|September 20, 1998|
|Trying to get back into habit of updating this website. This entry is based on my running notes to myself on my laptop during a trip to Vienna. It was meant for posting here but I never got around to it at the time. Also doing a little experimenting with format, seeing what it looks like with the text in a table.|
On the way to airport in taxi, bright sunny blue sky day...This is my fourth business trip
of the year so far this year... trips to Minneapolis, Richmond, London, and now Vienna...
Thoughts again about how how mind-numbing travel is, after just a short while in airports begin to loose sense of place and time, seem separated from real world... thinking of Asimov's novel, End of Eternity, the way the "Eternals" lived outside of regular time... Austrian Airlines Airbus A330 - This is a new plane... if it were an automobile it might be described as still having that "new car smell"... pleasant flight - flight magazine in German with some English translation - reasonable food (for airplane food) - LCD monitors in seat backs for movies, flight info, video games... monitors showing view during take-off and landing - very interesting... I liked being able to watch take-off, line of planes (15 - 20) ahead of us, taxiing to runway, seeing runway as we speed along and then airbourne... same on landing, had view ahead, into rising sun, then on approach to airport switched to looking down, fields and farms, clouds, then airport below, over runway, switch to forward view, rain, wet runway, hadn't realized was rainy weather here (later find out most of Europe having clouds/rain, floods in some areas)
Strange in airport... little immigration/customs control... no paperwork... present passport for stamping, get luggage, select nothing to declare exit... found duty free shop with cigars but did not see the kind Blake asked for... will have to look in town... get map & buy Vienna card from tourist info window, elevator down to train stop... about half hour train ride to Wien Mitte station... very tired & lagged... find McD's and get Austran version of egg mcmuffin and coffee... amusing to see English mixed in with German... and what can the Austrian version of Buffalo wings (mitt barbequesause) taste like? (No, I am not curious enough to actually try some) On and off light drizzle, find park, turn down Parkring, seveal blocks, pass Aeroflot, pass Marriott (too bad could not get reservation there, could have gathered more frequent sleeper points)... finally Radisson... maybe I'm getting good at figuring out maps and stuff and finding my way around in new places... check-in, up to room 648, unpack, set out to explore city, but raining and seems chilly so come back to room for sweatshirt...
Head vaguely in direction of St. Stephen's cathedral... checking out menus in restaurant windows... problem in understanding what is on menu, even in Chinese restaurants... sun comes out briefly, making me wonder if had been foolish to return to hotel for sweatshirt... but soon it clouds over again...find cathedral, very impressive, lots of horse-drawn carriages to carry tourists... begin looking for a music store, want to take care of getting a Rammstein CD (When I had asked if there was anything in particular that she would like me to bring back for her, my daughter asked me for a Rammstein CD, hoping that they might have one out in Europe that was not yet available in the states)... block after block... finally ask in clothing store and get directions to music store on Ganzagagasse... walk through Rudolfsplatz park... find music store, filled with hip hop, etc. Clerk there says not carry Rammstein, jokes I should beware what my kids listen to, gives directions to Virgin Megastore on Mariahilfer Strasse... wander off more blocks to U2 subway station, take subway several stops to Miraiahlferstrasse... find that, as expected, I am by museums...walk up hill per directions...
Light on and off rain now... up hill, lots of people out and about here... stop in store and buy disposable rezors because I had failed to pack a razor... see Virgin Megastore... big place... very crowded... difficult to find Rammstein at first, have to ask... discover that there are only two Rammstein CDs out -- the same ones available in the states -- Gillian has the one whose title begins with the letter "S" so I select the other one... as I pay for it (269 shillings) I calculated that this is quite a bit more expensive than buying it in Newberry Comics in R.I.... but at least she can say that her copy of this CD came from Austria... now would like to find a t-shirt for Jeremy, preferably one in German... Get a pastry to eat as I walk back down the hill...buy some postcards and stamps.... very tired and getting hungry... finally select an Argentine restaurant across from Opera... get a thick rib eye steak and a baked potato (and a beer)... The rain (and tired feet and painful left heel) make me decide to take the subway to Stadtpark... get a cinnamon bun to bring back to hotel... find subway, get on right train, get off at correct stop... cut across corner of park (very big restaurant there, maybe should try it sometime) and back to hotel...
