Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Joanna & Fritz in Europe, Day 6

We begin our day at the Prater, the symbol of this neighborhood and for this entire trip. The area surrounding this covered ferris wheel is an amusement park. Fritz promises to show me a little known secret about this area of district 2, but this will have to wait until after the ride.

The Prater ride is amazing. We were able to see the roof of our building in Max Winterplatz, where the tree filled area peeks out among the second district rooftops. The ferris wheel turns slowly, so even those who are afraid of heights -- like myself -- will find this ride enjoyable.

Now, on to Fritz's best kept district 2 secret, the Kugelmugel. Back in 1988, there was a man who wanted to build himself a home. Not only did this man believe that his home was his castle, but he believed that he was entitled to live in his own kingdom as well.

For a short time, the mayor went along with his eccentric plans, until the home was completed and the Austrian government stepped in and said, mayor, what are you doing? Vienna still respects the spirit of this independence movement and keeps it more as a work of art, an example of an individual's right to live in his own castle. It even has its own postally designated address, Antifaschismusplatz -- the 2 in the street sign indicates its location in district 2.

We drove to the first district to take photos by day. The area is just as interesting in sunlight as it is under the moon. We find parking and walk on cobblestone streets through preserved architecture mingling with 21st century structures. We pass a memorial to Holocaust victims.

There is a restaurant which Fritz pronounced "SMOOT-nee" but it was spelled "SMUTNY" and I called pronounced "Smut New York." I wanted to try a schnitzel in Smut New York, and I was glad I did. I had a turkey schnitzel that was stuffed with camembert and schinken -- that's ham.

As is the norm here, we washed down our meals with phenomenal beer -- Fritz had Ottakringer, the native brew of Wien, made in the 16th district. I was sticking with Budweiser, never had it tasted so good!

We jumped in the car and head to Perchtoldsdorf, a Wien suburb where we meet up with George, an old school friend of Fritz live. Here is George, Fritz's childhood friend, George's mother, Elizabeth, and Fritz. She is a very sophisticated and sharply dressed woman, Versace, Gucci, she oozes class. She used to own a clothing shop in the 6th District but sold the shop and is now retired.

At the Heurigen, I had the Parisian Schnitzel. It's like Wiener Schnitzel, except that it is fried in egg dough. The crust then becomes omelet-like. The veal was tender and melted in your mouth, but I realize I prefer the breading of a Wiener Schnitzel sprinkled with fresh lemon. When dinner was over, there was another special treat. A salesman entered the restaurant carrying a tray of dark-chocolate covered grapes and strawberries skewered on sticks. He does not work for this heurigen, but is a local who makes his living this way. He has competition, a local woman, but they both take turns entering establishments, usually timed a half hour apart during mealtime. I picked a stick that contained six chocolate covered strawberries.

Then end of the day, what else do we do but stop by Martin's, and he welcomes us for a nightcap. Though he is too much of a gentleman to tell us -- he keeps saying mi casa es tu casa, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- I know Martin is getting sick of us, so I continue my mantra, we're only here today, gone tomorrow!!!

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