eating fichi

The Light of the World Book Review

The Light of the World book cover

I love a good story. I want the writing to be good, but I don’t choose a book or recommend one for the writing or for the characters. I’m all about the story. I love The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander. It expanded my heart, and made me both happy and sad.

Elizabeth Alexander wrote this book after the sudden death of her husband, Ficre Ghebreyesus. Although their time together was prematurely cut short, they lived a rich life, which Elizabeth shares with the reader.

This book is about grief, but is so full of life.  Love and the feeling of love permeates the story. The book made me smile and cry. It makes me want to be poetic in my review although I am not a poet. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Elizabeth Alexander is a  poet, and writes this book in short chapters, a style that I enjoyed.

The most significant grief that I’ve experience is the loss of my grandmother, so I can’t relate to the depth of feeling that Elizabeth conveys in her book. Yet, my own experience of grief lets me empathize in such a way that I find the experience of the reading of the book to be heart wrenching.

The chapter on grieving without a religious tradition spoke to me. I do have a religious tradition and a different current religious practice, and yet find that figuring what to do and how to grieve is difficult, and all the advice in the world doesn’t make it easier. I imagine that the rituals and customs of grieving provide some solace by giving purpose and direction to grieving, but it doesn’t stop you from imaging that your loved one is still alive, and it doesn’t fill the hole that lodges in your life and in your heart.

Most beautiful moment: Simon takes his mother to visit his father in heaven. I smiled through my tears.

eating fichiConnection: I had never heard of the prickly cactus pear (fichi) before, and may have seen them in the store, but never bought one. The day after finishing this book, I was at a supermarket and there were prickly cactus pears on sale. I bought one and enjoyed eating it. It tasted like papaya and persimmon, but sweeter, although the abundance of seeds were annoying to me. I’m sure that the experience was nothing like picking and eating the fresh fruit in Italy, but I love the fact that reading the book inspired me to try the fruit.

No Expectations?!

No Expectations?!

How do you evaluate outcomes with no goal and no expectation? In a world filled with smart goals, standards, and evaluations, from the earliest school years to industry, are we conditioned and conditioning for unhappiness and displeasure instead of excitement and curiosity? Those were the first questions that I had as I read the recent blog post, Living without expectations. I don’t know the answer to these questions, but as a teacher who keeps reading that schools kill creativity (and I don’t think that school’s are solely to blame), I wonder if the very structure of our society and schooling is antithetical to a life of inquiry, a life open to experiences.

Connecting Ideas

I read another post some time back (I don’t remember where), of a parent taking his son out of a prestigious kindergarten because he felt that the child was being taught too much compliance and structure. He argued that school should place the greatest value  on individuality and critical thinking. This connected for me to conversations with a close friend with a 5 year old about the importance of choice even for young children. I reminded her that the attributes of her child that she finds frustrating right now are the same ones that will (hopefully) let her child be independent, resilient and confident in the future. How does one parent without expectations?

Building new Understanding

I think that it is extremely rare to meet anyone living without expectations. Upon first reading the post, I thought it impossible to live without goals (!!) and expectations! As I reflect, I realize that expectations are the opposite of true curiosity. I have no idea what to do right now with this information, except to ponder it, and to consider how to live without expectations. I think it’s too dramatic for me to expect to remove all expectation from my life right now, but I intend to have more experiences without expectation.

I’m thinking, based on the comments, that living without expectation is advised by the stoics. I’m adding it to my (long list) of interests to find out what they say about living with intention.

3 Nights in Havana, Feb. 2017

vedado1I looked at other places we could visit in Cuba, but in the end, we spent 3 days in Havana. We stayed in  Casa Idalma y Ivan, booked through Casa Amador. The casa particular is located in Vedado. The first day, we walked around the neighborhood and ate at El Cimarron. My friends liked their food but I found it salty and too ketchup-y. I had a chickpea dish. The first one had hot dog in it, so my friends had it and I ordered a second one, without meat. I also had a vegetarian tamale, which was good but salty. One friend enjoyed the chicken soup, while the other ate some boiled vegetables. The fried ripe plantain was delicious. None of us took any pictures of the food. After walking around the neighborhood to get a feel for the place, we went back to the casa particular. Since we had a late lunch, we skipped dinner. We sat on the beautiful terrace and enjoyed the weather.

