Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Come With Me To Austria - Day 3

Is it only Saturday? I feel like we've been here a week already because we've seen and done so much!

This morning we got up and had bread, cheese, juice and eggs for breakfast. Achim did the honors of cooking the eggs for us.

We got ready and drove to Vienna City Center for a day of touring.

Before the official touring started though, we had the awesome experience of going to the local cheese monger. This experience was seriously one of my highlights of my whole trip! First of all, I love people! I love different people! So I love meeting different people! And this cheese monger was the best. Second of all you could smell that you were at the local cheese shop as soon as you were a few feet from the doorway! Stinky cheese... mmmmm... that's the best! Mwaaa! I've never seen so many wheels and wedges of cheese in one place!

As soon as we walked in, the owner immediately lit up to see Maria's face as she always goes there to get their cheese. (That's one of the cool things about Europe is all the little specialty shops—so cute.) Well, he seemed to get especially excited when Maria let him know that we were visiting from the U.S. He began to speak to us in his thickly accented Swiss-English and we were getting excited right along with him... well, at least I was. He got excited, I got excited. He soon started having Marc and I try his cheeses. Oh, that was so fun. Thick accents, strong cheese and I was in heaven! He kept giving us stronger and stronger cheese each time amazed that we actually liked it. So he decided to give us a taste of his most expensive British-style Blue cheese.

It was wheel of cheese wrapped perfectly in it's foil showing only the moldy blue top with it's chunks of blue sporadically sprinkled throughout. He sliced his knife easily through it so I knew immediately that it was a softer cheese than the ones he had sampled us previously. I was a little hesitant this time. After all I could see the fur from the mold and it just looked, well, hairy...

Marc took the first bite. So I took a bite of mine... and instantly had to spit it out. It was awful. Awful! I tasted like straight mold and did have the hairy texture to boot! Hack! Hack! Maria was laughing. The cheese monger was laughing. Marc looked confused.

I now know that I don't like hairy cheese.

After we purchased all our cheese that we needed for our meal that night we were off to find a parking spot. That was also quite an adventure. We wanted to park in the center of everything so Achim decided to just utilize this parking garage that he was unfamiliar with. We pulled up to a garage door... we were all a bit confused as we were expecting this to be like any other parking garage... this seemed like a private one. Achim pulled up and read the instructions and it instructed for the passengers to exit the vehicle and take any important belongings with us. Then Achim was instructed to pull in. Looking at the size of his car and size of this parking stall it didn't look like a good fit, but Achim trusted the signage and pulled in.

"SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAKKKKKKKKKKK!" went the tires as the squeezed into place between the markers. Then the garage door slammed closed! Marc, Maria and I were all looking at each other and then back at the door wondering what was going on. We heard a voice speaking in different languages quite loudly, "Get out! Get out now! Exit the vehicle immediately!" We saw Achim through  window as he hopped out looking a tad flustered then did what he needed to do then the robotic garage let him out of the door way to the side of the car.

We stood there, waiting to see what would happen to the car.

"BOOM! CRASH! CREAK!! BAM! BOOM! THUNK!" was all we could here behind a solid door. Not being able to see what was going on our imaginations ran wild with all the possibilities of what was happening to Achim's car. A trash compactor sounded most reasonable...

We hoped his car was safe, wherever it was, and we were off to do a little window shopping.

The shops there are different because it isn't all inside one large building. There are all these little shops and big shops, too, that have the living area above them and they are all tucked into these little tight streets where people are clumped together walking from place to place. And sometimes there will be a car that drives through all the people...

I'm telling you, if people did this in America, people would die. There's no way that driver's here would be that patient and polite as crowds of pedestrians and tourists wander about the cobblestone roadways. Not to even mention how these humongous busses get through these tiny streets with bicyclists on each side. Pretty impressive, I'll tell you that!

After some impressive window shopping we came to the Stephan's Cathedral!

That place was AH. MAY. ZING!!! Seriously! I will just let the pictures do the talking for this one.

see the top of my head on the left...

Once we were able to soak in the beauty of the inside we were able to take this tiny little elevator up to the top of the cathedral for some spectacular views of Vienna.

The faces of Marc

One of the many of Maria's faces

Because of all the tourists here there were a LOT of horse-drawn carriages out and about. I took this picture for Brother:

After the Cathedral we continued on through the shopping areas to get to our next destination and I spotted a mime. Hee hee! Just seemed to add to the whole Europe experience...

We stopped at this little park and town square area that were so cute and fun and I think we just needed a break from walking so we sat on the stairs as I took pictures just for fun.

I love to photograph people and I only had 3 subjects so they felt quite over-worked!

Marc was such a good sport... he even gave me a super-model-in-the-sun pose!

Achim was always happy to take over the camera so that Marc and I could have photos together

Everyone was getting tired of posing for my camera so I just decided to get pictures of our cool shoes.

This is the building we were resting in front of. I am pretty sure that every building in Austria is beautiful!
We finally decided to continue our tour.

