Drum roll please!
Metaphorical drum roll- I should be careful with what I write because if Christoph sees me requesting a drum roll he will have a classically trained percussionist at my door within minutes. That will make sense later if you read this whole post.
For the first time in “till the money runs out” history we are breaking the narrative and posting a blog post out of order. That’s right! The narration of our lives from Hamburg, to Prague, Granada and Barcelona is being paused so that we can spend some time talking about Vienna Austria.
Tom’s cousin Christoph, another amazing Krones man, let us know as soon as we landed in Europe that Vienna was waiting for us.
No freakin’ joke. Vienna Austria was seriously waiting with open, cake-filled and fancy architectured arms to embrace us. We have a sneaking suspicion that our Vienna hosts had read all of our past blogs before we came, studying them to ensure that they met and surpassed all of our prior hosts welcomes. Either that or they’re just that nice and we, cynical and travel-weary, are forever looking for the “catch.”
Let’s start at the beginning. Wait. Scratch that. In the spirit of this non-consecutive wild posting that is occurring let’s start at the end and then work our way back.
We are in our apartment in Vienna (or Wien as it is called here) sitting down over a glass of wine (or wein as it is called here) and reminiscing about our past week; Studiously avoiding the packing we need to do before the morning train to Munich tomorrow.
Ha! “Do you remember what your cousin said about that apartment where we went to the birthday party?” I laughingly asked Tom.
“You like this building? Because it’s older than your whole country” Tom says in a dead-on Christoph impersonation. We have just gotten back from our last night out in Vienna spent with Uncle Christian, Aunt Brigitte and Cousin Christoph at an incredible Viennese restaurant/wine tavern on the outskirts of the city.
Vienna is one of the only capitols in the world that grows wine within the city limits and the vast vineyards are dotted with Heurigen (wine taverns). These are the type of places that all of the chic farm to table restaurants in the States are trying to emulate. A type of place where the distance from the farm to the table can be quickly covered with fresh meat, vegetables and wine, and then covered again (table to farm) in a drunken stumble, just in case you enjoy too much of the above and need a place to quickly empty your stomach.
We sat inside of the warm wooden building set among vineyards and apple trees enjoying wine from the front yard and vegetables from the back. We shut the place down talking loudly in German and English (just the latter for me) of politics, music and family.
These brief interludes of “family time” that we have had, first in Peru, and then in Hamburg and now here in Vienna have gotten us thinking about how important it is to eventually settle down. Mostly so that we can try and be as wonderful hosts as all of ours have been!
Family just does things that you would never expect someone to do. Like a casual mention of how much you enjoy sausages and sauerkraut and the next thing you know your Aunt is spending 24 hours lovingly making you a feast of sauerkraut and an array of sausages. And it is just for you (that is us) because as it turns out, everyone we met here really does not like sauerkraut. However the fact that no one here likes it or eats it did not stop them from spending their days making it for us so that we could enjoy it. That’s family.
Back to the beginning, we arrived in Vienna a week ago thinking, “why did we want to leave Barcelona again??” Needless to say Barcelona was good. And Warm. But you will hear more about that in a couple weeks.
We did not yet realize that we left Barcelona for a very good reason. Our first night here Tom went out with Christoph and I stayed in bed (still recovering from my week-long Barcelona red wine fest). It was lucky I rested up because otherwise I may not have been up for the whirlwind “see, experience, and eat everything in Vienna-fest” that was to come. In the wise words of a famous Viennese citizen “don’t ask us where we have been, ask us where haven’t we been” (Christoph Krones 2011).
The next morning was a holiday, either celebrating the most influential Madonna album of all time or the most confusing pregnancy. Either way “Immaculate conception day” is a public holiday and the whole Krones clan was off of work and ready to meet up with us.
We met at a huge and beautiful church thus starting the reminders from Chris that the majority of buildings in Vienna are in fact, older than our whole country. We walked around with Tom’s Uncle Christian, Aunt Brigitte and Cousin Christoph just admiring the winter wonderland that is Vienna.
The entire city gets a bad case of the Christmas spirit this time of year. The most noticeable symptom is the beautiful lights, trees, ribbons, and even huge golden teacups adorning every available space.
After lunch we visited one of the most famous cafes in Vienna, which is basically the equivalent of visiting the most famous taco shop in San Diego. The beautiful and wedding-cake-looking café was apparently a favorite spot for Hitler and Stalin to meet and play a round of chess. Call me crazy but it’s hard to imagine those two sitting on elegant Victorian chairs and sipping frothy cappuccinos while eating delightful little cakes. Too weird.
The night ended in a way we were familiar with from Hamburg- Glew wine in a Christmas market. How amazing is it that your hot spiced wine comes in a legit ceramic mug instead of the janky little styrofoam cup it would totally come in if it was in the States!
Christoph spent the next week schlepping us all over, around, outside of and in Vienna, translating everything. Poor guy couldn’t even get a break at lunch when he had to translate all the menu items and descriptions, and then tell our waitress that we wanted the pork plate, but could we please have it with green salad instead of potato salad, and with a side of avocado. And could we have it medium rare? Nothing worse than being picky through a translator!
Some of the highlights of the week were a trip to the AMAZING natural history museum where I saw my first stuffed thylacine! An animal that became extinct in the 30’s and is sometimes called a Tasmanian tiger. RAD!!
Our first Sushi since leaving the States- oh salmon sashimi how I missed you!!
2 a.m. sausage stands. In Vienna instead of 2am burritos in a fluorescent light filled something-berto’s you get a sausage and then eat it on the steps of a marble church built 600 years ago covered in intricate scrollwork and incredible statues of saints, gods and other wonders that you admire while bratwurst grease and mustard pool together with beer and glew wine in your stomach.
That sausage is good, but was nothing compared to the aforementioned sausage and sauerkraut lunch we had at Christian and Brigitte’s house. As it turns out sauerkraut tastes even better when it’s cooked with love!
Other highlights were supporting our favorite Viennese football team, of which Christoph’s cat Garfield is also a big fan. I am also a big fan of Garfield. Like huge.
Going to Grandmas house. As in over the hills and through the woods to Grandmother’s house we go. Christoph’s grandma is like a grandma in a book who you know will always think you are wonderful and always want everyone to be happy. She reminded me of my grandma Welcie who had this wonderful knack for making everyone feel as if they were the most important person in the whole world!
Going out with Christoph’s amazing friends and marveling at the fact that at this point Chris was still going.
He has been spending every waking minute either at work or being a tour guide/host/ translator/magic genie with unlimited wishes. “You want Sushi?” poof – awesome sushi. “You want dry red wine?” you will get if I have to crush the grapes myself. “You’d like to examine the bones of ocean creatures that are basically mythical beasts?” No problem. “You’d like to pet a snow leopard?” Really Christoph can make anything happen.
Our last night in Vienna we met up with the whole family to drive to the outskirts of the city, which brings us back to the beginning, which is actually the end and is stuck right in the middle.
Seeing the world is amazing, but nothing beats the “coming home feeling” that family inspires.
Vienna looks like a freaking wedding cake. They take pretty and quaint to the next level.
Exxtreme Winter wonderland. Like “a wonderful life” on steroids. The veritable Arnold of goodwill and cheer.
Now we just have to come back to see what it’s like in summer, spring and fall. Who am I kidding? We will be back for Brigitte’s homemade sauerkraut.