The next day, we awoke to rain. After a delicious breakfast of fruit, egg omelette, juice, bread and coffee, made by Idalma and Ivan, we took a taxi to old Havana. First stop, Museum of the Revolution. I found the museum quite enlightening. I had never heard about the Bay of Pigs until a few months ago when I read A Brief History of Seven Killings. I always think it important and interesting to hear the same story from different perspectives.

From there, we did some shopping for souvenirs, and found a great restaurant for lunch. The seafood soup and sweet potato fries were delicious. My friends also enjoyed the gazpacho, the yuca fries, the taro croquettes (note that they have meat in the center), and the tamale with meat. A memorable part of the meal was the band that played in the little alley where we sat in front of the restaurant. There were some guests, skilled, enthusiastic dancers who added to the atmosphere.

We wandered through the streets, observing the environment. We stopped at a mercado to see what was available for sale. The offerings seemed quite sparse. Lastly, we walked to see El Capitolio, Hotel Inglaterra, and the Grand Theatre. Just as the rain started, we took a taxi back to the casa particular. I enjoyed reading my book while the rain fell, and then enjoyed sitting up on the terrace. Finally, we went to dinner at Karma, where I had black rice, vegetables, and grilled lobster, shrimp and fish. It was delicious.

For our last full day in Havana, we took the hop on, hop off bus around Havana. We stayed on except for a stop at the San Jose artisan market. We also stopped to visit the Hotel Nacional. Our plan was to get back on the bus, but in the end, we went for lunch instead. We both had delicious seafood dishes. The quality was a bit better than Karma, but much more expensive, so I think I would pick Karma if I had to choose.

rainbow from WIFI parkOn the way back to the hop on, hop off bus stop, we noticed a spot with WIFI access. WIFI spots can be found around the city. From my observation, some of them are in parks, and some in hotels. The WIFI seemed a bit more reliable than at the park two blocks from the casa particular, so we sat on the side of a building to check our email and check in to our flights the next day. At that point, we decided to forget about continuing our tour, and walked 40 minutes back to our casa.

We walked past many embassies and residences on our way. The contrast between fancy, renovated apartments and houses, and dilapidated ones is startling. Some sidewalks are well maintained, while others are torn up and in disrepair. My friends asked if Cuba reminded me of St. Lucia. It didn’t. Some of the foliage is the same, but the scale is just so much larger in Cuba. We drove down an 8 lane highway on the way to Varadero, and it was a 2.5 hours trip from the airport. The architecture is different, with flat roofs instead of pitched roofs. Also, there are many old cars being driven in Cuba, for private use and as taxis. Many of the older cars look in beautiful shape. We saw a variety of transportation options: bicycle taxis, horse drawn carriages, yellow taxis (many of which seem to be Kia), modern cars such as Toyota, and buses being used by locals and tourists.

For our final night, we went to Fabrica de Arte Cubano. It is about 10 blocks from the casa. There was a 2 CUC cover charge. There is art and music spread over 3 floors, with both indoor and outdoor spaces. Drinks cost about 2 CUC each. We had dinner here consisting of snacks: hummus on toast, salads, savory plantain fritters, sandwiches, baguettes, and tapas. My friend thought that the Cubano sandwich was delicious. The hummus and plantain fritters were fine, but not particularly flavorful. I had a virgin pina colada, which was full of eyes from the pineapple. There were people of all ages there, in all sorts of dress. It’s definitely worth a visit.

