Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plodding along.

I just realised the day is slipping by,  and I got nothin’.

There were a couple other interesting (well,  to me anyway) things we saw in Prague that I’d like to share.


First of all,  I thought I was being really clever,  taking a picture of this aging Trabant,  that was wheeling up the E65 somewhere outside of Prague. 


“Oh how cute,  they have those old cars here”, I thought.   What a dope.  If you look closely at the plate,  you’ll see he’s from Vienna.  So much for that discovery.

I should mention a couple things about the drive.  First of all,  if you manage to stay off the built up roads,  you don’t need a vignette.   Any time Travelling Companion goes up to Suchdol from Gmünd,  she doesn’t bother,  since it’s all back roads.   The somewhat annoying thing was,  the “back roads”  on the way to Prague were in considerably better shape than the four lane “built-up” highway.   The disadvantage was that the back roads take you through all the towns,  and if you’re behind a transport truck or *gasp*  a caravan,  then you’re going to be somewhat stuck there.  Patience can be a virtue in these cases.

I do think that the leisurely pace of the back roads must surely have helped with our fuel economy.   We drove up and back,  and on Tuesday I noticed that the trip odometer had just turned 900 kilometres,  and we still had a half tank of diesel fuel.   

Don’t ask me what kind of fuel economy that is.  All I know is,  that ain’t too shabby.


Now,  in keeping with the car theme,  and again this has really very little to do with Prague,  I saw some other vehicles that I had no clue about.


It turns out, unlike the one pictured above,  these are actual Czech cars.  Who knew?




There are more pictures at this site.   Crazy.


I’ll admit that I’m not much of a car guy, but I sort of have something resembling a clue when it comes to automobiles,  and even if I might not come up with the year right away,  I can usually at least name most cars.  Not these guys.  Total mystery. 


Of course,  I didn’t really have time to stand around an gawk,  since my Lady companions were well on their way to getting out of sight.   Not the best plan in a place like Prague.  Just something a fellow learns over time.

I tried looking at the cars longingly,  but was ignored.  That never works. 



You’ll notice that the little green one on the left is “right hand drive”?   Well,  that’s not because it was produced for the UK market.   Austria,  Czechoslovakia and Hungary all drove on the left up until they were annexed by German in the 30s.     Italy had made the switch back in the 20s under Mussolini.  

Aren’t these little snippets helpful?




Yet another right hand drive vehicle.   No clue what it is.

Saw quite a few old cars driving around Prague,  carting tourists here and there.  This guy was really moving.  I guess their time was up.



Did I mention that we took the subway in to Prague from about a block from our hotel? 

The bonus was,  there was an attendant available when it came time to get our tickets,  and it turns out the tickets are based on the time spent on the system.  I just asked for Staroměstská, (Old Town) and we were on our way.    For the three of us,  with return tickets for later,  we figured it was about eight bucks. 

Well,  it was 144 Czech crowns,  which is presently $7.12,  but we were doing some rough arithmetic at the time.



You can see online transit maps that are way better than that effort if you choose.   I was quite pleased that we managed to figure out the subway system.  It ain’t easy when everything is in Czech.





The stations did have a bit of a bunker feel to them,  and you could sure tell when the next subway car was coming,  since there was a huge rush of air being pushed in front.  I haven’t noticed that so much here in Vienna.  I think they must have figured out how to mitigate that effect?  


Tomorrow maybe we’ll put the “fun” in funicular.


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for coming by.



Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It’s Wednesday, right?

Monday was a holiday here in Austria,  as well as other parts of Europe.  The previous Sunday was “Pfingsten”,  which loosely translates as Pentecost.  

Anyway,  I remember quite vividly that, when I was studying at Albert Ludwig’s Universität in Freiburg,  back in ‘79,  I was rather taken aback to learn that the whole week would be a school holiday.  “Pfingspause”.   Gah!  What to do for a whole week?  And with very little in the way of monetary resources.  I shot off a quick note to a friend of mine who was studying in Duisburg,  and decided to hitch-hike to Krefeld where she was staying with a cousin,  who graciously put me up for the week.  I barely remember that week,  but I do remember hitch-hiking in Germany on the Autobahn.  My apartment-mate Lutz explained to me that you didn’t stand at the side of the road, since the cops would sort you out right quick,  but instead you asked people at Travel Plazas if they were driving to the next major town.  Best not to ask for the entire trip though,  since then it was easier to say ‘no’.   Anyway,  I made it with very little difficulty,  having secured the bulk of the trip with a very nice young couple driving a 7 series BMW,  which was awesome.   Not only that,  but they dropped me right at the door of my destination!   Pure luck.

