31 March 2010

Flat Stanley

Dear Eva,

Hello pen pal! I received your friend Flat Stanley in the mail last week. It was so nice to meet him and show him around my city. Any friend of Eva's is a friend of mine. Not only was Flat Stanley visiting us, but my friend Irish Suzanne was here too. She and Flat Stanley got along swimmingly and the three of us headed out into town to see the sites. And thus began the adventures of Flat Stanley from Albany, Irish Suzanne from Dublin and Plain ol' Kelly in Vienna. I hope you like the photos we took. If you want to see more detail on any of them just click the picture.

Our first stop was Stephansplatz (or St. Stephan's Square), the center of Vienna. Flat Stanley poses in front of Stephansdom (or St. Stephan's Church), a gothic cathedral built in 1359. My favorite part is the tiled roof.

From Stephansplatz we walked down a pedestrian only street (no cars!) called The Graben. The word Graben means ditch in German and this street used to be a long, deep, ditch dug around the Roman settlement here two thousand years ago, before the city of Vienna even existed! The Romans called their settlement Vindabona and the ditch was to keep out invaders and protect the people living there. The photo above of Flat Stanley is in front of Peterskirche (St. Peter's Church) which is on The Graben and was built in 1733.

Our next stop was The Winter Palace, also called The Hofburg. This is where a family called the Habsburgs lived and ruled Austria from for over 600 years! The Habsburgs were one of the oldest and most powerful empires in Europe up through World War I and their palace has lots of different buildings built by different emperors in different centuries. It's really big and impressive! Tons of history at this place. The palace now houses the President of Austria's office and a bunch of neat museums.

Here Irish Suzanne and Flat Stanley are in another area of The Hofburg. Flat Stanley got tired of walking so Irish Suzanne carried him on her shoulders for a while.

The Hofburg has lots of huge marble statues and fountains all over. Flat Stanley thought the faces on this one were funny.

I don't have a car here but that's no problem because Vienna has plenty of choices when it comes to public transportation. They have subways, regular trains, streetcar trolleys and buses. The subway is called the Ubahn and Flat Stanley quickly learned that there's usually one close by in Vienna. All you have to do is look for the big white U on a blue background and you've found yourself an Ubahn stop.

And here's Flat Stanley waiting with us for a streetcar. Strassenbahn Haltestelle means streetcar stop in German.

Irish Suzanne and Flat Stanley got along so well during our site seeing day that she gave him a little kiss on the cheek while we rode the strassenbahn to....

The Rathaus, which mans City Hall in German and has nothing to do with rats. I like the spires.

Vienna is famous for a lot of things. One of them is coffee houses. They are cozy and comfy and serve lots of kinds of coffees, teas & hot chocolates. Irish Suzanne, Flat Stanley and I took a break from our Vienna tour to enjoy one of my favorite coffee houses, called Café Hawelka. This place has been open since 1939 and was a favorite hang out of artists and writers for years. You can sit, relax, sip your coffee, chat or read for as long as you like in a Vienna café.

Vienna is also famous for being a center of classical music. Famous composers such as Beethoven, Strauss and Mozart lived in the city for years writing some of the most well known and beautiful classical music and operas. Here Flat Stanley and I pose in front of a Mozart statue. Sometimes I walk around Vienna listening to Mozart's music on my ipod and wonder what the city was like when he lived here in the 1780's.

I bet there were a lot of horse and carriages back then.

If you want to see a classical music concert you can find guys on the street dressed like Mozart selling tickets. Flat Stanley met one of them and learned about some famous composers.

We were getting a little tired at this point and Flat Stanley didn't have a tux so we all decided to skip a concert, save some money, and just do some more wandering. We did visit the Vienna Opera House and the Burg Theater (pictured above) to see some of the beautiful buildings where these concerts take place.

The three of us had a wonderful day. We were tired when we were done! Flat Stanley even took a little nap on the steps of the parliament building. We traveled on buses, subways and streetcars. We learned some German words and some Austrian history. We saw beautiful buildings, enjoyed a pretty spring day, learned about music and had a lot of laughs. Thanks Eva, for sending Flat Stanley over to visit. He is welcome to come back anytime.



27 March 2010

The Day of the Goat

While the guys experienced Coaching Lacrosstria Day Two (LacrAustria?), Kerry and I headed back into town to do more Vienna things. A long and lazy brunch at one of my favorite spots, Cafe Sperl.
We finished our food just as the piano player started tinkling the ivories. So we relaxed back into our corner booth, ordered up another round of coffees and some dessert and soaked up some more of the loveliness.

This was followed by much walking, popping into a church here or a nifty building there.

And at some point in the day there was a break for a cheese plate at the Palmenhaus Café in the Burggarten.

Then we toured the Imperial Apartments at The Hofburg (aka the winter palace.) First up came mounds and tons and piles of porcelain china services, silver service, elaborate gold centerpieces, royal cutlery....yadda yadda yadda. It was pretty cool, though a bit long.

