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Posts from the ‘Holidays / Significant Dates’ Category


I know a parallel universe where a writer can be alone in the company of others. A place where the air is laced with the scents of freshly roasted coffee beans and the soft tones of piano music accompany stories-in-the-making. A place where the cell phone remains tucked away and the only interruption is the arrival of a slice of Apfelstrudel with a side of freshly whipped cream or a berry torte topped with a sliver of chocolate and a swirl of gold.

Café Central — inspiring writers, poets, artists, intellectuals, and countless more for 140

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

years! Franz Kafka, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg – were all “Stammgäste” here – so-called “Centralists”. Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Gustav Klimt, all came here as well. Rumor has it that Leo Trotzki played chess here while preparing for the October Revolution in his homeland. Happy Birthday to a true Viennese institution!

Without you, Vienna would only be half as wonderful. Thank you, Café Central, for being you, and allowing writers the world over precious hours of in-between times and boundless inspiration.

In my historical fiction novel that takes place in the beginning of the 1900s, Women and Wild Savages, the Austrian poet, Peter Altenberg, describes to Lina

Cafe Central Desert

Cafe Central Desert

Loos the masterful skills of Café Central’s head waiter, Herr Ober Franz:

     “The third appeal of Café Central is Herr Ober Franz, the dominion of this empire of suspended time. Everything runs like clockwork and occurs only with his blessing. Astuteness is only surpassed by his ability to be discreet. A connoisseur of all drinks, he knows the rules to all games. Before the Herr Guest utters a syllable, good Franz addresses him in the appropriate tongue. In addition to German and English, I’ve heard Franz speak French, Italian, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Russian. From the 250 newspapers available in this coffeehouse, Franz knows each of our favorites. Once I even witnessed Franz, without a word, setting a Presse in front of a man who had been absent from Vienna more than a decade.”

                Franz’s slender figure glided through the labyrinth of marble tables. His

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

upper body swayed as his coattails swung elegantly and his black bow tie aligned perfectly.

                “He presides, my dear. If we Viennese are half naked without a title, it is Franz, not the magistrate, who confers the honor. He masterfully ignores his guests to bestow us with the treasured in-between times: between the bank and the barber, the lectures and library, the firm and family, between today and tomorrow. He and His stand guard over our idle hours and never jostle us with a disapproving glance or unrequested bill.

                                                                                                Women and Wild Savages, KC Blau

And don’t miss on World Poetry Day!


On Monday, March 21, Julius Meinl along with Café Central and other coffeehouses throughout the city are celebrating World Poetry Day by offering patrons the opportunity to pay with a poem by choosing their favorite Julius Meinl coffee or tea and “paying with a currency better than money: a currency of emotions” . Let your creative juices flow, be inspired by the ambience and enjoy the Mélange.


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Easter Eggs at Schönbrunn Easter Market in Vienna

Easter Eggs at Schönbrunn Easter Market in Vienna

Easter abounds in the month of March in Vienna. And I got you covered with over 10 different markets where you can eat, drink and be merry and – more importantly – finally find everything from lavender satchels to perfume his sports bag to the long-sought-after Kaiser Franz Josef egg – guaranteed to grant you instant Austrian friends-for-life at any Easter egg exchange event.
But be nimble – some of these markets are literally here today and gone the day after tomorrow.

Schönbrunner Schlossstraße, 1130 Wien
March 9 – 29, daily from 10 am – 6 pm
Public transportation: U4 Schönbrunn


Kaiser Franz Josef Egg - yours for the taking - available for purchase at a Vienna Easter Market near you

Kaiser Franz Josef Egg – yours for the taking – would I steer you wrong? Available for purchase at a Vienna Easter Market near you

(Freyung, 1010 Vienna – near Schotten Church)
March 11 – 28, daily 10 am – 7:30 pm
Public transportation: U3 Herrengasse or U2 Schottentor

(Am Hof, 1010 Vienna – on square in front of the Plaza Hotel)

from March 11. – 28, Mon – Thurs 11am-8 pm, Fri-Sun & Holidays 10am -8 pm
Public transportation: Herrengasse

Kalvarienberggasse, St. Bartholomäus Square, 1170 Vienna
March 9 – 27, Mon – Fri 10 am – 6 pm, Sat & Sun 9 am – 6 pm,
Live music every weekend starting at 4:30 pm
Public transportation: U2 to Schottentor and then tram 44 to Frauengasse OR an insider tip from a helpful reader: hop on the 43 at Schottentor and get off at Elterleinplatz and it’s right across the street (many thanks, Sandy!)


