Saturday, October 31, 2009

......BOO!!!!!!! Back in Germany

Today was a great driving day from Wien (Vienna) back to Stuttgart.  We were up at 7:00 done with the best breakfast from any hotel that we have had so far and out of our hotel at 8:00.  We had to walk with luggage to our underground parking area about 5 blocks away.  We get there and the thing is all locked up.  It says (per Gary's pretty good German) open 24 hours a day.  But it wasn't????  Well it is freezing outside, really it is, probably 25 degrees and we are sitting on a park bench trying to figure out what to do.  Very little traffic, pedestrian or otherwise and here we sit.  I am glad that I have a sweater on with a big sweater with a hood over that and a pea-coat  with a big scarf wrapped around me, oh and a hat.  I found one of my toe warmer thingys that I always keep as an emergency in the bottom of purse and put those on.

Finally I got up and walked down about 200 yards to a beautiful restaurant and the nicest young man came all the way back to the garage and he figured out that through another entrance just for this reason (early arrivals) you could walk down these steps and with the code off your ticket enter the last 4 digits and the door opens!  Can you believe the hospitality of this place?  We couldn't.  After lugging the stuff down the stairs and finding the car and the way out we were about 1 hour off schedule but still in shock that someone would do that for us.

We got to see some countryside this time as it wasn't as foggy as the ride over, but mostly I read the little book on Vienna that I purchased and found out all sorts of things about this place.  Austria is really located more in Eastern Europe than Western from looking at it on the map as it is bordered by 4 European East Block countries. To the West is Switzerland and Germany and to the south west is Italy.  After WW ll it remained part of the Western Countries and in 1955 it became it's own country and Vienna has the 3rd office seat for the United Nations Organization, the other 2 are New York and Geneva.  There is a lot of history here, they have survived a lot of wars and different leaderships.  Napoleon had his headquarters here for awhile too.  Ok now I am getting into to much information needed....can you tell I am captivated by this place?

Speaking of captivated, tonight Madeline was dressed as a butterfly in this pink two piece outfit that was warm (the most important thing).  Cold here but not as cold as it was this a.m. waiting for the parking lot to open.  She brought us home lots of candy of which Annie got first pick.

 It is time for me to go read her a goodnight book, usually this is Strawberry Shortcake, the same one Annie liked when she was this age.  Life is good.

Friday, October 30, 2009

..........................I LOVE VIENNA!!!

Wow! Wow, our jaws have been dropped all day strolling down this beautiful city.  I had no idea how cool this place is.  We only had one day to see it all so, we tried.  Around every corner is a beautiful building worth painting.  The shopping is incredible in this market square area where St Stephens' Cathedral sits.  I guess this area is called the Hofburg or "hero's square" . This shopping rivals Paris and it is all in one place.  Today it was Friday and the place was packed.  We found a Starbucks, sat and just people watched.  So much English spoken here that we could hear conversations all day and understand!

These beat the heck out of Schneeballens

I would have loved to have gotten a purse at Chanel, or a scarf at Hermes', but instead I got memories and money saved for another trip here.  There was one gift we bought ourselves today as a souvenir, a knife made of ceramic so you never have to sharpen it.  Gary was all for that.  These knives have one disadvantage though, they can break if dropped on the I will be using this Kyocera knife carefully and remember the little kitchen shop "Haardt & Kruger" with the very nice young man who took so much time showing us the different options in the cutlery area that I never knew existed.

It was very cold out today and so Gary wanted a hat.  That was easy as there were quite a few hat stores, he was in heaven.  He admits to a hat, watch, and shoe fetish, but I know of a few would be on that list too.  We just strolled and strolled and could not get enough of this place.  Gary loves to look at the women's fashion (well that's what he says he's looking at)...but I have to agree the European women dress fabulously......and they are all thin and can pull off anything.  Very few heavy Europeans.

 Sitting in Starbucks with our (finally) large vanilla lattes we really couldn't believe how lucky we were to be here.  I never knew Vienna to be so big and beautiful.  Gary said he had heard several people mention that it was a great place to come to but I had not.

The University that sits right here is the one for worldwide economics and has lots of students from the U.S.A. here so that explains why English is used so much.  We saw so much wealth here as well.  Bentley's, Mercedes, Land Rovers and on and on dashing down these small crowded cobblestone streets.