Next came the Sisi rooms which give a peak into the life of Empress Elisabeth. Disillusioned wife of the second to last Habsburg emperor, she became a Princess Diana-like cult figure after her assassination by an Italian anarchist in 1898. It was pretty cool, though a bit long.

Last stop was the actual royal apartments, set up with furnishings and day-in-the-life type stuff. It was pretty cool, though a bit long (anyone sensing a pattern here?)

All in all a nice day. In the evening we sipped wine and waited for the guys at Pickwick's Pub, another of my favorite spots to relax in Vienna.

But by far the highlight of the day for both me and Kerry was the goat. Yeah, that's right, I said goat.

We met this little pygmy goat outside Peterskirche (St Peter's Church) just hanging around with his owner. The man in the leather duster and bowler is NOT the goat owner. His presence in this photo is just a bonus.

Kerry pets an Austrian goat!! Bet you didn't plan on doing THAT when you booked your trip?
I pet the goat and he jumped straight up three feet into the air then clattered across the pavement back to his friend in the bowler. I don't know if that means "I like you" in goat-speak but it sure was funny.

Anyone that knows me knows that I've got a thing for goats. The imaginary farm in my head is teeming with them (and micropigs) It's where I go when I need a mental break. So, ya know, running into a goat in the middle of the city was pretty cool.

Then we saw him again like two hours later in another part of the city!! Oh happy day! He was clacketting around on the cobblestones, following his owner. No leash necessary for this little fella. I swear, Kerry and I were tempted to just keep stalking him and discover what other goat adventures he got up to, but we had to go meet our boys.

And that was Sunday. Never mind the history, the culture, the cuisine, the coffee, the art and architecture. It was the Day of the Goat.


25 March 2010

The Florida Delegation

Last week we had a visiting crew of coaches +1 from our old Florida stomping grounds. Frankie, Ralph, Kirk & Clayton will be assisting The Hub in his coaching duties when Austria lacrosse competes in the world cup at Manchester this July. The fellas arranged this trip in order to have a training camp for the weekend, develop their coaching strategy and get to know their team better.

Overall the plan was to help Chris prepare this great group of Austrian guys to kick some ass this summer. Clayton brought wife Kerry over for the trip to help me have fun and not feel left out. And thus the 6 members of Clayto Potato & the Tots began their travels...

Sadly, Coach Frankie was informed by Delta airlines that there'd been a snafu with his frequent-flyer-mile purchased ticket and he'd have to cough up $3,500 if he wanted to fly that day. Even more sadly for us all, Frankie doesn't have a tree that grows money and he had to give up on this trip. Booo Delta!! You'll all be relieved to hear that Frankie is working out the hiccup and planning another coaching trip over soon.

Here's a photo of Frankie from his last Vienna trip. We carried this photo around with us all weekend and occasionally ordered it a large stein of beer so we wouldn't miss him so much.

So early Friday morning found Clayto-Potato and the Tots (-1) arriving at the Vienna airport after an arduous journey. They were all in good spirits and ready to roll.

Quick stop home to drop the bags and crack open the first beer. Chris and I then got everybody out of the house and proceeded to drag them all over creation.

First up, lunch at the Naschmarkt. It was here that everyone got a taste of Viennese coffee, pay toilets, Turkish influences on a menu and Austrians' penchant for smoking indoors. Some things went over better than others.

After lunch? Walking, walking and more walking. We marched this crowd through some of Vienna's beautiful sites. Past the opera, around the magnificent Ring Road, up the main pedestrian shopping streets, through Stephansplatz into the cathedral, over to the winter palace - The Hofburg - and all through the grounds there. (Anybody else humming "Over the river and through the woods" right now?)

All the while, being careful to maintain everybody's beer to caffeine ratio with intermittent stops at cafés and coffee houses. Here Clayton demonstrates the proper Austrian technique to rid your beer of excess foam.

Inexplicably, at the Museums Quartier there is a bar in the shape of a large colon, called...what else? The Rectum Bar. With a larger than life rectum on it, naturally. They actually sell drinks out of the sidewall of the colon, about two thirds of the way to the hole. Kirk demonstrates our appreciation of the subtle artistic message behind this installation (!?!?!)

Though they found it hard to stay focused sometimes, these guys were total troopers all day. Popping in and out of buildings, marveling at Vienna's pretty architecture and soaking up the sunshine. Nobody got cranky. Not even once! Not even for a minute!!

Kirk eyes didn't stop twinkling all day long. Not even when we made him eat mustard off his own shirt.

After some more walking and neck craning and beauty marveling we brought our tough little band of tired tourists to our final destination...

Gary & Inga's!! Yay!!
Walking into Gasthaus Franceschi is always a happy moment for Chris and I.

Bringing along some of our favorite people upped the ante. Having them love it as much as we do was the perfect topper to a great day.

Everybody was a little loopy from lack of sleep...

...a little punchy from the beer...

...and a little silly just from being all together in a foreign place for the purpose of lacrosse.

Kirk's eyes twinkled...

....Inga taught us a song in German. Something about water is for washing and not for drinking so we should all drink beer. We got the message.