Of course,  south of the 49th,  it was Memorial Day.  I have difficulty wishing people “Happy Memorial Day”,  since I find neither that day,  nor our Canadian Remembrance Day to be very happy occasions.   We did visit Washington D.C. during the week leading up to Memorial Day in 03,  and I found the expanse of commemorative structures such as the Vietnam Memorial and the World War 2 Memorial to be well,  overwhelming.    If you go to that second link and read a little,  you’ll realise that,  although the memorial wasn’t “officially” opened until the following year (April 2004),  we could still see it in it’s entirety in May of 03.   Again,  pure luck. 

For me,  photo wise,  it was the “pre-digital age”,  and I have prints of us in and around that area that are stored in a box somewhere,  in a house,  in Canada.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it.





A tiny bit more about Prague:




After having lunch on Saturday at a little restaurant we found just off to one side of the Charles Bridge,  I spotted a music store nearby.  You’ll notice in the photo above that there’s a small sign in the middle with “Österreiches Restaurant”?  



See,  if you simply click on some of the links I’ve included,  it’s really a self guided tour.  You don’t need me to go on about it.



Wanna buy a Zither? 

I asked the lady in the music store if it was alright to take some photos, and she was OK with it.  Always best to ask I find.

While some folks might drool over something like this:


which was sitting in the Hard Rock Cafe btw,  and pretty cool I’ll readily admit.




Instead, I find these kinds of things,


to be at least as exciting.


Even these things, 


and I wouldn’t have a clue how to do anything more than make some horrible groaning noise.



More groaning noises probably…only amplified.


I continued to drool ever so slightly.


And what’s with the one in the middle?  It’s got like,  97 strings on it!   Whut issit??


I could probably play one of the saxomophones* in the photo above,  but it’s been a long,  long time.  I think things (like my lower lip) would start to hurt big time in about 90 seconds.  Plus,  I think I’d need to win some money to get me a sax.  Yikes,  saxophones have gotten pricey!   No wonder our band leader/music teacher back in high school got a little annoyed with us going down to the Collins Hotel for some “refreshments”  and then showing up at band practice.  I can just imagine the price tag of the brand new baritone saxophone I was entrusted with.   All those metal chairs and music stands!    That would have been about 1974,  and apparently my ability to remain upright while carrying a huge metal instrument all the while slightly inebriated was considerably better than anything I’ve been able to come up with over the last couple decades.  Youth and exuberance.  And good balance.




I’ve decided not to go on about the Prague trip,  since that would be too boring.  It’s the usual touristy stuff that most anyone can find on the net.  Travelling Companion has been to Prague four times.   This trip makes two for me.   For Ljuba it was her first,  which was the reason for the excursion.

On a slightly different note,  we did come across some sort of dance competition that was going on when we were making our way to the funicular. 


It was being held in the lower level of this rather imposing building.


Now get this,  it was an Irish Dance Competition,  and I found a link on the web!   We figure they had just finished up the competition,  and were about to hand out the trophies.






The one fellow in the second photo on the other side of the trophy table,  who is bending over (to put his shoes and socks back on)  is I believe,  one of the “adjudicators”,   and went up on stage to do a little dance.  He was pretty damned good.  AND,  the crowd,  mostly consisting of impressionable young ladies,  were going bonkers over the guy!  It was hilarious!



I made a gallant attempt at a video,  the first half of which is painfully out of focus.  Grrrr! 

Worth the wait though.  Hang in.   I just played it,  and you may need to turn up the volume.



OK,  I’ve just now done a little snooping around on the web,  and I think I’ve got it.  He must be John Carey,  which would put him in celebrity status among the young dance hopefuls.  Man,  the things you see when you’re not even looking!


Now aren’t you glad you stuck around?  Of course,  we had no clue what we were watching.  We’re just a bunch of dumb tourists.


That’s all for today folks.    Keep those quills sharp.


Thanks for coming by.


*all spelling mistakes are intentional.



Monday, May 28, 2012

I remember that taste!

