Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Up too early.

And I like mornings.  Really.  There was perhaps a time a few decades ago when I might have been on the cusp of being a “Night Owl”,  but it was only the cusp.   I like my sleep.

Which is why I was less than thrilled to be awake this morning at some time not much later than four….something.  Too bleary-eyed to actually make note of a correct time,  but it started with a four.

See,  Romania just so happens to be in a different time zone,  so it’s an hour later there.   What that meant was,  Travelling Companion had to be up extra early yesterday in order to meet up for breakfast,  go to the plant,  and then head off to the airport.  So by the end of the day,  she’s pretty much pooched,  and is out like a light fairly early,  which then carries over to this morning.  See how that works?

The good news is,  the traffic is awesome at 5:30 a.m.  She had “stuff to do” as well,  and since she’s cutting out early this afternoon,  the extra desk time helps.   The “Grand Fromage”  that I referred to a while back,  and who is coming in today from Switzerland,  had this bright idea that they were going to dinner tonight.  That’s not happening. 

I said,  “Well,  he’s welcome to come with us on first train to Munich,  I’m sure they have a dining car”.   Then of course,  diner could be ‘expensed’.   I can dig it.

The overnight train from Munich to Paris involves us having our own sleeping cabin so,  I’m sorry but he’d have to go back to Vienna at that point.  

I have to mention the use of that whole “Grand Fromage”  thing.   It possibly sounds a little snooty or something,  but that’s not my intent.  I could call anyone of those higher ups by the much more understandable “Big Cheese”,  but I don’t think that would convey the proper amount of derision.  It just sounds more “la-de-da” in a foreign language. Try to think of “The Emperor with no clothes”.   Hope that helps. 

But first,  this brief gastronomically related interlude.   See,   when you cook chicken soup,  it’s a good idea to make enough in order to have extra broth that can then be later added to any number of subsequent dishes.   The second phase of the chicken soup scheme was to make Potato-Leek soup.   Also a crowd pleaser.  Well,  we like it anyway.


Chop up a couple leeks and sauté them.   Be mindful that leeks tend to suck up dirt,  so I will cut them open length wise and rinse.  I like to use butter to sauté.   You can use oil I suppose.  Doesn’t work for me.



Cut up and throw in a tatter.  (Potato,  for those of you unfamiliar with “mountain speak”)

Don’t overdo it by putting in too much potato,  or it’ll be potato soup with a hint of leek.




Add a couple chopped up carrots.  I used three,  which at first I thought was too much,  but it was fine.   I’m from the “If two is good,  three must be better”  cooking school.   It’s not a school that I recommend.





After the whole mixture has bubbled for a while and all the ingredients are nice and soft,  puree the whole thing with a hand held blender or whatever you have on hand.   (In German it’s a “Stab-mixer”,  so I think that’s self explanatory)

Oh, I almost forgot!  Put in your chicken broth at this point.  I had a sauce pan full.  I don’t know,  a cup and a half?  Just wing it.   THEN puree the bejeepers out of it.  I recommend an apron.  You’ll see.


Add maybe a half a cup of milk,  bring it back up to a boil and shut it off.   You just added milk,  you need to boil it again.


And Bob’s yer uncle,  there you have it!


Makes a fine meal.   And if you’re having any “toilet issues”,  this stuff will fix you up.   The only thing I forgot to mention is the addition of a bit of salt and pepper at the beginning. 


In terms of yesterday’s airport run strategy,  it worked out well,  since I was able to sauté all the stuff first,  leave it sit on the stove and come back and finish it off later.  

Since Travelling Companion’s flight was coming in at 5:20 p.m.,  I actually left for the airport at about 4:15,  which was a good thing, as the traffic at that time of day is pretty flippin’ awful.  (there’s another “f” word I’d really like to use there,  but I’ll leave that up to you) 

I had just walked into the terminal at about 5:35 and she was coming out past the point of no return.   Good timing and all,  but there was a time there as I was sitting in traffic when I wondered if I had indeed left early enough.   Once I was outside of the city though,  it was fine.   Same for coming back in.   Kept an eye on my speed.   *ahem*


So the blog will be going on a slight “Blog-cation”  for a few days,  since I’m not lugging this computer with me.   I have my little “app”  for finding our way around Paris,  that you can see on the left side of the pic below.  

It’s called a map.


And I probably do need stronger glasses.  That print is mighty small.

I’m still wondering if I want to lug the big camera.   It’s not that much of a hardship, but I do have gobs of Paris pictures.   This will be our fourth trip to Paris since moving to Europe in 2008,  and hidden away in a box somewhere in our house are all the pictures I took (slides, mostly) of when I lived there in 1978.   What were you doing in 1978?

That was actually before the Musée d'Orsay opened.   It was still a train station.   I only mention that,  since I had no clue that the train station had been converted to a museum when we made our first trip there back in 08 or whenever it was.  I guess I hadn’t been keeping up with all the latest developments in Paris.  No excuse really.   I mean,  everyone should know what’s going on in Paris.  Right?  *pfft*  Whatever.



Enjoy the rest of your week.  I’ll give it a darned good try.

See you on the flip side.


Keep those oars in the water,  and thanks for lookin’.



Tuesday, November 27, 2012

When you’ve nothing to say.

Spoke too soon.   I mentioned yesterday about a lack of “axe murderers”?  

So what was on the front page of this morning’s rag??



“Eighteen year old kills Grandma with an axe”.


Seriously?   Seems Grandpa counselled him that “Oma had to go”,  so he bumped her off.    I haven’t read the article yet,  since I’m not so sure I even want to poison my brain with this business.  


You’re welcome to wade in if you so desire.  She was a retired teacher,  not that that had anything to do with it.  I mean,  if she was somehow a nasty old girl,  I would think that just avoiding her would be plenty.  I suppose we won’t be around for that trial.   Oh darn.

Have more people gone nuts,  or are we just now more aware of it?   I’ve wondered about this from time to time.  I’m sure there were dastardly deeds committed back at the turn of the last century,  but communication was arduous,  so the word never really got out.   “Hunting accidents”  were always another way of bumping someone off.  With forensics and evidence gathering being primitive,  a person could indeed get away with murder,  and just say,  “oops”,  or, “Oh,  I was cleaning my rifle and it went off”.   Right.


I’m not sure exactly why it is,  but once in a while I can’t help but notice unique or good looking bicycles.   The name of this one caught my eye this morning.



“Lardini”?   C’mon,  “Lardini"?  What the hell is that supposed to mean?   “If you’re feeling somewhat portly,  you’d best be gettin’ on this thing.”   

Reminds me of when GM tried to sell the Chevy Nova in Spanish speaking countries.  “No va”,  means,  “doesn’t go”.   Not the best marketing strategy.     Think people,  think!




I wasn’t completely sure if I should venture under these guys this morning.  The part of that sign they’re holding looked a little precarious.   Call me a nervous Nelly,  but I did detour around ever so slightly.    Just want to get through the next few months here in Wienerland relatively unscathed,  thanks.


You can see by that sky there that it’s still kind of grey and freakin’ miserable.  That’s fairly normal for Vienna in November I suppose.  Just an observation,  not a complaint.   I see there has been snow in parts of Southern Ontario so I’m not about to jinx our own relative good fortune.  

