Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Years on the Road

Two years ago, today, we left dear Missoula, after selling, donating or storing nearly everything we owned, and after an especially frantic day and night of final packing and storing. But we made the plane to San Francisco, and then, after a less than one day visit with Rebecca and Jeremy, we made the next plane, to Tokyo, and then another, to Beijing. And so our retirement travels had begun. Nearly 800 posts on this blog as well as many entries on our website chronicle these two years. It's interesting to reflect that no previous years of our lives have been so well chronicled.

Many other reflections come to mind. We have seen many sights, met many people, touched on five continents, endured a few minor difficulties, and had many interesting and edifying experiences. The reflection that most readily comes to mind is that, even after two years of this traveling routine, our mindset--both of us--is still in "vacation" mode. Particularly as September rolls around, both of us, former educators, think about going back to work or school. Every day we have to remind ourselves that we are not really in a hurry, that we can spend another day or week if we want, that this is our lifestyle. We do miss having a home, and particularly our family and friends, but we'll get back to those things soon enough.

Meanwhile, if there are not enough castles, museums, cathedrals, and standing stones to see, or food and drink to savor, there is always the quotidien even of travel. Currently we are at a nice-enough campground in Pest (as in Budapest), two tram stops from the Danube. We have enjoyed touring this great capital. The weather today is grey and cool and threatening rain. Our particular challenge this morning is finding tires for our campervan. It is a Sprinter, made by Mercedes, and the tires are Conti's, whose world headquarters is in Vienna. But we have not been able to find these tires anywhere in Austria or Hungary. We have a lead back in Vienna and may have to back-track 160 miles there to get the tires. We need them before heading out of the EU/Schengen countries, into Rumania, Bulgaria, and Turkey. But we're still having great fun and great experiences. Stay tuned for year #3.

Continental "VancoFourSeason" 245 75 R16, load range E,
120/116Q; got any?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Still More Vienna, 3

We had a good stay at Camping Wien; very helpful staff; 
out near the Wienerwald (aka Weenie World)

The gist here, I think, is that it will cost you
36 euros if you don't pick up your doggie's

Don't mind the gap: on selected Vienna subway cars, a little
ramp extends for baby carriages, wheeled luggage, etc.

Futbol fans; the Vienna Rapid plays in a stadium near our
subway station; costumery and paraphrenalia are similar
to American football fans

In the station by the opera is the Vienna Opera Toilets,
where, for 60 cents, you can answer Nature's call to the
strains of the Danube Waltz

Interior view

I spent too much of my youth and young adulthood reading
and puzzling over the writings of the Austrian philosopher
Ludwig Wittgenstein

And so had to see the Haus Wittgenstein at 18 Parkgasse;
after publishing the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus in
1923 or so, and figuring, modestly, he had solved all the
problems of philosophy, Wittgenstein designed this
(Bau-) Haus for his sister (with the architect Paul
Engelmann); the Wittgensteins were incredibly wealthy
Austrian industrialists; that's another several stories...it's
now the home of the Bulgarian Cultural Institute;
sic transit, Gloria....

I'm (still) taking suggestions for a caption...

Still More Vienna, 2

Vienna is where cafe society was born, and Hawelka's
was perhaps the most famous

I had a coffee, melange, and a strudel, and lamented
that the day of the smoke-filled cafe, writers and
artists, is now gone; they're all down at the Starbucks,
I was told, for the wifi

In 1989, we had the Sacher Torte at the Hotel Sacher

This time, we thought we'd try the other "authentic" source,
Demel; Vienna is the capital of the pastry world, they say, 

and Demel is the capital of pastry in Vienna, they say; 

One of Demel's showrooms

We had the little Sacher Torte that afternoon

Our subway passed by the Schloss Schoenbrunn, the
summer palace of the Hapsburgs; we had gone there
in 89 and so skipped it this time; too much Austrian
official yellow paint can be hard on the eyes

Still More Vienna

More sights from Vienna

Street scene in old town

Vienna's Rathaus, made up for the International Film

It faces the Hofburg Theatre, with a park and huge food
court in between the two

Food court

The Rathaus restaurant, where, in 1989, I had my first
cream of garlic soup; no longer on the menu...

Vienna plague monument

Midnight ride of Franz Josef I, Rathaus in background

The Hofburg, Austria's answer to Versailles (well,
technically, I guess that would be the Schoenbrunn, a few
miles out in the woodburbs); we went to the Hofburg in 89,
so skipped it this time

Mozart gets a nice statue, near the opera, but
he has to share this town with Haydn,
Beethoven, Gluck, Mahler, Schoenberg, all the
Strauss's, et al.

Vienna's Karlskirche

Not far from the Karlsplatz station is the Karlskirche, Vienna's Baroque church.
Karlskirche; the east side; note weird towers, modeled on
Trajan's column in Rome

Some heavy renovation going on in here

Also a mass


That's German for art history museum. The KHM is one of our favorite museums. It was one of the first purpose-built public museums, it's beautiful (the Hapsburgs spared no expense in building it), they collected art for 700 years, and the collection is much to our liking with all its Cranachs and Breughels and Arcimboldos and others.
Kunsthistorischemuseum, part of the MuseumsQuartier

Marie Theresa presiding over it all

Looking up into the dome, as everyone does upon entering
the building

Somebody killing a centaur

Cranach's "Judith"; compare Klimt's (earlier

Lots of painters around

View from our lunch table, looking down from the dome
area, 2nd floor

Elder Breughel's Tower of Babel; after a few weeks in
Poland, Czech Republic, and now Hungary, we're really
beginning to relate to the Babel thing; fortunately, so far,
enough people speak enough English...

Another large Breughel

Breughel's "Hunters in Snow," said to be the first European
painting to depict snow

And, Breughel's "Conversion of Paul" (fairly well buried in
the larger canvass)

Vicki really likes Arcimboldos; I think
they're scary

Caravaggio's "Virgin of the Rosary"; I
thought the "Ascension of Salvador and
Gala" (Dali; see posts from Spain) was
the first work of art to depict dirty feet, but
no, it was Caravaggio, 300 years earlier

Half the KHM is its classical collection, which nearly rivals
the British Museum; what's especially cool about the KHM
is that each room is designed and decorated in accordance
with its artifacts


Display of Roman busts

Collection of Etruscan helmets

Second-largest ancient cameo yet found

Sunday, August 29, 2010


One of the things one does in Vienna is journey out to the surrounding hills and vineyards to visit a heurigen, a wine garden right on the vineyards, to drink the new wine. The fashion began when the emperor exempted new wine from taxation. Such is the power to shape behavior and society through taxation. We took trams, subways, and buses out to Neustift am Walde.

Where a three-day street fair had been going on (we'd had
to detour around it on the way in to Vienna)

And found a table at this heurigen

The wine does not have to travel far

View from our table, which we shared over the course of
the evening with Austrians, Poles, others

Dinner; we split some of the pig and half of one of the
chickens, and some potato salad, and, of course, a few mugs
of the fresh white wine

Vicki, contented with the foregoing and now
apple strudel mit cream (note empty wine

Things really got lively when the old Austrian band showed

The street party continued as we left