Packing for Vienna

Going to: Vienna
Length of trip: 1 week
Time of year: winter
Weather: cool, rainy, damp, potential for snow
Purpose of trip: leisure

Vienna was a bit tricky to pack for because we were attending a few nice events that required dressing up, but I also wanted to be warm and we needed to walk a lot. After doing some research I determined that wind- and rain-proof clothing was important and that Austrians tend to dress up a bit. With that in mind, here’s what I packed.

  • 4 black tops
  • 3 skirts
  • knit dress
  • black knit blazer
  • black knee-high leather boots
  • wool coat
  • hat, gloves, and scarf

This ended up being perfect. Nearly everything was black and everything went together. I wore everything with thick black tights and was warm enough and felt dressed up enough for any occasion. Finally, everything easily fit into a carry-on bag. This will probably become my go-to packing list for any cool-weather trip.


Throwback: Parks, Van Gogh, and fries in Amsterdam, August 2002

In 2002, J and I went on a 2-week trip to London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. This post is adapted from my travel journal. Here are the last two days of our vacation, in which I continue my obsession with food, remain vague on details, and eat fries. 


Tuesday, August 6 2002  Amsterdam

I got up and had breakfast alone–cereal, tea, fruit, and juice. This hotel is huge compared to the others and breakfast was busy.

We walked to the Bloemenmarkt and bought some tulip bulbs in ceramic containers. We looked at flowers, cacti, and wooden shoes. Next we went to the Van Gogh Museum–beautiful, but way too crowded. Then we went to Stedelijk Museum…way too contemporary for my tastes. We ate lunch there.


We went to Vondelpark and watched ducks and a crane. It was rainy so we didn’t stay long. The park was nice but dirty; the ground was littered with beer cans, bottle caps, cigarette butts, and other junk. I think this is the dirtiest city we’ve been in so far. We went back to the hotel for a nap and then went out for our candlelight canal cruise. The cruise was nice–there was wine and cheese, but no candlelight. Hmm.

There are a lot of hippies here. This city must have more dreadlocks per capita than anywhere else on earth. There are also a lot of bicycles. The people on bicycles scare me.


Wednesday, August 7 2002  Amsterdam

I had breakfast alone again and then we went out. We went to Rembrandt Square and then to the grocery store to get food for lunch. On the way we stopped at a street market–a very interesting place that sold everything from clothes and records to drug paraphernalia and porn. I stopped at a stand to get fries–hot, salty, greasy, and drenched in mayonnaise. Delicious.

view from hotel room

Next we walked to Oosterpark and watched the ducks, gulls, and pigeons. We ate lunch on a bench under some trees: sandwiches, blackberries, and cheese. Later we went to the antique stores near the Rijksmuseum before dinner at Isola Bella. Tomorrow we leave; J is ready to go home and I think I am, too.

Throwback: Arrival in Amsterdam, August 2002

In 2002, J and I went on a 2-week trip to London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. This post is adapted from my travel journal. Apparently Amsterdam didn’t make a great impression on me at first, but my thoughts overall were pretty disjointed. 


Monday, August 5 2002  Amsterdam

Left Brussels this morning — nice train station — no pigeons like the one in Paris — 3 or 4 stops — Amsterdam is strange…hectic…a little creepy…smelly…very weird. Our hotel is a Best Western…odd, but nice though. We ate at a little restaurant after checking in to the hotel — we had good sandwiches and wonderful cheese with mustard to dip it in.

We walked to the red light district and went to the Hash Marihuana Hemp Museum. Very weird. Lots of stoner propaganda along the lines of “hemp will save the environment.”


Next we went to the Erotic Museum, which is pretty much just what it sounds like. Returning to the red light district, we started to get used to the XXX movie theatres and LIVE SHOWS! and the smell of doob lingering in the air as we went to the Sex Museum (better than the erotic museum) and then to what was apparently the city’s only working ATM. Finally we went to a grocery store (the biggest one I’ve been in yet in Europe) and got snacks and drinks.