I suppose today I had better get camera batteries charged up, and start figuring out what to take tomorrow.  I’ve never been overly keen on packing.  And no,  I don’t have a “smart phone”,  so I’ll be taking my old Paris map along.  A city like Paris doesn’t change much over the years,  so there’s no worries about a map being out of date.   The thing is though,  when I lived in Paris in ‘78,  I didn’t seem to have any trouble reading the fine print in the thing.   Maybe I just don’t have enough light?   That’s it,  I’m sure.


I suppose one day I’ll get me a smart phone.   We’ll see.


Hope your day goes as planned.


Thanks for stopping in.



Monday, November 26, 2012

Busy week.

Or at least it’ll turn into one. 

Travelling Companion is in Romania at the moment,  quite possibly in Bucharest,  on her way to Baie Mare.   It was kind of foggy this morning at the airport,  so we were secretly hoping all flights would be cancelled,  since she really wasn’t overly motivated to go.  This was partly due to the fact that the only flights at a reasonable time were through Bucharest.   Bucharest may very well be a fine destination for a tourist,  but the connections at the airport appear to be hit and miss.  Ever since her very first experience going through there some three years ago,  she’s always flown directly to Cluj Napoca and been picked up by a driver.  I’m not going to dredge that all up,  but suffice to say we could have gone by car and made it in the same amount of time,  and by car it’s seven hours away.   Hopefully things turn out better today. 


That photo more or less sums up the weather on the weekend.  It really tried to be sunny,  but it never really seemed to come together.  Today it’s even worse.  

The only slightly positive thing is,  I managed to watch my speed this time both to and from the airport.  There will be no more surprises that will land on T.C.’s desk.    Could have bought a very nice dinner for the cost of that speeding ticket,  or even a few days worth of groceries.  Idiot.

Of course,  with the temps being what they are,  a very handy meal to make is chicken soup,  which is now something that I seem to be able to pull off reasonably well.  I realise though that I could have cut up my carrot pieces a little smaller,  but it was good just the same.  


We’re trying to cut down on our food consumption on the weekends,  so that was our entire meal Saturday night.  It was plenty.   Until I get out and start “hackin’ and hewin’ at some wood,  or doing some other form of ‘work’,  if my intake exceeds my output,  it will be my downfall.


I don’t buy “store bought” soup by the way,  since I find most of them have too danged much salt.   Makes my heart race as a result of bumping up my blood pressure.  Sucks to get on in years,  but that’s what happens. 

I guess all that salt in there in necessary to keep everything preserved,  and I love the taste and all,  but it just doesn’t work.  That whole,  “waking up in the night in a panic ‘cause it feels like someone is sitting on your chest thing”?   Ya.  *That*.

Anyhoodle,  Travelling Companion will get back tomorrow afternoon from Romania,  then she insists that she has to go in to work on Wednesday,  which makes me a little nervous,  since our train leaves at something like 4:00 p.m.   I was kind of hoping she’d just muddle along from home,  but some ‘grand frommage’ is coming over from Switzerland,  and he wants to meet up.   Whatever.

Our train tickets are non-refundable.   Hence the reason for being nervous.  Typically I don’t remember my dreams,  but I distinctly remember dreaming about missing that train the other night.  

I think that’s about it.   There haven’t been any more axe murderers or chainsaw wielding ice cream vendors in the news so far this week,  so there’s not much else to report on. 


What d’ya think?   Stocking stuffers?  Just click on it.  You know you want to.



The weather forecast for Paris is not the greatest,  but it’s the end of November,  so we may have to bundle up.  No huge snowstorms or such predicted,  so it’s all good. 

Meh,  we’ll be in the shops.


For the race fans,  now that F1 is all finished,  you can always go over to the wetter side of things and follow the Vendée Globe.

This is a race that I’ve followed every four years since 2001,  when  Ellen MacArther came in second.   It’s an around the world single handed sailboat race on a type of boat referred to as an Open 60.  That basically means the boat cannot be longer than 60 feet,  and as long as certain safety requirements are met that’s about it.   There’s a bunch of other stuff too like,  they’re not allowed to fire up the engine unless they’ve told the race committee back in France that they’re about to retire,  they can’t accept any outside help,  they’re only allowed to have nine sails in total on board.  There’s more info on this wiki article.    The technology has certainly improved over the history of the race,  but you’ll notice that there have been some competitors early on that were “lost at sea”?    eek.

It’s a tough race.    The fastest time ever is something like 84 days.  Think of where you’ll be in 84 days.



Keep those oars in the water.


Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Was there any doubt?


First of all,  it’s been pointed out to me that I may very well have told the flood story before.   That’s entirely possible, and wouldn’t surprise me in the least.  It happens.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Besides,  that particular individual has had a few encounters of the damp kind in her life,  so it’s not like I’d run out of stories if I figured I had to tell more than one.  So there’s really no need to repeat any of them.  The only major difference these days is,  any water issues that she now has isn’t going to involve me having to rip up or tear anything out of my own house.  She’s got her own boat to row. 

That’s a bit of a water metaphor. 


So on with the news.  

The “Ice Lady”  will be going away for the rest of her life.  There’s some talk of an “appeal”, which I think is the somewhat normal course of action, not that it’s going to matter.

Mind you,  considering this trial started Monday morning at 9:30 and was somewhat expeditiously wrapped up by Thursday afternoon by quitting time,   I don’t think any “appeal”  is going to have to “work its way through the system”.   This ain’t the U.S. of A.   Nor Canada,  for that matter.  They like to move things right along.

There were even something like 47 witnesses.  How did they do that?

Anyway,  for those of you who might need a couple or three visual items:








I wonder though,  if she were in North America, might there have been a chance she could have entered a plea of “manslaughter”?   Of course,  that would have been if she had stopped at simply killing the first guy.   Oh, and maybe if she hadn’t buried him in concrete.  

OK,  never mind.  

Just as well I never went to law school.

The psychiatrist was quite clear that the possibility of killing again was quite high.  So I guess there was no way around it.  

Oh, and as near as I can tell, there’s no such thing as “parole”  either.   You can be out on recognisance,  (I think it’s “Bewährung”,  but correct me if I’m wrong)  for things like theft or break and enter,  but I’ve never heard anything mentioned that even comes close to parole.  Next time I’m talking to Lawyer Dude or Lawyer Lady (any one of three whom we’ve met at the Immigration office up to this point)  I’ll try and remember to ask. 

For you sticklers when it comes to the German,  I think I’d sooner go with “bedingte Haftentlassung” to convey the notion of early release. 

As far as I can tell, your sentence is your sentence,  and that’s that.

Anyone who has any experience with the Austrian criminal justice system is welcome to chime in.   I’m open to suggestions.


It’s a somewhat normal day here in Wienerland for a Friday.  The usual chores,  that kind of thing.   Of course I managed to let it slip my mind that I really wanted to go to one particular grocery store earlier today,   so that meant having to go out for a second time this afternoon.  Ugh.   I’m not overly keen on the crowds,  which is why I try to wrap things up in the mornings.

All the little Christmas huts are set up for the various Christmas Markets throughout the city at this point.   I probably should have wandered over and got a better photo.   Maybe another day. 


