Venice Day 8

Woke to another blue sky day, so decided to spend our time wandering around, again, and going down to the gardens at the bottom of Venice.  It is a fair walk and we took our time, getting lost and then finding our easy again.  We followed the canal down to the gardens, found a street of bars and had a small reviver of processo.

We then proceeded to get really lost around the Arsenele and go around in quite a few circles ending up in the same place we were about an hour before, but the beauty of Venice is that there is always canals to stop you getting totally lost!

Venice day 6

As we had been to Venice for Guy’s 40th we didn’t have any sightseeing to do here, which was probably just as well as we’re were museumed out! 

Venice is all about getting lost, finding a great bar, having a glass of prosecco and enjoying chiccetti which is similar to tapas, which suits us perfectly. We had no intention of starting to drink early however when we came across one of the bars that had the best cicchetti last time we couldn’t resist. In we went for prosecco, sardines with onions and sultanas, bacalao (salt cod) cream and also bacalao venitian style all on seperate bruchetta. Admittedly it was early, 11.30 BUT our excuse was that the place was full of locals doing the same, old blokes gossiping in the corner, nona’s on their way back from the market stopping for a glass of vino and nibble, young Italian men drinking prosecco as if it was the most normal thing in the world, which here it is. I can’t imagine English men doing the same!

Suitably refreshed we started more wandering and prosecco crawling, this was somewhat tempered by the fact that about 50% of the bars we remembered from last time were closed as it is off season in Venice and so quite a few bars take 2 weeks off before the Venice carnival starts at the end of January.

It was around this time that we started to notice the fashion sense of the locals,  with a lot of fur coats on show, quite a few did not look fake, and an amazing amount of leather being worn, with the prize for this going to one more mature lady who was decked out from head to toe in purple leather,  jacket, trousers and shoes!  I felt very under dressed!

Vienna to Venice day 5

So one last day in Vienna and we were having a lie in when a knock at our flat door. We decided not to ignore it and opened it to a couple of workman which garbled at us in excellent Austrian which obviously meant nothing to me. On doing the usual ‘Sprechen se engleesh?’ he answered with perfect English to explain the owner of the flat had asked him and his mate to pop round and fix a new thermostat and put some silican in the kitchen! I mean, what english workman woukd have that vocabulary in another language just waiting to be asked! We were slightly suprised but let them in and they proceeded to get on with the job in a typically thorough manner,  as you would expect. Although when he asked if we had any electrical tape in the flat we did have to as it that no, we didnt, we never thought to bring any with us, travelling in trains through Europe.

Duties done we then had coffee and finally were off to the Film Museum which is the only one Guy had expressed an interest in, it wasn’t a museum at all, it showed stuff in Austrian at 6pm and 9pm every day, which was no good to us as we have already explained our Austrian is somewhat lacking and we had a train to catch this evening.

Instead Guy got coffee out of a tin and cake to satisfy him, somewhat.

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We then did a bit of clothes shopping around Vienna before heading off to the train station for our 9.30pm train to Venice.  However being savvy travellers we had checked what our overnight expensive tickets gave us and it was unlimited snacks and wine from the first class lounge in the station. This commenced at 6.30, we arrived arrived 6.45 so as to not look to eager, and proceeded to make the most of the free wine, snacks and wifi, love travelling by train.

Managed to catch the train and low and behold there was more free wine there as well! Did I mention I loved travelling by train?  This booth was much more comfortable than the last bone shaker, with more room, and less shaking. Feeling suitably drunk we had a decent nights rest!

Vienna Day 4

So more museums art and drinking! Life is tough!
Today’s museum was the Belvedere, the summer palace of some filthy rich aristocracy of the Hasberg empire. It is a nice little place

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The main exhibition was Klimt,  which was absolutely amazing and his talent for detail in portraits is stunning with the other slightly decorative parts around during the outside being really different, contrasting and fab!

Then we needed more Wurst to keep us going,  you never can have too much meat in this city and after Wurst you have to have Sacher Torte along with coffee and sit down.

Fully rested we were off home for cheese,  ham and wine, although not before a couple of wines in a lovely wine bar filled with smoke, ugh!

Vienna Day 3

Last day of culture,  cake and Wurst which is probably just as well for our bodies.

