Home > Uncategorized > Austria, Days 2 and 3

Austria, Days 2 and 3

Make sure to check Facebook for the pictures I’m taking here.

Yesterday was our shopping day. Picking up some new rugs for Mandy, my host, to put in her new apartment. The expensive housewares store (Leiner) had some bargains in the basement. Yeah, we bought bulky carpets at our first stop. Lesson learned.

Then I got the runaround trying to get a prepaid SIM for my phone so that I could call and text Mandy. I’m not sure the fee structure long-term, but it was €10 for the SIM, and €10 for 1000 texts and a 1000 minutes, and I think €10 any time I want to refresh those numbers to 1000. I’m impressed. Of course, I had to spend three hours when I got home SIM unlocking my phone (turns out the phone’s unlock code and PUK are not the same thing…) but thanks to some Android savvy, I finally got it to work. Now I just have to figure out what the rapidfire German recorded message I hear whenever I call someone is saying in.

Then on to a book store. All of these were along Mariahilferstrasse, which kinda reminds me of Times Square if it was a street. Lots of high fashion and shopping. And a sidewalk on each side wider than the two lane road.

We swung by the apartment to drop off the many bags of stuff before we hit up Billa, the grocery store, for dinner. It was packed, with narrow lanes and tall shelves, and fewer choices for things, but still covering what seemed like 90% of the selection of an American grocery. I mean, have you been to the aisle in Food Lion that is a hundred feet of shelf space dedicated to paper towels? A bit much, yeah. Also, like before, if you can’t carry it, don’t buy it.

Today was mostly just a lazy day while Mandy went to work (one of has to!). I did take the ten minute U-bahn ride plus mile walk to the Austrian military history museum, which was a good use of the afternoon–pictures are on Facebook. The headline exhibit is the gun that shot Franz Ferdinand plus the uniform he was wearing at the time and the car he was riding in. I have to admit, the car was pretty cool, and actually helped me picture the scene in 1914 Sarajevo.

I ended up spending most of my time looking at the guns on exhibit. Since the museum spans from the Thirty Years’ War to WWII, it actually covers almost the entire history of firearms, and was a neat way to follow their development. It was interesting to note, for example, the development of the rear sight on rifles, which was lined up with the front sight post–present from the beginning–to get an order of magnitude more accuracy. Or looking at early auto-loading pistols when they were still fed from clips that filled the gun’s internal magazine, instead of using detachable magazines like all modern handguns.

I also enjoyed, in the WWII wing, seeing some kooky war machines that I’d only seen in video games before, like the Kettenkrad, a weird cross between a half-track troop transport and a motorcycle.

Dinner this evening was at the best Mexican restaurant in Vienna, which isn’t saying much. The Jalapeno poppers had some kind of red pepper in them (fully ripe Jalapenos, or something else?) and the quesadilla was served with feta crumbles. It was a slightly surreal experience, but definitely a good dinner, if only because they had honest to go Corona, which is exactly what I need when it’s 1 degree Celsius outside.

I’m trying to finish reading Too Big To Fail so I can leave it with Mandy, but if I make good progress on that tonight, I’ll break out my German dictionary and German copy of The Hunger Games and stumble my way through another page or two.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Lenore Berry
    March 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

    Thanks for the account, Ben! I recall seeing people on the U-Bahn carrying enormous items home after shopping. And sometimes it was difficult to get the groceries home if you got carried away and bought too much. So glad you went to the military museum. One degree Celsius? Brrr….

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