I did notice of course that,  these types of places do tend to attract a fair number of “philosophers”,  who like to hang out with their glass of punch or beer or whatever.  I’m sure the proprietors are just so thrilled to have the smelly homeless types hanging around.   And,  some of them may very well not be homeless,  but smelly just the same. 


I think that’ll be just about it for this missive.  

I failed to wish one and all a Happy Thanksgiving.  Sorry. My bad.  It was kind of a non-issue in these parts,  and it was only at one point when Travelling Companion was about to call someone across the pond that she realised that it was a holiday.  We’re just a tad out of the loop.

Oh,  and there’s no such thing as “Black Friday” either.   It’s only a news item for us,  with the only possible side benefit being whether or not there’s a positive effect on the markets.  Some of those equities need a boost.


So get out there and shop!   The economy needs you!

I’ll just wait right here.


Have a fine weekend if I don’t check in.


Thanks for stopping in.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Home ownership joys.

First of all,  within about two seconds you’ll come to the realisation that there’s sweet bugger all going on here today.   So try not to fall asleep.


Well,  there was this little guy that I saw this morning.  He,  or maybe she,  refused to turn around,  and was more interested in waiting for someone to come out and take the end of that leash.   Personally,  I didn’t think it was that cold out,  but some folks like to dress up their dogs I suppose.






Just a little snippet I collected last week some time. 


House demolished because of wrong delivery address.



House demolished because of wrong delivery address

A home near Victoria had to be demolished after an oil company got its addresses mixed up and delivered a load of furnace oil to the wrong house.

Terry Phillips had recently bought the house on Adelaide Ave. in Saanich, just north of Victoria.

He was in the midst of renovating it when the oil company arrived and started pumping oil into the underground tank. But unfortunately the tank at his house was no longer in service.

"I had disconnected the oil tank and was getting 200 amp service in for electric heat," said Phillips.

"They got the wrong address. They filled up the tank. It went into the ground."

More than 300 litres of fuel spilled into the ground, contaminating the yard and under the house.

David Rogers, with B.C. Hazmat Management, the company doing the cleanup, said it was impossible to save the house because of the extent of the spill.

"Quite often we can dig under the house and support it with concrete. Because of the way it is, and the underground oil tank here, we could not support the house and save it."

The cost of the cleanup and rebuilding of the home is being covered by the oil company's insurance.




I’m guessing that’s a stock photo,  since they just said there WASN’T a tank.  (rolling my eyes here)


This is something I had heard about,  and I’m sure it’s not a very common occurrence,  but rumours of this kind of thing were circulating long before there was anything like the internet.  The thing is,  when we bought our house,  we had oil heat,  so there was always that thought that crossed my mind that something could “let go”,  and we’d end up with oil in the basement.  Scary thought.

This issue wasn’t necessarily the exact reason why I wanted to no longer have oil heat in our house,  and I’m sure we could have bought a more “efficient” oil fired boiler,  but then we would have still had the tank in our basement,  along with a certain amount of stink,  and that nagging doubt.    No matter what you do,  there’s always going to be something leaking somewhere.   And just as soon as the old boiler and tank were out,  I went to work and knocked the pipes out of the wall and patched the holes.  There was no bloody way anyone with an oil truck was going to come along and start pumping in oil.  Whether they had the right address or not.   Sometimes it’s best to not tempt fate.

Besides,  when we did have oil heat,  the bloody oil truck was coming every two weeks in the winter time!   I would just about crap my drawers every time he showed up!   Each fill up was several hundred dollars.  Several!

Even with a gas hot water boiler,  gas-fired dryer,  gas hot water heater and five burner gas range,  we’ve never EVER had a gas bill that came anywhere near what our oil bills used to be.   Not so far anyway, and we made the switch in ‘94.  I suppose it could always change. 


Let me just stop right here and say that,  whatever it is you choose to live in,  even if it’s a cardboard box out on the street,  at some point in time it’s going to need some work done to it.  It’s all a matter of whether you need to swap out the tranny,  put on a new roof, or find some fresh cardboard.   Last time I checked (like two seconds ago) rebuilding an Allison 1000 could run you anywhere from four to five thousand bucks.  Depending.


Anyhoodle,  I’m sure you really care about that,  but while I’m at it,  let me tell you one other little story.

A couple Friday’s ago (or maybe it was three?),  quite out of the blue,  I got a phone call from Daughter Number One.   Now see,  DNO rarely calls since she works in Toronto,  and the time difference is such that we really only communicate with her either by email or on the weekends by phone.   So I thought it was a bit odd that she phoned. 

Hopefully nothing bad.  

When she started to ask about my wet-vac I began to have my suspicions.   There was some talk about making sure to remove the filter (otherwise it gets really stinky,  and that has happened)  along with the whereabouts of the “wand”.  See,  I don’t use my shop vac as a wet vac,  so heaven knows where that wand is.  Possibly in the shed.  Plus she wondered whom I would call when it came to a plumber.  Well, it seems that I’m the only plumber that I’ll let into my house,  so that didn’t help. 

Anyway,  long story only ever so slightly shorter,  there was indeed a plumber involved,  along with their  insurance company, as there had been a leak.  Eek.  The good news was that her cousin was at the house at the time and heard the water running.  Apparently some sort of fitting had “let go”.   The even better news was,  all occupants of said dwelling had only recently given themselves a little impromptu seminar on just where one might find the water shut off.   These are good things to know.


Even though parts of the living room ceiling needed to be replaced,  it could actually have been worse.   I think the emotional damage to the cousin was on par with the water.  I’ve “been there and done that” when it comes to water leaks,  and it’s very easy to get yourself worked into a lather, trust me.  Oh the stories I could tell!


Naturally,  being the empathetic Dad (*snort*!),  one of the first things I said was,  “Welcome to the joys of home ownership!”   Poor kid.   But hey,  sh*t happens,  and it’s best to realise right off the bat that,  no matter how careful you might be, (with smoke and CO detectors and all those goodies)  any time you walk out the front door and lock it behind you,  may be the very last time you see your precious house in that condition.   Extinguishing any open flames and unplugging the iron helps too of course.

Do you know where your water shut off is??


Keep it between the ditches,  and thanks for stopping in.



Oh,  and by the way,  there will be a verdict later today on the “Ice Lady”.   Come on back,  ya’ll.



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

When snoring is a capital offence.

Anyone over a certain age,  or at least old enough to own up to any number of foibles,  will readily admit to snoring.  It happens.  Either once in a while,  or maybe ad nauseam.


You might think you DON’T snore for any of the following reasons: 1) You sleep alone.  2) You have a sleeping partner who sleeps very,  very soundly.  3) You’re  delusional.   And if none of the above,  then you’re quite likely a bold faced liar.

Those are your choices.  You snore.  Trust me.

And,  as an aside,  when we had our visitors back in the springtime consisting of a band that was on tour,  I was a little surprised to see that two of the group had taken separate bedrooms on their own.  I mean,  I had figured out all the sleeping arrangements,  so I was a little amused to see four of the group out sleeping on the floor in the living room.   So that meant that,  one whole bed was left untouched.  *Crazy*,  I thought.

