Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pilsner in Prague!

Perfection
Lisa, her father, and I spent my birthday weekend in Prague, Czech Republic drinking many, many pints of Pilsner Urquell.  How could we not?  The stuff was on tap almost e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. After a ~5 hour train ride, we promptly deposited our things at the hotel and then marched off in search of food and beer.  The weekend was off to a brilliant start:
Lisa and her father, Karl
This is going to be a great weekend!
Prague ("Praha" in Czech) is a stunningly beautiful city:  Old Town Square, Prague Castle, Charles Bridge, and the Vltava River are just a few of the prominent attractions.  The architecture in Prague is arguably some of the richest in all of continental Europe, especially since virtually all of it was spared from the destruction of the second world war.   Although the city's beauty and essence can't really be captured on film -- even more so when I'm behind the camera -- we made up for it by taking many, many photos.  The better ones follow... 
Back-side of Prague Castle
Old Town Square

 
The castle guard humoring (tolerating?) that annoying tourist...
St. Vitus Cathedral on the grounds of the Prague Castle
View from Prague Castle

Prague Castle from the Vltava River
Lazy Saturday afternoon

Near the top of Petrin Tower:  Prague's answer to Paris' Eiffel Tower
Drinking beer brewed locally by the monks of the Strahov Monastery   


Labor Day in Berlin

Labor Day Weekend in the states usually marks the unofficial end to summer and although the American holiday naturally means nothing to Europeans, Lisa and I decided to celebrate anyway so we headed up to Berlin, Germany for the long weekend.   We arrived early on Saturday morning -- Berlin is only an hour or so away by air -- and after we dropped our things off at the hotel, immediately started wandering toward the major tourist attractions.  The highlights:

Fernsehtrum
Large public square near Alexanderplatz.  The Fernsehtrum ("television tower") is the tallest structure in Germany and a throwback to the days when the East Germans intended it to be a symbol of Berlin. 


Brandenburg Gate.  A former city gate and one of the most famous landmarks in Europe.  When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the gate came to symbolize freedom and unity between East and West Berlin. 


Brandenburg Gate

The Holocaust Memorial.   Unveiled in May 2006 after years of wrangling over its design, scale, location, and cost.  There are 2,711 of those oblong, dark gray pillars of varying heights.  
Holocaust Memorial
  Beer Bike!  A stroke (ha!) of genius.
Beer friendly, bike friendly:  my kind of city!
The Berlin Wall.  Not so formidable anymore:  most of the wall has been reduced to a pair of cobblestones occasionally adorned with a plaque indicating what once was.
This is the longest remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall that is still intact.

Racing toward the West!
The iconic Ampelmann:  The red one is welcoming you to Communism whereas the Green one is hurriedly rushing off to the factory. 


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Festivals

Festivals seem to be an integral part of Viennese life.  Every summer -- mid-June through mid-September -- the plaza in front of the Rathaus (Vienna City Hall) is home to a nightly film festival featuring a re-broadcast of either a concert symphony, play, or opera with the viewing area flanked by food stands from over a dozen local restaurants (of varying cuisines), as well as a local brewer.  No matter what night it is, the festival draws a crowd, although one night in mid-August drew a particularly large and young crowd:  the re-broadcast of a DJ Tiesto concert.  And as if that weren't cool enough, an Electronica Music Festival occurred earlier in the day with the city allowing a major boulevard in front of the Rathaus to be closed off so that over a dozen tractor trailers doubling as mobile DJ booths and dance floors could turn the city center into a veritable dance club.  Good times!


The Rathaus adorned with an AIDS ribbon (the bi-annual international AIDS conference was held in Vienna this year).

"I am Vienna".  Well, not really, but if the Austro-Hungarian empire had annexed Scandinavia a hundred years ago I might be.
I think she is more Belgian than not.
He should be Viennese with moves like that!

No open-container laws! 
The enormously large film festival screen.  The Rathaus is behind it.
DJ Tiiiiieeeeeeestoooo!

First Impressions

Beautiful.  
Our first night in Vienna.  Stephensdom in the background.

Decadent.  
Enjoying wine & cake at a vineyard w/in Vienna city limits (Kahlenberg)!
Melange and a cake.
More cake.  Dessert may constitute its own food group here.
Regal. 
City Art History Museum and the surrounding grounds.

Parliament.  Kramer definitely won't be wearing that AIDS ribbon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We've Arrived!

July 16, 2010.  Lisa and I arrive in Vienna, Austria where we'll be making our home for the next couple of years.  Aside from a trip to Paris about ten years ago, I've never spent any significant amount of time in Europe whereas Lisa, however, studied abroad in Sweden several years ago and has vacationed all over Europe so the reality of living in Europe seems, well,  a bit more real to her.  I still can't really believe it...is this a vacation?  It kind of feels like it but, but, I have a job -- I telecommute -- and I have my graduate studies so there is some responsibility, but not much.  Oh well, I'm not too concerned about it 'cause WE.LIVE.IN.VIENNA!

This blog is our attempt to chronicle the life we make here in Vienna and to share it with those we care about.  So enough of this, I hear Vienna Calling.