Listening to Franz Ferdinand in Vienna

“Gruss Gott” as they say here, though I’m not sure anyone has spoken to me the entire time I have been here. Vienna is lovely but as David has been in meetings since we arrived it has been a very quiet day and a half for me. For those of you who may find it impossible, imagine if you will: Jay, quiet as a kirchemaus.

Our flights were good, if cramped; David slept quite a bit, lots more than I did. We got to Vienna (Wien) about 6:30 local time Wednesday, took a taxi to our hotel, and then had a nice snacky sort of dinner and bottle of wine at a restaurant one of our guidebooks recommended. After a brief tour of a couple of the nearby bars (just to mkae sure we were exhausted) we headed back to the hotel. We were both out like a light.

David got up early to head to his meetings (just a five-minute walk thanks to my excellent hotel-picking), and I couldn´t go back to sleep after he left. With my guidebook and my ten words of German I set out after an amazing breakfast at our hotel, which is quite nice and right on the Ring (marking the old city walls of historic central Wien). I was stunned to find the streets almost weirdly quiet… it was so nice to be in a peaceful urban setting. Then it got creepy–where was everyone? having enjoyed the silence quite enough, I pulled out David´s iPod (mine appears to be toast at the moment) and started listening to the eponymous debut album by Franz Ferdinand. We had downloaded it just for this ironic thrill. Where are the archdukes of yesteryear?

Anyway, I had just gotten to the really good song, the first single, when I arrived at MAK, the completely amazing decorative-arts museum. I spent about 4 hours inside, terribly glad I was alone… because nobody else would have geeked out on the centuries of art glass on display. From 15th-century Florentine martini glasses (by the look of them at least) to the 1880s Baccarat vases to the 1950s Costa art glass, I was enthralled. My glasswear fetish sated, I spent some disturbing time in the Otto Muehl exhibit before heading out. Oh, also, I completely adored the display of Beidermeier furniture curated by Jenny Holzer, complete with her trademark electronic captions at the top of the ornate Baroque hall. My only disappointment was the gift shop, which had no good postcards.

After (seriously) 4 hours there, I needed some food. So I visited the nearby Cafe Prückel, which was great. It was pushing 80 degrees and I sat in the sun with my goulasch und bier, getting really sleepy. David was planning to stop back by the hotel between 5 and 7 (it was like 3:30) so I thought I’d run back to the hotel for a nap. I woke up at 9:30! Apparently David’s boss arrived late and needed a recap of the day’s events before heading to a work dinner. I wasn’t hungry, and for some reason was convinced David would be back soon, so I drew a bath in the HUGE tub, read about giant squid in the New Yorker, and waited some more. (German MTV is really wierd, I learned.) Anyway, by the time 11:00 rolled around, I was hungry… David arrived just I was going to head out in search of food. He was tired and apologetic about missing me earlier, and in the combination of those two I was able to convince him to head out with me. Unfortunately, 11:00 is the witching hour for restuarants here–they’ll serve you drinks but not much else.

So against my better judgment, I ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant in Vienna. The Caipirinha was excellent, and the chicken burrito better than I had feared. With that, it was bedtime. David and I both zonked out–but not before mentioning that it had been a public holiday (Ascention Day, apparently), which explained the preternatural stillness of the city.

Today has indeed been much busier around town. David and I got up, checked out, stowed our bags, and had another huge breakfast. (Clearly, nobody here has heard of Atkins–it’s bread galore, with no complaints from me.) I headed out on foot to the Karlsplatz/Margareten district… which as it turns out is less pedestrian-friendly than the Ring. And kind of gross. So when I saw a stop for the “hop-on” tourist bus, I thought I’d wait for it. And wait I did. For like an hour. And this whole time, chartered tour busses from Germany, France, and Spain disgorged elderly Europeans in front of me. Choking in diesel fumes and stepped on by one too many ancient Deutchlanders, I was getting pissy and misanthropic. I finally gave up on the tour bus, which would have been a handy way to see the sites, and opted for public transport. I’m not actually sure I needed to bother with the €5 daypass, since nobody seems to actually use any form of payment onboard. But Now I’ve found my way to a livelier area and an really nice new internet cafe owned by a family of Turks. The Austrians really seem to dislike the Turks, by the looks of the slightly menacing (if impossible to interpret) election posters up everywhere, but they look like upstanding Austrians to me.

Anyway, I have about 5 more hours before I meet David back at the Hotel to head to the Sudbahnhof to catch the night train to Florence. I’m ready to get to a country where I speak the language (at least more than here) and ready to enjoy the with-my-husband part of the honeymoon. That said, the past couple of days have offered a much needed chance to decompress from the wedding craziness.

I’m hungry… if I can just find somewhere to get some wienerschnitzel I’ll be happy.