Well,  come to find out, not that crazy.  This group had been together long enough to know that,  two of the gentlemen snored so loudly that the rest of the group was willing to sleep on the floor rather than be driven to the brink of insanity.  Even with two closed doors separating our bedroom from the one fellow,  I was still aware of a low,  disturbing rumble. 

You know,  when you wake up in the morning and think,  “Wow,  what the heck is that noise?”  

Kind of like that.


So here’s the thing.   Last year some time,  there was some news in the local rag about a chick that was tracked down and nabbed when a couple hacked up bodies were found in her ice cream parlour.   By the way,  try not to let the following affect your thinking the next time you go for ice-cream,  but hey,  a freezer is a freezer.  Who knows what else is in there besides “Rocky Road”?   


Anyhoodle,  life got a little “rocky” for a couple of her victims,  (like that one?) one of whom she shot when he rolled over in bed and began to snore. 

Holy crap on a cracker! 

*Mental Note*.   Be sure and keep any loaded ordinance away from ones sleeping partner.  AND,  you know what they say about “never going to bed angry”?   There’s that one too.   Just a couple little life principles to think on.


For an abridged English version, you’re welcome to do a Google search for “Vienna Ice Lady”,  or click on this handy dandy link that I’ve included here.


For those few of you who just might wish to read some of the original German,  I’ve enclosed a couple photo shots of the local rag. 



The above was from yesterday,  the one below is today’s missive. 



I don’t even really follow these “crime of the century” kind of things,  but since I have a bit of time on my hands,  and am always willing to pick up a couple new German words,  I figured I would dive in.  Meh,  it passes the time.



The weather today in Wienerland is just about as grey as the Ice Lady’s dress,  which I see she wore two days in a row.  I suppose it’s a little more humane than having to shuffle into court in shackles and a bright orange jump suit.

Even if she were wearing Versace, I still think she’ll be going away for a long,  long time. 


That’s about it for the report from the front.  The rest of the news is pretty ho-hum.  You know,  putting up Christmas decorations,  digging up the odd bomb at a construction site.  Normal life in Vienna.  That kind of thing.


Yes,  I know they’re huge,  but those are Christmas decorations.   They look like that space ship that Superman came in from Krypton.




I’ve never bothered to keep track,  but it seems like an unexploded bomb is discovered every few months.  This is what happens when you “host” a war.




Thanks for stopping by kids.   If you wake up in the morning without a bullet hole in you,  it’s going to be a good day.


Be safe out there.



Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Let’s talk twinkies.

It seems Twinkies are everywhere to be found in the news lately.   I’m not sure I’ve ever had one.  At least I certainly don’t recall.  Somehow I think the problems of Hostess foods comes down to more than *alleged* management greed and union demands.    Yes kids,  there are two sides to every coin. 

Do you think though that maybe coming up with some new products to offer the snack craving public might have been a good idea?  Have you looked at a Twinkie?  Read the ingredients?  

Oh my,  I just found this page.   Some of those ingredients are enough to make your skin crawl.  I’m feeling a bit better about not ever having any huge Twinkie cravings.  Gah!


You’re certainly welcome to watch that roughly five minute video.  It’s from back in 2007.   I wonder if putting all that info out there for public consumption might have led to a slight decline in Twinkie sales?   Hm?

While there is a certain amount of processed cr*p that can be had here in the stores,  for the most part,  there are other readily available choices to be had.   Anything that you buy at a bakery is NOT going to keep,  since they don’t use any preservatives.   Takes a bit of getting used to,  when you begin to realise that day old bread is already getting kind of “less than ideal”, and if left for a day or two,  will start to get mouldy.   The horror!   You mean a living organism is actually able to sustain life on the surface of the bread?   What a concept!


Anyway,  enough of that.   I doubt very much that you’ll be seeing too much more of Hostess in the future,  unless they can come up with at least one product that I’d be willing to eat.  Hey,  maybe come up with some gluten free stuff?  It’s always a challenge to find snacks for folks with Celiac disease.  Now there’s an idea!  But what do I know?


The weekend was quiet,  as are most of them it seems.   Travelling Companion got out on Saturday to hit a couple shops.   My “big job”  was to put some diesel fuel in the car,  since she had to do a little trip today.

The only thing was,  when I pulled into the service station just a couple blocks from here,  the attendant was just coming out with a sign to put on the pumps to indicate that they could only take cash.   Well,  that wasn’t going to fly.  

By the time I got to the next station out on the Gürtel,  they had already put up the signs at that location.  *grumble*    Whoops.  

So I just figured I had better get the car shoved back into the garage for the day, and try it all over again on Sunday.  There was no problem on Sunday,  and I didn’t bother to ask what the deal was.  Sometimes these things happen.  Maybe someone tripped over an extension cord.


The thing is,  driving a car in these parts on a Saturday afternoon is NOT something I’d recommend.  I wasn’t about to drive off looking for more out of service gas stations,  since I could have spent the whole time mostly sitting in traffic. 

All of the side streets are quite narrow,  and parking is at such a premium,  that any time a space *might* become available,  it’s often best to wait it out,  such as this person is doing just ahead of me. 


Of course,  nobody is going to bother getting impatient or honk at the guy,  since everyone is pretty much on the same page. 

Mind you,  if I was about to shell out the dough for a Porsche Boxter,  I’m pretty sure I’d want to get a spot in a parking garage.  But maybe that’s just me. 


The rest of the time is spent sitting in traffic,  (didn’t I say that?) but then you get to see kinds of things…



Note the sign on the car door.  (need to click on the photo)

Apparently “mediation”  is good business.   Is that like “conflict resolution”?  Do health plans cover that?  Where do I sign up?  Although,  I’ve never been overly in love with those BMW sports thingies.  I think they look kind of goofy.  But hey,  for those in the “more money than taste”  category,  they seem to be quite suitable.   Not to mention those who have a practise involving some sort of “mediation”.  

I’m trying not to roll my eyes here.




I do realise that I could just go out into the city streets,  take pictures of goofy things and make comments,  but I try not to overdo it.  It’s always good to have something to fall back on.



I saw these guys this morning when I took out the recycling.  What’s the pay like for walking the streets with your own “thought balloon” I wonder?


We’ll be keenly watching the developments on the Twinkie front,  ‘cause I’m sure you care.

And may your Twinkies always be fresh!  *snort*

Ya.  Whatever.


Thanks for stopping by.



Friday, November 16, 2012

A new “rule”.

I put “rule” in quotation marks,  since I’m not really sure how this one will work.

In spite of the logic equation that explains our entire reason for being here,  and the fact that there’s never been any parameters when it came to how late Travelling Companion gets home from work,  I’ve decided that cooking anything after 8:00 p.m. isn’t going to work anymore.   That’s my new “rule”.   I’ll go so far as to shove a frozen pizza in the oven,  haul it out,  cut it up and slap it on a couple plates,   but that’s going to be the extent of it. 

This is only a theory at this point of course,  as we haven't done any studies or “environmental assessments”.   It’s always important to do those “environmental assessments”.   If it looks like my environment is going to get really cold and hostile,  I just may have to reconsider. 

Wednesday night we were going to have fajitas.  (Cue the Mariachi Band and yell ¡arriba! once or twice)  

Turns out it was pizza instead.  Had to start off my new “rule”. 

