“But not cakes from Do & Co. If someone dropped a cake from Do & Co on the floor right now there’s be a hole in the fuselage and it would kill us all”—Elaine, discussing how dry the cakes at Do & Co in Vienna are, while we were flying from Brussels to Vienna this morning.
Went to Ghent today with Elaine - had lunch at this sweet pancake house. It was delicious. Went to Antwerp yesterday. Enjoying conversation w/ the Hargroves. Elaine’s sister went back to England today.
Early morning tomorrow…looking forward to Amanda arriving in Vienna! Hopefully she doesn’t have to wait too long.
Went to Brugges today w/ Elaine, then took a spontaneous trip to Ostende, on the Belgian coast. Got to stand on a pier and hear the cries of seagulls. Also had Belgian beer in Brugges. Overall, an excellent day. Tomorrow we are getting haircuts in Brussels and then doing some shopping. Elaine’s mom made one of my favorite Swiss dishes tonight for dinner :-)
On the train this morning the conductor spoke to Elaine in Dutch and to me in French. We found this funny.
“bringt sicherheitshalber eure gummistiefel mit nach brüssel. die gehsteige werden hier nicht geräumt und es liegt viel Schnee, der sich in Gatsch umwandeln wird, da die Temperatur wahrscheinlich für ein paar Tage auf plus 1 steigen wird.
Im prinzip müsst ihr aber wehr warme Kleidung mitbringen”—Elaine’s mom looks out for us. She is my Austrian mom.
I came home tonight to find two packages of Stroopwafels from the Netherlands on our kitchen table and a hand written note from Elaine. She had remembered me poking fun at Scott for not bringing any from his layover in Amsterdam. So she brought some back from Amsterdam herself today. Man, do I have it made or do I have it made?
Another incredible day by the way. Though absolutely frigid outside.
Recommendation: (This goes into the “as if Oberlaa couldn’t get any better” category). The warm orange and cinnamon Punsch at Oberlaa is to die for, and at 3,60 it’s rather steep but worth every penny. Especially because it’s homemade and you get to sit on your rump inside while people watching instead of shivering outside. Pass on the incessant upsell for the combo that comes with two slices of Christstollen, though. That stuff is just dry and nasty.
Recommendation 2: If you are in the market for anything in the Bereich of traditional Austrian clothing - but not ‘oopy’, as we say in our family, but instead fashionable, classy, and chic - go to Kettner behind Oberlaa - straight west of Neuer Markt. Everything they sell is gorgeous. Women’s department is downstairs, men is upstairs. You can even buy some traditional hunting gear - and a gun! - while you’re at it. (Because what else are you going to be doing in a three thousand dollar hand made alpine outfit besides go hunting?). I guess this goes into the “God I love this country” category. For more information about Kettner, visit their website: http://www.kettner.com/at/at/
Today was excellent. We went to high mass at the Augustinerkirche - can you believe it? And I didn’t get struck by lightning! We also hit up Cafe Griensteidl, the X-Mas Markt am Hof, the Freyung x-mas Markt, the Schoenbrunn palace X-Mas Markt, hot chocolate and warming up at my apartment, then the most incredible dinner of all time at Immer Voll, followed by wandering through the quaint lanes of the first district and ending up on Rathausplatz for a last hot beverage before heading back home this evening.
perfect perfect perfect. (although it rained, which kinda sucked…but when you’re having a good time you don’t notice it!)
Despite Todd having to take a healthy detour through London, which delayed his ultimate arrival in Vienna by about 7 hours, he got here. Scott got here on time - around 3:30 this afternoon - and I showed him to their apartment. Then we met Alice for dinner at the Salmbräu, had an excellent traditional Austrian meal, then Alice and I did the big ‘ta-da’ moment coming out of the escalator on Graben from the subway - which is always beautiful, but especially breathtaking at night with the lights for Christmas. We enjoyed a mulled wine at the Christmas market at the Freyung and then walked around the ring a bit before heading BACK out to the airport in Schwechat to pick up Todd.