Phone home... nobody home... leave answering machine message.... fall asleep.... wake up past midnight... now awake for hours, watch tv, read, then fall asleep again...
Still cool and rainy... woke up at seven.... tv surfed a bit while trying to wake up... Ally McBeal and Deep Space
Nine, etc. all very amusing in German.... Took shower and dressed... finally out into the cold and damp... more
like mid-October than mid-Sept.... took U2 subway back to Karlsplatz... got pastry and coffee, wandered around
across from opera while eating... then wandered down KarntnerStrasse a few blocks, through pedestrianized areas,
cobblestone pavement, sidewalk cafes, etc., then down a side streed to a McD's, got a Viennese version of McD
breakfast ("fuhlstaches"? something like that)... a roll and a sort of croissant with choice of marmelades and
a coffee... then got coffee to go and headed back to hotel, picking up another pastry in the subway station...
got panhandled twice on my way to train... back to hotel, drink coffee, eat bun, address postcards....
Set off again for an afternoon exploration of Vienna... this time wearing sweatshirt because of the cool temperature and (especially) the continuing light rain. Discovered that the McDonald's where I'd eaten breakfast was as close by foot as it had been via the subway... Found my way to a T.G.I.Friday's and decided to have lunch there -- even though I don't think I've ever eaten at one back home, I thought that even with a menu in German, I could figure out what I wanted to eat easily enough and also would have a better feel for comparative prices. Once seated inside I realized that the hostess had given me an English language menu, so it was easly to select -- house salad and a grilled chicken sandwich (which came with french fries) -- the salad & sandwich alone came to somewhere around 16 or 17 dollars -- add a draft beer, a cup of coffee and a small tip and the total was in the neighborhood of $25 -- just for lunch at T.G.I.Friday's -- it will be tough keeping the bean-counters happy while staying in this city!
Phoned home; Gillian answered so got to speak with her and then with Nancy. Had dinner fairly late on Sunday night, wandering around by Karlplatz and OpernRing, trying to find ATM machines I had seen on Saturday. Finally had dinner in same Argentine restaurant as on Saturday, then folowed directions given by waitress to find ATM machine on Kartner Strasse. Bought a pastry in Karplatz subway station to bring back to hotel for breakfast. Got phone call from Reinhard sometime after 11pm to say he'd arrived and we should meet at IBM at 8a.m.
Struggled awake. Glad I had picked up pastry at night because that was all I was able to find time to
eat for breakfast. Decided to take taxi to IBM so I could learn where it was, given that hotel desk
clerk had been vague about where it might be. It turns out to be fairly easy to find, just across the
canal from Swedenstrasse subway stop. Meet Reinhard in the lobby, then joined by Peter Kxxxx, project
management for Bxxxx Axxxxxx project. Find classroom, set things up. Get coffee on 12th floor, admire
view of Vienna from there... St. Stephens Cathedral roof and spires prominent among the rooftops of the
Having difficulty getting logged into Lotus Notes.. finally get a connection... access current mail... can't get to Internet. Later, try again and can't get to Notes.
Meet Reinhard at St. Stephens in the evening. Wander around the area between cathedral and the museum district, looking for interesting restaurant. Settle on an Italian restaurant near the cathedal area. Penne with tomato sauce and garlic, split half carafe of cianti. After dinner I wander down Karner Strasse, buy some hazelnuts from a stand at a corner restaurant, walk about eating the nuts. Reach Karlplatz subway station, pick up pastry again for breakfast. Weather continues mix of clouds and scattered light showers.
Getting more and more accustomed to Vienna and navigating my way through the city. Eat my pastry for
breakfast, then off to Stadpark station, take subway to Swedengasse. Lunch again in cafeteria. Unable
to get any connection with Notes.... believe my PCMCIA card may have gone bad. Move my Lotus ID to
Reinhard's laptop and access Notes that way. Have message from Alan regarding TM problems setting up
for next week's class; send him suggestion about doing install on the components.
