Thursday, March 8, 2007
March 6, 2007-trip to the eye doctor
Mom woke up this morning with an irritated eye and after changing her contacts it just got worse. Hoping it will calm down, we go out and on the Graben, we stop in an accessory shop so she can buy sunglasses. I spy a beautiful blue and green scarf on sale for only 8 euro and buy it as well.
Next, we head to the Hofburg Palace where we wander around a bit before finding the entrance. We buy tickets for 9 euro each which cover the Silver collection, the Sisi Museum, the Imperial Apartments and come with an audio guide included.
The Silver collection includes all the Hapsburg china, glass, silver and gold, plates, utensils, serving ware, everything. The sheer volume of items is overwhelming and even includes a 30 meter long gold centerpiece.
The "Sisi" museum is all about Empress Elizabeth, wife of Emperor Franz Josef. She was a remarkable women for her era; well educated, opinionated, athletic, independent, well traveled and a poet. She married at the age of 15, had many children, and in later years, refused to spend her time in the Vienna court. It was clear that her husband loved her very much, but unclear if his feelings were returned. She was also vain-obsessive about both her weight and her waist length hair and refused to be photographed after the age of 32. A very interesting woman and exhibition.
The Imperial Apartments are well furnished and even include Elizabeth's bathroom, the first of it's kind with indoor plumbing in Vienna.
I always find myself wondering why we cannot see the kitchens or servants quarters whenever I've toured a palace or castle. What was life like behind the scenes?
By now, Mom's eye is no better, so we walk back to St Stephan's square from the Hofburg to where she remembers seeing an eye wear shop with what looks like medical equipment in the back. It turns out, they are not allowed to look at her eye, she has to go to an optometrist. They recommend one, and of course, he is back near the entrance to the Hofburg.
Dr. Georg Burggasser (Herrengasse 6-8) speaks perfect English and tells Mom that she's been wearing her contacts for too long and she's badly irritated her eye. He gives her a prescription for drops and ointment and asks her to return tomorrow for a follow-up. His fee is only 30 euro, and the prescriptions at a pharmacy, another 8 euro. Would that have been possible in the US without insurance?
By now it is almost 2PM and I'm delirious with hunger. We stop at the famous Cafe Mozart across the street from the Albertina. Looking for something light I order the Caesar salad with chicken and it arrives on hot plate, overdressed and wilted. The waiter brings another, but it was not much better. Mom's soup is good and with
the white house wine and a lemon soda lunch is almost 25 euro. Again, I find myself wondering if it might not have been better (and cheaper) to have wurst at one of the local stands.
At this point we decide we need to go back to the Pertschy get our bags and roll on over to the Hotel Austria.
Our room, #203, is a "classic" room, and what the front desk clerk refers to as an "apartment" (it's not). There are 2 rooms, one with two twin beds, an armoire, and a tv, and another with a single bed and tv. The ceilings are at least 16 feet high and the bathroom is very small with a tiny stall shower and a light that's on a dial timer. We are each given a little amenity pack as we check in rather than finding them in the bathroom. In all, an ok room, neat and clean, but lacking in personality.