Clayton demonstrates the proper Bostonian method of holding a beer stein.

The beer was flowing, the wurst was wursting - what a combination! The whole day and night flowed together to form the perfect storm of Austrian fun. And this was only day one!! More posts to follow...


14 March 2010

Goldilocks & the Three Smokey Bears

(A Slow News Week)

I discovered a hidden chamber in our apartment. A hidden chamber full of ancient artifacts.

Okay, I'll admit I may be over dramatizing. It's not quite as Indiana Jones as it sounds. Sadly I do not live inside a Harry Potter novel. There's no lion, no witch and no wardrobe to be found here. And I have yet to see the inside of John Malkovich's head.

My side of our bedroom has a small nightstand and a thin, oblong dresser with six drawers that are so shallow as to be almost useless. Nightstand and dresser are joined, into an L shape, by a corner connecting bit. A squarish piece of surface with the same fake wood-grained top, and an extra leg at the back, giving the L more stability.

If I gave the thing any thought at all I suppose I assumed the connecting bit's purpose was simply to make two small pieces of furniture into one larger, unwieldy one. To take two versatile and easily managed parts and connect them so as to reduce the number of ways they might function in a room to exactly one. Generally speaking I am not a fan of L-shaped pieces of furniture.

Also I thought maybe the connecting bit's job was to hold a TV, since that's what was on it when we moved in. The TV's long gone and aside from an occasional dusting I never really gave the corner bit a second glance. Until recently.

Turns out the top of it is actually a lid. And beneath that lid is a compartment maybe twice the size of a generous bread box. And in that compartment I found...

...this well worn treasure...

...this classically handsome fella (my favorite)....

...and this guy who is so clearly deranged that he makes me shudder and laugh in equal measure.

I've let these three out for a little air. Gave the secret chamber a thorough scrubbing and deposited all my unruly winter accessories into it. I'm delighted to have all scarves, hats and gloves rounded up in one place.

As for the three fellas, they've been kicking around the apartment all week, their fate as yet undecided. They carry a faint odor of stale smoke about them.

So, you know, maybe it's not "newsworthy," but that's all I got for you people. A secret compartment, three weird stuffed bears and a new home for some of my accessories.

What can I say? I am a simple girl easily excited by the idea that her tiny apartment still has secrets to reveal after six months. Wonder what else I might find.


11 March 2010


Sunday.....no work.....no practice. Just me and the Mrs.

We headed into the city center via underground...destination lazy late breakfast.

That is Breakfast in the Viennese manner.

Ladies & Gentlemen........Cafe' Sperl

There are newspapers to read, coffees & cakes...and a guy playing a piano at the back of the room.

Oh here comes our coffee.

Even at the normal run-of-the-mill places in Vienna, coffee is an event.

This is the kind of place I could stay all day long.

We started with bread.

and then had some Ham & Eggs.

Can't imagine a better start to a relaxing Sunday.

Next stop.....the Museum of Art History. Annual passes ($35) encourage you to stop by the museum whenever you are in the area. You can't help but enjoy yourself in this sort of environment, especially knowing that each visit is saving you money.

You don't have to do the whole museum....just pick a wing and hang out.

Or...have coffee in the cafe'.

Kelly and I wandered a bit in the collection of portraits...or as Kelly calls them "baseball cards"

The same wing also houses the coin collection, including the 100kg Gold Canadian Coin.

Its value? 1 miiiiiiiiillllliooooonnn dollars!

We spent a few hours just hanging around and strolling through the picture galleries.

Its just a nice place to be.

Kelly prefers the dark, dreary work of the Dutch masters....I'm partial to the bright colors of the Spanish & Italians.

A great way to spend an afternoon....you even get to learn a thing or two.

Afterwards, we wandered into the old Spittelberg neighborhood looking for a Thai restaurant recommended by some friends. We eventually found it, but as it was Sunday, it was closed.

We pressed on and almost ate marzipan for lunch.

...but convinced ourselves to make it to another favorite eatery.

Maschu Maschu...an Israeli joint that advertises "The Best Falafel in Town"

We hadn't been there since Mom visited....and it was wonderful.

3.80 for a yummy Falafel Pita......mmmmmmm

and a groovy atmosphere.

Next stop....the English Cinema on Mariahilferstrasse to see Alice in Wonderland 3D.

The place was absolutely mobbed, so we decided to go cool our heels at our favorite pub and see the 6:45 movie.

We got to Gary & Inge's just in time to watch the Rapid soccer match...and Gary with his giant remote control.

As it usually happens at Gary & Inge's, we enjoyed ourselves immensely and stayed longer than expected....so we stumbled out the door en route to the Cinema for the 8:45 show.

It was mobbed again!

So we saw this movie.

Kevin Spacey, George Clooney, Ewan McGregor, AND Jeff Bridges.

Once again, a star studded cast and a mediocre result. It had its moments but overall we gave it a C.

After the movie, we made our way home...exhausted, but happy.....another great Sunday in Vienna.