Friday, May 23, 2008


Vienna is Martin. Let me explain. Martin Schwarz and his family have been very good friends of our son's Charles for 20 years. He and Charles were interns at the "National Endowment for the Arts" and became very good friends. They exchange visit for big occasions or family events.
Martin and his family are native Viennese, and have lived there all their lives. Of course, when he found out we would be in Vienna for three days he took over. It was wonderful.
After we arrived at the Hilton Plaza Hotel Martin picked us up and we were off to Krems, a University and Danube town, 50 miles up the river. Martin is in charge of renovating a 12th Century Castle, actually the town house of the Mayor and tax collector for the region, and making it a tourist attraction.
We ate lunch at "Salzstad", owned by a friend of Martins. Martin described it as a "lite lunch", you be the judge. Two kinds of soup with semolina dumplings and sliced pancakes. White asparagus, it was the season, with cheese sauce, local wine and veal. Krems is also in the middle of a wine growing region with terraced hillsides climbing from the Danube.
After lunch we toured the "castle", Gozzo, and inspected the bright, beautiful fresco's which have been uncovered as the layers of wall have been striped away.
Then is was a drive thru the town and along the river to see the Castle where Richard the Lionhearted had been imprisoned during the crusades. We think the Liberty bell is old.
Martin picked us up for dinner at the Hotel and gave us a "quick tour" before dining at Cafe Huf. Sunday night is tricky in Vienna, as it is anywhere.
I had calf's liver while Marilyn had chicken. They had run out of Schnitzel. Good potatoes, they were excellent almost everywhere in Europe, a cucumber salad and red wine. For dessert we shared a terrific apricot crape. To my delight I found that I could order the same dish for breakfast, at the Hilton. This became standard for my mornings in Vienna.
Monday morning was the introduction "City tour" and after we met Martin for lunch in the neighbor where his office is located. Another "lite meal". I had fish with potato's, tomato's and onions while Marilyn's main course was ravioli with white asparagus. We started with a green salad and ended with Viennese "smarr" cake with jam and rhubarb.
That afternoon we attended to some personal business and when it started to rain, around 4 PM, we headed back to the hotel to rest and work up an appetite.
Martin again picked up us and we were joined by Jossy, his very attractive wife, who is the chief pediatric nurse at Vienna's largest hospital, she specializes in 0 to 3 year olds. We also were joined by Jessica their eldest daughter who is graduating from Krems this month. She is equally, attractive, if not more so, than her Mother.
We went to the 19th Disrict, where they live, and then on to "Placette" one of several restaurants specializing in boiled veal. All the boiled meats there, and I had beef tongue, are cooked in a broth of vegetables and meat stock. One starts by having a bowl of the broth and then moves on. With our white wine, Martin always starts with beer, we all sheared steak tartar, and then moved to the meat courses accompanied by a cabbage puree, creamed spinach and outstanding hash brown potato's with green onions and caraway seeds. Dessert, after red wine, was Chocolate souffle cake and soft maranges with vanilla, chocolate and strawberry sauce. By some miracle I only gained one pound on the whole trip.
The next day, on our own, we walked all over the heart of Vienna. We saw the Synagogue, the 12 hour clock, "Juden Platz" and the Holocaust memorial, the shopping street where we were blown away at an amazing linen store, plus all the top names in Europe and the US plus H&M and Zara. Went to Demel's pastry shop for Dobarshtorte and the to the Leopold Museum for a Klemp exhibit.
We were pick up, at the hotel, that evening by Martin and Jossy. It was off, again to one of Martin's owner friends outstanding Italian Restaurant in a back street in the heart of old Vienna near the Ghetto.
The restaurant "Dizimolo" is run by the outgoing owner, whose job, that evening was to stuff us. Drinks were Beer, Wine, and probably water for Marilyn, which is the most expensive drink in Europe, at least it seems so.
After a long discussion the meal was ordered. Tuna and Swordfish Cappuccino, Coquille St. Jacque, Gnocchi with truffle sauce and separately Pene Arribatti, the pasta course, Sea Bass and Bronzino and a small green salad and pommies souffle. Dessert was a long oval china boat with about 6 separate desserts; fresh fruit with whipped cream, tiramicu, chocolate "salami", gelati, cream brulee etc. Too much excellent food and we ate almost all.
A fond farewell to wonderful guides, hosts and friends. On to Prauge at 9 AM the next morning.

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