4th March, Saturday
It was a rainy night on the way to Dublin in JP’s van. We met PT at the airport. In Vienna the sun was shining, though the wind and dust picked up as the day went on. After the Museumsquartier courtyard offered nothing of interest, we couldn’t get seats inside or outside the packed Palmenhaus so we dined instead at the Führich behind the Albertina. The Zwiebelrostbraten I had was a good lunch choice, in keeping with the waiter’s initial comment. Gute Wahl. Then the walking tour began.
We had to queue with the nations of the earth to get into the Café Central but the pit stop was met with approval before we found we couldn’t get up the steps below Ruprechtskirche. It’s a Baustelle, as the side of a building is being torn down. An empty, silent digger showed that work had been abandoned for the day. I just snapped PT zipping up after leaking in a nook therein. He got the idea from an Arab who seemed to appear out of nowhere or out of a brick wall. Thereafter we got to Ruprechtskirche via Rabensteig before heading down Fleischmarkt and cutting back to the cathedral via the large Jesuit church on Seipel Platz. Back at the Hotel Admiral, JP and I needed some sleep so it was two hours later before all three of us went to Charlie P’s on Währingerstrasse.
PT left by half past eleven but JP and I didn’t get back to the hotel until three in the morning, after a stop at a Würstelstand. The only nuisance had been a drunk young local lad tapping me with his elbow for an extended period in the pub. He was reeling at the counter so I only complained once. Bitte, bitte, Ellenbogen. Bitte!
5th March, Sunday
JP and I didn’t leave the hotel until two this afternoon. I’d made it down to breakfast after nine – in boots with no socks – just so I’d sleep on better with something in my stomach. I even brought a Semmel with ham and cheese back to the room and ate that at noon to enhance the effect.
PT was gone early and I put my phone on silent to minimise the impact of any texts. I’d already denied his request to come a-knocking, all for the cause of sleep. He probably got the same answer from JP. We caught up with him in Café Griensteidl where we had lunch (Fiakergulasch – I’ve eaten well). Then I brought them past the 1516 bar on the way out to the Oberes Belvedere.
The gallery has a “selfie copy” of Klimt’s The Kiss. It stands in a room overlooking the bare garden that slopes away, all the way back down to the lower palace. The original hangs in comparative darkness in the next room.
PT and I went in. JP went back down the hill to 1516, where we rejoined him after five. My favourite painting had been the sunny Der Naschmarkt in Wien (1894) by Carl Moll.
JP was “happy out” in the pub. I left them there around six. I had to get some money and freshen up at the hotel. A young Arab woman in a headscarf got some from an ATM on Kärtner Strasse and then just stood there yakking on her phone while the screen showed ads in anticipation of the next customer. Rolling my eyes at the gentleman behind me, I had to issue another Bitte or two, over her shoulder, before she moved away without even turning her head.
Back in 1516 by nine. PT didn’t stay out too long tonight either. Not for the first time JP mentioned that the early morning flight is just a bit too much. Oh we’ve managed well but it is a physical test, basically losing a night’s sleep to get here from Dublin. There were at least two Hungarian girls among the waitresses. JP was absent for the moment the dark little one smiled and did a vertical high kick at the nearby service end of the counter (“So fast nobody saw it,” she giggled). When I asked her in Hungarian if she was bored, she got back to work. The tall, curvy one had simply said Igen when confirming where she was from. Hungarians don’t expect foreigners to have a clue about their language. The barman was Irish, from Galway. There six years, he’s about to get married.
We ended up in Flanagan’s (a stone’s throw away) because JP was looking for a charger for his phone. He liked that place too. It was quiet, unsurprisingly, on a Sunday night. A lad with his back to me had a black and white baseball cap and for a minute or two I thought he was a Jew. The top of the cap was white and the black blended in with his dark hair. The optical illusion of a skull cap struck JP too, when I told him to take a look. We talked a bit to a barman from Coolock, in Dublin. He’s been in Vienna twelve years. Married a Croat.
My two companions seem to have been very impressed here – “a real melting pot” (JP) – but, as I said to them, I’m not doing the 07.10 again. Certainly not just after driving 200 km from the south coast. JP likened the effect to jet lag. From past experience I know I won’t know the impact of this trip until the aftermath but I did all I could in a couple of days. I’ll know how good it was when I recover from it.