When we were on our way back from the Czech Republic yesterday afternoon,  we stopped at a roadside stand and picked up some strawberries and peas.  As in,  peas in a pod. 



Kind of like this one.

I couldn’t get a pic of the actual stand,  since the parking was kind of tricky,  and I had to park in front of someone’s driveway.  I didn’t think it would be too sporting to leave the car unattended.  I know I’d be pissed if someone blocked me in.  It’s not so much “do unto others”,  as “don’t get the car towed”. 




Anyway,  we had the strawberries (Jahody in Czech) last night (another taste I like to remember)  along with some cheese, wine and other…. stuff.  I actually forget what else we had, which might be a function of the libations.  Not sure.

Travelling Companion shelled the peas (hrášek) for tonight’s supper,  after which she declared that it was a lot of work.  True.   But I recall eating raw peas out of the garden as a kid,  so I thought it best if I were to stay away,  or there would have been a quite a few missing.

Pretty simple stuff really.  BBQed chicken with spuds and sour cream.  Have I mentioned how good the sour cream is here?  Not exactly the “this will help you shed those pounds” kind either at 15%.  But yummy. 

And I have no idea what that is in Czech,  nor do I care.



We sent Ljuba off on the train this morning to Ljubljana.    She’ll be gone for the week.


Now here’s a funny thing.  Well,  maybe not roll on the floor funny.  More like,  kind of odd funny.  I was mucking around with the small camera,  (the one that has had issues knowing how to focus when taking video)  and I think I’ve “fixed” it.   The thing is,  I lost a bunch of folders going back any time before May,  AND lost the photo I took this morning at the train station.  I don’t even know how I did that.  It wasn’t a big deal,  since the folders were practically empty,  and this morning’s picture was just of the train times,  since there was no way I could take either a picture of Ljuba or Travelling Companion at 8:00 in the morning,  and then actually show it to anyone.  Or live for that matter.  I’ve never been one for suicide attempts.   Not just yet anyway.

The next test will be to see if I can take a video with the thing and then be able to actually watch it without pulling out the rest of my hair.  The ones I have numbered.


The mood for going on about the Prague trip is somewhat diminished today I’m afraid,  and creating a whole travel log is a bit of a stretch, even when I feel like it.   It’s going to be a somewhat less than exciting week,  so I’ll yammer on about it over the next few days if that’s alright with you.


Meanwhile,  here’s a little scenario for you to chew on.



The folks above are doing a “dinner in the sky”.  


OK then!  Not for me.  Apparently you can do this sort of thing in quite a few places around the globe.  And they’re looking for business partners!  I suppose I could operate the crane.  From the ground. 

I had seen this a few years back on the tube.  When we had cable.  Didn’t think I’d ever see it in person.  Just another one of those things that make you do a double take.  The chewing part was almost a pun.   Almost.



This next pic sums up my motivation.



That’s all folks.  Painlessly short.


Thanks for stopping by.




Sunday, May 27, 2012

When the monkeys run the zoo.

That was the first thought that popped into my head just now.



I was moving pictures from a couple cards onto the computer after coming back from Prague,  and I don’t think I’ll be keeping this one. 

That sky is a nice colour blue though,  innit?


Sure glad I keep those hairs numbered,  just in case of emergency.


I’ll probably feel more like doing some sort of travel log tomorrow if I figure there’s any hope of making it remotely interesting,  but for now that wonderful picture of the top of my head will have to do.


OK,  just a snippet….


First thing you have to do when entering the Czech Republic if you’ll be driving on any of the "built up” highways,  is buy yourself yet another vignette.



I just realised we (that is to say,  I ) forgot to take a picture of the vignette.  You have to stick it way over on the other side of the windshield,  on the passenger’s side.  Don’t ask me what the reasoning is,  but sometimes in the Czech Republic,  “up” can be “down”.  Or at least that is my impression once in a while.   Like,  drinks at the hotel restaurant were dirt cheap.  Parking at the hotel was horridly expensive.  Just a mystery.  We were “on vacation”, so we didn’t worry about those things.

The other thing too is,  everything is in Czech korunas,  so it can be a challenge to know if you’re getting hosed or not.


Does that help?  

