Monday, June 22, 2009

And They’re Off!

We departed Egypt from Cairo’s new terminal three on Thursday morning and were left with no doubts as we boarded the plane that we both desperately needed a vacation. Although the first week of our European adventure was scheduled for work-related purposes (i.e., a conference), the rest won’t be.

Even from the air, we knew Austria would be different from our usual sand coloured existence. The windmill-spotted landscape was a sea of green beneath us. In some more forested areas, the ground looked like giant blocks of broccoli florets surrounded by rectangles of emerald fields. Sure, it sounds cheesily poetic but for people who have learned to discern shades of tan and brown, the sweetness of the raucous colours could not be denied.

The plane landed at Vienna’s International airport and we quickly set forth to make the most of our single day in this famed city. As our taxi took us to our hotel, we watched the city go by and enjoyed the almost seamless blend of new and old architechture.

At my mother’s urging, our first stop that day was the famed Sacher Hotel so I could have a slice of the chocolate cake they made famous. While Hubby sipped a glass of white wine with his apple strudel, I dug into my Sachertorte like a woman possessed. Of course, the hot chocolate with Sacher liqueur may have helped with that too. (For the purists out there, yes, I did try the Sachertorte down the street at Demel’s and have been forced to admit that it was indeed superior to the slice I ate at the hotel of the same name.)

Hubby and I spent most of Thursday wandering the tourist areas of Vienna, enjoying the busy pedestrian malls, and simply taking in the splendor of this old city. I ran through the sprinklers at Burggarten Park on our way to see the Mozart monument, and cooed at the beautiful horses at the Lipizzaner Museum. Due to the extravagant cost (and lack of love on Hubby’s part), we were unable to take a carriage ride through the city past famous sites like the Hofburg Palace although we did manage to wander around the Michael Wing.

During our walk though the ped-mall, we encountered everything from “robot guy” mimes and break-dancers to visiting high school bands. The latter were incredibly amused by the various street artists and were constantly getting in our way running and posing with every busker they could find. Thankfully, whenever the array of expensive shops and annoying tourists got to be too much, there were plenty of bars and cafés for us to duck into and enjoy a cold beer or cosmo.

Although currently undergoing a bit of a facelift, we were able to see St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which lies at the heart of this pedestrian mall. Despite the hoards of tourists wandering around and snapping photos, this Catholic church still celebrates mass daily and has managed to retain a feeling of religiousness (if that is the correct word) that similar tourist sites like Notre Dame have long since lost.

We enjoyed dinner that evening at a restaurant Hubby had previously discovered called Little Buddha, where we gorged ourselves on sake cocktails and obscene amounts of sushi. The latter was a real treat as we haven’t enjoyed sushi in ages and the offerings at Buddha were creatively wrought and tasty. Somewhere between the semi-finals of our usual wasabi eating contest and our fourth round of drinks, we came to the mutual decision that despite being stuffed, an extra plate of “caterpillar maki” was essential.

Later that night, and slightly tipsy, we walked back to our hotel that night, we both agreed that our Eurotrip was off to a fantastic start. Next stop: Budapest, Hungary!

30 comments:

Hit 40 said...

How fabulous!! You must be exhausted. The cake looked wonderful.

Jacki said...

Sigh....you are going to the exact places I would love to visit.

Little P said...

Wow - have a great time!!! I would love to go to Austria! Budapest and Hungary is very cool - be sure to go to a Turkish Bath while you are there! The Gellert Bath and Hotel is very nice (as is there restaurant).

Anonymous said...

Surely your mother's Sacher Torte is better--well last time it was made was way long ago!
Vienna is such a great walking city. Glad you liked it.
There was also a fabulous restaurant that served runny smelly cheeses from a trolley...
merthyrmum

Sandy said...

Sounds like a great trip. Your descriptions are wonderful. Austria is on my "to go" list and you are making me want to bump it up the list! Can't wait to read the rest of your vacation posts.

NicoleB said...

"windmill-spotted landscape" = Austria???

Sure that wasn't somewhere else?
I have not seen ONE windmill in Austria yet :)

"Sure, it sounds cheesily poetic but for people who have learned to discern shades of tan and brown, the sweetness of the raucous colours could not be denied."

Oh so true! I still remember the first sight of green and of rape fields when I drove through Germany last year after Kuwait. And the smell!

I LOVE Sacher cake!

I really have to go and visit Vienna, sigh....!

I'm so glad you enjoyed Vienna :)!

Corinne said...

