Travel: October 2002 Archives

I think I'm done (or mostly done) with my trip photos. It's pretty impressionistic. You're as likely to see pictures of pretty people as famous tourist sites. I figure you can see those, with much better photographs, online or in books. For Vienna especially, everywhere you turn is worthy of a photograph.

This should be the last one. These are some notes I took on the flight to New York.

  • Looking around the departure lounge at the information boards for other flights, I really felt like we were rather "east" -- there were flights to Pristina, Kiev, and Damascus in nearby gates.

  • The area next to us was for a flight to Cairo. There was one Arab woman near us wearing a sweater and well-fitting camel-colored wool pants, and her son was named William. Most of the women for that flight wore head scarves.

  • The airport bookstores have quite a bit of gay porn for sale -- most stores would only have straight stuff, especially in America. They also all have special sections for books on the Nazi period. One tiny store had a fountain in the middle with fish.

  • There were two female flight attendants - one a chubby latina and the other a black woman with a shaved head -- pushing around the duty free cart. They were FABULOUS. I told them I loved them both, but I didn't feel like buying anything. The latina suggested I buy the big box of chocolates, suitable for sharing with the crew. When I laughed, the black one asked me what I was laughing at. I said, "you laughed, so I did too." Her response: "Good answer. It's like the old Welcome Back Kotter show -- I'm not laughing at you, I'm laughing with you."

  • One of the rooms we visited in the Schoenbrunn in Vienna was the room used by Franz Josef II for his audiences. Any citizen of the empire had the right to an audience with the emperor, even peasants from the provinces. They were instructed to wear formal attire if they had it, or native costume if not. The descriptions from the time talk about farmers and country people wearing their native costumes, and today the waiting room before the audience room has mannequins wearing traditional garb from the various regions: Tirol, Carinthia, Galicia, etc.
  • Empress Elizabeth, known as Sisi, the wife of Franz Josef II, was fanatical about her weight. She dieted and excersized for hours every day. One of the rooms in the palace still has exercise rings hanging in one doorway.
  • One of the popular drinks at this time of year in Austria is Sturm -- "young wine" -- barely alcoholic grape juice.
  • When we visited the Alte Pinakothek in Munich to see Breughel, etc., we bought t-shirts in the museum shop by Sean Scully, with the words "Starr/McCarthy: Two Great Americans".
  • I forgot to mention this, and it was important. The Melk exhibit on the town during the Nazi period which I mentioned earlier specifically mentioned homosexuals in the list of people sent to concentration camps. A lot of exhibits only talk about Jews, and maybe political prisoners, failing to mention homosexuals or gypsies.
  • I highly recommend Hotel Austria, where we stayed in Vienna.
  • When we visited the Wieskirche, there were areas of the church where people had left gifts of thanks, or votive offerings in hope of some holy intervention. There was card for a fireman named Tommy, lost on 9/11. There was also a letter of thanks from a man who had prayed there for God to send him a man, and he was thanking the church for his happiness after finding a wonderful mate. I guess the Church really is often better on a local level than at the archbishop-on-up level.
  • I felt bombarded by news about Iraq while we were there. Every paper -- German, Austrian, French, etc. -- had Bush and Iraq on the front page every day except 9/11.

This page is an archive of entries in the Travel category from October 2002.

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