It may be the first and last time.  One never knows.



This is my lame attempt at posting a photo today:



Took me two or three tries to get the one below.  Had to remember to take the camera with me first thing in the morning,  and then had to remember to actually take a photo.

Remember the lads on Sunday with the heaps of lights to install?   Well,  there ya go.

Darkness is helpful:



One of my first attempts had a big glowing “do not walk” sign in the middle.  It sucks to be half blind.  It’s worse when it’s dark.


I think that’s all I got.


Travelling Companion *said* she was going to try and get home early today.   I never really believe that until the phone rings.   Well, 4:30 just rolled around,  and that’s what just happened.   I know!

Good thing I was sitting down. 



I’m sure there were a couple other things I could blather on about,   but I’ll take pity on you.  

Over and out.


Have a mighty fine weekend,  just in case I don’t check back.   I do seem to have some issues on the weekends,  don’t I?


Thanks for comin’ ‘round.



Thursday, November 15, 2012

Speaking of news…

There have been a few quirky things in the news over the last couple days.  We’ve read about the *alleged*  (don’t you love that word?) dastardly events surrounding John McAfee.   You know,  the anti-virus software Dude?

Then there’s been some “Agua Alta”  in Venice.   Seems like that one is a fairly normal yearly occurrence though.   Just a little higher this year than in other years. 

To wit:



Hey!  That’s St. Mark's Square.  We’ve been there.  It was considerably dryer at the time however.

Oh and,  I don’t have any empirical evidence to support this claim,  but I don’t think that that water is the cleanest.  I know I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting in it.   I just hope they don’t have any open sores.  Gah!


Anyhoodle,  the one little item that I think I’d like to comment on,  is a rather sad story coming out of the UK in the last day or so.  

You can read the entire link here,  but of course,  these links do go by the wayside after a time,  so I’ll try and sum up.

It seems a young lady was out for the evening,  was quite inebriated,  fell between two train cars and was killed.   That’s the completely abridged version.  I could have had a job writing for Coles Notes.

So here’s the thing.  Said vehicles have these folks called “conductors”  or what have you,  and their responsibility is,  to the best of their ability, to make sure that everyone is well clear of the train before it pulls away.  

There have been a couple times that I’ve observed here in Wienerland,  when the subway car simply does not go anywhere until whatever half wit it is, gets him or herself away from the edge of the platform.  They’re watching.  That’s their job.

This particular fellow (conductor, whatever)  didn’t do his job.  He’s going to jail for five years.   That doesn’t bother me in the least.

Due to his negligence,  somebody died.  I think there might have been some arrogance in there too,  but we don’t know if that was a deciding factor.


Here however, is the part part that really does bother me.   The young lady, and you can see her beaming face here,



…was just a bit beyond drunk. 

Let me quote directly from the article here: “A blood analysis following her death showed she had 236mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood in her system - the legal driving limit is 80mg.”

Oh,  and there was also traces of something called mephedrone in her system.   It’s an “upper”,  in case you don’t want to read the link..


Two words from me:  Holy Cr*p!


Now I’ll admit,  I’ve been reasonably inebriated once or twice in my life,  although I must confess that in University I was given the somewhat dubious moniker of “One Beer Bob”,  so it’s not like I ever got to the point where I was ready to wretch up my dinner or anything.   There was always that moment when I just knew that I was done for the evening.  Some people don’t have that built in cut off mechanism.     Apparently young Georgia pictured above, did not. 

When I say “young”, what I mean is,  she was a child of 16.    Let me just write that out in long form…  SIXTEEN.   And to me yes,  that’s a “child”.   Are you kidding me?


Call me old fashioned.  Narrow minded.  I don’t care.  At sixteen,  you should not be out taking drugs and getting fall down drunk.   Sorry.  

Somebody needed to say, “No sweetie,  you can’t do that.”

Are her parents (again, alleged) going to be brought to task for any sort of neglect?   The laws in the UK are tricky on the subject,  since a 16 year old can go off to war,  have sex  and legally smoke,   but can’t vote for anyone to change any of those rules.  It’s messy.

All I know is,  I certainly was hardly let out of the house at the age of sixteen,  and neither of our daughters would have even dared to ask if they could even touch a drink at a party at that age.

Oh,  and if there was some question as to getting home safely from a “gathering”, (since kids do that,  you know)  Muggins here was out there in the middle of the night,  or whenever,  to fetch said young person.  And that’s because Muggins here knew exactly where said young person was going to be.  For the whole night!   You know,  address,  phone number.  All that.  “Who are these people?”  was a not unfamiliar question.


As a matter of fact,  Daughter Number One took a certain amount of ribbing from her friends in her younger years,  since she would have to call home to “The Leash” (a term coined by her friends in reference to her Mother)  at a certain point in the evening to either say if she was 1) Staying over night.  2) Getting a ride home with whomever,  (who was also known to The Leash and I)  or whether, 3) She needed someone to come and fetch her.   Those were the conditions.     Meet those conditions,  or stay home.   She had to call “The Leash”  well into her twenties.

And yes,  both of our lovely daughters would readily admit that there were some less than stellar moments of possible inebriation.   I’m not that naive, but it’s a question of small steps.    One would be hard pressed to try a triple axel,  if you’ve only just learned to stand up on your skates. 

I had a ‘horsey out of the coral’  metaphor,  but it wasn’t working.



Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.


Thanks for stopping in.



Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Peckin’ at my balls.

Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do?   I mean, that’s why I put out those suet seed ball thingies...






OK,  I couldn’t help myself.  I’ll be getting some strange hits now I imagine.  That wasn’t really the idea.

It’s just that,  every time I look out there,  that same thought pops into my head.  I had to get it out of my system.  Beg yer pardon.


They are good looking little fellers though,  ain’t they? 

The birds,  that is.

Of course,  I haven’t a clue what they are.  They look like some kind of chickadee.  Only a guess.

I think I had better stop while I’m ahead.



Maybe some ‘bird folk’ out there can chime in. 




I think the sun did come out for about 15 minutes there.  It’s gone now.  That was pretty much it for the excitement. 

Whistle a happy tune!


Hope you’re having a good week.  Thanks for looking in.



Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Plodding along.

Do we start a countdown?  Not so sure.  It’s still just over a month until we head home for Christmas (December 14th) so counting over thirty “sleeps” seems excessive.  

We do head over to Paris in a couple weeks.  La de da.  All that means is that I still have to decide on a hotel for a couple nights.   No countdown for that one.


My “chores” for today,  other than the usual domestic duties,  is to make a hair appointment for T.C.,  and then head around the corner to the bank.  No big deal on either account,  and the hair thingy has already been done. 

Before I say anything else,  I would just like to point out that making appointments was never anything I was asked to do when we were back home.  Somehow that became one of my “jobs” over here,  and it’s partly due to the language issue.  Plus, I’m slightly more at “loose ends" than T.C.

That’s my story anyway. 

The “Friseurin”  (hair lady)  does speak passable English,  although I know she struggles.  I’ve at least by this point convinced Travelling Companion that she indeed needs to make her own doctor’s appointments,  since there are just too many variables involved, and the doc speaks perfect English.  Well,  “perfect” within reason I suppose.   Think Arnold Schwarzenegger,  only blond, female and slightly better looking.  At this point in Arnold’s life,  I’m sure his breasts are about the same size as hers as well.  