I've been to Vienna twice and I love, love, love it. Last time was around '02 with the parental units, and they managed to score a hotel right off of St Stephensplatz (Stefansplatz?), between the plaza and the Spanish Riding School. Talk about a horse lover's dream come true! It's such a beautiful city, with so much to do.

I remember coming home (to Italy) from Qatar. After three months of tan and sand, the green in the uniforms, and even the green of the pines....in winter!...made everything look so lush. You never realize how incredible the colors green and blue are until you've been without them for a while.

the ungourmet said...

I love the treble cleft on the lawn.

Mmm. The chocolate cake looks amazing and don't even get me started on how much I love sushi and wasabi!

It looks so beautiful there. Glad you are enjoying the time there.

Amanda said...

I seem to recall St. Stephen's being under construction back when I was there in 99.

LadyFi said...

I feel full just reading about your wonderful visit!

Lydia said...

Oooh, terminal three! I wish I had been able to fly out of that. Although, with our luck, we'll probably get another chance sooner or later. But by that time (5-10 years) they'd have probably trashed the heck out of it and be building a "new" terminal 4. Have fun! If we get our pick, Austria may be our next place of residence. *fingers crossed*

Sturgmom said...

Sounds like a fabulous vacation! Can't eait to hear about the rest of it.

And you mean you don't get good sushi in Egypt?!?! ;)

Kathy B! said...

So much chocolate. I'm happy just thinking about it all : ) I'm so glad you decided not to take a break and to share your travels with us!

What a study in contrasts from Egypt to Austria!!

Brenda said...

I want to go to Vienna! I love hearing your foodie tours through the cities you visit. I was surprised to see you ate Sushi in Vienna. . . but that place looks amazing! Now I know where to go if I ever make it to Austria :)

Karin said...

Enjoyed catching up on all your posts and especially your Eurotrip! It's been a few years but we loved it too when we were there twice!! You are one lucky gal to be able to go along on business trips! Not everyone is so blessed.

Hi! I'm Grace said...

I love the first photo with the flowers forming the symbol of music note. :) Very beautiful!
I would love to travel any place of the country... I guess not everybody had that chance. Enjoy it and be safe always. :)

Jennifer said...

I cannot wait for the next installment!!! EEEE!

Bee and Rose said...

I feel that way when flying over the east coast in the US...living in the west (AZ) with all the brown, it's nice to see the green and other colors!

I want to go to Vienna just for that cake! My tummy actually growled! lol!

Roxane said...

A wasabi eating contest! Finally a contest I could win!

Betty said...

You are living my dream....
I`m totally jealous,I admit it. But love hearing/reading about your adventures.

About my blog, I`m pretty sure I won`t be able to "not" blog for too long. I`ll let you know when I do start up again! Thanks for your nice comment!

zelzee said...

How exciting!

I think the chocolate cake with hot chocolate and Sacher liqueur sounds fabulous!!!!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

Can't wait to hear of Hungary. And, I usually don't crave chocolate, but I want some cake right now! Have a great trip.

Jemma Ruby said...

I freaking love Vienna and between the beauty of the city and the combo of a proper pork schnitzil and sachertorte it is like dying and being in heaven!Did you go to the Hundertwasser house? That is pretty cool to see.

Three Prince Designs said...

Oh - that cake sounds so yummy!! The pics are just beautiful - what amazing journeys you have!

Shawna said...

Beautiful post! I've been to Austria, or so I'm told. I'd like to visit now that I'm older and can fully appreciate everything there is to see!

Wow, my travel fever makes me revving and ready to leave!

I hope one day I can find an occupation that enables me to travel. What is it that the two of you do, if you don't mind my asking?

Shawna's Study Abroad

Protege said...

Sounds like you are fully enjoying your trip.;) Vienna is a beautiful city, I was there some 20 years ago, perhaps it is time to re-visit.
Enjoy Budapest, I hope you will be able to make it to Prague as well, where I have return from recently.;))

GutsyWriter said...

I envy all your traveling, but you know me. The cake looks delicious. It brings back wonderful memories of when I visited Austria many years ago. Have a wonderful time.

Debbie said...

That is a great start! Wonderful photos and commentary.

Veggie Mom said...

Ella Numera Una is off on a European jaunt in a couple of days...maybe you'll cross paths! Have to say I'm pretty jealous. We don't get our vay-cay til mid-August.

BTW, my youngest just launched a photo blog, and I'm shamelessly trolling for traffic. Please visit my site to see what she's got going, and pay her a visit!

Melissa B. said...

OK, let's try that again. I posted the comment above from my SIL's account. That won't do, at all! So, if you stop by my place, you'll be able to share some insights with Ella Numera Dos on her newest adventure-this time in bloggyland!