I got to see my Lipizzaners today.  The stable for them is right in the Market area and there they were eating lunch.  They have an exercise time every morning but we missed it, and they have an exhibition tomorrow at 1:00 but we will be gone. Well I got to look at them in person and that will have to do. I will go home and rent that Disney movie that I saw as a kid that had made such an impression on me and really the only reason I knew of Vienna at all.  I will also rent the movie about "Sissi" the Empress Elisabeth who fell victim to an assassination sort of like the Marie Antoinette situation I think.  But Sissi's picture was everywhere around here as a real saint to the people and I would love to learn more about that.  Today I also learned that Beethoven was not from Vienna but Hitler was.  Two misconceptions that these people like to let you know.  Also "Sigmund Freud and Albert Einstein were both born and raised in Vienna and unfortunately the last of the real intellects", she said that not me.

Can you find Burger King, Starbucks and McDonalds?

I can't describe the beauty of this place.....breathtaking I suppose will have to do.  This place is on our list of places to return to someday when we can spend more time and see inside all the buildings and museums, and take a ride in the buggy around the "ring" as they call it  to stay at the Hotel Sacher Wien right across from Starbucks in the Square, and finally to see the Lipizzaner's show.  This place I will dream about.

Auf Wiedersehen

Thursday, October 29, 2009

............... Beautiful Vienna

Wow this place is spectacular....The architecture here is incredible. This is very different from Salzburg.  More like a Paris feeling than Gothic Salzburg.  It took us 7 long hours of driving from Stuttgart.  There is a concentration camp called Mauthausen that Gary wants to see and I want to see the Lipizzaners museum (the horses). However after seeing these buildings I am going to be researching this town tonight online.


Gertie the GPS wonder got us here today with no side tips...did I mention that she took us on a wild goose chase on the way home from Paris and we ended up stuck for 1/2 hour in between construction equipment and had to climb out of the road, literally and go through cow pastures to get out from behind barricades. That was not fun but it was day time and not raining so we just sat there and waited for the work to be done.  There comes a time when you can't trust these machines but my map following, although I think is excellent can't be done without a map, so we have to rely on Gertie.  Today she pulled through.  WE drove for 5 miles right through downtown Vienna in all it's cable car glory. 

We have the best hotel we have had yet, the Rathauspark and it rivals the States Best Westerns.  The fixtures in the bathroom are so new I've never seen them in magazines yet.  So clean and spacious, beds are still very close to the ground and a king bed is always in Europe 2 twins put together with separate bedding but hey clean and new. Now the shower stall is always only 2 feet by 2 feet in Europe but this one looks like a shower with nozzles that I can figure out.  One of them had this bar that looked like a ski tow from my old water skiing days...anyway this bathroom is new and clean and we appreciate it.  All the others were so small that Gary could shower, use the toilet and brush his teeth all at the same time....I'm not kidding.

Back to Vienna...........The walk from the parking lot garage (3 blocks maybe) took us right into the town hall having a Bite of Seattle or Taste of Tacoma, that was really interesting, tons of people, then to a Pub called Einsteins, as in Albert....I bet he was from here?  It was fantastic food, I love the Austrian food.  I had a wienerschnitzel that was heaven but the apple strudel with "vanilla" was the best.  The vanilla is a creme sauce that the strudel lays in and with a spoon you can get the whole flavor in one bite.  I am definitely going to make that at home.


The Pub was full of University of Austria students which is just around the corner and American music was playing, I felt like we were on a date night. So many people speak fluent English here, we were blown away by that.

I can't wait to see this place in the light, it is so full of history and art here we are looking forward to tomorrow where the fog is to burn off and the sun will come out to show us this beautiful city.

Looks like we are going to be headed home the first of the week so this will be our last little adventure in Europe.

Auf wiedersehen

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Why do I miss Paris?

We left Paris early in the a.m. and glad to not have traffic.  Annie says the French are "lazy" and so you can miss rush hour traffic if you leave before 8:00a.m.  She was right, by 7:30 we were on the road and breezed through town and the many different little highways that led to "our" main freeway out of town.

