pop lips…

dorothee and i have been looking at hotels on the baltic sea for our planned fall vacations: one hotel that was reviewed in various magazines and papers is the panorama hotel lohme — and we had inquired whether they had vacancies for the time of our vacations. while i was away we got a reply that they could offer us the pop lips room in their grey’s hotel guesthouse…i’ve written back asking whether they really do not have another room left: pop lips??? i mean, really…

a rather public day…

it’s 7:27 in the morning, my mobile phone sounds its alarm sound, i wake up — grudgingly, as there was activity in the inner courtyard of the hotel until shortly before midnight. a shower & a brief breakfast later i’m on my way to the local IBM office: the austrian life sciences colleagues have set up a press conference on the topic of mobile health — that’s the first exciting act today, and, as ever, i’m nervous about the demo being willing to participate (or not…)…everything works out nicely in the end, it seems the journalists don’t consider their time wasted and we manage to tell our story and even show that it is not just hype but real. oh, and we not only have journalists from the press attending, but also the radio!

in the afternoon we make our way to the ORF tv studios — or rather we attempt to make our way: the taxi driver is not entirely sure where the studios are really, and to increase the uncertainty, his car navigation system (apparently just fitted, as he still has the manual to it close by) disclaims all knowledge of the place we are aiming for…in the end the taxi driver is guided by his colleague in back in the office who apparently has a better map than the car navigation system, and we make it just in time for our 15:30 appointment: our project is going to be featured on “willkommen österreich” on ORF 2! i’m quite a bit nervous, as all kinds of mishap can happen: no GPRS network, no internet connection, no…in the end everything works out quite well: the ORF folks in the studio are quite nice and accomodating, the rehearsal goes well, and a few minutes before 18:00 i’m fetched from the guest room where we had been waiting after the rehearsal and taken to make up: the first part of “willkommen österreich” is already on and we can see it in the make up room while waiting to be camouflaged…after make up it’s back for another 15 minutes to the guest room before we are fetched by another “gofer” and taken back-stage. the gofer girl admonishes us to switch off the mobile phones as we enter the studio area — we tell her that we won’t really, after all, that’s why we are here ;-)…after some more waiting in the wings we are finally on-air! everything works out smoothly, no hitches, the sensor devices work fine, the phone gets all the readings and dutifully forwards them to the server running in zurich — my colleagues from vienna are rather satisfied about the whole event, and so am i then :-)…another trip to the make up room, this time to get the make up down (apparently one cannot just wash it off, really a completely new experience for me) we are off back to town…

…after dropping everything off in my hotel room, i call dorothee, tell her about my tv appearance, and then make my way to the restaurant ofenloch which i’ve found yesterday after the george & the dragon disaster (my face muscles have been feeling sore all day today after chewing that toughest rumpsteak of them all). it’s started raining (after a a very humid and sticky day) and i enjoy the fresher air that’s circulating through the city.

restaurant ofenloch is located in a small side street, kurrentgasse 8, right off judenplatz…has been in this place since at least 1704, lots of old stuff — though it’s not entirely clear how old that the interior really is, as the restaurant had to close down in 1934 after having been host eventually to celebrities such as franz schubert and, supposedly, the immortal comte st germain — to be revitalized by the current proprietors in 1973…nevertheless, the atmosphere is pleasant, down to earth, the menu list is reasonably short, the beer (i have an ottakringer zwickl rot) quite good, and the wine list looks OK as well. i start off with a frittatensuppe, followed by a wienerschnitzel, after which i cannot resist the marillenknödel along with a wiener melange and a marillen schnaps for desert…excellentibus!…another restaurant that ends up on my worth a repeat list!

i return to my hotel, tired after an eventful day — unfortunately, i’ve new neighbors who decide to be rowdy and loud until the early hours of the morning :-(…not sure whether i’ll book in at this hotel again…

eastwards: a trip to vienna

12:21, somewhere in the west of austria…i’m on my way, by train, to vienna to do a demonstration of our mobile health toolkit on austrian television! the train is slowly winding its way through the western parts of the austria alps while i’m coding and — from time to time — looking out of the panorama windows of my first class car and watch the landscape change and pass by. most of the panorama car has been reserved for a group of senior citizens on their way to (at least) linz…some of them obviously didn’t realize the meaning of panorama car: while the sun was busy elsewhere (pretty much all of the time we were traversing the east of switzerland) everything was fine (well, except for the draft from one of the “open” windows, which really was the air conditioning), but as of bludenz the sun decided to tag along and we have been blessed with quite a bit of sunshine — and the panorama windows are quite generous in letting us participate in that — much to the annoyance of said senior citizens who complain about too much light…oh, well…

13:32, just out of innsbruck…most of the swiss travel group is now off to the dining car (apparently discussing train toilets, as one lady who could not stand those discussions and returned explained to the group manager)…is become quite a bit more quiet now…the train manager of the innsbruck–vienna train team just explained via the intercom that öbb is running a three class scheme: second class, first class, business class — the latter being four seater compartment with laptop support and a welcome drink. interesting.

also, while looking out of the windows, i made the observations that if you want to find out which direction is south somewhere in central or western europe and don’t have a compass at hand: just search for a satellite dish: the vast majority of them points south (i’ve only seen two sat dishes during the last couple of days that were not pointing south: one going pretty much eastwards, the other roughly westwards).