We spent an inordinately long tine to work out the tram system, meanwhile Guy had a Wurst. We got to the Belvedere museum which had loads of Klimt in it and were duly impressed.  The building was the usual massive regal palace which is now full of Klimt and his contemporaries in there,  I can’t remember the name of the other two!

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We then got the tram back into town for more Wurst and Sacher Torte and coffee! Waistlines suitably expanded we had a good sit on a tram that went nowhere near where we thought it was going however it gave us an opportunity for a long walk to see the wheel that was in the end of the Third Man film,  and it was in a closed park on a cold winter’s day so suitably earie.

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We then decided to see the American Loos bar which is on the tourist trail,  it was a small smokey bar which sold white wine.  We then proceeded to visit a couple more bars in our funky area of Vienna which were okay but at the end of the day had people smoking in them so we went home,  smelling of smoke, and had cheese and wine in a smoke free atmosphere.

Vienna Day 2

So we ventured out to the Schonnbrunn palace today! A tube ride away and a stunning location and building for some filthy rich aristocracy from years ago. We went through rooms where a 6 year old Mozart played for the kaiser and where Kennedy and Krushtoff met in the 60s.  It was stunning!

There was a massive fountain with usual folly,  as is becoming of the rich in them days.  For some reason the photos below are turning around on publishing so apologies for any inconvenience caused!

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Culture done we were on a Wurst hunt! And got them! Although they were difficult to eat if sitting down, I ended up with a large splattering of ketchup and mustard on the pavement next to me! Very little on jeans or coat, quite a lot down my hands! Nice. Tasty but not elegant!

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More culture awaited us at the Kunthistoriches museum or art history to us English!  Again, facinating, we saw Carvaggio, Van Gogh, and loads of Peter Bruegal which were really insightful into life in 16th century as he painted scenes of everyday life.

We then had a wander home via wine and cheese shop and spent the evening in the apartment drinking the Austrian wine left for us by our host!  Well, it would be rude not to?

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Vienna Day 1

Woke up to the news that David Bowie had died. Guardian notifications of what shit is going on in the world rarely make me stop in my tracks and take a large intake of breathe, that one did. Loved Bowie.

Both of us tired and slightly grumpy then had to navigate Vienna to get to our apartment, this was done via bus, which I always find quite unnerving as they can just do what they want, and you never know where they are going. However Austria is quite similar to Japan in that everything is safe, clean and really well organised, so the bus announced when it was at our stop and we got off, followed instructions to the apartment and got in! Minimal fuss although slight confusion about exactly which block we were in however no one was around to see us checking under their mats for their keys, which was a blessing.

The flat was clean warm and fab however we had a city to explore and we were off! We had our first viennese coffee and cake experience, obviously we had kirsch and orange liqueur in our coffee, it was 11.30! Cake was apfelstrudel with custard.

As we had our own kitchen we were determined to have a healthy breakfast as greens, salad and anything not meat based looked hard to come by! So we wandered off to the local market, Naschtmarket to see a few hardy sellers trying to give us free samples of food. Being English we refused.

We did get fruit and fresh dates, we now know dried dates are better, and had and good wander throughout. Then stumbled upon a local purveyor of wine, it would be rude not to try local wine so we had a glass of white wine and watched a bloke with a dog start an argument with the fishmonger. Once that and our wine was finished we had lunch, which for Guy was a selection of sausages with bread and pickles before getting around to getting into a museum!

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We went to the Albertina museum which had loads of impressionist and Munsch there, it was pretty stunning although Munsch is pretty dour and could be depressing, had we not had the wine for lunch!

We were staying a 10 min walk into the main museum area of Vienna, the whole of Vienna seems to be filled with massive boulevards, big regal buildings and stunning architecture, it is on a bigger scale to Paris and is clean and pristine. It is quite stunning but our first day had grey skies and clouds so no photos were allowed.

After culture we inevitably were drawn to bars, it was nearly 6 of clock so we deserved it! This is when we were transported back to 1990s England where smoking was allowed in bars!!! Seriously? It was a real shock to the system and although we were in a bar that had segregation you still had the smoke smell around. Still we decided to deal with it and had some Austrian white wine, which was delicious and Guy stared at a painting showing the temptation of a monk! I will not go into more details here!

