Although it's now the 8th November, I'm now inputting all of the blog text from Vienna - still!So the next three entries will be from our recent holiday.Enjoy!
I love travelling all over the world but even a small time difference can knock you back.It's -2hours between Vienna and Moscow, and I was sitting at the computer typing whilst my good lady slept.Some people can cross those borders effortlessly, some can't.Ничево...
One thing that I always enjoy, though, is the hotel breakfasts.The pleasure of a large cup of tea, a bowl of yogurt and a cooked breakfast to start the day always brings a smile to my face.As I'm never good at eating breakfast during the working week - too early in the day to eat - then this is an additional pleasure for me.And so Mrs. Barnes and I ambled downstairs to the dining room to get ourselves filled up for the day, and decide on our programme of events.
40 minutes later we were on the road, and walking towards Judenplatz.Vienna has a large Jewish quarter and they have both a museum and memorial to recent events in their history.We weren't going into the museum but we did want to see the memorial.It's in Judenplatz (literally, Jew's Square) and looks like a gas chamber.The inscription (in German, English and Hebrew) commemorates that 65,000 Austrian Jews died during the Second World War; the names of all of the concentration camps are along two of the sides of the memorial.A rather chilling memorial but thought-provoking nonetheless.
We continued our walk through the city centre and came down to the area near the Hofsburg Palace complex.There were many people dressed in period costumes, and one accosted us as we came to the end of the pedestrian zone to offer us tickets for a concert that evening.It seemed that because there are so many concerts going on in Vienna, this is one of their main marketing techniques (barring the Internet) - and it's successful!Whilst I still feel a little bit reticent about giving my money to people on the street in this way, I've become less so in the last few years as I've understood that people don't just take your money and run - they are actually working.
Unfortunately we missed a fantastic photo opportunity shortly afterwards when we went into Starbucks (the only time!) for a quick coffee.Seeing a man dressed in Mozart-period costume queuing for a coffee brought a big smile to both of our faces; we just couldn't get the camera out quickly enough…
As we were in the area, our next stop was the Albertina Museum.This is one of Vienna's premier art museum and houses a large collection of impressionist works by the likes of Seurat, Monet, Manet, Pissaro and van Gogh.I am always impressed by artwork in small doses; appreciating the talents of others as I'm not artistically inclined, but too much of it and my intelligence circuits melt.We saw just enough today to keep the wires together, helped by a useful audio commentary though a keyphone.
By this time the stomachs were rumbling, so we looked for somewhere to have lunch.Just across the square was Café Mozart, a famous name in Viennese café society.It initially opened in 1794 (three years after Mozart's death), was torn down in 1882, then rebuilt and became a pub called 'The Red Hedgehog'.In 1924 it became a coffee house once again and five years later it was bought by the Hornik family, who renamed it Café Mozart.
It gained notoriety in 1948 when the film, 'The Third Man' (starring Orson Welles), was made in Vienna.Its author, Graham Greene, lived in Vienna for a time in 1947 and liked to take his coffee at Café Mozart.Inthe film, a scene takes place at the pavement-side café.In 1985, the Hornik family sold if to a Japanese department store chain who resold it in 1993 to the Querfeld family, well-known in Vienna as coffeehouse proprietors.They continue to run it today.
It was time to try some Viennese schnitzel - and what better place than at Café Mozart?The pieces literally covered the plate.Both of us sat stuffed, and the waiter came over and looked at me with a stunned look whilst enquiring, "You are not hungry?"Death by schnitzel…
We resolved that we would come back to taste their desserts, which looked delicious but there was no room inside our bodies at this point.Staggering back through the centre of Vienna, we discovered the worst coffee yet.And - for the third time! - they got our order wrong.We asked for a cappuccino and a "kaffe mit milch" (just a normal coffee with milk) and we STILL only got one coffee!What went wrong in the translation?We didn't even order in English!
After a short rest at the hotel, we enjoyed a brisk 20-minute walk back through the centre of Vienna to the Palais Palfry (part of the Hofsburg Palace) to see the concert.Once again, it was an intimate show albeit with more people than last night; the main difference being that there were dancers and singers at various points to add 'the dressing on the top' and provide some variety.Some of the pieces were the same as last night, but the programme was longer overall.It was, however, another excellent performance.