Wooden Easter Ornaments at Schönbrunn Castle Easter Market in Vienna

Wooden Easter Ornaments at Schönbrunn Castle Easter Market in Vienna

March 27, starting at 11 am
Public transportation: U2 Praterstern

February 19 – March 27, daily from 9 am – 9 pm
1210 Vienna, Franz-Jonas-Platz

Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna
March 17 – 28, daily 12 – 9 pm
Public transportation: U2 Schottentor and then tram 38 or 40

Otmar-Brix-Gasse 1, 1110 Vienna
March 17 – 20
Public transportation: U3 to Simmering and then bus 73A

Quadenstraße 15 oder Oberfeldgasse, 1220 Vienna
March 26 – 28, daily from 10 am – 6 pm
Public transportation: U2 to Hardegggasse, then bus 95A


Happy Easter Chickens

Happy Easter Chickens

Freyung 6, 1010 Vienna
March 11 – 26, daily: 10am – 7:30 am
Organic Farmer Market Freyung
U2 Schottenring or U3 Herrengasse

Schüttauplatz 24, 1220 Vienna
March 18 – 20, daily from 8 am – 8 pm
Public Transportation: U1 to Kaisermühlen-VIC, then bus 92 A

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When you visit a city on a return visit, or after several return visits, you are free of the pressure to cross off site-seeing lists, making return visits almost always more rewarding because you can finally ease into a place and let the day take you where it wills without maps or guide books. Sometimes, however, the will of the day takes you where you are not eager to go, but definitely need to be.

On a (return) visit this past week to NYC, one of my days willed me to two gaping holes in the earth where two towers once stood that years ago had afforded me impressive views of the city. This time, however, instead of cruising in an elevator hundreds of storeys skyward, I descended into the depths of the National September 11 Memorial Museum.

Steel beams displayed at the September 11 Memorial Museum

Steel beams displayed at the National September 11 Museum

Words are insufficient to describe what it is like to stand dwarfed next to naked steel beams once an integral part of a skeleton great enough to extend the whole way up to the “Windows of the World” and to be overwhelmed by the fragility of life reflecting in the smiling faces of portrait upon portrait of those who didn’t manage to make it home the evening of September 11. Volunteers in blue vests stand discreetly next to exhibits and politely answer questions as you navigate in stunned silence through bare concrete halls displaying poignant reminders of a day forever etched in all of our memories.

Having studied in DC and often visited the museums and memorials there that are free, I was struck, even before entering the National September 11 Memorial Museum, by the steep entrance ticket price of 24 USD per adult and 18 USD per student. If the funds were going to the families of victims and first responders, the fee seemed a small price to pay. But if not….

It just seems wrong that any company or individuals should make any profit from anything related to 9/11 or any such tragedy for that matter. Neither of the two volunteers I asked were able to say for sure where the money for the tickets went. Since then I’ve looked online. I was surprised to discover that according to Wikipedia’s National September 11 Memorial Museum page, the museum is not administered by the National Park Service like the Flight 93 National Memorial but rather a non-profit corporation?! After trying to figure it all out, I still don’t really get it. How much more costly can this museum be than all the museums in Washington DC that are free? I also don’t quite understand who owns the September 11 Museum, who runs the museum, the logic of a non-profit corporation as opposed to a national park service and where all the funding goes and for what but it would seem to me if the museum is a public museum, funded by public funds and sincere in its mission statement, any and all balance sheets related to the administration of the museum as well as meeting minutes, etc, should be publicly available online directly from the museum website at the click of a mouse button. Sadly, it didn’t seem from what I could find that steep ticket costs were being used for the health and well-being of any of the families at all but I could be wrong. I definitely hope that I’m wrong.

September 11 Memorial Museum

September 11 Memorial Museum

When you visit NY, you immediately recognize that there is no place in the world with as much pulse, edge and grit as NYC. There just isn’t. At the same time, beneath all the chaos, glitz, glamour and lights, you have what really makes the city great – the New Yorkers themselves – the brash, no-nonsense, genuine New Yorker who didn’t hesitate that morning on 9/11 to rush down to the eye of the hurricane and sacrifice his/her life to help another or spend weeks in the ruble searching debris and now dedicates retirement days to discreetly standing next to exhibits patiently answering visitor questions.

Lots of my fellow Americans – particularly those of us who grew up more in the burbs and countryside like I did, often don’t get the gushing, outpouring of enthusiasm for New York that many Europeans seem automatically prone to. But I do. I get it. And it has nothing to do with the neon lights so bright on Broadway.

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