Wander into corner conference room and look out window, notice that OPEC is IBM's neighbor and that the politzie patrolling in front of their building has an automatic rifle cradled in his arms. This is a bit disconcerting; if I worked here full time I would be concerned about possible bomb attack on OPEC by some of the wilder terrorist groups if they became angry because OPEC was supplying too much oil to the West or if the quota for some particular country they favored was not as high as they thought it should be, etc. (or for no particular reason at all other than to stir up terror and trouble).
Arrange to meet Reinhard for dinner, meeting at the cathedral. Go back to hotel and change, then take subway, change at Karlplatz to U1 line to Stephansplatz. Light scattered rain but extremely windy, very strong gusts. Meet Reinhard, select Chinese restaurant. At least half of the customers were oriental and were using chopsticks, but the waiter set our table with knives and forks... so I asked for chopsticks. (Yes, I do know how to use them, thank you.) Pick up pastry again on the way back to hotel. I am really getting to enjoy the ubiquitous availability of pastry in Vienna... and I am really going to have to start working out more vigorously when I get back home. Phone home but nobody seems to be there; leave message on answering machine.
Awoke around 2:30 a.m. with very bad sinus headache. Take decongestant/antihistamine and an ibuprofin.
Eat pastry. Drink lots of water. Channel surf through numerous German language programs, including
dubbed versions of various American programs. Try to read for a while. Finally turn lights out well
past 5:30 a.m. Sleep fitfully. Television wakes me as preprogrammed at 6:15 but lie in bed half awake
for almost an hour. Take more decongestant/antihistamine and another ibuprofin. Take subway to Karlplatz,
buy a pastry and change lines, getting off at Stephensplatz. Stop at McDonald's to get two coffees and
an egg McMuffin, then take subway to Swedenstrasse. Eat most of McMuffin. Get to IBM just in time for
start of class. Drink the coffees. Get a coffee from 12th floor during a break. Begin to feel somewhat
better in late morning and fully recovered by mid-afternoon.
It is after seven when we leave IBM and we agree to meet at the cathedral at 8:30. This night we select a German restaurant where we have a very tasty dish of slices of pork in garlic sauce with totatoes and onions and peppers, etc. plus roast potato. I still can't find the place where I had purchased the nuts on Monday night; or, rather, I think I've found the restaurant but the nut vendor isn't there. Once again pick up pastry at Karlplatz on the way back to the hotel. Phone home, speak with Nancy (and a sleepy Jeremy).
I just don't seem to sleep soundly when away from home. Actually, did not have sleeping problems most
nights during London visit, but this trip is more like usual in that I don't seem able to sleep soundly
during the entire night. Last night took book to bed just past 11:30, read a few pages and then dozed off,
waking about 12:30 long enough to put glasses on end table and turn out lights. Fell back asleep in a few
minutes but woke up shortly past five, checked watch for time (just to be sure I wasn't really oversleeping),
and then tried to return to sleep. Dozed off, but only very lightly, kept returning to surface, until
television went on at 6:05. Get up, eat pastry, take shower and get dressed. Took the subway to to
Swedenplatz and stopped in at the McDonald's there to pick up a couple cups of coffee. Why, you may ask,
am I drinking McD's coffee when Vienna has fine coffee... well, it's mostly for the volume, the amount of
beverage served. They drink tiny cups of coffee here, strong, very strong, espresso style coffee, but very
small portions. Two sizes: small and smaller. I need the volume of drinking a large cup of coffee... then
later, at coffee break times I can enjoy the local coffee.
Met Reinhard for dinner, chose another Italian restaurant. After eating, wandered around, walked over to the museum district, attempting unsuccessfully to find Miraiahlferstrasse shopping district in the dark and drizzle. Wandered through other shopping arcades, very bright and upscale -- although, of course, the shops were not open at night. Did manage to find the nut shop I'd been looking for. As usual, pick up pastry at shop in Karlplatz subway on my way back to my hotel.
Last day of class. Reinhard finishes his presentation before 1 pm (without taking a lunch break). After
the class leaves and we clean up the room, we share a late lunch in the IBM cafeteria. Reinhard plans on
perhaps visiting the huge Ferris wheel and then leaving for the airport; I plan on dropping my Thinkpad
off at my hotel and then wandering over to the Miraiahlferstrasse area for some shopping, trying to find
a souvenir for Jeremy, etc.