2 nights in Varadero, Feb 2017

After a few years of yearning, I finally made it to Cuba. I visited Cuba with two friends, a colleague and her husband. It’s a long way from Prague, but we decided that it was worth it to travel that far for some heat and sun, especially heat. I often find that I am tired of winter by February.

We spent the first two nights in Varadero, at the beach. We stayed at the Melia Marina Varadero Apartments. We had a one bedroom apartment with a pull out couch in the living room. The bedroom had an ensuite bathroom, in addition to a second full bath off the living room. There were televisions in the living room and in the bedroom. There was a kichenette with pans, crockery and cutlery, a coffee maker, a microwave, electric stove and oven, dishwasher, and washing machine and dryer combo. We also had a balcony with a table and a lounge, accessible through sliding doors from both the living room and bedroom.

At the hotel, there is a bar, where we had breakfast on our final morning there. For the first evening, we had (unmemorable) Mexican food at the plaza which is part of the Melia Marina grounds. For the second day, we paid 42 CUC for an inclusive day pass to the Melia Marina Varadero. This gave us access to the buffets, beachside drinks, and additional pools. The beachside drinks were quite good. I enjoyed the buffet breakfast as there was an omelette station. I had some calamari at lunch but found it chewy, and there were no spices added. The seafood that I had at dinner was better; there was some shrimp and a nice cooked vegetables dish. The buffet had a good variety, but none of us was impressed with the quality of the food, particularly with respect to flavours. The breakfast the next morning for 6.50 CUC included a nice variety of food, that was better than the breakfast that I had from the buffet.

There is internet access at the hotel. I found that it worked better at the apartments than at the all inclusive hotel. To access the internet, you have to buy a WIFI access card, which gives you an access login and password. The cards cost 2 CUC for 1 hour of WIFI access. The WIFI is quite slow, and reminded me of the days of dialup access. Perhaps one is meant to do yoga while waiting for pages to load :D.

Front of WIFI access card

Back of WIFI access card

 

The Privilege of Luck

I’m not lucky! Have you ever found yourself uttering that sentence? I’ve certainly been guilty of uttering that statement. In fact, I’ve felt a bit insulted when people tell me how lucky I am. I worked for what I am and what I have after all!

Today, my thinking about luck was challenged, and I now see things differently. First, I read Don’t Tell Your Friends They’re Lucky which states that 99% of our accomplishments are due to hard work, and 1% to luck. I found the numbers to be arbitrary but the argument to be compelling. The article happens to intersect with themes in my with recent conversations about privilege, clubs, networks, and nepotism. I recently listened to a Freakonomics episode about how it’s more difficult to attain the American dream nowadays because of the widening gap between poor and rich people. Today, I listened to Krista Tippett talking to Eula Biss about Whiteness and how privilege can be renamed opportunity hoarding. All this content has convince me that luck and privilege intersect.

What Does it Mean to be Lucky 

I’ve often heard the phrase “luck is preparation meeting opportunity”, which is credited to Oprah. This definition nicely coincides with the argument in the Nautilus article. A definition in Merriam-Webster is “producing or resulting in good by chance”. I’ve always thought that luck accounted for the magical/unexplainable reason why one person is afforded an opportunity out of all the other equally qualified people. Sometimes that magic happens because of alumni networks, where you went to school, your parents and other family ties, your location, and other “chances” that affect your opportunity if not your preparation.

Perhaps we revolt against the idea of luck because we see it as implying we don’t deserve what we got, or that we didn’t work hard for what we achieved. I’m now inclined to think that luck can coexist with a growth mindset, but means you got a chance that many other people were qualified to get. Perhaps that still may sting for those of you who like to think that our achievements are due to the fact that we are the best! It may well be true that not everyone given the same opportunity as you would have been successful, but there may be others who would have been.

The challenge is to recognize that being lucky doesn’t diminish you in any way.