So many things about France I've learned:

Avoid at all cost while driving, a rest stop without a gas station....OMG don't do it!
No paper towels in restrooms...ever
Always take tissue with you wherever you go
Always take change for restrooms in case you have to pay
Do not expect a large cup of coffee to be over 6 oz....ever
Do invest in the best walking shoes you can find
Do not ever rent a car bigger than what you and your luggage will fit in or you will regret it
Always take a wash cloth..for some reason they do not believe in washcloths
Always and this is a must ,always pack light, this will keep you from feeling bogged down
I loved my Vera Bradley black purse that is a back pack, perfect for a camera and an umbrella

Expect to smell perfume on every woman and it is all wonderful
Expect to get great wine for 3 euros.....A BOTTLE
Expect to have an eclair like no where else in the world
Expect to have croissants that melt in your mouth
Expect to see the cutest, little pastry goodies you have ever seen, in every color
Expect to be blown away by the huge buildings that are grander than anything you've ever seen
Expect the countryside to be dotted with Chateaus in green pastures along the highway
Expect to be in love with Paris when leave

My husband was not a huge fan of France...has something to do with being a WW ll nut and thinks that we did so much for them and now they don't appreciate America. He was alright with me taking him to Paris but it was not high on his list of things to do.   After spending a week traveling around in our little (thank goodness) rental car from Northern Germany to Normandy and back, he has changed his mind about France.  He says he has never seen such beautiful countryside.  He has never seen a place with such awesome buildings (Paris) housing so much history.  Now he knows why I wanted to bring him here and show him this place.

My mom's cousin Dixie lives in Geneva, Switzerland and last year visiting her she told Becky and I that she would not allow us to leave without seeing Paris, so I thank her for for this experience, it was truly grand and only gets better every time.  I have to come back to do the flea markets... anyone want come with?

Monday, October 26, 2009

...................The Tour Eiffel

I learned today that the Eiffel Tower is referred to as "Tour Eiffel".  It is really incredible to turn a corner after getting off the metro and viol la.......Enormous, breathtaking, and just plain exciting to see.  Up in Seattle we have the Space Needle...maybe from growing up near Seattle and seeing it in the skyline everytime we head that direction you get used to it and it is no big deal anymore, but how can Parisians not be blown away every time they see that marvelous wonder. We didn't go up, the line was just as long as the Eiffel is tall.  Gary said he didn't need to, I was sort of fine with that.  There were kids playing music and foot tossing big balls under the Eiffel, and a little girl eating an ice cream cone that I had to get a picture of, she was just too cute in her sweater that matched the flowers.

Ok the Hotel Invalides is a huge beautiful palace like place with a giant dome that is gold on top.  It looks similar to the White House in shape.  This is where Napoleon is buried, well not buried but put in a tomb.  And what a tomb, really spectacular.  This place was built by King Louis XlV who wanted his wounded officers to have a place to heal and live during and after war.  There is also a church ( a mini Notre-Dame like) that is also breathtaking.  This place houses the biggest museum of war weapons in the world.  There are also big rooms for WWl and WWll and the museums for Charles deGaulle and Napoleon. Needless to say Gary was in heaven.  We saw more movies of actual footage of WWll which is of great interest to him.

Ok this is how I feel about war......I hate it.  I hate the fact that one man decides he needs more power/property/whatever and then the entire population of that country has to fight for what he wants.  I have been to a lot of war stuff on this vacation and several others.  It is fascinating to me that men love to hover over all this war stuff and say that it is "learning".  I know enough history now after being married to man who is crazy about it to say that I am not dumb in the matter.  In fact I wanted to know more about the French Revolution...maybe that had something to do with the whole Marie Antoinette situation (which I know a bit about, thank you).  But war in general makes my stomach have this ill feel in it. 

The entire 3 or so hours in there I was feeling sorry for the poor innocent people that had to live with war.  The soldiers are some one's  sons out there getting killed or wounded.  I was telling my daughter that after her first son is born in Feb or March she will know what I am talking about.  Having a son makes you view even those big football players on Sunday afternoon crunching each other as some mother's  little baby boy.

Tomorrow we leave here......I am sick with a very bad sore throat so I don't have the energy to ask for another day or two.  I had hoped to see some really cool flea markets and only this morning thought of asking my favorite bloggers if they had any ideas....can you believe this......Brooke Giannetti of in L.A. told me to ask Vicki of who lives in Provence if she knew....and viol la....she told me of her favorites.  Only problem was I didn't think of it sooner.  The place Vicki told me was where we had been yesterday, and there was no way I could get Gary to go back there as it is high up above Sac re Coeur area and that area did his knees in.  Well I will keep the information for next time???????  I know I will be back.  But can you believe how kind those women were that I don't even know to answer me back. What a marvelous thing blogging is.  Thank you Ladies