Ya.  I didn’t think so.   Eventually a person figures out that Kč 500 is like….twenty Euros,  or about $25 CDN.  Then you can start to extrapolate from there.   Eventually I suppose the Czech Republic will be able to switch to the Euro,  but the story goes that their economy is still too weak. It’s heaps more complicated than that of course,  and goes back to the Velvet Revolution.  Good luck reading all that and trying to keep it straight.  I love reading about history,  too bad I can’t remember it all.

It’s a mystery to me how the Greeks managed to weasel their way into the EU,  but that’s a whole other story.  I’m thinking that when/if that fiasco ever gets sorted out,  it’ll be a cool day in that very hot place before countries like Romania,  Hungary or the Czech Republic will be able to simply switch to the Euro without some serious jumping through of hoops.   But hey,  if I actually knew the answer to that one,  I’d be sure and tell someone,  wouldn’t I?

Anyhoo,  I don’t have much storytelling in me tonight.  Need to chill out a bit.


Hope you all had,  or are still having a fine weekend. 

Keep it between the ditches.

As always,  thanks for stopping in.




Friday, May 25, 2012

Off to Prague.

But you knew I would say that.

In keeping with the way these things go,  Travelling Companion has to be at work until 1:30,  which meant I drove her to work this morning and Ljuba and I will swing by and fetch her later.  

I haven’t quite decided on the route just yet,  but either way it looks to be just under four hours.  There are nuisance stops along the way,  such as getting a vignette at the border,  along with possible pee breaks.

Of course,  we’ll be picking T.C. up at her office,  so that changes the time somewhat,  although not necessarily the route.  The signs coming across the North Bridge out of Vienna can be a bit misleading,  since you can apparently go one way to “Praha” (Prague,  hello?) and the other way to Brno.   To my way of thinking,  going the one way up through Schrems,  looks to be “the scenic route”.  That might be fine in rural North America,  but I just want to get there, preferably before dark.   Besides,  I know of at least one spot on the way up through Schrems where there’s a radar trap.  I’m just saying.   And no,  it wasn’t me who found this out,  but more information shall not be forthcoming.


Having the car of course gives me a chance to top up the fuel and give it a bit of a sprucing up.   Just the outside though,  since I had no desire to fight with the big hose at the pay as you go vacuum cleaner thingy.  I do so miss having a driveway where I can just use my own.  No biggie I guess.



Here’s a new one for ya.

We had a pork tenderloin that I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with,  so I cut it into medallions,  breaded it in a ground up pecan and bread crumb mixture and popped them in the oven.  Worked out pretty good.  It was an idea I saw “on the line” with a slight modification. 


This is done in a similar fashion to “February Chicken”,  which is Flour,  Egg and Breadcrumbs,  only with the addition of the pecans.   No browning in oil ahead of time either.  These guys are way too thin for that.


Oh and,  “February Chicken”  has nothing to do with the month.  It was so I could remember earlier on the order of the preparation.   Not the brightest bulb here kids.

The spinach that we had been searching for was made into a salad.

Along with the salad,  Ljuba also prepared scalloped potatoes.   I’m adding that one to the list.




OK,  now I’m getting  a bit peckish.  Need some lunch.

Stay tuned.


Thanks for lookin’.




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Four Years.

Doesn’t seem possible.

There are a couple milestones worth mentioning.  I know it was right around this time of the year that Travelling Companion and I made a trip over together to the Netherlands to start looking for a place to live.  Well,  actually it was closer to the end of May,  but that’s slightly irrelevant.  She had been over on her own before that point to see whether or not she wanted to take a job here in Europe,  and ultimately to decide whether we’d live in Birmingham or the Netherlands.  In spite of any perceived language issues,  I’m glad we chose the Netherlands,  truth be told.

The thing that was really gnawing at us at the time of that trip though,  wasn’t so much just the idea of heading off to Europe,   but having to leave right after daughter number two had had a very rough time in the hospital.  I’m being really, really vague on purpose here,  since well,  it’s probably the best thing to do.



Our house guest is once again out and about,  and I think she’ll be stopping by the Nashmarkt on her way back in order to pick up some spinach. 

It’s a funny thing,  but spinach is a rather rare commodity it seems.   I’ve hunted high and low in the regular stores,  since we tend to take buying spinach for granted most anywhere in North America.   Not so much here.   When I finally broke down and asked a store clerk last year some time,  it was pointed out that I could probably find spinach in any grocery store run by Turks. 

