Sunday, December 20, 2009

First Stop, Vienna















As I try to catch up on our year, perhaps I will shoot for the 12 days of blogging...

November was a whirlwind. Early in the month, we made a trip back to the U.S., visiting both DC for work, friends, and KT's parents and Detroit for my family. We had a great time in both places, although we as usual ran out of time to see everyone and eat everywhere we wanted. We did finally make a trip to the new location of our favorite steakhouse, had a fun happy hour at local DC brewpub, and celebrated an early Thanksgiving at my brother's house. I also got to mow a lawn for the first time in more than 2 decades, helping out my father-in-law who is on crutches due to a broken foot.

But the U.S. was just a precursor for our European adventure, which started about a day after we got back from America. I had been asked to talk on a panel at a science communication conference in Vienna so KT decided to join me, and then she and our friend AW came up with the idea of going from Vienna to Budapest to Prague and finally Munich! Work prevented me from doing the whole trip but I made most of it (more blogs to follow?!)

But beautiful (and remarkably warm and sunny) Vienna was the starting point and our hotel turned out to be in a perfect location with the cutest, best Christmas market in the city just around the corner. We had amazing potato pancakes, smothered in a salty garlic sauce, from one of the stalls. We also were near 7SternBrau, a nice brew hall that makes some tasty brews. There we got our first taste of goulash, although it would be far from our last. Vienna was also full of beautiful shops and art galleries, many with great window displays. I liked the art gallery full of "birds"(right)

My panel talk went well and I found the other talks interesting, even if they were in German--my session was one of the few in English,so I had to wear headphones for translation. The most amusing talk was from the host of an incredibly popular German children's show called The Program with the Mouse. This educational show has been on since 1971, explaining difficult topics in easy ways. From the way the audience listened and laughed to the host, and peppered him with 30 minutes of questions, it was clear the show was Germany's version of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood or Captain Kangaroo.

So what of Vienna itself. Gorgeous and grand--much more so that its current status would suggest. But Vienna used to be at the heart of Europe so it has some of the most impressive buildings anywhere (Pictures at the top is the cathedral and part of the Imperial Palace). We had a lovely dinner with friends in the very chic restaurant in the Museum of Modern Art so Vienna isn't all old stuff either. Sadly, I had to go home, leaving KT and AW on their own for further adventures...

--JT


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