…if only Carpatair had a repeat-customer incentive program. Sounds almost…Arabian, doesn’t it? Nope, that’s “Carpet Air” (see image at right). On Carpatair, you get weird stew and some kind of Romanian Mystery Cordon Bleu — as opposed to tassles and a monkey. Guess I better get used to it. I’ve got two — count ’em, TWO — trips back to Iaşi before Christmas.
But oddly enough, while surfing Wikipedia today at work, trying to learn more about the place where the guys we’ve hired live and work, I found a link back to the Detroit area where I least expected it. Do you know where Ypsilanti gets its name from? I do, now. Check this out: Alexander Ypsiliantis occupied Iaşi in the Greek War of Independence, and the town of Ypsilanti, Michigan was named for his brother, Demetrius. Thanks, Wikipedia! Now I know that the town didn’t lose a bet with Ann Arbor (they’re so smug) and wasn’t forced to build a name for itself out of random Scrabble tiles.
I am going to have to make up for all the Glühwein and meters of sausage from the Weihnachtsmarkt I’ll be missing while I’m gone, trying to convince Romania that while its pizza is the closest thing I have found in mainland Europe to American-style pizza, it truly needs no ketchup (trust me on this).
Well, there we have it; another great trip in the bag. Clicking on the links below to the restaurants, hotels, etc., will take you first to our reviews of them (read the reviews for our specific opinions), and from there you can get to their own websites where applicable.
Here’s how it went down:
Took an early train to Salzburg from Regensburg via Landshut and managed to put our BahnCard 50 discount train passes to good use — we got 25% off of the travel from Salzburg to Vienna. Dropped our stuff at the hotel, where we got a very good deal on the rooms thanks to Sarah’s internet travel scouting skills. Biggest benefit to the hotel (besides the price): Sound of Music Channel (all hills alive, all the time). Had lunch at the K & K on Waagplatz, which was recommended to us by the staff at the hotel. Then we took the Sound of Music tour, where Sue was our guide again, just like when Gabe and Potter and I did our Salzburg trip back in November 2004. Although the weather was much better this time, I liked the smaller tour group better last time. For dinner: the Sternbräu (another Frommer’s suggestion).
Arrived via the Austrian Rail (ÖBB) from Salzburg at the vacation apartment and had a nice introduction to the city from the landlord. Walked around a lot taking in the city by night. Actually, it was kind of “by night” pretty much the whole time because in rainy November, Vienna doesn’t seem to get much light, even during the day. We had dinner at Zu den Drei Hacken and it was a very nice way for us to welcome each other to Vienna.
Tried to visit the Schatzkammer. Shopped a bit for an extra shirt for Cliff and some scarves to match Sarah’s new jacket.
Attended a concert at the Wiener Musikverein. Selections from Mozart, Haydn and Chausson, plus two encores (a Ravel and a Brahms) piece. Some were just strings, some were strings and piano. Very, very nice, and fairly cheap.
We ate lunch at the Gulasch Museum. It’s not really a museum, but rather a restaurant specializing in the Hungarian part of the cuisine of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Really good.
We had our Lunch-Dessert at the Café Central. We had such a fantastic cup of coffee and dessert here by ourselves (Cliff & Sarah) that we knew we just had to bring Carolyn and Max here later. And we did exactly that, on our collective last day in Vienna.
The Schatzkammer proved extremely interesting — if a little steep at €8. You can kill 1.5 hours easily gazing at the treasures of the Holy Roman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire and ecclesiastical collections from these regions. Note well: Frommer’s Austria (11th Edition) lists their daily schedule as Tuesday through Sunday, this burned us. Their actual day of rest is Tuesday, not Monday.
At the Belvedere we checked out the 19th and 20th century collection and really liked some of the later stuff (including Klimt, Monet, and Kokoschka). You can read more about the history of the building on Wikipedia.
Later that day, knowing it was our last night in Vienna, we decided to each get a Schnitzel at the Schnitzelwirt Schmidt. Very good food, but beyond the quality, the quantity was astounding.
Alas, this was the day we were to leave Vienna. However, the good news was that there was plenty of leftover schnitzel for lunches, which freed up a little room in the budget for Carolyn and Max to treat us at Café Central, where they got to try the wonderful coffee and we sampled other desserts. That Mohr im Hemd was still the winner in my book, but I was quite happy with my Marzipankartoffel (yellow cake inside a potato-shaped marzipan mold, dusted with chocolate powder to simulate the dirt). The other good news was the weather; we got lots of bright sunshine in the early afternoon. This permitted us to take the elevator up the top of one of the wings of the Stephansdom to enjoy the view and admire other famous buildings while killing time, waiting for our shuttle to the airport:
So there you have it — now we’re back in Regensburg, Carolyn and Max are back in Detroit, and everyone is getting into their routines…until the next trip. Don’t worry, I’ll keep you posted.
Cliff has this cookbook from his parents that has great recipes. I really like to use it as a jumping-off point. When I am attempting something new, I refer to this book to see if it can give me some pointers. I usually hugely alter the recipe for flavor’s sake, but it’s a good place to start. The ingredients for this one have been heavily modified, but the cooking technique is direct from the book. Thanks, Betty (and Cliff, Sr.and Rose)!
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 hot green Thai chili, finely chopped (remove seeds for less heat)
2 T vegetable oil
1 c uncooked white long grain rice
2 1/2 c chicken bullion or broth
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 T chili powder
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp black pepper
5-10 drops Tabasco sauce (Cholula’s better)
Sauté onion, garlic, bell pepper and chili over medium-high heat just until onion becomes translucent. Add rice to skillet and stir well to coat with oil. Gently sauté rice, stirring frequently, until light golden brown.
Add all remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Just a quick note from an internet café in downtown Vienna. We’re staying at a great vacation apartment near a streetcar line that puts in the heart of the old downtown area in just a few minutes. We’re eating like Habsburgs in restaurants and cafes (Viennese cappucino is a force to be reckoned with) and having better luck with the weather than we expected.
Here are a few pictures to tide you over until we get back to Regensburg and can do a full report of all the places we’ve visited. Tonight: a concert at a symphony in town.