Ooh,  did I just say that?

“Ya ya,  Ve gunna pump you up!”


Let’s just stop right there. This is getting to be a bit of a slippery slope,  and I’m sure I could work that into a pun as well,  if I gave it a little effort.



Ever had one of these??


Actually,  with the possible exception of renting a car in these parts and then discovering later that the rental company has tacked an extra charge on your credit card,  you’ll never ever have one of these. 

See,  this is why I have to take a little trip to the bank at some point in the very near future.  

Let me translate:

“Bla bla bla, ….you were speeding….you owe pay!”

There,  that’s the gist of it.

And you know,  I remember the exact moment of this occurrence.  I had just dropped off Travelling Companion at the airport and I was bootin’ it …er,   coming back into the city,  there was an ambulance coming up behind me at a goodly clip,  and I just sort of sped up a bit to get around a car that I was otherwise barely passing.   Again, that’s my story.  

I do seem to recall some sort of a flash at one point when I glanced back at the emergency vehicle behind me,  but wasn’t entirely sure what had happened.  Things were flashing.  Didn’t realise there was something flashing for little ole me.  Now I know.

So hey,  I just might have saved a life by getting out of the way of that ambulance,  and it’s only going to cost us €42!  What is a life worth?  Such a deal!

In most of the countries throughout Europe,  there’s none of that “Innocent until proven guilty” malarkey.   They snap your photo,  all the while measuring your speed, and then they send you a bill. Or they send it to whomever owns the car.   Very cost effective.  It’s almost worth not having to get the lecture from some cop who drew the short straw that day,  and is stuck with Radar duty.  I would hate that job,  just as much as I would hate the lame-assed excuses that people would come up with for going over the speed limit.  Yer busted!  Suck it up. 

It’s not like there are no warnings either.  I know for a fact that,  right along that strip,  there are big flashing signs with,  “50 Radar!”   That’s kind of a clue,  don’t ya think?

In addition to not having to get the quasi-lame lecture from some cop,  there’s also no recrimination from Travelling Companion.   See, even though I was “first out of the gate”  when it came to getting speeding tickets here in Europe,  there’s this one particular spot on the way to her other office up in the hinterland where it seems there’s some sort of “trap” of the “speeding” kind?  So I’m not alone. But we’ll stick to the subject at hand.

Actually,  I’ve just now hit upon the underlying problem.   It’s those darned German engineered vehicles that we’ve started driving!   That has to be it.  

There was a long,  long period of time there,  when neither of us had had speeding tickets,  and then we went and bought the Jetta in the fall of 1999.   Bingo bango,  T.C. got her first EVER speeding ticket in that thing.  It just went like a shot!  Previous to that,  we had an Olds ‘98 “touring sedan”,  and it was fine as long as you drove in a straight line,  and didn’t go much faster than about 55. (mph)  I don’t want to say too many disparaging things about it,  but it’s kind of like buying a new pair of shoes,  at which point you then realise just how bad the old pair really were?   We’ll leave it at that.   Wouldn’t want to say anything to upset any “Olds” or “GM”  aficionados.


(Hint: It was a hunk of junk)

Let’s just put it this way.  The Jetta,  which now belongs to Daughter Number one,  is coming up on thirteen years old,  has roughly 450 thousand kilometres on it,  and is still going strong.  The biggest challenge will be keeping the body on the thing,  since it gets driven year round.

We were barely able to squeeze 100,000 kilometres out of the Olds when, in its ninth year the electrical problems that had been minor annoyances up until then started to become somewhat life threatening?   I traded it for a tonneau cover for a truck that I leased.  I was happy to get that much for it.   And when I drove it to the dealership where I was dropping it off,  the bloody thing quit on me (as it had done once on the thruway in New York state) just as I was backing it into a parking spot.  I got out and pushed.  Took the keys inside,  dropped them off and got the hell outta there.  

There’s more to that story,  but I’d just as soon not dredge it all up again.  I’m starting to grind my teeth ever so slightly just thinking about it.


That’ll be all.


Keep it between the ditches.


Thanks for looking.



Monday, November 12, 2012

Why I just *love* winter.

Well actually.  I don’t.   If my assignment were to write a thousand word essay on that particular topic,  I don’t think I’d get too far.  And I’m pretty freakin’ wordy.

The eye watering cold air.  The trudging, whenever applicable.  The lack of daylight.

Oh wait!  I have something.  I can wear a wrinkled shirt with impunity,  knowing full well that it’ll be covered up with either a coat,  or a sweater and a coat.  Depending. Such a savings in the ironing department.  Mind you,  if I have to take off any outer layers at my destination,  that screws that idea. 


Speaking of dressing up like a complete idiot,  I saw these in a shop window yesterday.


I’ve heard of “leg-warmers”.   Are these somehow “knee-warmers”?  Do you roll them up,  down?   I have a set of knee pads at home that come in handy for doing tile work and such,  but they don’t look anything like that.  I’m confused.

Yet another one of those little fashion items that goes right past me.


Saw these guys out on the street yesterday as well.  Somebody’s gotta do it.



Using the lift is certainly the best way to put up Christmas lights.   This is only the beginning too.  Vienna gets entirely nuts as we get closer to Christmas.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like it.  It’s pretty freaking awesome. 

This is one of the reasons why Travelling Companion likes it that I get behind the wheel whenever the two of us are in the car.  She gets to gawk at the buildings,  and in the next few weeks,  all the lights.

Speaking of the car,  it was just a few more things besides the snow tires that had to get sorted out on Thursday.  I think perhaps the dealership hadn’t quite anticipated that there would be a bit of a list?   I managed to find what would pass for a work order in the glove box on Saturday as I was whiling away some time while T.C. was shopping.   There was a shock in the front that needed replacement,  they turned the front rotors, (and put on new pads I’m guessing?) replaced the burnt out headlamp,  and did an oil change.   They also placed a little sticker up in the corner of the windshield,  with ‘210’ on it.   That happens to be the maximum speed in kph that should not be exceeded with those snow tires.

I don’t think we’ll have to worry about that here in Austria,  but I suppose they figure if we were to head up to Germany for whatever reason,  we just might need that little reminder.   In the Netherlands,  the guy just said,  “These things are only rated for 210”.   It wasn’t a big deal there either,  since even approaching those speeds was only something I was willing to do in the best of all possible conditions.   Certainly not in the wintertime.


When it comes to maintenance and such, it’s a bit of a different arrangement in these parts when it comes to a “company car”.  The car is owned by a leasing company,  and while something like a leaky shock might not even be given a second thought in the North American way of doing things,  the objective is to keep the car in top shape for as long as it’s being used by the employee.  There’s also this minor thing called a TÜV,  which stands for Technischer Überwachungs-Verein.   Basically speaking, it’s a safety check.  It has to be done every two years,  and I noticed they did an emissions test as well.  There was some gibberish about parts per million or…something.  Hey,  I can bring the form in,  scan it,  and you can try to figure it out for yourselves if you really think that would be necessary.  How’s your “mechanic speak”?   In German?   Right.

Just take my word for it.

Oh,  and they washed the car.  That was good.