19:40, wien westbahnhof…the train arrives with 5min delay, the sun is shining and it’s pleasantly warm outside. first act is to buy the tickets out of here 😉 — sbb was not able to issue a ticket from vienna to erlangen without going via switzerland, so i need to get the ticket for wednesday’s trip to erlangen…after about 20 minutes queuing at the “abroad” counter i get my ticket and reservation as wanted and am off via taxi to my hotel pension pertschy — which turns out to be right around the corner from the hofburg: it’s inside an old viennese building, most of the rooms are facing to the court yard. the lady at reception is rather friendly and very efficient and after filling out the registration form i’m quickly off to my single room on the second floor. on each floor (there are about 5, iirc) balconies run all around the court yard and access to the rooms is from that balcony. my single is rather long and narrow, the only window is to the inner court yard, rendering ther room a bit dark, the en-suite facilities are seperated by a door at the end of the room and are very clean and modern.

after settling in, calling dorothee, and unpacking my blazer, i’m off to find the IBM building where i’m supposed to show up tomorrow and, equally important, find a restaurant to have something to eat…the IBM building turns out to be about 15 minutes by foot on the other side of the donau canal. there is a steak house, george & the dragon, serving guinness close by (the other end of the bridge, really)! i’m enticed by the guinness bit and decide to give it a try…about half an hour later i’ve learnt that the guinness they serve there is a bit on the tepid side, and the rumpsteak (“juicy, tender”) is indeed special: it must be the toughest rumpsteak i’ve encountered ever! very health for your chewing muscles — in the current olympic spirit i bite the bullet (i love puns, yeas) and try to tackle it — though, i’m sorry to have to report that i don’t manage it all, two sections turn out to be stronger than me and survive…on the upside: the baked potatoes are OK…not worth a repeat

after that culinary experience i quickly settle my bill, congratulate the waiter on the toughest rumpsteak ever, and am off — looking for a beizl to have something to still my still existing hunger…and, after walking a bit about, i find a couple of very nice looking pub stile restaurants, beizln, at judenplatz. i pick one, have a matjes herring and an ottakringer beer and enjoy the still warm night…worth a repeat

at about 22:00 i’m back in my hotel and settle in for the night.

a nice sunday, a nice beer, and a daring cat

sometime in the early evening: we have had a very pleasant sunday so far and decide to go for a beer to our favourite brewery, steinbach bräu. as the evening is quite nice and still pleasantly warm we are prepared for the worst, but find lots of empty places when we arrive. dorothee and i have a radler each, chat, and watch people…aside from the stork pair in residence (which today are not) two kittens have apparently moved in, one of which is rather of the adventurous kind: when a dog arrives (with its “human family” in tow), the cat at first reacts as one would expect a cat to react: raised hairs, its back raised in a bump, followed by a flight…but only for a short time: the cat obviously has to explore further — as does the dog…in the following 20 minutes both kind of circle one another, using the benches and tables (and human occupants thereof) as cover to sneak up to the other as close a possible to have a peep…the other kitten observes this cat and dog dance for a moment, but evidently has its doubts about the whole approach and henceforth is seens on the other side of the beer garden.

as good as new…old friends in a new light

the other day (monday, if you really must know) i got an interesting new book from amazon.co.uk…it had been reviewed by steve tomkins on one of my regular cyberspace watering holes, ship of fools: a new translation of the bible called as good as new…it’s the result of the work of the ONE community for christian exploration, mainly by john henson, “a retired baptist minister who has been the translation co-ordinator on behalf ONE for christian exploration for the last twelve years” [from the cover text].

at first i’m a bit sceptical but also very interested in this new attempt at translating the good news into modern day language, but as i start reading, i’m intrigued by it: it’s like meeting an old friend again and getting to know him in a fresh light, learning about unknown sides and aspects of him — mind you, it’s still the same old friend, no doubt about it…but, having grown up with sunday school (which sometimes did seem like biblical-stories-on-auto-repeat), having even tought sunday school classes later on myself, it is a very refreshing experience — and makes me keen to reread texts i’ve read so often before…and, having just finished working out our worship service for next sunday here in the united methodist church in adliswil which is based on 1. corinthians 15:1-11, i decide to start off with reading 1 corinthians again — in as good as new the paul and his friends part.

it’s good getting to know old friends again.