Lust and gluttony, the only two deadly sins worth the trouble...
Isabel Allende

Would you like raspberry syrup in your beer?

A short European odyssey by matthew and erica

Driving south, through Sarasota, we are on our way to Miami and a plane to Vienna. We need to stop at a bank and buy some travelers checks. we finally spot a bank of the correct brand, and I leave Erica reading in the parking lot and go in. there is a man who looks like he’s going to be parked in front of a teller for the next 30 minutes, he has paperwork all over the counter, and the other teller is pinned down by a woman with what might be a fairly shrill Bulgarian accent, haranguing her and the rest of us with her tale of being ripped off by the bank because they won’t buy euros for more than they sell them… she had a 500 euro note in her hand and the teller is on hold for the latest exchange rate, because the woman insists the rate has gone up in the last couple hours.. After listening to this for a couple minutes, I speak up and ask how much the bank is paying for 500 euros. “580 dollars” she says. I gave her 585 and figured I had a pretty good deal, as it would have cost me about 620 to buy it in Europe. This, and buying the travelers checks, consumed enough time for Erica to think I had been kidnapped by robbers on leaving the bank. dropping by bob’s boatyard on the way out to check on the trimaran launch, we see the crane coming out the drive as we are going in. already done, and going home. Which loosens a little tension in my body- nobody dropped the boat, nobody got squashed… one last stop before Miami at Richards to pick up some organic maple syrup on the special request of O’Neal, ensconced in Poland these last three years.

Well since my father has forced me to sit at the computer and write about our trip to Europe I guess I’ll have to start off where he left off….here we go.By our 9th hour on the plane and having missed a night of sleep I wasn’t in the best mood but I still tried not to complain. We proceeded to take a city airport train and then a taxi until we finally arrived at where Edward was staying. In the quick fifteen steps from the taxi cab to the apartment my father proceeded to loose his wallet complete with 1000$ worth of (unsigned) travelers checks and the 500 euro note that he bought off the woman at the bank. *sigh* But we didn’t realize this until later. With the help of Martin and Marcus we made our way in the drizzling rain to the flat we were staying at. The building was awesome and old so of course…… elevator and we were on the top floor. But somehow we managed to get out luggage up four flights of winding stairs. The flat had new paint, flooring, plumbing, and consisted of mainly a futon and tons of sound equipment and records.

The weather was perfect. The mornings were cool, the nights were cooler, and the afternoons were warm and sunny. We did plenty of walking, sightseeing, and sleeping in. A perfect vacation. Across the street in the other apartment building there lived about 5 transvestites. nice eh? The danced, dressed up and went out on the town. We got to watch it all happen. Pink wigs strapless sparkley dresses the whole nine yards. I went out on my own a few times. shopping mostly. I can’t say that the prices were much cheaper in Wien but the clothes were. Markus and Edward set us up with some shows to see. The theatres there are truly beautiful. With gold angels and huge chandeliers everywhere. There was just so much to look at. We also saw the Pied Piper of Hamelin in German. Apparently it was very political or whatever. But we didn’t’ catch half of it. Any of it actually. But it was still amusing and the music was good. Among our many sightseeing adventures we visited St. Stephens’s church. That is at least 500 years old. It’s amazing inside. Everything is so intricate. Even the pulpit was amazing. It was carved out of basically a large rock. And coming out of it are the heads of five saints. It’s so amazing to think that someone carved such an intricate piece out of a giant rock and a chizzle. While in St. Stephens we saw the catacombs. I’ve never seen so many bones crammed into one space before. At one part there was this hole in the ground with a ladder coming out of it. When they had a giant plague about 300 years or so ago and so many people were dying, they though it a good plan to just dump all of the dead bodies down into the hole. So now you can see just thousands of bones that had just been dumped into this deep deep hole. Kinda creepy. One thing that I definitely noticed when I got to Germany was how well everyone was dressed. Leather everywhere. And we’re talking like full on leather pants, jackets, shirts, shoes, the whole nine yards.

Everything in Wien is so old except the people. The exact opposite of Sarasota and the change in atmosphere was definitely what the doctor ordered. So we headed over to Markus’s new apartment, which we would be occupying for the next two weeks or so. It is a fourth floor walkup (with high ceilings) - 94 steps up from the street. Brand new floors, brand new plumbing, and fresh paint. Not much else aside from one futon and a wall of sound engineer’s equipment. Including lots of records and cds. Which we tried to pick listenable music out of with limited success. We did find a remix that we loved so much we played it incessantly while we were there. Markus, who gets the kind and generous award for 2004, ran out to Ikea and brought back a multicolored collection of sheets, and some pillows full of wheat bran. We slept late. Cool mornings, almost cold nights, it was a drawn out spring in Austria. Edward, to his dismay, was working nearly 24/7, not having had a day off in two months, and not looking like he was going to get any either, till the festival ended. Ah, the Wien festwochen. An eclectic selection of music, theater, art, etc, etc. we had the back door in for the festival.

Our first show was Sappho and the north aftrican love orchestra, or something like that, at the Ronacher Theater where Edward ran the sound. We arrived at the Ronacher early, and took a seat at a restaurant across the street. In our broken German we ordered a beer and then waited patiently for a chance to order food. But that was not to be. They had stopped serving- so down the street for a gyro and back just in time to find Edward looking at his watch standing outside the stage door. In we went, and found our seats in an empty box for ten with a “techical staff only” sign on the door. Then on a tour of the theater. one of the tech guys asked if we had seen the angel yet? Edward hadn’t either so up three flights of stairs and overlooking the lobby he pointed up in the general direction of some life-sized cherubs on the wall holding a dedication plaque. “do you see it?” we looked closer. “the angel on the right.” aha! this angel was equipped with an at least life size erect penis, not something you are used to seeing on angels. “My friend Manny was working on the renovation of the theater two or three years ago, and that is his work”. ahhhh.