A couple of months ago, I had the privilege of traveling with my father to Europe. Seeing Europe with a veritable walking encyclopedia of history has its benefits! I often joke that my dad was my World Wide Web before Al Gore invented the internet. We figured the chances of the dollar improving, any time soon, against the Euro, were about as remote as our beginning to age backwards and get younger.
So, off we went.
Business class on american airlines is the perfect place for a gadget-lover like my dad.
American Airlines recently upgraded the amenity kits. No more cheap pouch-like sack. Improved socks! Burts Bees products. Bigger eye mask. Our long travel day, which began in the afternoon in Dallas, landed us early in the morning in Frankfurt, Germany. We had a couple of hours to kill before taking our connecting flight to Vienna, Austria.
We took the short flight from Frankfurt to Vienna on Niki Airlines. Even in my jet-lagged, sleep-deprived state, I thought it was odd that Niki’s logo/icon is the…housefly (huh?) and I found it amusing to see both English and German (Speißsackerl) on the barf bag. But we made it to Vienna, or Wien, as it is known in Europe, checked into the Hilton Vienna (free room - thank you very much Carey for the Hilton points!), and hit the ground running.
A reception room inside the original part of Vienna State Opera House, built in 1869. Much of the building is new, or relatively so, since Vienna was bombed fairly heavily during World War II. Apparently, the Vienesse were supportive of their native son, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi rule, so Churchill decided to give them a smack down that would serve as a reminder.
Box seats at the opera (Wiener Staatsoper), which houses 50-60 operas per year in around 200 performances. Both my dad and I recalled my grandmother, who died several years ago, saying she always wanted to go to the opera in Vienna. But I recalled her having gone, and my dad did not. A lesson in the importance of recording your history to pass down to others learned?
Could not find any signage for this sculpture. Figured it must be a monument to Bruno the gay Austrian fashion reporter. If that offends you, don’t watch the movie. Seriously.
I had stumbled upon a NYTimes article about a large beer garden called Schweizerhaus that has been open since 1766 in a park called Prater. Schweizerhaus fit to a T the type of experience i like to have while abroad. Locals. Authentic or “Typical” as they would say in Italy. No ugly Americans. Real. How real? Almost too real, since most of the tables are reserved, due to standing Well, how about starting off with a Budweiser Budvar, the original Budweiser. But this wasn’t your daddy’s Bud. A great Czech pilsner served in a cold frosty mug as cold as any Big O from Georges.
But the 400 (500?) people weren’t there JUST to taste great beer. They come for the schweinsstelze, a spit roasted pork shank that is best eaten with the skin on. Cracklins anyone? While reading the English menu, I was reminded how so often the translation doesn’t quite make things sound as good as it probably does in the native language. I just don’t think I have ever seen Rear knuckle of pork on menus here. As delicious as the Headcheese with onions and pumpkin seed oil or the Beef broth with liver dumpling sounded, we opted for something recognizable - potato salad and cole slaw.
The folks next to us ordered the “fresh white radish (Bierrettich) in spiral cut shape” which looked quite interesting. I later found out this radish is traditional beer garden fare.
All I can say is Holy Cholesterol! Boy howdy this was good! More to come from Austria soon. Chris