Throwback: Waffles, museums, and beer in Brussels, August 2002

In 2002, J and I went on a 2-week trip to London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. This post is adapted from my travel journal. Here, I continue my obsession with food, remain vague on details, and eat waffles. 


Saturday, 3 August 2002  (J wrote this entry because I was sick–he is very succinct)

It was pretty rainy most of the afternoon and evening. And cold. And pretty crappy near the train station. Needless to say, the first impression of Belgium was not a very good one. We were pleasantly surprised with the downtown. Very pretty at the Grand-Place. Open-air markets were cool. We saw a girl-statue and boy-statue peeing. Those were the highlights of the day.


Sunday, August 4 2002  Brussels and vicinity

Woke up fairly early and went to breakfast…not bad…bread and butter; bacon, ham, and eggs; cereal; juice; fruit…no waffles, though.

We went to the Grand-Place, which had a plant market today. Then we went to the Chocolate and Cocoa Museum. It was very cool–they explained how chocolate is made and there were chocolate sculptures and hats and dresses with chocolate on them. They gave us chocolate when we came in and J took my picture next to the world’s largest sugared almond (400 times larger than a regular sugared almond).

We walked around a bit more and I got a waffle with strawberry jam from a waffle stand. It was good. We went to a beer museum and learned how beer is made. We got some to drink in a cute little bar area with old beer-making paraphernalia. I bought three bracelets for me and some incense for a gift.

We left at 1:30 for our tour of Waterloo and Gaasbeek Castle. It was raining again. At the castle there were guys in armor reenacting a battle, with arrows and cannons and everything. We didn’t get to go inside the castle because it was very crowded and we didn’t have time to wait in line without missing the bus. We walked around the gardens and watched the ducks, geese, and fish in a pond. At Waterloo we walked up the Butte de Lion. It was pretty cool, but there wasn’t much else to do.

When we got back to Brussels we ate at a sandwich place called Panos. I had tuna and J had salami. Then we had some waffles from the place next door. On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a bookstore, but we got kicked out shortly after because it was closing.

Brussels is cute–I like it more than I thought I would.

Throwback: Last day in Paris, August 2002

In 2002, J and I went on a 2-week trip to London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. This post is adapted from my travel journal. 


Friday, August 2 2002  Paris

Slept late today and went downstairs to see what was left for breakfast…not much. I had some applesauce and went shopping while J slept. I went to a market at the Place Monge and bought a necklace for a gift, but nothing else. The market was really cool–people were selling fruits, vegetables, fish, spices, rice, clothing, jewelry, and even pots and pans.

After shopping, J and I went to the grocery store to buy food for lunch. We ate in the Jardin des Plantes. I had a ham and cheese sandwich…mmm. We fed some pigeons and a sparrow. At the grocery store, they had wine in little packages like Hi-C, only without the straw. We got some to drink in the park–not bad, although I felt a little odd drinking wine out of a cardboard box in the park.

Next we went to the Picasso Museum, which was wonderful. We saw Still Life with Chair Caning, the first collage. The collages were my favorite. J. bought two decks of Picasso cards in the gift shop.

On the way back to the hotel we went into a couple of clothing shops, but I didn’t buy anything. When we got back to the hotel I went back out to look in the nearby Tibet Shop. I bought a purple bag with mirrors on it and talked to the guy in the store, who was very nice. He paints textiles and he showed me some of his work.

Now we are having wine and cheese for dinner. Tomorrow we leave for Brussels. I wish we’d had more time in Paris–it is much nicer than I’d expected. It’s hard to believe our vacation is more than half over.

Throwback: Paris art and museums, 2002

In 2002, J and I went on a 2-week trip to London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. This post is adapted from my travel journal.


Thursday, August 1 2002  Paris

Breakfast here is not nearly as good as in London. J felt sick again today so I was on my own. I went to the Musée de Cluny first–a collection of Medieval objects including illuminated manuscripts, carvings, and tapestries. My favorite were the manuscripts and the combs–sound silly, but they were so elaborate and beautiful.

