Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Das Beste.

On the journey into Vienna from the airport Husband speaks fluent German to the taxi driver. “That's so impressive," I tell him. "I thought you said you'd forgotten all your German, since you last did it at school, 34 years ago.”

“I’m only speaking German to impress my wife.” Husband replies to the taxi driver, in German. 

At the hotel the guy behind the desk says “this is the best room in the hotel,” in English, as he hands us the key card.

“There’s no bath,” I say to Husband, after inspecting the best room in the hotel, which is stunning (I love a bath) and his eyebrows shoot up. “Aber das ist das beste Zimmer des Hotels,” he says.

We look at another room with a bath but it's not nearly as nice as the best room, so we stay in the best room.

"Why do we always have to have a thing about rooms?" Husband says. "And tables in restaurants?"

"Because I like das Beste," I say.

In the morning I shout: “Sod the bath! This is das beste shower I ever had!” from the shower, and Husband's eyebrows shoot up again (I don’t actually see this because I’m in the shower but I know that they do).


At breakfast the muesli comes with ten types of seed and dried fruit to sprinkle on top. It's das beste breakfast I've ever eaten in a hotel.

“I need your phone,” I say.

“Why?” says Husband.

“To take a photograph,” I say, “and make a note for my blog. I left mine upstairs.”

“You’re like Schubert," he says, "waking up in the night with inspiration and writing a song."

“Yeah,” I say. “I’m exactly like Schubert.”

I never knew the old Vienna.

A note about Vienna - all the people are lovely and if you like wide roads, massive rectangular white buildings with flat roofs and Roman figures on top and big statues with men on horses, you’ll love it.

“There are lots of big statues with men on horses,” I say, as we walk across the city to the Belvedere.

“I think you mean equestrian,” Husband says. “There’s always a word.”

“I’m really looking forward to seeing The Three Ages of Woman,” I say.

“What’s The Three Ages of Woman?” he says.

“You know,” I say, “the Klimt, of the three ages of woman.”

He looks blank.

“We have a little detail of it in the house," I say, "in a gold frame. There’s a postcard of it by my desk. It's on my key ring.”

“Nope,” he says.

In the Belvedere we see The Kiss. It hangs alone on a black wall. She has coloured circles with a few rectangles, over gold. He has black rectangles with a few coloured circles, over gold. The pair of them glow together inside a halo of, gold.

The Kiss.

A woman standing next to me isn’t looking at all the gold, she's looking at my coat, which is green. “I love your coat,” she says, in French.

“Thank you!" I say. "It’s new and I like it too because it’s pretty and colourful with a pattern and so many coats are sombre and dark and it’s from this shop in London called Joy and it's really not expensive and you might be able to get it on line and it would be even cheaper for you because of the Euro!” In English.

The woman stares at me. Husband repeats everything I just said, in French. Then the woman smiles.

“I do that all the time now, too,” says Husband, after the smiling French woman has gone away.

“Do what?” I say.

“Talk to complete strangers," he says. "It must be our age.”

Just off the gallery is a room with nothing in it except a full size reproduction of The Kiss, expressly for people to take selfies in front of, kissing each other. 

"That's depressing," I say to Husband.

"Why is it depressing?" he says.

"I don't know," I say. "It just is."

Rock me Amadeus.

Later in the Mozarthaus I trail behind Husband as he reads all the blurb on the walls. I'm bored. I want to see Mozart’s belongings: the bed he slept in, the desk he composed at, that sort of thing. There’s nothing like that. I stare out of the window, trying to imagine Mozart composing The Magic Flute and getting stuck at a hard bit and staring out of this exact same window. Down in the street a flotilla of Japanese people drifts past on a boundless sea of tourists.

“Is Mozart your John Lennon, then?” I say, when I catch up with Husband again.

“Oh no,” he says. “That would be Haydn.”

In the souvenir shop they sell pasta shaped like musical notes. I find this depressing as well.

If music be the food of love, play on...

In the evening we see The Magic Flute at Die Volksoper. We wanted to see something at Die Staatsoper but all the tickets had gone. The Magic Flute is wunderbar but I forgot that the story is bonkers, perhaps because Mozart got stuck and stared out of that window.

We go on a tour of Die Staatsoper next morning instead. It's beautiful and fascinating and was nearly bombed out of existence at the end of the war - Goodnight Vienna! - but they rebuilt it. The guide tells us there are two stages now instead of one so it's easier to shift the scenery. I'm tempted to say we did them a favour then, but I think better of it. She mistakes Husband for some famous Russian heart-throb, which makes his day.

Mahler in the mirror.

We walk to The Leopold Museum in the rain. “Es regnet Katzen und Hunde,” says Husband.

“I’m looking forward to seeing more Klimts,” I say, “particularly The Three Ages of Woman.”

We don’t see The Three Ages of Woman, we see a lot of Schiele. 

“I don’t think I like these,” I say to Husband, as we're standing in front of one; this one...

“I know what you mean,” says Husband, tilting his head to one side, “his paintings are... kind of… a bit...”

“Gynaecological?” I say

“Genau,” he says. 

"There's always a word," I say.

Love E x


P.S. Turns out Klimt’s The Three Ages of Woman is in Rome.

Here at home.

The best rooms - Hotel Rauthaus, Wein and Design.
The best food - Miznon, Huth Grill House, Die Fromme Helene, Cafe Central, Cafe Corbaci.


  1. I think the plot of the Magic Flute was driven by the librettist Emanuel Schikaneder, an impresario, and he also played Papageno in the original production, so poor Amadeus had to work round the lunatic plot. So it's 'Oh, Vienna!' rather than 'this means nothing to me'?

  2. Poor Amadeus indeed. Music means everything to me so I was ultracareful not to mention that song. (Only kidding, bloody loved it when it came out, amazing in retrospect that we ever took it seriously.) E :) x