I think that’s all I have for today.  If I get too carried away, it’s just going to be negative and crappy.  Like the weather.   Can’t have that.


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for looking in.



Friday, November 9, 2012

Off in a taxi.

I mentioned the other day that it was “tire changing day”?   I lied.

Not intentionally,  it just turns out that “somebody was sick”,  and so the car didn’t get picked up. They only have one single solitary person who does tires? A wee bit odd I thought,  but I suppose it’s remotely possible.  So that meant it was supposed to happen yesterday,  which indeed it did (well, as far as I know),  but then as of six p.m.,  the car hadn’t been returned.  Swift bunch.

Not that I’d want to dredge up any old cr*p or anything,  but the very first time I ever wandered into that dealership to ask about getting an estimate done for a couple little boo-boos,  turned out to be the absolutely last time I ever wanted to set foot in that place ever again.   I just don’t have the temperament.  And that is exactly why they have to come and fetch the car.  Not going there,  in every sense of that expression.

So Travelling Companion got a ride home with one of her associates,  and this morning I had to call for a cab.  And of course,  explain to the driver just where the heck her office is,  since most of the cab drivers only do runs to the airport.   That’s my impression anyway.  Good thing I’ve lived here for a while.  I wouldn’t have fared quite so well explaining the route three years ago.

The Company that Cannot be Named has to pick up the tab for the cab fare,  so it’s no skin off my hairy hind end.

We’ll see if the car gets returned so T.C. can drive it home tonight.


I noticed this in the Billa (grocery store) up the street the other day. 


They had a whole display of crushed walnuts,  whole walnuts,  and such.  There will not be any “crushed nuts” jokes,  thank-you. 

You may very well take such a thing for granted, and it wouldn’t even be worth mentioning,  (the display,  not the jokes)  except that when I was actually called upon to FIND some,  I had to walk half way to the Ring to get to the only store around that carried such a thing.  And even then I had to ASK,  and we ended up grinding up whole walnuts since that’s all they had. 

The likelihood of T.C. making Potica between now and when we get outta Dodge is extremely slim.    Of course,   this is always the way these things go.  When I’m NOT looking for a particular thing,  I’m just as likely to trip over it.

This may very well be some sort of Christmas display as well,  since the city has started to get geared up for the Christmas season.  Seems to me some of the Christmas markets already open over the next couple weekends.   Thankfully I haven’t noticed any Christmas music.   When it comes to Christmas music, (*shudder*) the week before Christmas would suffice for me. 


The building site up the street has been undergoing a few changes lately. 

There used to be a roof. 



That was taken back in June.


This one below is from today.



They were pouring concrete last night until some time around seven p.m.,  which wouldn’t be noticeable,  except that the concrete has to be vibrated in place.  You can figure it out.

It’s dark by then of course,  but it looked like they had enough lights set up.  If you click on that one,  the crane operator is the one wearing the orange jacket.   He needs to be up there where he can see what he’s doing.   I watched him for a little while,  and the problem he seems to have is finding a place to stand where he can see where the hook is going to end up.   He hauled some rebar up at one point and then it took him a couple attempts to find a way over to the side where it had to be set down.  It’s a rare thing to see a crane operator actually sitting in the cab of the crane.   They either operate them from the ground,  or somewhere on the roof like this guy.


Well,  this is starting to look suspiciously like mindless drivel.  Wouldn’t want you to think I was related to Donald Trump or anything.   I’m not even going to post any links to that nonsense.  What a bonehead. You can do your own research.  I think his toupee is clipped on too tight.


Hope y’all have a fine weekend if I fail to check in.


Thanks for lookin’ in.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A little windy on the foredeck.

We did have that “red sky at morning”  thing this morning,  so I guess that must have meant something.   I didn’t take a picture.  Sorry,  but a cup of coffee (or two) was the more important item on my agenda. 

I think if I were to take a boat out in this,  it would quite likely be a “number three”  or even possibly a “storm jib”.  So now you know how hard it’s blowing.

I’ve grumbled about this in the past,  but it stays dark way too long in the morning,  and gets dark way too early in the afternoon as far as I’m concerned.  *grumble*  OK, I’m done.

I realise that’s hardly anything to complain about,  and it does happen every year,  so I need to get over it.  Maybe I’ll hunt around for one of those timers I bought for the Christmas lights.  If lights were to come on automatically,  maybe then the sudden darkness wouldn’t come as such a shock every day.  I’m a slow learner. 

I noticed this yesterday in the train station.  It seems that this list gets changed daily,  according to the trains of the day.  I had never noticed it before, like that’s a stretch.



This particular one (part one of two) is the list for a Wednesday.  Here I’ve always just wandered along wondering what car to get on.  Turns out there is this big “map thingy”.  Who knew?   The other thing too is,  it’s kind of out where *ahem* it’s very plain to see?   I’m a little embarrassed.


Today is actually “tire changing day”  for Muggins here and Travelling Companion.   The thing is though,  there will be no pictures of the Beemer getting her winter boots on,  since it’s being taken care of by BMW Wien.   See,  back in the spring time,  when I had the summer tires put on,  Travelling Companion was quite sure that we would be getting outta Dodge before the end of the summer.   Right. 

So…the idea was,  better bring those tires home (it’s the tires on the rims,  since that’s what we got with the car, so they’re really “wheels”,  but whatever) and we’ll take them to the Company that Cannot be Named whenever we leave town!  What that meant was,  each and every time I had to get into our storage locker downstairs,  there were four wheels to contend with. All summer long! Such a pleasure.


So it’s my fault really,  since I let myself be talked into this idea.  I mean, when we left the Netherlands,  I simply left a business card in the car from the place where the tires were being kept,  and that was that.   We drove that Audi down here to Wienerland in November of ‘09 after the winter tires had been put on,  so when a Dutch guy drove it back up north in the New Year after the BMW arrived,  he was all legal like.   Yes,  we had to order a new car when we moved here.  Such trials and tribulations.

I figured it was best to put the wheels in the car on the weekend,  since doing that sort of thing in the evening,  after dark isn’t all that much fun.   There’s the parking hassle,  and it’s busy out there.  I miss my driveway!

The car could do with an oil change anyway,  and there’s a headlamp that’s burnt out as well,  so they can deal with the whole works at once.   I also instructed that I did not want the wheels back again.  It’s so nice to have them out of our locker.  There’s not that much room.

The deal with the dealer is,  T.C. leaves the key with the gatekeeper at the front desk at her work,  they send over a flatbed and take the car away to be serviced or whatever.   We should have been following that program all along,  but instead I took it upon myself to take the tires and the car to a local garage and stand around while they sorted it out.   Again,  I think I let myself get talked into that one. 

I think that’s all I have to spit out today.    No comments on the outcome of the election.   Just glad it’s over.

And that took a lot of restraint,  trust me.


Keep those sticks….right where I can see them.


Thanks for stopping by.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Pulling the trigger.

And I’m not talking about the election today,  although I’m sure that will be the topic of conversation here and there.  I’ll probably check later on to see if there were any hanging chads.  Let’s hope there are none,  since finding out the actual results might not happen for a couple months if there’s any more of that nonsense.

No, I’m referring to something else entirely. 