I went back to check on J and bring him some apple juice, then went to the Jardin des Plantes–beautiful! Many flowers and trees. From there I walked to the Institute du Monde Arabe. From the roof there is an incredible view of the city. There were textiles, astronomical tools, ceramics, and carvings–gorgeous. The building itself is super modern. I walked from there to the Île Saint-Louis, full of art galleries and shops. I saw Notre-Dame again and bought some postcards at one of the cheesy tourist shops nearby. From there I went back to the hotel.


J was feeling better so we took the Metro to the Eiffel Tower and walked to a modern art museum, which unfortunately was 15 minutes from closing when we arrived. We walked to the Orsay, where I was happy to see paintings by Courbet, Ingres, Van Gogh, Renoir, and Monet. We also saw Manet’s Olympia and Le Déjeuner sur l’herbe as well as Whistler’s Mother. We took the Metro back to Rue Monge and had dinner. I had shrimp and avocado, grilled salmon, and chocolate mousse. J had onion soup, shrimp, and peach melba. We also got a bottle of wine which was good but pretty expensive.

Paris is cleaner than I expected and the people aren’t as rude as I had been led to believe. My only wish is that I could speak French.

Throwback: Arrival in Paris, July 2002

In 2002, J and I went on a 2-week trip to London, Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. This post is transcribed from my travel journal. Today: we arrive in Paris and I ramble a lot, learn how to buy produce at the grocery store, and overuse parentheses.


Wednesday, July 31 2002  Paris–Quartier Latin

As I write I am soaking my feet in the bathtub and looking out on the Quartier Latin through the bathroom doors which are opened to the balcony. This hotel is very cute–nicer than the one in London (or at least the room is) and less expensive, too.

When we went out this morning after breakfast in London it was rainy and grey–the type of weather we had been lucky to avoid during out stay. We walked to Waterloo Station and boarded the 10:23 Eurostar to Paris. J felt sick again and I was sleepy, so we both slept for most of the way.

When we arrived in Paris we took the subway to Notre Dame and took some photos. It is gorgeous. We walked to our hotel and checked in. I showered (the shower here is much nicer than the one in London–it has a tub and water pressure and everything) and J slept. He decided he didn’t feel well enough to go out, so I went to the Louvre alone. It was easy to take the subway there (much more so than I thought it would be) and it was wonderful. I didn’t see much because my feet hurt so much, but I walked around the medieval castle and looked at the rooms of classical sculpture. It was amazing how much there was–I took some photos for teaching. Then I walked through the Italian and Spanish Renaissance galleries and saw the Mona Lisa. I wonder if I am a bad art person because I hardly stopped to look at anything. It is just so much to take in.

I had lunch at a cafe at the Louvre–a tuna sandwich and a glass of white wine (less expensive than tea!) then I looked at some Egyptian art (mummy in French is la momie) and walked around the gift shop for a while–very expensive. Finally I returned to the hotel. I’m glad I went because I probably won’t have a chance later on our trip (there is so much to see) and I was able to the Venus de Milo and Cupid and Psyche by some guy whose name I can never remember [Note: I meant Canova] and some Leonardo da Vinci paintings, so I think it was worth the sore feet. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow what damage I’ve done.

view from the hotel room

J was asleep when I got back and hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so I went out to find him some food. I bought some band-aids at a Pharmacie (for my feet) and then found a grocery store. I bought J a sandwich, bananas, and milk, plus a bottle of water and some toothpaste. At the checkout line the lady said something in French about my bananas and I had no clue what I meant. The woman in line behind me spoke English and told me I needed to weigh them. I had to put them on a scale and press a button with a picture of a banana and a machine spit out a little sticker with the price on it. How was I supposed to know? Anyway, the groceries cost less than 5 Euro, which I thought was pretty good, even though my water turned out to be the vile sparkly European kind [this is funny because I love carbonated water now].

Tomorrow, if we feel better, we’ll go to the Orsay and maybe the Eiffel Tower.