Friday afternoons seem to be when teenagers solicit funds for various charities, especially for the Clowns with Red Noses, a group that entertains children in hospitals, etc. Find Jeremy a t-shirt with various slogans and traffic signs, etc. on it. I think that they are probably somewhat risque, but shop clerks do not speak enough English to determine just how risque they might be. A customer speaks some English, but we can't seem to communicate clearly enough. Later on I see two teenage girls handing out leaflets for a rock radio station. I tell them there is no point to giving me a leaflet since I am catching a plane back home in the morning, but I would like to know where to find t-shirts -- advertising the radio station -- like they are wearing. They point me toward a department store on the opposite side of Miraiahlferstrasse, just a short way up the hill. There is a promotion for the radio station going on there. I introduce myself to one of the disk jockeys and learn that I can buy one of the shirts for only 80 shillings. Pick up a spoon for Blake. All I need now is the cigar Blake had requested, but if I don't find one here I can get one in the duty free area at the airport. Find a grocery store and pick up a pack of katzensnacks for Tiger and some candy. Back to the hotel to drop off my purchases.
Before going out for dinner, I complete 90% of my packing so it will be easy to leave in the morning, then walk down to Kartner Strasse. I purchase another bag of roast hazelnuts and wander about, munching on the nuts, watching the crowds. Kartner Strasse is not quite as crowded the nighttime scene in London, but then the weather here is not as pleasant as August was in London. Also, this is an older (and thus more affluent) crowd. Just as in London, all age groups are represented, but here the strollers are far more likely to be middle-aged rather than college-aged. There are musical groups throught the Kartner Strasse and Stephanspaltz area. Two men in formalwear are playing classical music in front of a bank on Kartner Strasse: cello and flute with recorded orchestral accompaniment. I contribute a twenty shilling note and sit on a bench to enjoy the music. It was heavenly, crisp autumn night, cosmopolitan city, beautiful music. Later, after finishing my bag of nuts, I find a combination grocery and souvenir shop and pick up a beanie baby type key chain for Donna and a small key chain with an 'N' on it for Nancy.
I return to the steak house where I'd had dinner on my first two nights in Vienna. I again order the rib steak and baked potato special, but this time I order a single pass through the self-serve salad bar. A tall beer... and then another one with my main course. I feel very nostalgic while passing through the Kartner Strasse subway station one last time on my way back to my hotel. This week has passed very quickly, but I want so much to be home with Nancy and Gillian and Jeremy.
Wake up. Shower. Finish packing. Check out. Walk back up Schubertring, cut through Stadtpark. Back at the
train station (Wien-Mitte) again. Can't figure out the automatic ticketing machine. How much is a ticket to
the airport and what buttons do I push? Just as I was beginning to think I was able to understand many of the
signs and posters I discover that I cannot decipher the instructions for purchasing a train ticket, can't even
figure out which stop I want. Finally go to real live human clerk to buy my ticket. Then can't figure out which
platform... end up on wrong train... have to go one station and then return... Ah, at last, on the right train...
interesting chat with a British academic type, in Vienna for some international science conference... at here I am
at the airport (Flughaven) again. Well, at least I now know the German for airport.
Pastry and espresso coffee. Find duty free cigar shop and pick up two Cuban cigars for Blake. Pick up a Dean Koontz paperback paying - ouch - a steep price. Board the plane on time but then sit on runway for more than two hours... unidentified luggage had to be removed, lost our place in line, etc., then had to return for refueling... finally take off... this is also an Airbus 330, but not as new or nice as the one that brought me to Vienna. That one was, I believe, Austrian Airline's brand new pride and joy, but this one really belongs to Delta and the flight attendants are a mix of Austrian Airlines and Delta Airlines personnel. Even if the plane lacks the LCD displays in the seatbacks, the food and service are still very Austrian.
We eventually reach JFK... then a rush to wait and wait and wait for luggage to be off-loaded and to come around the baggage carousel then rush through immigration/customs then rush to bus to go from terminal to terminal to terminal... then dash to American Eagle gate and check in, sweaty and breathing hard, but I made it to the Providence flight -- the next flight would not have landed in Rhode Island until 11:59pm. Bus to the plane, left front seat, right by the door... quck and easy flight, land early, off the plane and there's Nancy waving from a window in the terminal and let's go home!