent of a Bed and Breakfast,  which is operated by Anton Zwink,  who also has appeared in the play going back to 1970.
There was a shuttle bus service that came by on a regular basis,  but the town is so tiny,  that even the half-cripples like us could manage the distances.

Anyway,  it was quite a novel experience.
Took a look at the odometer when we came back.  Vienna to Oberammergau and back;  roughly 960 kilometers.

But wait,  we're not done!

The plan was that on the Tuesday (yesterday)  I was going to drive Magda down to Sava to see her cousin.  Again,  long convoluted story about that tangled web of family connections,  and I'm not going there.
There was some talk of me staying over night,  but I wanted to get back here to Wienerland,  since I knew my travelling companion was off to Serbia this morning,  and just might want a ride to the airport.   Vienna to Sava and back,  roughly 650.  (something like that,  memory's dim)

On edit,  it was 844km.

Google maps sez there's a more direct route,  but google maps doesn't drive the back roads of Slovenia.  It's better to go to Ljubljana and drive the half hour back to Sava.  Trust me.

I still have to get out and get the car refueled and washed,  since we're going to Schrems on Friday.  Oy.
I think that puppy is going to be due for it's first oil change before "visitor season"  is over in September.  We're already coming up on the 10,000 kilometre mark.
Again,  as was the case with the Audi,  the car will "tell me"  when it needs the oil changed.  I'll start keeping an eye on the level in about mid August though I'm thinking....

Oh wait!  Almost forgot.   I mentioned that travelling companion was off to Serbia?   Seems yesterday they had meetings with one of the bigger cheeses who came over from the States,  and he and a few others were heading on to Serbia,  so travelling companion was once again blessed with being able to hitch a ride on one of the corporate jets.
Unfortunately they're then heading on to Turino  Italy,  so she'll have to come back tonight on Yugoslav Airlines

It's a bit of a different experience compared to the corporate jet program,  since she always ends up on one of their ageing ATR-72-200s.

I'm hoping to pick her up at the airport again tonight.

No really,  they're safe.

Aren't they?


Friday, June 4, 2010

Catching up.

Seems a few days flew by there and not much happened,   but that couldn't be farther from the truth.
We're back in Wienerland of course,  although the casual reader might have no way of knowing that.  It was a busy 10 days or so back in Canada.  Pretty sure we got everything done.  I did miss that whole "high school reunion" thing.  Oops.  Just too many other obligations.  It happens.   Probably if the situation were different and we weren't home for a visit I would have been able to go and wander around.  It was something like 34 years ago that I finished High School,  so with the exception of those very few people that I have an inkling about, (and whose mugs I see on Facebook)  I doubt that I would have recognised a soul.
Remember how I said the flight over to Canada wasn't all that bad?  That was mostly because we ponied up the dough to go back in First Class.   Tried to do that for the return trip,  but "it was full".   Turns out that was BS,  since I saw empty seats up there.   Bastards.  Must have had something to do with the type of tickets we had?  No clue.
What that meant was well,  I was sure glad I slipped a pack of earplugs in my shirt pocket before boarding the plane.  Oy!  I shouldn't say too much since I don't want to scare the crap out of my daughter and her husband who are coming over later in the month,  but it wasn't exactly a fun trip.  While First Class on Austrian is not anywhere close to the delight that it is on say KLM,  flying coach is pretty much an abomination.  Putting myself into that semi-comatose state that I normally do wasn't enough to help.  There were way too many kids on the plane,  and way too little influence from the staff.  You know how when the "fasten seat belt"  sign comes on,  and someone also comes over the P.A. to remind everyone to do just that?   Never happened.  Not once.   And we had a whack of turbulence.  And then they'd get all pissy if someone didn't have their seat belt on. 
Well hello?   These people are stupid!  They need to be told.
I'm going to stop now,  since I'm just getting myself upset.

Whereas we had gone to the airport by first subway and then train,  we had already planned on coming back here by taxi.   There were going to be three of us after all,  with full suitcases.  My travelling companion and I went over with an empty one,  and it came back with the usual underwear (found Stanfields!)  and well,  apparently somebody went shoe shopping.  The taxi plan would have been just fine,  if the cab driver hadn't been an entirely clueless boob,  who thought he'd be clever and try out every little short cut he thought he knew to get to the apartment.  That's not easily done in Vienna,  since it's not anywhere close to being laid out in a grid. He didn't know that I knew where to go,  and I was too whipped at that point to really care.  We were all sitting down,  the cab didn't stink too badly, and there were no screaming kids or surly flight attendants.   Took us a good extra fifteen minutes to get here.  I had pre-paid,  so I really didn't give a shit.
The weather here has been a huge contrast to Canada,  where we had record temperatures.   Apparently it's been raining a lot in Vienna,  and yesterday (Thursday)  it finally let up,  with only a threatening hint once in a while.
We jumped in the car and nipped out first to Schönbrunn,  and decided to leave when the rain threatened,  and headed down to the Hofburg to have a look around.  Since yesterday was a national holiday (again!)  the traffic was light and there was actually parking at the Hofburg.  Not sure where everyone went,  but there were traffic reports that seemed to indicate that everyone was headed for Tyrol.  Plus,  with "downtown" Vienna consisting of a significant number of government offices,  the streets were basically free of cars,  with only the odd tourist stepping off the curb.  Pedestrians are at the top of the Darwinian hierarchy in all European cities,  so one must be vigilant behind the wheel.
I'm sure it would be helpful to all tourists going to a city like say Toronto,  to have a big notice on the bottom of the customs form.   "Pedestrians get run over in Canadian cities on a regular basis,  stay on the side walk!"

At this point I have to comment about that link I just put in.   It wasn't preplanned.  I just knew that a google search of "Toronto Pedestrian killed"  would bring up a result.   Try it,  it's alarmingly effective.

  Now,  I mentioned there were three of us?   Well yes,  we came back with one of my sisters-in-law Magda (this info is for any of the six or so readers out there who are not one of my relations) who will be staying in Europe for the better part of a month I guess it is,  and will be going back with my daughter and son-in-law.
She's not overly keen on travelling alone.  Can't say I blame her.

She and I will be taking a little jaunt down to Slovenia on Tuesday,  where she'll hang out with some relations for a few days.  We'll catch up with her a little later on.

Meanwhile,  she's taken over the kitchen.  You have no idea how happy that makes me.
I ain't kiddin'.
Has nothing to do with me being a lazy sod or anything,  but everything to do with the skill involved.  I try to sort of hang off to the side,  and I've picked up a couple little hints along the way.  It's not like they were big secrets or anything, (although there was this time when she pulled a small packet out of a pocket a few years back,  pretty sure she thought nobody was looking....)   but more like common sense things that come from being a master (or maybe,  "mistress"?) of the kitchen domain for a while.

Here she is performing some culinary magic.

Since we're expecting company coming down from the Netherlands later today,  this kitchen program makes for a "stress free Bob".  
My only challenge was to pick up a pork roast at the butcher,  and then as soon as I post this,  I have to make a couple more grocery stops. the way,  the Cheeto delivery was a big success.

  Long story,  but suffice to say a certain store clerk whom I've been able to rely on for a few culinary mysteries has been rewarded with a couple bags of his favourite snack,  that he can't for the life of him find here in Wienerland. 

Meh....a couple bags of Cheetos weighs what?  Nothing?

It's all about the little things.  Innit?