Acknowledging my luck 

I was lucky to move to Canada from St. Lucia at 12 years of age. This gave me access to opportunities that would have been more difficult if not impossible to attain otherwise. I was lucky to get a job teaching overseas even when I had no teaching experience besides my practice. I’m lucky that I have always had a job. I’ve been lucky to leave in very diverse countries. For each of those situations, except the first, I prepared for it and found opportunities to make it feasible. But I don’t think that it diminishes my capabilities in any way to consider that there were other qualified candidates, maybe even better qualified ones, in each case. I expect to continue being lucky because I’m going to keep learning and growing, and putting myself in situations where I will have interesting opportunities.

The Challenge of Luck

So what about those people who truly are not lucky? What about the people who have many roadblocks in their way to achieving preparation, far less opportunity? Those people tend to be people who are poor and of minority’s groups. Extending Biss’ argument, I offer that it’s the responsibility of each of us to share our wealth of privilege, of luck with others. This does not need to be a grand gesture. Can you identify one “unlucky” person in your community? I’ll define that as someone with a growth mindset, who is having trouble achieving success. I’m leaving this deliberately vague because I’d like you to own it. Can you provide a little bit of magic for that person, and sprinkle a bit of luck or chance? I’m inspired to look out for opportunities to spread luck every day.

#OneWord365 – Perspective

Since I graduated university, and got my first job, I’ve never been without a job. Being a teacher, I get a number of scheduled holidays throughout the school year, but I’ve never been jobless.  I had the good fortune to find an international teaching job even when there were no full time teaching jobs in Ottawa, and have always found a new job before giving my notice about leaving a job. Perhaps my driving words have been safety, independence, security. Whatever else I may have told myself for the decisions that I made about why I was making them, I now realize that independence and security have been my driving forces.

This year, I’ve deliberately chosen perspective as my word for the year. I could have chosen the words space, or curiosity, or change as my words, because they were the words that drove my decision to not renew my contact for the next school year, and to not actively search for another job in my field right now. However, I choose perspective because I believe that it is an important word to guide me throughout the year. I’m sold on the idea that perspective affects every experience of our life. When I feel the pressure to settle for a job just because it’s available while I am, I will rely on my perspective to help me turn it down. For me, this is a year of risk-taking, growth, exploration, choice, and space. Perspective has a heavy job to help me remember that, while choosing to maintain joy in my life.

 

I was inspired to write this post by the #OneWord365 movement. Want to join the movement? Choose a word to guide your year and register it on their site.

36 hours in Stockhom

I flew direct from Prague to Stockholm on SAS on a Sunday morning, arriving in the early afternoon. By the time I checked into my hotel and got oriented, it was late afternoon. I didn’t actually count the hours, but 36 seems like a good number.

Several people had recommended that I visit the Vasa Museum, so that was my first stop. It was easy to get there by ferry from Mariantorget, where I was staying. I’ve taken ferries a few times while travelling, but their haven’t lost their novelty and excitement for me. They are also very convenient for travelling around Stockholm, and the same travel card can be used for the metro, trams, buses, ferries.

The Vasa is a few minutes walk from the Djurgårdsvägen ferry stop. It’s interesting how much of the ship was salvaged, and that it was so well preserved, but I’m amazed that it was not better tested. Maybe I misunderstood, and there are lots of (possible) explanations in the museum, but I find it incredible.

From Vasa, I took a ferry to the Modern Art Museum. I only had 45 minutes until the museum closed, so I focused on visiting the permanent collection. I tend to be a bit disconcerted by cubist paintings but still find it interesting to watch them and consider their meaning/message. I’m not very knowledgeable about art, but I had downloaded the app of the museum at the WIFI point and was able to listen to information about the artists and paintings, which provided a bit more context in which to consider the paintings. I enjoyed the visit to the museum, which has lots of what I call Math art.