I’m not kidding. 

So a person can either hoof it out Mariahilfer past the Gürtel in search of a Turkish sort of fruit and veggie stand,  or look for one at the Naschmarkt.  Either way,  there is a certain amount of inconvenience involved.  All because an idea is hatched to make a certain kind of salad. 

It was my job to come up with the pecans.  Now,  in hindsight I should have foisted that job off on Ljuba as well,  since I had to go to three different stores to get those suckers.   I think I’ve done my walking for today! 

It didn’t help when the kid at the Merkur over at the Westbahnhof didn’t know what “Pecannüsse”  (pecan nuts) were.  I thought at first maybe I had mixed something up in my pea brain,  but my German was correct,  he was just young and dim.  I mean,  he was polite and all,  and trying to be helpful,  but he was missing that little snippet of product knowledge.   No biggie.  I went all the way down to the other Merkur and found them. I stuck in a little map,  just for fun. I’m not sure why they don’t all carry the same products,  since it’s the same bloody store,  but that’s all the same at this point.   The next step would have been to hoof it down to the Naschmarkt myself,  but I just might have had to take some sort of public transit by then to get my tired butt back home.  I was getting to the point when things were starting to hurt.  I’d sooner spend a couple Euros on a subway ticket than pop any painkillers if I can help it.


In the spirit of taking you along on the journey today, (and so you can also share in the annoyance) I shot just under a minute of video out on the street.  It’s the construction site I’ve mentioned a couple times by now.  Well,  I’m not sure exactly what the machine could possibly be that they’ve been running ALL DAY LONG,  but they could stop at any time and it wouldn’t hurt my feelings.


Have fun.  You’re welcome to turn up the volume a bit, not that I would recommend it.


I’ll actually cross the street rather than walk under the site,  since it’s so bloody loud.  I’ve read of the odd complaint from a few wayward jets passing over head.  I’m not so sure we could even hear any passing aircraft today.


I don’t want you to think I’m just a big whiney complainer,  so I’ll slap up a couple pics I took of last night’s sunset. 

We’ve had some interesting weather over the last couple of days,  and that usually makes for something happening in the sunset department.



Even with the crane (Vienna State Symbol)  or maybe because of it,  it was a not so shabby vista.




Tomorrow we’ll be leaving the craziness of Vienna for the craziness of Prague.  The last time I was there it was mid February and *bleepin’* cold,  so this will be a different experience for me.  On the down side, I’m sure it’ll be mobbed.   Oh well.


Keep that pasta al dente*.


Thanks for stopping by.




*Um,  better for diabetics,  apparently.




Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Going places!

Really did the big tour today.


Always wanted to go here:



Been to Paris a few times,  but figured we’d take a trip back:



Even took a trip back in time:


I didn’t bother to check for any hidden Dunes bags of poker chips.  I didn’t think we’d be that lucky.


And this place I had only seen from the air,  so I was really excited to get here:


It was a little smaller than I had imagined though.  Isn’t there some sort of “north rim” thing?  Oh well.


I did catch a glimpse of one of my most favourite cars of all time:



Oh ya.  ‘59 Chevy Impala.  White convertible with red interior. 

Awesome car.  Well,  as long as you didn’t need to take any corners.  Nice to look at though.  *thinks* I think we’ll stick with the BMW.


Yup.  That was our day.   Pretty awesome really.  All that travelling can sure wear you out.


We did take a ride on some sort of big wheel.  It wasn’t quite as tacky as the rest.





But really old.



If you want a bit of that sensation,  click away:

There are heaps of other videos on YouTube of the same thing, but I’m not going to bore you with six minutes of watching from the Ferris wheel.  You can do that on your own.


There were other rides for the heartier souls of the human race. 

I don’t think I could clench my butt that tight.

Make sure your shoes are tied.  And your bladder is empty.


The somewhat “sad to admit” part is,  we’ve lived here since November of 09,  and we’ve never taken the time to get to the Prater.  We almost made it a couple weekends ago,  but you may recall that I was totally taken by a free parking spot,  and that’s how we ended up at the Stadpark.

As it was,  parking at the Prater was only four Euros.  Once again,  that’s cheaper than the cost of four return subway tickets.   And besides,  we also got to see the wonderful ladies of the evening  mid-day!

