04 September 2002

Austria/France 2002 - Wednesday

PRISM R&A training today. Most of the students left for home in the afternoon or early evening.

We were going to go to Vienna for a Felix-guided tour and supper so we dropped the few students flying home off at the airport on the way. Most of the rest of the students were close enough to home that they drove.

We were supposed to follow Dirk and Chad's vehicle to a parking garage in Vienna and, mindful of our attempt the night before to follow them, we borrowed Chad's cell phone so that if we got separated, we could call them and get reconnected. Turns out we didn't need it, we followed them easily to the garage (a conventional garage this time...not like the mechanical marvel we used on Sunday) and headed out by foot to see more of Vienna.

We started with beer at the Krau-Krau...a little sgreet cafe/bar near the garage. Not being a beer fan, I decided to try sturm...a local specialty that is basically a 'pre-wine.' After the grapes are crushed and have just started to ferment, it's called sturm. We learned about strum the night at the hotel supper but I hadn't had a chance to try it yet. It's sweet...not as sweet as grape juice...and cloudy, because it's made from crushed, unstrained grapes. It does have an alcoholic kick but it tastes so much like Squirt or juice that you don't notice it until you try to stand up.

Felix caught up with us there and then lead us on a tour of the area. We saw the facilities where the Lippizan stallions are housed and trained. We saw a huge clock that has historical figures instead of hands to tell the time. Each hour is a specifc person and their postion in the window tells the minutes...so, for example, if it's Empress Maria Teresa three-quarter's through the window, it must be 16:45. We saw a display of what was once a tree in the nail-makers district. Originally, all the streets were home to specific tradesment or guilds and this one street was for nail-makers. Whenever a nail-maker would head out or return, he would pound a nail into this tree. Eventually, there were more nails than wood and this artifact is now mounted on the corner of a building protected by plexiglass. We walked around the outside of St Stephans and Felix showed us where the Haas & Haas Tee Haus is. It was closed, but at least we now knew where to look. We went to a true, old-style coffee house...the kind that you hear about the famous philosophers, artists and actore hanging out in. And this was a famous one. It's run by this 90-something year old lady who still opens the shop every day at 4am and doesn't leave until the very last thing at night. You can see that the place hasn't changed in, probably, the whole time she's been running it. And won't until she doesn't anymore.

Eventually, we made our way to a restaurant at the top of a building across from St Stephans. The restaurant has an outdoor seating deck and glass walled dining room for looking out of Stephansplatz. Very impressive. It was a wonderful meal and another full day.