By the time I left Vasa, it was 6 p.m. I took a while before I managed to catch a ferry back to Slussen. I walked around a bit and decided to have dinner at Tehran Grill which was in the vicinity of the hotel, with good reviews. There were lots of spaces and my impatience was about to get the better of me since it was taking the hostess a while to sit me after she had stopped and said hello. Just as I was about to leave, she sat me. I ordered a shrimp dish with saffron rice, and passion fruit juice. I seldom drink juice and had planned to have tea but I love passion fruit and could not refuse. It was worth it. The food was good, with the jumbo shrimp being perfectly cooked. The saffron rice was nothing special. There was no special flavor that I could discern, just a slight yellow tinge. The restaurant was busy but not full, and the two servers were working non stop. It took a while to get my food, but it was hot when it arrived.

Since the next day was Monday, many museums were closed. Had I planned more carefully, I would have gone to the Vikings museum (not its actual name) on Sunday and left Vasa for Monday. Not having done that, however, I went on a revised version of Frommers’ walking tour of Gamla Stan in reverse (because I got lost and decided to go with it). I stopped and bought some Happy Socks as gifts (which I hope are making whoever found them very happy). The German church was closed so I couldn’t visit. The Storkyrkan cathedral is impressive, and I took the opportunity to light a candle for my grandmother, and seat in a pew to say some prayers for the departed. I visited the church three times. The second time, I went back to see the statue of St. George slaying the dragon that I’d missed the first time. The third time, I went to see if I could find the happy socks, since that was the only place that I’d sat on my tour. The Royal Palace was closed but I was in time to see the changing of the guards. (The one in Prague is more impressive I think.) From the Royal Palace, I quickly walked over to Riddarholmskyrkan. It’ grand to look at from the outside, but was closed so I couldn’t see the inside. From there, it was time to hurry over to the City Hall, so I caught Bus 3.

I made it to the City Hall just after 13:00 and was able to join the tour that had just started (which was my goal). The tour starts in the Blue Room which is a reception room used after the Nobel Prize is awarded. The room is not actually blue, but is elegant. The ceiling is flat and can be used for projections during banquets. The guide mentioned that the stairs were carefully designed to allow women to be able to walk down them elegantly. The architect has his wife test prototypes of the stairs wearing a ball gown and heels, so he could get it right. We swept up the stairs from the blue room and continued our tour through hallways and other rooms. The ceilings vary greatly from room to room. In the council room (I may have made up this name), the ceiling has a feeling of openness, almost like a staircase, and the guide mentioned that’s because everything said in the room should be able to rise and float out to the general public. In fact, there is seating for the general public to be able to attend sessions. At the time of my visit, the room was set up for a session happening later that day. It seats 101 council members, who are seated from left to right, by affiliation. There were originally 100 members, but one was added to avoid ties during voting. I don’t remember the uses for all the rooms that we walked through, but the most visually vibrant room is the Golden Room. Ten kilograms of gold was used to create the mosaic effect on the walls. The central image is a caricature of a queen, emphasizing her abilities and strength rather than physical beauty. The golden room opens out to the balcony above the blue room, and the guide mentioned that the two rooms are used together for the reception of the Nobel Prize award.

After all the walking, I was famished. I’d saved Hermans n my offline map and noticed that I could walk there in about 20 minutes. Hermans is a vegetarian restaurant. A buffet lunch costs 125 SEK and includes tea, water and/or coffee. There were a large variety of both cold and hot food, and I definitely ate too much. The protein sources were tofu, TVP, and beans as far as I could tell. I highly recommend Hermans!

I saw Fotografiska while walking to Hermans so I knew it was nearby. I hadn’t realized that Stockholm was so hilly, and my fear of heights had reared its ugly head again. I think it happens whenever I’m afraid of falling on a bridge in the winter, and it didn’t help that I’d slipped and fallen on the ice the night before while walking over a (thankfully pedestrians only) bridge. I looked at the long path to the museum by road and watched the steep stairs down the street. I really wanted to walk down the stairs (my Withings Pop had already recorded 15000 steps) but was afraid that the stairs would be slippery. I stood at the top of the stairs trying to psych myself up. Thankfully, at that moment, a woman started walking down the stairs and I figured that if she could do it, I could too and followed her, albeit at a slower speed.