We then had tea at one of the many places that claims to be the original Weiner Schnitzel restaurants and to be fair it was lush! And the potato salad was pretty good too!

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Trains, trains and more trains

Woke up sprightly although Guy was slightly jaded! Tut, tut! We packed our bags and set off the long walk to St Pancreas station.  2 mins later we were there and looking for coffee to get us going with croissants to prepare us for the continent. As a result of the coffee Guy needed to visit the Gentleman’s Conveniences and came across a cleaner trying desperately to move on a drunk Scottish tramp! Ahhhh,  don’t you just love England?

We were on our way to Brussels on the smoothest and cleanest train ever with loads of baggage space and everything you could need! 2 hours later we were in Brussels which had a real Sunday afternoon feel to it, as in it was dead as a dodo and everyone looked either hungover or depressed to be there! To get over the general dour demenour we went to a local bar that sold Belgium beers and partook of a couple watching bad 80s videos, think Phil Collins, Micheal Jackson and Paul McCartney famous duet Say, Say, Say and finishing with Marc Almond! After more beer to kill the pain in our ears we got on our next meet train to Cologne.

This was fairly uneventful apart from the couple behind us playing Who Wants to be a Millionaire and they knew nothing, Guy wasn’t annoyed at all!

We then had 3 hours to avoid me getting molested in Cologne which judging by the amount of police around was going to be pretty easy! About 2 hours later we realised there was a football match on which accounted for the increased police presence, it wasn’t all for me!

We thought we would stick with local food so had schnitzel and fries for tea. I chose randomly and mine arrived covered in mushroom and bacon gravy, Guys was the size of his head and came with gravy and cabbage. This was the last time we saw green stuff on plates for quite a few days!

After killing the obligatory 3 hours we got on our overnight train 2 berth couchette to Vienna! It was small but perfectly compact  and Guy, being the gent that he is, insisted that I take top bunk, which had straps to prevent me being flung off, which were very useful. The train seemed to be a usual low speed, bouncy, noisy and very very rocky train which was not conducive to sleep, slightly unfortunate as that is what we were hoping for! Still as part of our welcome pack we had slippers, ear plugs, water, fruit mush in a packet (very similar to what my 11 month nephew eats) and a miniture bottle of fizz! Slippers on and fizz duly drunk we proceeded to bed down in our respective bunks and lie dosing until we were violently woken from a slight slumber by violent bed shaking!

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Middle aged inter-railing

We are off again but just a 2 week spree around Europe for now!

So we are on the early morning train to London, 8.30, and other passengers included some Wolves supporters on their way to lose at West Ham United, they were already on their second can of alcoholic beverage and were loud but very funny, as only that YamYam accent can be!!

We made our way to Borough Market for the usual mooch around it, fascinated by the produce there and the prices! We queued ages for Monmouth coffee which was well worth it and had a ginger pig sausage roll chaser, we fuelled up we started with a bit of culture by visiting Tate Modern for the Pop Art exhibition which was really interesting  and very feminist in parts with one room being full of plastic images of ladies with mirrors for lady private parts which was quite distrubing, especially for Guy.

After being told by some french visitors that the bar at the Tate was closed, we clearly couldn’t read the English sign saying it was being refurbished, we managed to take the look of horror and sheer panic off our faces, adjusted ourselves to the fact we were not having gin and tonic any time soon and hit the shops. Al successfully purchased shoes from Fly and we were off to Locando Locatelli for a fabulous Italian meal along that started with a £16.00 glass of prosecco! It was nice but not £16.00 nice!

The food was amazing, and the service relaxed which is just what we liked about it before. 

As we had started drinking we thought it prudent to carry on and after checking in at the Euston Travelodge,  no expense spared on this trip,  we headed off to the Gin Club where I had a tasting menu of 4 gins and Guy had a single! RESULT!  I was expecting something a little posh and scrubbed up but it is basically a pub with what seems like a bomb shelter underneath it where you sit in dim lights and drink gin like it is 1945. It did the job and we left refreshed,  even if I was starting to sway a little.

We then had to visit Gordons wine bar for the obligatory bottle of wine before a large Currywurst from Herman the German, drunk conversation with some Americans who live in Richmond now, memory slightly hazy as to exactly what we discussed…..