I usually have to go all the way to the Czech Republic to see these fine upstanding folks.  (they are standing up,  right?)

Oh and,  they didn’t really appreciate having their picture taken:


Funny about that.  Wouldn’t it be like free advertising?

I think Ljuba might have some better pictures, which she took while I was paying for our parking at the ticket machine thingy,  but this one will have to do.  Hope you’re OK with that.


We decided to eat downstairs “with the boys” this evening,  since it’s nice to have someone set food in front of you once in a while.   It was awesomely not good for us,  which is why it doesn’t happen that often.


Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for….well,  you know.



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I’m starting to suck at this.

Really.  At least that’s my opinion.

I was going to mention the “Police Report” wasn’t I?   Not a big deal really,  but one of those odd things that you see in the city.  Certainly not limited to Vienna I would imagine.

It was Saturday morning at some point,  and somebody said “Hey,  there’s a policeman over on that roof.”   And sure enough,  there were a couple of Austria’s finest on the roof of the building across the way,  along with three “civilians”.  Somehow it looked to me like there had been an attempted break-in,  and they were surveying the remnants of where someone had thrown themselves over the rooftop. 






Something like that anyway.  There was some pointing at stuff, writing things down,  and general wasting of time as far as I could see.

The thing is too,  the “pergola” or whatever you call that excuse for woodworking over to the right of the first photo, has always looked like it was about to fall down,  so I doubt that there was any human intervention involved.  Unless you count the person who slapped it together in the first place,  or the less than talented individual who propped it up on their rooftop.

Our security measures haven’t really changed as a result of this viewing.  I close and lock the balcony door any time I’m out of the apartment,  and the front door is built like a brick sh…,  well, it’s quite substantial,  let’s just say.  I think I’ve demonstrated the bolts that get thrown into the frame before,  so I think you know what I’m talking about.

My biggest fear is getting myself locked out.  I’d have to call a lock service of some sort,  which would mean that I’d have further complications if I didn’t have a phone on me.  Simple really.  Best not to get locked out.


My second biggest fear is turning into some sort of weird-assed male version of Gladys Kravitz


Um ya,  that would never do. 



I managed to get a couple hotel rooms booked for this weekend.  We struck a committee and resolved to take a drive up to Prague over Friday and Saturday night.  Had thought about taking the train,  which is something Travelling Companion did with Nephew Boy last year right around this time,  but it’s just about the same amount of time in the car and considerably cheaper.  And I don’t mind driving. 

I think it’s more stressful actually trying to decide on a hotel to be honest.  Gah!  I spent a lot of time reading reviews on Tripadvisor and,  and then ended up trying out the Holiday Inn,  since T.C. had been there a while back (last year?  not sure)  for some sort of work related pow-wow.  She said it was OK,  so I just figured that was all I needed to know.  Apparently she was even able to walk in to the old part of the city from there,  and her walking distance is usually the primary matrix used to determine the proximity of any place we stay in relation to what we want to see.   We’ll see how it goes.


Other than that,  it’s just another day here in Wienerland.  A bit rainy,  but not overly so.  Ljuba is once again off to do more exploring.  Man can that girl walk,  and she’s my age!  My only excuse is that I spent roughly thirty years running around on concrete,  and things start to hurt after a bit.  That’s all I got.  Well,  and there is that “laziness” thing.  A minor consideration.

Before she left though,  she got tonight’s dinner ready.  ???  I know!  *Bob is very happy*.

It’s not the cooking that troubles me,  it’s trying not to simply prepare the same thing day in and day out.  I’m of the “eat to live” camp,  whereas there are those who are definitely from the “live to eat”  neck of the woods.  It’s a land far,  far away I’m afraid.


Talk about having the perfect guest.  And I could regale you with horror stories of less that perfect guests, but I’m never quite sure who might be reading…  (*nervous laughter*)  I’m tempted to add, “And you know who you are”,  but the sad fact is that no,  you wouldn’t know who you are.  “Bad guests”  have a way of being completely oblivious…to most everything.  It’s some sort of “self centred thing”.  Such is the way it is, and this isn’t psychology 101,  so we’ll leave that one alone.   But MAN could I tell stories!   Save it for my memoires. *snort!*  Like that’s happening.


*Memoires*  Right. What a hoot!