We popped into this really cool cake shop and got a behind-the-scenes photo

We were ready for lunch and Achim was very excited to have us try the famous Schnitzel at the Figlmüller. It's the local secret and had quite the reviews, known world-wide (if you know who to talk to) as the best place for Schnitzel in Vienna.

Seriously... hee hee!

Here we are inside.

Do you see the plates in front of Achim and Marc? ... Those are schnitzel! They are huge! I couldn't even finish mine, and I'm a big eater. Schnitzel is meat pounded flat then breaded and fried. They are good, but I don't think I can eat that much of it. Also the potato salad what just that... potatoes with salad... different.

We needed to walk after all that we ate so we continued to meander through the cobbled streets.

This was my first sighting of a bunny for the Easter holiday... at least that's what I thought...
It was actually on display for a local art show that was going on and the rabbit is one of the icons to advertise the exhibit... interesting... But, hey, it's not often you see 4 guys carrying a 6 foot, pink bunny

This isn't a very good picture, but I think it's the only one I have.
There were men everywhere dressed like this to promote the opera to all the tourists.

Then we came to the Spanish Riding School where we would be viewing the Lippizaner horse show the next day. It's a beautiful building.

Achim, Maria and Marc at the bottom left

This is funny because while Achim was attempting to take our picture, the shy camera girl had to jump in for a full on photo bomb... I don't even know if you can call this a bomb...

Achim reminded me to make the "sign"

Just in front of the Spanish Riding School is a section of the original Roman walls and the remnants of the drainage system!

I'm telling ya, these horse-drawn carriages were everywhere.

I tried to get Marc to sit still for this photo but he refused to risk getting run over by a horse-drawn carriage...

My dad does blacksmithing, so I though a close-up of this iron work would be of interest to him.

We re-discovered the panoramic option on our iPhones and had fun with that one for the rest of the trip

If you zoom in on this one, you'll see how much fun Achim was having!

Then we went onto walk through the gardens where Beethoven used to play.

I took pictures on the way.

See those two guys in the front on the left? They were trying VERY hard to photobomb my pictures so I figured if they were trying that hard I should at least let them show up on my blog...
Some cool things we saw a lot of were street performers—singers, human statues, mimes... but, this guy was my favorite. I actually only got to see him for about 2 minutes as he gave up because of all the kids trying to "ruin" his artwork.

You know we are funny as children. Destroying things is such a joy.

Knocking over blocks. Drawing on walls. Walking over sidewalk chalk drawings. Popping gigantic rainbow bubbles.

It's just fun.

I don't really know why.

So, I can't blame the kids for having fun, but I really wanted to get some really awesome pictures of this art form. I guess you'll just have to enjoy what I was able to scrimp.

Another photo for Brother.
And now into the beautiful gardens.

Marc, Maria and Achim were all very patient as I went about the gardens capturing color to my heart's content.

Marc even snuck a shot of me getting a shot... not flattering by any means, but good for memories.

the top of this photo almost looks like a watercolor

City Center Building
This looks like a painting.
As we headed back to the car we were able to get some more views 
of Stephan's Cathedral with our iPhones

Finally we got back to the parking garage. We were a bit worried about what we would find when we got the car out from wherever in the world it went.

Achim put in his ticket and then the walls began to rumble and chains were clanking. It didn't sound good...

As we watched through a small side window we were able to see that it was a parking elevator.

It reminded me of a vending machine, only for cars.

With a few loud BANGS, CLANGS, and a couples of SHAKES, Achim's car was revealed to us all in one piece. It didn't go to the trash compactor as we had previously worried.

We all jumped in before the garage monster could close us into the elevator prison.

And, just as it had squeeeeeeaaaked in... it squeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaked out.

We laughed about that experience for the rest of the evening!

I have a video of it, but I can't get my iMovie to cooperate so I have given up and hope you just giggle along with my words.

Because of the heavy and ever-filling schnitzel we had, we opted not to do the cheese dish that night and Maria made us up a light soup with a side that was very different to me. It was sliced oranges with olive oil, salt and pepper and onions sprinkled over them... sounds strange but it really was good.

Then we stayed up late laughing at YouTube videos!

Just before dinner and all that, we were able to SKYPE with the kids and family. They were so happy! It was fun as they were so overjoyed to see us again. They told us all about the great time they've been having. Brother wasn't to keen on talking to us (because of pressure he feels) until he was able to settle down and realize that no one was pressuring him to talk to us.

I was so full of excitement and awe that I wanted to try to talk to everyone that had gathered. I can't wipe the grin off my face.

That night I also received these two pictures from Jessie and Joel who had the our kids for the Easter weekend.

This was after the Annual Benjamin Easter Egg Hunt.
Sister had gotten Sully for her prize at the hunt and LittleB decided to be Sully too.

Then Jessie said she came home and started drawing the monsters from Monsters Inc.
I love getting little updates from home.

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