Sometimes, the best breaks of all are those where you do very little at all. Vienna is a wonderful city with a fantastic history and heritage, but I've just spent a very restful few days pottering about doing nothing very much in the company of a delightful Viennese family.
As well as wandering about, it's true that we did go to the Tutankhamun exhibition and the Haus des Meeres (a saltwater aquarium in the amazing setting of an old flak tower (one of several) that the Nazis built in the middle of Vienna).
I'm sure that both are wonderful attractions in their own right, but somehow seeing them through the eyes of a ten year old girl and an eight year old boy made them both that much more interesting. It was also kind of nice to be in the company of someone who understands that every set of stairs we come across in the course of our wanderings is something that should not simply be seen as a means of ascent or descent (as C. - bless her - tends to see them), but rather sees them for what they really are: an opportunity for a race.
It was a nice couple of days. I have eaten cake, schnitzel, chocolate, soup made from wild garlic freshly picked from the Vienna woods and goulash. I have drunk several local beers, some local wine and a drop or two of Talisker. I introduced an Austrian who had barely heard of the game to the full glory of the Six Nations (he loved it, he tells me) and also to the Manic Street Preachers. I also went to a jazz club and watched some improvisational jazz inspired by German philosophy and modern protest politics.... but more on Gilad Atzmon and the Oriental House Ensemble tomorrow, I think.
We also came home to a nice note from the nice Cat Patrol people who have been popping round to look after the cat whilst we've been away:
"Minou has been a joy to look after. She has been here every morning and evening and has enjoyed her treats. Hope you had a great time."
A visit to the LB/Hen household reveals that they leave similar notes for everyone... but I do like to think that Minou may have another fan....
Bloody hell though. Easyjet aren't much fun though, are they? Would it kill them to print seat numbers on the tickets? Would it be too much to expect my fellow passengers not to push and shove?
Still, in addition to the usual pile of Viennese chocolate, C. has brought back some new recipes, a guglhupf mould, some ground poppy seeds (for cake) and some sweet paprika (for goulash). That sounds promising, eh?
A good break with some good friends.
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