“And then I cleaned off my dust mop and put it away”.

What a page turner.


Keep your powder dry.


Thanks for swingin’ on around.



Monday, May 21, 2012

I ask you, was that mean?


Had a couple things to blab about yesterday, but never really got around to it.  Sometimes it’s just *stuff*  and there doesn’t seem to be the spark that motivates me to shove it on here.

Then today the phone rang.

This was right around 1:30 p.m. (CET),  which is a time of day when I’m really and truly not expecting a phone call.

Ljuba is out exploring,  so if she called it would only be because of something of an emergency nature.  Travelling Companion is quite likely not going to call at this time,  since she’s busy and any call would also be unexpected and possibly bearing bad tidings. 

A call from home at this time?  Whoa. Usually bad.  A death or some other news that can’t wait.

So naturally if the phone rings at one of those really unexpected times,  after I get over the initial jolt, (damned ringer is too loud!) I brace myself for something “bad”. 

Well,  it was a phone solicitor. 

See,  I didn’t have my glasses on,  so I couldn’t really see the number on the call display.  Yes folks,  we have call display in Austria.  Amazing, I know.   We also have f**king phone solicitors its seems.

Here’s the way the conversation basically went;

“Hallo,  hier spricht ….(I actually missed that part),  ist das Herr Robert?”

(already I’m thinking,  we have a problem here)

So then I continued…in English, (just to be a snot)  “Well see,  here’s the thing,  if you can’t tell the difference between my first and last names, that means that I don’t know you and you shouldn’t be calling me.”

Now,  in the Netherlands,  that wouldn’t fly since those buggers can nearly all speak English,  and I’ve had Dutch phone solicitors SWTICH effortlessly to English once they detected my shaky Dutch.   Not here though,  buckaroo.

All the guy could come up with was,  “Sprechen Sie Deutsch?”   (wow,  that was creative!)

To which I replied; *ahem*

“Ja natürlich kann ich Deutsch!  Aber hier ist die Sache.  Ich finde daß, hier in Österreich (und auch in Deutschland) die Englisch-Kenntnisse sehr schlecht ist.   Und für Sie,  das war die Prüfung,  und Sie sind durchgefallen!  

(and since there was absolute silence on the other end,  I finished up with)

Have a nice day!”  (in English of course)…and hung up.

You can copy and paste that into Google translate if you didn’t get the gist of it.   I’ll wait right here.



I know. That was probably not really a nice thing to do.  However,  if I call someone here in the fine Republic of Austria,  I try my damndest to speak their first language.  We rarely switch to English,  and if we do, we might go back and forth mostly depending on knowledge of vocabulary.  I mean,  even the lady at the bakery,  who is originally from Laos,  tries her English.   It’s actually pretty good,  to be honest.   Heaps better than my Laotian.

It’s not like my first language is Bantu.  I don’t think I’m expecting too much if a person calls from a business,  but then can’t utter a word of English. Supposedly,  English is the language of business.   Supposedly.

You’re welcome to present your arguments for Mandarin, Hindi or Spanish,  based on numbers.  But *sorry*,  I don’t,  and won’t agree.   We won’t go there.

I suppose,  *maybe* if I were an immigrant and were going to stay here for ever and ever amen,  that maybe I’d let a person get away with only speaking German.  Just the same,  if they call or come to the door unannounced, I will put them to the test. 

So I guess that was the spark that got me off my blogging butt,  but of course now we’re heading into snooze land,  so I’ll only mention a couple snippets from yesterday.

We actually went out.



Do you know this place?  Look carefully.  Do you see any critters?


There’s actually a well hidden hint in the photo below,  which is why I’ve sized it to “original”.    Go crazy.



Ljuba and Travelling Companion watched “The Third Man” after we got back home in the afternoon,  since we just happened to be outside “Josefplatz 5”,   which is referred to in the movie as “Josefplatz 15”.   Just thought you should know that bit of trivia.



There has actually been scaffolding in front of that door for the last couple years it seems, and now finally all has been revealed.  The fronts of buildings start to get black over time,  and it’s necessary to clean things up once in a while. 

These snippets all came about as a result of going to a mass at the Augustinerkirche.    The mass was at 11:00 as usual,  but I dropped off T.C. and Ljuba at something like 10:15 so they could secure a decent seat.  The place fills up pretty fast,  and yesterday was no exception. 

