Thursday, June 30, 2011

You can take the boys out of West Valley...

...but you can't take the West Valley out of the boys!  (Although now we're drinking the 'real' Budweiser -- Budweiser Budvar of the Czech Republic -- not the Anheuser Busch stuff.)
The Stiegl Radler -- a 50% beer and 50% lemonade mixture -- was Laura's.  Really.
And the hot dog has evolved into a spicy wurst (at least while in Vienna). 
My brother, Jake, and his wife, Laura, flew out to Vienna in early June and for two weeks, we hung out in Vienna, went to Rome for a long weekend, and -- just the two of them -- spent a few days in Prague.  What follows are several of the pictures taken during those two weeks...good times! 
The four of us atop the Kahlenberg

Our first stop on the way down from Kahlenberg:  a trail hut featuring beer, wine, and traditional Austrian food
And our second stop:  a heuriger (wine tavern) featuring wines from the heuriger's vineyard.  We stopped at another heuriger but weren't taking pictures by this point.  Go figure.
The drinking and eating, however, was sandwiched between a leisurely hike to and from Kahlenberg (~10 kilometers).  At least that's how we justified it.  
We also took them to Naschmarkt to stock up on fruits, vegetables, and bread.  It was warm out so we, naturally, sought out some refreshment.

We also took them to a "beach bar" -- as far as I know there aren't any any bona fide beaches in Vienna -- although that doesn't stop the Viennese from dumping a bunch of sand onto the pavement next to the Danube canal, setting up dozens of beach chairs, and serving all sorts of summery cocktails.

Following two weeks of gorging on bread, cheese, beer, and wine, Jake and I had nearly enough.  Or so we thought...
Jake:  "I think I see a beer & wurst stand down there."  Me:  "No worries. I''ll find one on the IPhone in a moment."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Pizza, Peroni, and Gelato

Unlike Venice, I ate the pizza in Rome without Pommes Fritas.  I did, however, drink Peroni beer from a plastic cup.
Pizza margherita on the left; a zucchini-ricotta cheese concoction on the right
Only in Rome?
Followed by some of Rome's best gelato.  Fabuloso.
"I scream, you scream, we all scream --"  Oh wait, wrong dessert.
When we weren't eating and drinking our way throughout Rome, Lisa, Laura, Jake, and I were lapping up the historical and religious sites.

First Stop:  The Trevi Fountain -- Rome's most famous fountain and where it's traditional to throw a coin into the fountain so as to ensure your return.
Looks like I'll be returning to the Eternal City!
And so will Lisa!
Next up:  The Colosseum, one of the world's most visited tourist destinations. 

When we exited the Colosseum, the Gay/Euro-Pride Parade was winding its way around the Colosseum.  If there were any modern day gladiators, these two gents might be worthy candidates (and they'd probably have a fighting chance against Russell Crowe):
Whereas I'd probably get slayed in all of 30 nanoseconds. 
My last words would probably be "Got a little Captain in You?'
The Roman Forum marked our next stop and, in particular, the House of the Vestal Virgins (the home of the virgins that were responsible for tending the sacred flame in the adjoining temple).  The priestesses selected for this responsibility served in the temple for 30 years, were to remain chaste during this time, and any priestess guilty of letting the flame go out would be flogged.  Loss of virginity during her tenure meant being buried alive and death-by-flogging for the offending man.  At least the end-result of the punishment was equal-opportunity.  
Virginal would-be pyromaniacs?
Aside from housing a bunch of flame-retardant virgins, the Roman Forum was also a civic center, covered market, and religious complex.   This may have been some sort of athletic field:
On the way to the Pantheon -- one of Rome's most astonishing temples -- Jake found (and modeled) his next barbecuing outfit of choice:
Beware the hot coals!
Probably shouldn't have been as mesmerized by the ~28' opening in the domed ceiling...
...but I act like an eleven-year old boy 90% of the time anyway, so I suppose it's justified.
Vatican City, St. Peter's Square & Basilica, and the Vatican Museums rounded out our trip to Rome.  St. Peter's Square is a remarkable public space, even more so from a distance on a clear night:
Lisa and I have been to a number of European churches and cathedrals -- all impressive on their own -- but St. Peter's is, so far, the most dazzling.  Michelangelo's Pieta -- a sculpture depicting the body of Jesus on the lap of his mother Mary after the Crucifixion -- is truly spectacular (irrespective of one's religious views).
The bird's eye view of St. Peter's Square and surrounding Rome from the top of St. Peter's Basilica:
And as with all of our vacations, the token photo of us with a cocktail, beer, or glass of wine...albeit with Jake and Laura this time.  Cheers!