Saturday, October 1, 2011

Vienna Part 2 - A Palace, a squirrel and a puss finger walk into a bar...

We wake up with the intention of catching a training session at the Spanish Riding School, but it was a two hour show so we decided against it. We opted instead for Schonnbrune Palace and a ride around the Ringstrasse.

We had already seen the inside of a palace the day before and headed out into the palace grounds for a change of pace. They were immaculate, immersive, and transcendental. It may have been the hazy, wet weather that added to the atmosphere, but we felt were walking around a living postcard. The groomed lawn design alluded to musical annotations, a reminder of Viennas heritage of composers you don't know by name, but who's works have survived and influenced the centuries. Flanking the lawn, we numerous neoclassical statues, in case you forgot this was the seat of the empire, nothing says empire more than all things Rome. Further still (and we're not done yet), was a fountain so magnificent that it rivals, if not surpasses the majesty of Trevi fountain. That is, until you get closer and clearly see the Trevi sculptors either had better techniques and/or better materials to work with. Also, we didn't quite understand why a merman would have two tails (one for each leg) instead of the traditional one tail most half human/half fish mystical creatures usually have. It really just looks like someone wanted to sculpt some ass, but who are we to judge...

Beyond the fountain was the crown of the grounds, the Gloriette. We later learned from Wikipedia that it was originally "designed to glorify Habsburg power and the Just War [a war that would be carried out of 'necessity' and lead to peace]" Now it's just a cafe selling overpriced schlop to tourists. We weren't hungry, we weren't thirsty, so we did an about face an checked in with the you ar,e here map. At this point, we had maybe covered a third of the palace grounds, not counting the zoo. The rain was picking up andI was still a little sick; further exploration was vetoed and we headed back down hill.

We were accompanied by, or rather it felt like an interrogation from, a black squirrel. This little guy came right up to us, put is nut down and starred up as if to say "where the fuck do you think you're going?" followed by "this is my forest" and "I better not catch you fucking around". He did this two or three more times before we finally exited the forest path back towards the main gates. This caused us to reflect that despite our mostly urban adventures, we've encountered an awful lot of "nature" on this trip: the seagulls in Croatia, the spider living at Dave's house, the fish in Ibiza and so on...

Back in the center of Vienna, we took up a tip from practically everyone who's ever been there to ride the tram around the Ringstrasse. You basically get to see everything from town hall, the opera house and the Stadt park to everything in-between. We never made it as far as the Stadt Park, but we did make it as far as the nearest Kasekeiner. This little gem we learned from watching Anthony Bourdain and confirmed with our friends the night before at dinner. Also known as the puss finger, it's simply a cheese stuffed sausage and it's simply delicious. Nothing hits the spot better on a cold rainy day than something warm and cheesy. It can be served on either a plate with fries or stuffed into a roll. We chose the latter for the comedic photo op:

The rest of our stay in Vienna was short lived. Dinner with friends followed by an endless stroll and a night cap. Almost dreamlike in its charm, Vienna is definitely worth a return visit. It's insane to plan new trips when were only half way through this one, but we hope to return next year for the christmass market at Schonbrunn, to experience more of Vienna, and to conquer pork mountain.

- Bill

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