Wednesday, July 30, 2008

International Activities

This is the view from our son's apartment in Vienna, Austria. We were visiting our son and his family July 13-26 this year.

My grandson is just 3 years-old and already speaks German, Slovene, and English, sometimes all in one sentence.

My son's apartment is on the 21st floor of a building that overlooks Donaupark and that's within walking distance of the Vienna International Center (VIC).

He works at the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in the VIC, which also houses the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

My son's wife works at the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), so both hold positions in international organizations in Vienna.

We drove to Seattle on July 12th and flew out of SEATAC at 1845 to Copenhagen on Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and on to Vienna via Austrian Airlines, arriving Vienna on Sunday, the 13th, at 1825. Flew SAS Business Class aboard Airbus-340. Excellent seats, adjustable to permit practically flat sleeping.

Overcast, rainy Monday in Vienna. Took brief walk in Donaupark, but spent most of the time indoors playing with grandson and getting reacquainted with his parents -- my son and daughter-in-law. Grandson's favorite plaything, other than the reluctant cat, is his train set.

Rode the U-Bahn to Heilingenstadt on Tuesday with my son and grandson and took a brief walk. There’s a large public housing project here, the "Karl Marx Hof," which looks a lot better than like housing in the States. As I understand it, every Austrian citizen is granted public housing – a basic apartment or flat -- if needed.

As we walk towards the Strassenbahn (electric streetcar) we pass a gypsy woman sitting at the side of the path begging. I drop a few euro coins in her outstretched hand. I come across a number of them at U-Bahn stops during my stay. They all seem to have a cane at their side.

Breakfast over here generally consists of bread or rolls, croissants, butter and jam, meats, like proscciuto and salami, and various cheeses, plus coffee or espresso, tea, or hot chocolate. I alternate between European and American breakfasts, just to keep my digestive tract as confused as my circadian rhythms.

After breakfast, we took a stroll on the Graben, which was crowded with summer tourists.

Part of our vacation was spent visiting in-laws in Celje, Slovenia. Stari Grad, Celje Castle, was built in the 2nd half of the 12th Century. It occupies a strategic location on a steep cliff overlooking present day Celje. We visited the castle on Sunday.

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