It was a quick visit to Fotographiska sine only one floor was open, with a new exhibition being prepared on the second floor.

I walked around a bit after this, and did some shopping. I was looking for snow boots but didn’t find any where I was. I asked a salesperson who directed me to a mall, but I was tired and decided to call it done and head back to the hotel.

 

Revisiting Rothenburg

It was about a year ago that I visited Rothenburg. And this weekend, I’m back  with a few friends. We drove down on Friday (well one friend drove) and will head back to Prague on Sunday.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber is a beautiful old city with a wall and many buildings from the 15th and 16th century.

   
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
   
We stayed in a lovely guesthouse. The breakfast was varied with a spread of cereal, cold cuts, eggs, sausage, hash browns, fruit and vegetables. A veritable feast!

Food was challenging on this trip. I’ve been avoiding milk and minimizing wheat. The first night, I tried to order baked potatoes without sour cream or potato pizza without cheese and was told neither were possible. This response was delivered with a look of disdain. I settled for French fries and ketchup. My shrimp salad for lunch on the second day was delicious. However, the waitress delivered 3 forks and 4 knives so I had to ask for one more to eat my meal. She looked around the table quizzically and insisted that she had brought 4 forks. Is it really so much more believable that I did away with the fork instead of thinking that she possibly made a mistake? Oh German hospitality!

4 Days in Venice

Colorful Burano

Colorful Burano

I head back to work tomorrow. My trip to Venice just over a week ago was the final trip of my summer, a send-off for Jane and Emily who are moving on from Prague :(.

Venice is beautiful, with its scenic canals, iconic gondoliers, glass, masks and vibrancy (in the summer). It was amazing watching the traffic on the canals, the garbage boats, ambulances, taxis, vaporetto, delivery trucks and private crafts.

We didn’t visit many buildings but we went to St. Mark’s basilica for a free tour. We paid 2€ to book our entry online and avoid the long ticket line. (Well worth it!) Our entry time was 10:45-10:55, which as perfect for joining the free English tour that started at 11:00. The tour was done by an enthusiastic student intern from England who shared many interesting facts about the cathedral, particularly about the design and the Renaissance and Byzantine mosaics. In one period, a sketch is made before the mosaic is created, but not in the other. (I can’t recall which is which; maybe I’ll look it up.) We paid the extra 1€ to see the Pala d’Oro with its gold and polished, unfaceted gems. We were lucky that the lights were on during our visit; apparently the lights are only turned on for one hour a day!

From the basilica, we went to Galleria dell’Accademia to see some art by Titan, Bellini and other Venetian, Byzantine and Gothic art.

This was a laid back trip, with a focus on lots of (delicious) seafood. We started every meal with by sharing seafood and vegetable antipasti. The seafood was invariably varied, fresh, and delicious. My entree (premi or secondi) often included more seafood. I was trying to avoid wheat, and there is an amazing amount of gluten free available. However, the one gluten-free pizza and bread that I tried was a relative of cardboard. After that, I was reluctant to try the gluten free pasta.

Our last breakfast was at a wonderful bakery, Pasticceria di Chiusso Pierino. I made an exception and tried an almond croissant. Delicious with both sliced almonds and marzipan.

The slideshow won’t below won’t work without flash. See the photos at https://goo.gl/photos/Xv6QQ7eHGDoV6Hb68.

Long Weekend in Vienna

As part of the continuing adventure of summer holidays, we went to Vienna from July 17 – 20.  What a beautiful city, and not so far from Prague. The whole train ride was just over four hours, which makes it an easy trip from Prague.

Entertainment during the train ride

view from train entering Vienna

We got to Vienna early in the afternoon, but given that we had a small child on this trip (3.5 years), we relaxed during the afternoon and just walked around a little to get our orientation. This included walking along the Ringstrasse and finding out about the Vienna pass with hop on/hop off bus access.

