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David D. Levine
26 April 2012 @ 04:36 pm
Word count: 0 Step count: 13,753 + 14,091

Tues 4/24 - Venice-Bologna

Awake 6:00, and Kate had been up since 4. Packed up, ate, made little sandwiches of the breakfast rolls and the cheese we bought the other day, then paid up and checked out (3 euros per person per day Venice city tax must be paid in cash, because our host has to put it in the slot at City Hall every day in cash. "Boca de leone," I said (referring to the ancient Venetian tradition of dropping anonymous denouncements of fellow citizens in the mouth of a carved lion) and got a laugh.

Dragged our bags through rainy and increasingly crowded streets to the train station. We were way early for our 10:52 train and thought we might be in time for the 9:52, but alas, there is no 9:52, so we waited. Tried to use the bathroom, paid 1 euro to get in, found it full of women, scrambled out in terror; I think the men's was under construction and both sexes were using the same facility, but the signage didn't help at all.

Slept most of the way to Bologna. We took a cab to our hotel (it would have bene a 30 minute walk otherwise). Our room wasn't quite ready but we were offered cappuccino while we waited, which we accepted gladly. How civilized! After settling in (the room accessed via one of the most claustrophobic little elevators EVER), we headed out to get our bearings. Click for the rest of Tuesday, Wednesday, and photosCollapse )

 
 
David D. Levine
26 April 2012 @ 10:56 pm
Word count: 134 Step count: 12,880

Awakened by alarm at 7:00 after Very Strange Dreams. Washed up, packed up, mailed postcards, checked out, had breakfast (sausages replaced with some kind of yummy cheese-egg-polenta-pesto thing, plus scrambled eggs). I made a complete sentence, with a subjunctive verb and everything ("Vorrei un cappuco"), which I'm overly proud of though the server knew what I wanted before I said a word. Now I can forget Italian again for another few years.

Cab to airport, checked in for flight, through security, all painless. The Bologna airport was very recently renovated; the security lines were equipped with a return thingie for bins, like the ball return at a bowling alley. I had hoped to make a blog post at the airport, but though my phone had a strong signal from the airport's free-with-SMS-authentication wifi (amusingly, the network name was "Marconi," a local boy and the name of the airport), my computer only had a weak signal from a password-controlled airport network. I've never seen such a difference between the two devices; I wonder if the "Marconi" network is somehow limited to mobile devices. I could have blogged with my phone, I suppose, but there are limits to what I'm willing to do with that little keyboard. Spent the time going through my Bologna photos, anyway.

Took off on time and had a lovely flight with great views of Venice, the Alps, and Vienna from the plane. We had little sandwiches from Trzesniewski at the Vienna airport for lunch, then spent about an hour at the airport all told, getting bearings, calling the owner of the apartment we'd rented to arrange a rendezvous, and determining the best way to get there. We wound up buying a Vienna transit/discount card at the airport TI, then took a cab (saving 10% on the cab fare with the card).

As the cab entered the city, driving past huge ornate building after huge ornate building, I was inversely reminded of our Eastern Oregon trip last year when each town we visited was smaller than the one before. Venice has a lot of history, but it's really quite a small town even by comparison with Bologna, never mind mighty Vienna.

We waited at Cafe Wirr with free wifi, a cappucino, and a "Bio Krainer mit susser Zenf" (organic sausage with mustard, and a crusty roll) until the apartment owner's mother showed up to let us in. Then we had to look for a bank machine so we could pay the balance on the apartment in cash. Then the Guys came to replace the water heater, which just happens to have failed right before we arrived, and someone had to be here until they were finished. I could not get on to the apartment's wifi with the provided password, but an Ethernet cable to the router worked so I was able to make a blog post that way. Unfortunately I had to sit within two feet of the router to do so, and there's only one electrical outlet there so I couldn't have Internet and charge the laptop at the same time.

While I was posting, Kate was researching, planning, and plotting as she does. Eventually we decided to go out, have dinner, and hit the Kunsthistorisches Museum (open late on Thursdays), so we called the owner's mother to come and watch the Guys. His fiancee also showed up; I asked her about the wifi, also another key, and she said she'd look into it.

We headed out in search of food... looked at the nearby Schnitzelwirt but somehow it didn't appeal... wound up at Dots Experimental Sushi (Mariahilfer Strasse 103) where we had an expensive but very intriguing dinner of shrimp chips with an onion dipping sauce (unfortunately similar to Lipton French Onion Soup dip); mango salad; and three "experimental sushi" rolls: rainbow roll ("unbeschreiblich gut," said the menu), spicy duck roll, and green chicken roll. All three rolls were very good; I think the spicy duck was my favorite.

German is so much more comfortable than Italian even for me, and for Kate it's like slipping into a warm bath. But I'm appalled to find myself saying "grazie" (etc.) to Germans... I could barely remember Italian in Italy, but now it refuses to leave!

During dinner we used the restaurant's free wifi to download some Vienna-specific apps, including a transit app (qando) that told us how to get to the museum. The first thing we did when we got there was to see the Klimts: in honor of Gustav Klimt's 150th birthday, the museum has erected a scaffold so that you can climb up and get a good look at some wall murals he'd painted back in the 1890s, 12 meters above floor level. Then we wandered through the picture gallery, seeing lots of well-known favorites including a bunch of Breughels (particularly cool to see his Tower of Babel), several of Archimbolo's faces made of vegetables and such, and a whole room of Durers. There was far more than could be seen in an hour and a half, but we left satisfied.

The qando app, Vienna card, and Kate's memories of the Munich transit system got us home in good time. When we arrived we found our requested extra key, the correct wifi password, and a working water heater, yay.

Tomorrow, Schonbrunn Palace!

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