Even before we went off to Salzburg a couple weeks ago,  there had been some  talk of taking yet another trip to Paris.  When we lived in the Netherlands,  we made three trips by car,  since that was doable.  It’s about a six hour drive,  usually with a stopover in Brugge, Belgium for lunch.    And yes,  if you check that out on the map,  you’ll see that it appears to be a bit out of the way,  but it’s worthwhile stopping in Brugge,  trust me.   Can you say chocolate?

Well see,  from here to Paris is a slightly different story.   It’s more like 12 hours by car.  I’m not overly keen.  And I have no problems driving a car in Paris.  Been there,  done that.  It’s just getting the thing there that’s slightly onerous.  It would mean staying over night somewhere on the way there,  and then quite likely on the way back.  Unless of course I did some sort of 12 hour marathon driving for the return trip.  I ain’t no spring chicken in the driving department these days,  and would prefer to keep the trips down to something more like four or five hours,  and preferably in daylight.  Me eyes ain’t what they used to be when it comes to driving at night.   Besides,  we’re going at the end of November, so there could even be weather issues to consider.

So we’ll take the train!

It turns out there’s a train that leaves the Westbahnhof (West train station)  just down the street here at about quarter past four in the afternoon on Wednesday, November 28th,  getting into Munich later that night.   From there,  there’s a “night train”  that goes on to Paris.   I had been checking out times and fares on the weekend and was getting a little discouraged at some of the prices,  and travelling by air was starting to look slightly more attractive,  since the two of us could get there and back for around €400.  But, it was by air,  and the return trip left Charles DeGaule airport at something like 7:00 a.m.  Gah!    I’ll only get on a plane that early if I’m heading for the sunny south,  or going home for Christmas.  Other than that,  forget it.

Anyhoodle,  it turns out that going in person to the train station is a better plan than trying to order on line in this case,  since the Dude at the counter was able to get us at least a fair chunk of the trip at some sort of discounted rate.  Alrighty then!   You’ll notice that the portion of the trip to Munich is only €49?   Such a dealski!  There were other discounted bits on the return trip as well.




The whole trip there and back came in at around €690,  which is certainly a far cry from some sort of discount airline price,  but on the night train from Munich to Paris,  we have our own sleeping quarters.   There’s something to be said for arriving at your destination well rested. 

So we’ll get into the Paris East train station on Thursday morning around 9:30 a.m.,  and then we head back again Saturday night.   I think it should be fun.

Now I just have to do a little research on fabric shops around the area of Montmartre.    Oh,  and if you happen to chose to click on that “fabric shops” link and go down to street level,  you’ll see what I’m talking about.   Go up the street and turn right on Place Saint-Pierre.   There are all kinds of places.  We may need two suitcases.

Oh and,  how the heck did Google get a car down there for that “street view”?  Did they go by bike?   It doesn’t look like it’s open to traffic. 


Other than having the sun come out for about a half hour earlier today (it’s gone again),  that’s pretty much it for excitement around here. 


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for stopping by.




Monday, November 5, 2012

Back to the mob.

Although it wasn’t all that bad,  truth be told (and when have I ever not?).  Thankfully our lawyer lady got there early,  and when we strolled into the Immigration Office at about ten to eight,  she was already in line,  and quite close to the front.  Giggidy! 

You see,  you have to line up,  in order to be let inside to then line up.  Got that?  The first year we were here,  the first line up was outdoors,  but thankfully all that business takes place in what sort of looks to me like a very large lobby.  It would be like a shopping mall,  if there were any shops.  Whatever it is, at least it’s indoors.

Then after you’ve been let in by the gate keeper, and you’ve once again lined up to get your number,  you then go up to the fifth floor to then wait for said number to be displayed on the big magic board.  Oh, and there’s only one elevator to take you up.  Good stuff.

There were lots of places to sit,  and even then I don’t think we sat there for more than maybe 15 minutes before our number came up.  So off we go,  down the hallway and into one of the offices.  Only thing was,  the highly organised and professional official couldn’t seem to put his hands on our file.  So we went back out to the waiting area.  Can’t hang around there and watch him fumble,  apparently.  After a few minutes,  our number then comes back up on the board.  He found it.  Not sure where it was hiding.  Maybe because we decided to leave on Friday,  it went from the “nice”  to the “naughty” pile?  

Of course,  then lawyer lady has to go up one floor above to pay the €40 fee.  So,  out we go again.  When she has her receipt,  we can go back in, sign for our new cards,  and we’re done.  And I might add, that will be quite enough of that.  I do think we have to turn the cards in at some point a day or two before we get outta Dodge,  but I won’t mind one more trip back there.   Maybe the nice lawyer lady can do that?  Not sure.  But hey, by now I can get there without once looking at the GPS.  Big whoop!   That’s another sign that it’s time to move.

I didn’t look at Travelling Companion’s card,  but they renewed mine until October of 2013.   Nobody had better get any ideas.  

My old one had already expired,  and I  suppose if I were a bright eyed,  bushy tailed yet nervous 22 year old,  I might be a little concerned about that fact.   Not these days.  Didn’t give a rat’s tiny behind.   As long as the Austrian government would be willing to pay for our flight,  I wouldn’t have been overly upset if they had decided to put me on a plane for Toronto.   I’m sure there would be someone whom we could contact with a key to let the movers in to pack up our sh*t and send it along.  Of course,  if they only sent me away,  that wouldn’t exactly be fair to T.C.,  since leaving her alone in a foreign country has never been something we’ve been willing to consider.  We tried that when we were first getting settled in, in Puerto Rico.  Not the best strategy.

Most days,  it’s a “team” effort.  

The weather for the last 24 hours or so has been decidedly not nice,  and the pounding rain woke me up at least twice during the night.  Even though we made extremely good time at the MA35 (Immigration Office)  all that really meant was that I was in the thick of things traffic wise,  when it came down to getting back into the city.  We saw two different fender benders between the North Bridge and the off ramp for Strebersdorf,  which is only a distance of maybe a couple kilometres.  

How is it that drivers manage to lose their minds when there’s a little bit of inclement weather?   This is a multi-cultural phenomenon,  trust me.  I’ve seen this in several countries.  I used to think it only happened in Southern Ontario,  as I was convinced for many years that all of the world’s worst drivers had immigrated to Ontario.   Not so.  We still have plenty here in Europe,  and hopefully they’ll stay here.



The crappy weather wasn’t a deterrent for this guy,  who was riding what I consider to be a proper moped.  There’s a four wheeled variety of small car here (throughout Europe really) that is considered a “moped”.   Makes no sense to me.  I always thought “Moped”  had something to do with it being motorized but also assisted by pedal power.    I’ve been looking for a picture but I can’t seem to come up with one.   They look like a tiny car that’s restricted to 45 k.p.h.,  and run on what sounds like a two stroke. 


No patience for picture hunting at the moment.  

I think I have to brave the elements ever so briefly once again today (besides having to go pick up T.C. for six p.m.,)  since there was a bit of a kafuffle this morning when somebody’s underarm deodorant unceremoniously hit the deck.  It’s a bitch trying to use that stuff when it’s in several pieces.  I’ll see what I can find.  It’s my job.


Keep those sticks on the ice.


Thanks for stopping by.