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 something....it'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.


1 comment:

  1. Just a recap and an some fessing up on my part...first, it took near 20 minutes to find gum in that magic bag of holding Kathryn has.
    And yes it was I who hurled on the side of the road, I actually had to apologize to our host for vomiting on their country.


Well, I've been getting too many spam comments showing up. Just a drag, so we'll go another route and hope that helps. So, we won't be hearing anything more from Mr. Nony Moose.
I guess I'll just have to do without that Gucci purse.