What I Don’t Like About Vienna … and What I Do Like

Everyone we’ve spoken to has asked what I don’t like.  So far there are only three things.  One is ordering in restaurants with our kids.  There just aren’t always choices that make them happy and we’re getting a lot of sudden outbursts: “I hate hotdogs” or “I hate pizza” but this is getting easier every day.  Last night, I gave in and made macaroni and cheese – they were very happy!!  Then we watched Ratatouille after ice-skating at the Rathaus (town hall).  The second is the toilets.  The system of a WC and a sink in a separate room is fine but in old buildings (such as my office), it means that there are often only 3-4 inches between the toilet and the door.  On the other side, there may only be a few inches between the door and the chair or hall or meeting etc.  So, while using the toilet, you are often only 4-6 inches total away from your friend or your coworker.  I never realized I was so prudish but …. And the last thing I really don’t like is the napkin system.  There are, as far as I can tell, no cloth napkins in the entire city (or perhaps we’re not eating at enough fancy restaurants).  Anyway, paper napkins are expensive and, if you ask for extra, they are given begrudgingly.  Worse still, pastries are served on top of the napkin.  You only get one little wimpy paper napkin and it comes pre-coated with chocolate and whipped cream.

What we love is much easier: the cake on top of the wimpy napkin, coffee served in a silver tray in a cafe full of upholstered chairs and chandeliers (even Bill has come to enjoy this), dogs in restaurants, ice paths linking ice skating rinks, skinny little red street trams, old buildings with fabulous trim work in all shades of yellow, educational kid’s programs in every museum, skiing events on TV (even Ashley has come to enjoy this), little pedestrian “mouse holes” enabling you to cut through giant socialist housing developments, school and office supplies – the pencils are especially neat, mustard in a tube, church bells, French pastries in the train station, statues walking down the outside walls of the modern art museum, the amazing evolution display in the natural history museum, super cool playground equipment …

And, we are awaiting spring when the coffee-drinking will spill out onto the street, the parks will turn green, and we can swim in the Danube.  Next week we travel to Spain via Bratislava (Ryan Air tickets are only about $30 each RT but you have to fly from Bratislava, about 1.5 hours by train) to practice Spanish.  Our German limps along.  We have only 2 nights of reservations in Spain and are looking forward to trying to travel with kids spontaneously – could be full of unexpected discoveries or could be full of disasters (or both).

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