Goethe on the Ringstrasse

Mozart in the Burggarten

Since we’d use Priceline to find the hotel, and it was a Marriott with a price of 30 euros for the buffet breakfast (!), we took off to find a local restaurant to fuel ourselves for the day. We’d noticed Chilai near our hotel and decided to go there. They have a variety of breakfast options, and I ended up ordering the breakfast with hummus and falafel. I found the falafel uninspired but my friend enjoyed it enough to have the same meal twice . (The meal was good value so when we had trouble finding our choice the next morning, we ended up there again.) Once we had breakfast, it was time to head off on the yellow hop on/off line for Schonbrunn Palace.

The Vienna pass includes free entry for the grand tour. The entry is timed so it’s good to get the ticket first. We had about an hour to wait so we first went to the carriage museum (Kaiserliche Wagenburg). After the carriage museum, there was enough time to walk around the gardens a bit, but it was a hot sunny day so my friend and her daughter went to the Kindermuseum Schonbrunn and I went off on my Grand Tour. On my tour, I could look out the window and see my friend and her daughter. I think it’s really cool that the museum has a specially designed children’s tour/experience!

After we were done with our tours, we had a nice lunch at Cafe Residenz before going to the Apfelstrudelshow (free with the Vienna pass). The pastry chef was impressive at opening the dough by flipping it in the air and using her knuckles! I was suprised that she rolled the dough in a circle rather than a rectangle, but she said that you can reshape the pastry after it’s filled to make sure that each slide is roughly the same size. She also used a strudel cloth over the rotating board, which she spread the dough on, and used that cloth for rolling the dough and moving it to the baking dish. I found the whole process impressive, but I am not such a big fan of apple strudel (I prefer apple pie). By the end of the show, it was already 17:00, and the sights were starting to close down.

We decided to take the train/bus (free with the pass) to get an overview of the other sites. The vehicle stopped at the (already closed for the day) Gloriette for 10 minutes, which was a great opportunity to enjoy the view. The child had fallen asleep during the ride, so we carried her to the hop on/off bus and headed back to the Royal Opera stop, from where we could walk back to the hotel. I can’t remember what we had for dinner so I suspect we had fruit and nuts, and leftover bread from breakfast (for the child).

I love blackout curtains, because sleeping in was easy the next morning. We left the hotel around 9:30 and went back to Chilai for breakfast. We had another plan, but the cafe was empty and looked uninviting. From breakfast, we walked to the Spanish Riding School for the Piber Meets Vienna show. The free entry with the Vienna pass is for standing. The show was a boring, with only a few horses galloping around, or prancing about. Even the child had little interest in it. We stayed for most of the show (45 minutes) but then went off to other adventures. My friends went to the zoo and I took off for the free 2 hours walking tour.

The walking tour was great for learning the history of the city, but didn’t involve much walking. I could have done it quicker with a Frommers self-guided tour or something like that. Then I went to the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the Sigmund Feud Museum, Donauturm, and to see the Imperial Silver Collection. My main reason for going to the Kunsthistorisches Museum was because it is world renowned, with many famous artists there. I went through a few of the rooms to see the highlights but there was too much to see in one visit. I tend to have an attention span of 1 hour – 1.5 hours for museums. The Imperial Silver Collection is impressive. It’s also interesting how the history of Prague is linked to that of Vienna. The Sigmund Feud Museum is quite small. It’s the place where he lived and had his office for many years. I loved visiting the Donauturm. It was wonderful to get a panoramic view of the city. Definitely worth a visit.

On the final day in Vienna, I went to visit the Belvedere. I first encountered Klimt while attending University of Ottawa. I was walking through the student center when I noticed an display of art prints. I hadn’t realized until going to the Belvedere that Klimt had so many different styles. There are also some lovely paintings by Delacroix and many other artists.