€22 (plus tip) poorer, we started to wind our way back to the hotel. It was then that we came across, arguably, one of Vienna’s greatest “unsung” (heh heh) treasures – the Opera Toilet.
Yes, the toilet actually plays opera to you while you do your Sitzpinkel or plop onto the lovely poo shelf. (They have them in Austria too, as I’m sure you’ve been wondering since the start of this epic saga.)
To celebrate this wonderful find, we stopped off at Cafe Grav for a Spritzer (or three). We hadn’t been there long when an American couple sat at the table opposite. I figured these are the type of people “estimated walking times” in guide books are invented for. You know, when it says “walking time – 13 minutes” and, in reality, it actually takes three minutes, unless you’re an American tourist.
Anyway, they were adventurous enough to try the local cuisine so I gave them kudos for that. Their Schnitzel and potato salad arrived.
Homer: Um, where’s the sauce?
Waitress: It doesn’t come with sauce.
Homer: But… where’s the sauce?
Manfredas: It doesn’t come with sauce. That’s the traditional Schnitzel. You use the lemon to season it.
Homer: Huh. Alright. Are the potatoes supposed to be cold?
Waitress: Well, not cold but not hot.
Manfredas: Yes, traditionally it’s lukewarm.
Homer: Huh (and probably wishing they’d gone to McDonalds).
Once they’d stopped questioning and started eating, they seemed to enjoy it though.
When we got back to the hotel, I asked Manfredas how much the bill had been.
Manfredas: Oh god, I didn’t pay.
Manfredas: Yeah, you were in the bathroom, I was messing around on my phone and when you came back, we just left.
Me: Oh god!
As I was meeting my friend, Wyoming, we decided to pick him up along the way and go back to Grav to settle matters. The owner, who had waved us off as we left the first time, was relieved to see us again and laughed off the incident. Since he was so nice about it, we decided to put a bit more cash his way and stayed for a few more Spritzer.
My friend, Wyoming, had recently moved from Berlin to Vienna so it was interesting to see how he was getting on. I imagine both are a big change from the turkey farm he grew up on. Anyway, it was great to see him doing well and enjoying life there, and also to have a “local” to show us where the nightlife was at in Vienna. We headed to Schwedenplatz to party the night away, AFTER we’d paid the bill.
On Sunday, we woke to a gale-force wind whipping around the hotel, but not to worry, as we were off to cosy Cafe Sperl for a late breakfast.
As well as an illustrious history dating all the way back to 1880, Sperl is famous for having been used as a location in “Before Sunrise”. The ban on mobile phones they enforce probably also ensures most people remember to pay before they leave…
Fed and watered, it was time to go to one of Vienna’s most famous landmarks – Hundertwasser House. This was a commission for the architect to try to jazz up the existing block of council flats. With colourful facings, various protuberances, onion domes and a “war on the straight line”, I have to say Hundertwasser did a spectacular job.
After a pit stop at Gasthaus Wild, we decided to go and visit our new best buddy at Cafe Grav again. Naturally he remembered us and there were tears and jubilations at our return. We both ordered the Zwiebelrostbraten mit Bratkartoffeln and, of course, a couple of Spritzer. Unfortunately, our new friend was so happy to see us that he gave us a complimentary Spritzer just as we were about to leave, which meant that we wouldn’t have a lot of time at the Secession museum. We still drank them, though.
Secession is home to the monumental frieze by Gustav Klimt, and takes its theme from Wagner’s interpretation of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. At €9.50 to get in, it would want to be bloody impressive, and it is.
With our “culture between Spritzer” rule satisfied, we had time for one last drink before heading to the airport. In an effort to come full circle, we went back to the first place we had been to, fervently hoping that Helmut wouldn’t be there. He wasn’t but an even crazier version was. This guy thought that the Russian mob was after him, babbled on about how painful love is, and kept trying to tell us his life story despite our strong protestations.
After practically running out of there, we went back to the hotel, picked up our bags and got the amazingly efficient public transport back to the airport with its Arnold Schwarzenegger lift.
Danke, Vienna (and Manfredas) for the perfect weekend.