I also took the liberty of going to Billa this morning and grabbing some treats for their apartment! Just a little Welcome to Austria :-)
Big day tomorrow, I’m sure. Maybe a little Naschmarkt, maybe a little Christmas marketing, maybe a little shopping, and I can guarantee there will be some good eats.
At some point this weekend Elaine turned to me and said, “When you post this on your blog or on Facebook, it can’t be called ‘Adam Goes Back to Vorarlberg’, but instead ‘Adam and Elaine’s Culinary Adventure in Vorarlberg’. And she definitely had a point.
It’s not that all we did was eat – it’s just that pretty much all that interests us is eating. And in this context drinking is included with eating. We split a huge Raclettebrot at the Feldkirch Christmas market as soon as we checked into our hotel – scalded, melted cheese scraped off a giant wheel and smeared over brown bread with paprika and onions on top – washing it down with Glühwein and Glühmost [mulled wine and an alcoholic hot apple cider]. We were joined by Mackenzie, the girl who succeeded me as the Native Speaker at the PH in Feldkirch. As we inhaled the cheesy Raclette goodness we discussed school and chatted about students. Two old students of mine even waved me down at the Christmas market and waved excitedly.
Got reservations for this adorable Gasthaus that sits on the second floor of a building on the end of the main square, and our table overlooked the entire Christmas market. I had some incredible potato-bacon soup and Käsespätzle, micro dumplings suspended in a gloppy matrix of melted local mountain cheese, with a glass of red wine (Zweigelt). The eating really never stopped, I’m telling you. The house-appetizer that night was lard on bread. Seriously.
Saturday, after showing Elaine my old apartment, we caught the train/bus up to Lech am Arlberg, where I had previously taken my mom this April. It’s one of the most well known ski resorts in the world, and the bus ride from the train station in Langen up to Lech is truly incredible. You go through these tunnels that are carved into the side of several mountains, switching back and forth as you go up, up, up. We had ourselves all bundled up and sat outside at a bar and had more mulled wine before turning in for lunch at the same place I had had lunch with my mom. A hearty salad in which potatoes and bacon drowned out most of the lettuce greens and a creamy potato/celery soup. To cap off the day we headed to the complete other side of the province – actually briefly leaving Austria – to Lindau, Germany on the Bodensee (Lake Constance)- to enjoy the Christmas market there. I may or may not have had two freshly grilled, pipping hot bratwursts on a hard roll with grainy, spicy mustard.
Sunday morning Elaine and I got up early, partook in the mildly disappointing breakfast spread at the hotel, and took off for the Bregenzerwald. Came across the Christmas market in Dornbirn, where Elaine bought some local cheese and I picked up some traditional Vorarlberg Riebel, a sort of re-fried corn based porridge. Even our souvenirs were food-related. Caught the bus into the Bregenzerwald (Bregenz forest), which is like going back in time. Most of the structures in the Wald are of wood, these magnificent two to three hundred year old homes, barns, and guest houses. On our way back to Feldkirch we stopped to have pizza in Dornbirn, where, in honor of my Nonna’s 80th birthday, I ordered their “Pizza della Nonna”. The crust had crunchy edges and a chewy base, topped with tomatoes, marinated red and orange peppers, and garlic. So tasty, especially when washed down with the local, and incredibly racist, “Mohren” beer. Their logo is tasteless, but the product is quite refreshing.
We finished up the weekend with a hot chocolate and rum at the Feldkirch Christmas market before boarding our 7 hour train ride back home. It was an excellent ending to an excellent weekend – and it inspired me to perk up Elaine’s day yesterday in my role as St. Nicholas, the day celebrated here in which children find presents from St Nick hiding in their shoes, by placing Julius Meinl hot chocolate mix and rum in her cowboy boots! That’s on the agenda tonight…
Elaine and I often joke that there are no more than 8 people in Vienna. Though census figures say otherwise, and supposedly 2.3 million people live here, the truth is that it feels almost like a small town. For example, I just ran into a student of mine at a drug store in Alice’s building, roughly 10 miles away from where I work.