Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Vienna in Spring

There are times when it's good to go with the flow, and other times it's better to have a plan. Today had both. To set the stage, I'll start with my arrival at the Vienna airport with a co-worker who had also been to Vienna several times. While she was waiting for her bags to appear on the luggage carousel, I bought a round-trip ticket from the CAT (Vienna City Airport Train) kiosk that included a 72 hour U-bahn ticket for 34 euro. That covers all my transportation requirements until I board the plane to head home. Shortly after I got my ticket, a CAT worker posted a sign on the kiosk saying that the CAT was no longer in service due to a technical issue and I'd have to take a replacement bus into town. Fortunately, my CAT ticket was honored, but my co-worker purchased her bus ticket for far less. That was having a plan, but deviating from it.

After the bus dropped us off at Schwedenplatz, I figured out which direction we needed to walk to get to my hotel. As it turns out, only then did my co-worker realize that we were not booked at the same hotel. That would count as not having a plan. But, through some cosmic irony, it also turned out that her reservation at the other hotel had been cancelled when a third member of our group cancelled his trip and somehow also her hotel reservation (they were staying at the same hotel). Ultimately, she ended up at the same hotel as me, but that totally counts as going with the flow, don't you think?

Anyways, today was a fairly long and productive day discussing various aspects of our project, ranging from design issues to scheduling to security constraints. A fourth member of our team faced several delays on his trip into town, and when we couldn't wait any longer for him to arrive, I stepped up and presented the brief to the deputy chief of mission (the person right beneath the ambassador) that my absent coworker was originally going to give. The day ended some time after 5pm, and I hopped on the U-bahn to catch up with a larger group headed out for dinner at 6pm. I wasn't sure where they were going, but I decided to go with the flow and see where I ended up. I think I made it back to the hotel around 5:50 pm, giving me just enough time to drop my stuff and turn back around to walk over to the designated meeting point.

Biergarten Zum Englischen Reiter: The English Rider Beergarden
The dinner party ended up being around 13 people, and we rode the U-bahn up to Praterstern, where we walked through the Prater amusement park to the Biergarten Zum Englischen Reiter because we couldn't get reservations at Schweizerhaus. But it it worked out well, as our restaurant had good food, for cheaper, and was less crowded/noisy. Most of my group ordered either the "Stelze (pig knuckle) for two" or the spare ribs. Both are really good, and I recommend getting the radler, too.

Anyone up for some lemonade beer and Pig Knuckle?
Three orders of Stelze for two (left) and spare ribs (right)
After dinner, we somehow managed to waddle our way back through the Prater towards the U-bahn, stopping to race go-carts at 3.50 euro per ride. After one session on the track, my right arm felt sore enough to fall off, which is weird because it was generally a "turn to the left" kind of track. Maybe that was due to all the collisions. Continuing our journey, we saw all sorts of carnival-style rides and activities, including some sort of black-lighted bumper cars blaring Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
Hey Labyrinth...
See Vienna in a gigantic ferris wheel: the Wiener Reisenrad
Notice the colored lights embedded in the ground for festive lighting.
At the U-bahn station, I saw a poster than I'm sure is some play on the word Schadenfreude. I'm not sure it's really a transliteration, but if you know what the word means, then it probably gives you an idea what the movie is about...but I haven't seen it, so I can't confirm.
"The Other Woman" translates to "Die Schadenfreundinnen"
After riding back to the hotel, one of my colleagues and I went around the corner to Cafe Sacher for some coffee and the world famous Sacher Torte. As it happens, the Vienna Opera was also having a performance that was being piped outside the opera house, which is directly across the street from us. So we got to enjoy a decadent treat while sitting in a sidewalk cafe listen to live opera on a beautiful night.

Yeah, my job does not suck. 
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