This did the trick – the headache was only dimly evident when I woke up, and the pain down my left leg a distant memory. I was a little bit late meeting up with Martha at the corner of Mariahilfer Straße and Museumsplatz – she recognised me immediately and I her (even though we’ve never met). We went for a meal in a café amongst the museums – and very good it was. Martha is a lovely woman – really warm and friendly (well – she’d have to be, to offer a complete stranger a bed for the night, wouldn’t she?). She’s a student at the University here, in ‘Buildings Engineering’ – having moved into this field from architecture. It’s very mathematical – which validates my theory that knitters fall into two camps – the mathematical ones, and fluffy, creative types, with some overlap! (Guess which camp I fall in?)
We had knitting in common – and Martha is prolific, with a love of Rowan patterns and yarns especially. After our meal, we wondered around the Vienna – to a garden, where we had coffee in a café overlooking the green area, next door to the butterfly house. I would have liked to have visited the Spanish Riding School but it’s very expensive so I gave it a miss. Then through the Naschmarkt, which is enormous and sells everything – but especially exotic foods, spices, cheeses, olives, fruit and veggies etc. We had baklava as we wondered along (it’s no wonder I’ve not lost any weight on this trip yet).
I collected Rowenna and luggage from Wombat’s, which is right beside the market and Martha collected a Viennese equivalent of a ‘Borisbike’ to cycle alongside me. We cycled to the Design museum (MAK – or Museum of Applied Arts), which has free entrance after 6pm. There we viewed a collection of glasses (who knew there was so much to know about the design of spectacles?); stools and chairs (I liked this); ‘accidental’ architecture by Josef Frank; and the most amazing lace collection that I know Mary DeSalis would love to see, but which I could appreciate all the more, because I’ve seen Mary’s work and know the skill and patience involved in its creation.
Then we went back to Martha’s home – a modern flat with all mod cons in a relatively high rise block only built in 2009 (iirc) not far from the huge park – part of which is a permanent fairground with dodgems and ferris wheel and the like. The flat is decorated with IKEA (there are TWO stores in Vienna) furniture – I loved the fabrics Martha had used to line the glass cupboard doors and the wilderness of plants adorning the balcony. It was a comfortable home (full of wool!) for the newly weds – for Martha and her beau, Stefan, have only been married since March (and the big church wedding doesn’t take place until September – if the dress arrives from the US in time – it’s only been 7 weeks so far!). Stefan is a medical student in doing his final year (I think) – with a 5hour exam on neurology, paeds, psychiatry, obs and gynae and ENT coming up. Despite this, he seemed remarkably relaxed and cooked our supper of Chicken and mango with sticky rice – mmm. We also had Austrian white wine (made with a grape that can cope with relatively cool conditions) and home made cake.
Stefan disappeared before midnight, as he had to be up early for work.
Martha and I stayed up discussing knitting, art, books and all sorts ‘till gone midnight. We even discussed politics - did you know Austria have just elected a new President? The guy Martha voted for got in, which she was pleased about because of his green connections. Think they have proportional representation - i.e. there's another round until one candidate achieves a majority.
I’m going to add an addendum as I got a message from Martha. This seems particularly apt,this morning, since the conversation we had was about never voting for anyone who actually got in – and we’ve just had the referendum on whether the UK should remain in EU and I was on the losing side – again!
Martha said: “I think there was just a small miscommunication in our brief politics chat - I just mentioned that the 2 candidates in the run-off vote were a former leader of the green party, and a key member of the far-right freedom party. I didn´t talk about my motivations for voting for the elected candidate (or else I would have gone on and on!), but it was actually quite difficult to choose from the original 6 candidates, and party connections were not the only (or even the main) point when making the decision.
The president´s power and duties are different from many other countries; I think the closest equivalent in the UK would be the queen.”
Thanks for clarifying, Martha!
The sofa bed was heavenly and I slept like a log.