We took the car,  since I can park outside the Opera in the parking garage for less than what it would cost for three of us to take the subway. 

We heard a performance of the “Nelson Mass”  by Haydn,  which I’m pretty sure we took Nephew Boy to last year,  since I know we heard it there once before.  The years tend to run in to each other I’m afraid.  I can’t really say that it is my favourite or anything,  but the orchestra and vocalists were all superb as usual.  They’re professionals.  It counts.

It just so happened that the organist,  one  Elke Eckerstorfer,  had done her last performance at St. Augustine’s yesterday,  since she’s expecting twins in July.  Yes you read that right.  That would be two babies.

The priest who made the announcement was hopeful that she’d be able to return for Christmas.   Whatever,  buddy.

Also a bit of trivia that makes absolutely no difference to any of us,  but a fun little snippet just the same.


I did take a little YouTube video of her last hurrah.



It’s unfortunate that I have this rather less than optimum camera that doesn’t know half the time what to focus on,  and also doesn’t capture the hair-raising presence of the organ.  Even if you’re not overly keen on organ music (and I’m not)  I would still have to say that, she “rocked”!    Just my humble opinion.



I see you’re starting to get tiny eyes.  


Tomorrow,  the Police Report. 

Nothing bad, don’t worry.   Just one of those things that makes you say, “Huh?”



Keep your dry mop on the floor.


Thanks for coming by.




Saturday, May 19, 2012

Can you guess?



You need to click on that one.


We figured that,  even though there was certainly no “cultural” advantage to going to the outlet mall,  it was still something that Ljuba might enjoy.

For my part,  I sat at a cafe,  drank coffee and read the paper.  My kind of shopping.   I got schlepped around enough the last time.  Turns out that the particular purse that Travelling Companion had been thinking about at the Prada store was no longer there.  That was a bit of good news I suppose.   We only ended up with one tiny little ‘she-she’ shopping bag,  the contents of which must remain a mystery,  since I’m not really sure whether or not it might be somebody’s Christmas present.   “Christmas shopping”  seems to be the theme when it comes to any kind of shopping for the foreseeable future.  Something that would never occur to me.  Not until about November anyway.

You understand ‘she-she’ right?  Sort of too fancy/frilly?  Like that.   Like I felt a little self conscious carrying it from the car to the apartment.


It’s a bit of an odd thing really, that the outlet mall that we went to really is more or less out in the “boonies”,  but the place is pretty well mobbed most every weekend.  Judging by the license plates,  I think I get it,  since there were cars there from Hungary,  Romania,  and beyond.  There were many Austrian shoppers too.  I even saw plates from Montenegro.   Who the heck drives from Montenegro to shop in Parndorf

I just checked,  it takes 13 hours to drive from Montenegro.  I saw two or three vehicles from there.  Really.  Surely they were here for some other reason than to go to the Outlet Mall?  Maybe there’s not much to be had in Montenegro?  I wouldn’t know.


Anyway,  that was most of the mid-day,  then it was time for a brief nap,  then off to what is just about our favourite restaurant in all of Vienna for some “Tafelspitz”.    Admittedly,  we’ve been there enough times in the last three years that I’ve actually tried one other dish there,  which was some sort of pork tenderloin medallions,  but the only real reason to go there is for Tafelspitz.



Regrettably,  I didn’t really take heaps of pictures,  since I was too busy first eating,  and then I was too full to even think straight.   You believe that, right?

If you wish,  there is a brief write up about Tafelspitz here.  The picture in the article doesn’t really do it justice,  since it’s better than that picture looks.  Tafelspitz for three,  a bottle of wine and a couple beers was roughly €130,   so not cheap by any means,  but it’s not like we go there every weekend either. 

Oh,  and the (almost) best part?  The young lady who took my reservation the other day actually managed to spell my name right!   It’s not really easy spelling those old Scottish names if your “Muttersprache” is German.  I’ve even spelled it out in the past,  only to later discover that it was dead wrong.  Anyway,  I almost gave her a hug,  but managed to control myself.

Not really appropriate,  especially since she was younger than both of our children.  (creepy old guy thing)


Well I guess that’s all I have in my pea brain for today.  Hope your day was enjoyable.


Do check to make sure your fly is done up.


Thanks for lookin’.