We've spent the last couple days enjoying Wien and environs. We spent some time yesterday at the Naschmarkt - Vienna's largest open-air market - perusing the goods, produce and other items for sale. We bought some cheese filled olives, hummus and falafel from a vendor on the Naschmarkt, which were very oily. Inevitably, I wound up spilling olive oil all over my shorts, and had to launder them in a public toilet - much to Ania's amusement. We also got some great baklava, an enjoyed it with Viennese coffee near the Naschmarkt.
We walked a bit further, and Ania spied a Konditorei - a specialty bakery - with some very appealing looking treats. I had been raving about the dessert delights to be found in Vienna, and unfortunately our first attempt at an intense dessert fix a couple days before was a bit underwhelming. This was not, and even I (not having the sweet tooth that Ania does) was impressed. We had flavored cream filled "torten", and I'm not sure but Ania might have blacked-out for a few seconds in a sugar and chocolate induced coma ;-)
We walked by the famous Secession House and snapped a few pictures. The facade was done by Alfons Mucha, one of my favorites along with Gustav Klimt. We walked by the Stadtsoper, and the Sacher Cafe, home of the famous Sachertorte. Being Saturday afternoon, it was bulging at the seams with tourists and locals enjoying the elegance of Vienna's finest coffeshops. Ania wanted more time to stroll along the Graben and Kärtnetstraße, the big shopping streets in the city center. We bobbed in and out of shops - a window shoppers delight. It had grown cloudy, and was starting to spit a little rain - finally a taste of the Vienna weather I rememberd.
We continued our leisurely walk around the city's center and historical district, and meandered past horse-drawn carriages and tourists, until we found ourselves in Judenplatz - which is at the center of Vienna's Jewish Quarter. There is a holocaust monument there with the names of all the concentration camps, and the number of Polish names really stands out. Sobering reminders of the more recent history of this part of the world. The weather was a bit gloomy, and seemed appropriate for the melancohlic mood of the memorial.
We eventually returned to Kent's house, and found nobody home. He came in right on our heels from shopping, and Ania took a nap as he and I talked about photography and computers and other things. After a while we all three headed out to Salm Braü, another of Vienna's fine brewpubs, built into one of the palace walls of the Belvedere, where we'd seen lots of fine art (including Klimt's "Judith" and "Der Kuß") the day before.
The food and beer was really remarkable. We were treated to more rain, in typical Vienna style, and really really really tasty food. Salm also makes and exports "brewery in a box" setups, many of which can be seen in other brewpubs in Austria and even some places in the States. It was a nice evening, and we returned to Kent's place to wile away the rest of the evening with a couple more drinks and some story telling. My antics over the years provided plently of fuel for both Kent and Ania to discuss, with me humbly smiling and looking on. It was a pleasant way to spend a Saturday.
We were planning on going to Prague today, however we canceled our first night's accomodation there in favor of one more night here with Kent. He's been very hospitible, and has made us feel very much at home over the last week. Espeically having access to laundry and other amenities, as well as a large and comfortable bed to rest our tired walking feet, we both are grateful for his hospitality.
We will go to Prague tomorrow for just one night, and dodge the tourists in the old town there. I do want to see the Mucha museum there, and drink some good Czech beer. This last week in Vienna has been a great chance for me to rediscover a city I consider almost a second home, and a nice chance for me to introduce Ania to it. We've also had a more relaxed pace than our first 10 days on the road, which was really nice. After Prague, we'll be on a LONG train to Sopot, on the Baltic coast of Poland.