Monday, May 26, 2008

May 10 and Trip Home

Saturday morning we were once again up early for our last day in Europe. We hitched a tram towards the Belvedere Palace. On our way, we found the liberation statue and fountain which was pretty cool.

We continued on to the Belvedere Palace, which was a heck of a site. There is an upper Palace, and a Lower palace. There is so much to see in both of them, plus the really cool gardens. A whole lot to see. We are not real artsy, but we did go to every room, every exhibit, and did a quick once over. However it still took us a LONG time to get through it all.

When we got out of Belvedere, it was after lunch. So we found a nice street side café and sat down for a light lunch. We sat and chatted and really enjoyed the afternoon and soon we realized that if we hurried, we could make the last tour at the actual Vienna Opera House. We closed our check and walked to the Opera house and I was somehow able to make my way through the crowd to get tickets. They only let in a set amount of each language, each time. We were able to make it in and got a really nice tour (over an hour) of the opera house. We were shown all the box seats and imperial boxes, standing room areas, and even backstage. They switch shows every night. It is a logistical mind’s dream. They have a performance 300 nights a year. They tear down that night, and set up for rehearsal the next morning . In the morning, the performers rehearse the next night’s show. Then, after rehearsal, they tear down that stage and set up that night’s performance, which was rehearsed the morning before. They have over 160 stage staff working 3 shifts. Get this. They have no room for storage on site, so it all has to go into trucks off site. However, the trucks are not at stage level, so they pull in, are lifted up to stage level on an elevator (these are 18 wheelers), unloaded, loaded, and then let go. Then the next truck comes. It is quite a process.

We stopped and grabbed some coffee on the way back. We realized that we had not had any caffeine for a couple of days and that was probably the reason for our headaches. (That and the thought about going back to Doha)

We stopped at the hotel to drop off our touristy backpack. We got some advice from the front desk and took a tram ride from one end of the line that started in front of the hotel to the very end which was about 20-25 minutes away from downtown. It was a neat little area with shops, restaurants, etc. We walked around for a while and found the restaurant that our front desk had recommended. It was a huge restaurant, and we wanted to sit outside, so we basically had the whole patio to ourselves. Inside they were pretty busy, but I guess everyone else was cold.

We had a great dinner of some Pork products. Mmmmm. We hung around for a while and then headed down towards the tram stop and found another café that had some really good looking dark beer. We decided to stop for a few and before you know it the night was gone. We hung out and chatted for a long time and the beer was so good. It was a really nice European Atmosphere and the people were just so nice. They even had a dog running around this bar…it was great.

Soon we were back on the tram headed for the hotel. Our Europe trip was coming to a close.

The next morning we were up and out the door early, as we had to get to the airport. We had some trouble finding food and the right Metro (they were doing construction), but we did get there on time. The airport was a little different, as you check your bags, then they make sure you have a boarding pass…but you do not go through security yet. You walk a little ways and go through Immigration, then finally get to your gate, where you are screened. Once you go through security, you cannot go back out and get something to drink, etc. Soon we were in the air again. We didn’t have all the room we did before, but we did have a row to ourselves. I did move to the other side of the isle and stretched out (not as nice as before) and got a little nap.

It was an amazing trip. I am sorry if it has been boring for some of you to read, but keep in mind I have to remember this years from now. Next up…what happened when I got back to Doha.
Liberation Fountain
Upper Belvedere. My back is to Lower Belvedere. This is a yard I am glad I do not have to mow.

Vienna Opera House
The Sight of the Last Supper In Europe

Our Last Outdoor Bar.

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