Franz in the City, Vienna, Austria, 10-2015

A calmness settles over Vienna in autumn. The swarms of tourists have returned home and the locals receive a reprieve before the onslaught of winter winds blow in from the Puszta steppe. Franz and I had travelled to the former capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire to attend the exhibition Transducing the City. My son and his colleague were showing their video installation Hidden Noise. It was a creative evening and following the opening enjoyed ourselves at a Viennese wine bar called Vinothek W-Einkehr. The wine selections were extensive and the company unsurpassed. The intimate bar exudes a distinct Viennese vibe that cannot be recreated anywhere else in the world. The following day our destination was one of my favorite spots in Vienna the bustling Naschmarkt (food market). This open air market has been operating near the same spot since 1780 and has grown from providing local fruits, vegetables, and meat products to offering an immense array of the finest imported products from throughout the world. It is the United Nations of open air food markets. And the vendors themselves reflect that with a diversity of nationalities represented at the exotic food stalls throughout the Naschmarkt. The fragrant spices, colorful displays, and savory aromas entice visitors from far away making this market a true foodie’s delight. Vienna is nourishing for artistic endeavors as well as for the appetite.

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Meersburg Wine Festival, Meersburg, Germany, 9-2015

The brass band beats rocked the medieval Meersburg city center and the appreciative crowds clapped and danced to the rhythms of the familiar folk tunes. Lederhosen and dirndl clad young people merrily cheered to the autumn season with plenty of drink and song. Franz and I also indulged in the successful grape harvest and partook in imbibing the young wines of 2015. The October day was picture perfect and we had arrived via the ferry boat from Bregenz to visit the yearly Meersburg Wine Festival in Germany. We came to taste the best of the Bodensee regional wine offerings that included a Müller Thurgau, Rose, Prosecco, and our favorite a Baden Bodensee Spätburgunder. We paired our libations with yummy bacon wrapped dates, Flammkuchen (German pizza), and a finger lickin’ oxen sandwich. The ancient city is home to two castles that date to 630 and is aptly called “the castle on the sea” and is surrounded by the rich soils of the Bodensee that produce the famous wine grapes of the Weissherbst (white fall) that the region is known for. We enjoyed a great day spent groovin’ to the brass vibes and mingling with the locals. We’ll be back next autumn.

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Gorgeous Georgia, 6-2015

Our first day and a city tour of beautiful Tbilisi.

We drive to the Kakheti region and learn how to bake bread and taste some wonderful Georgian wines.

We drive to the semi-desert at the Azerbaijani border and visit an ancient monastery.

We drive to the cave town of Vardzia and spend the night in an old Ottoman castle.

We visit the famous church in Mtskheta, then back in Tbilisi we look at 5000 year old jewelry and have a wonderful meal at the top of the city.

We drive along the Georgian military highway to the town of Stepantsminda on the Russian border in the high Caucasus.

Our last trip takes us to a famous church in Kutaisi, a beautiful cave and then to the Black Sea resort town of Batumi. Back in Tbilisi we celebrate our farewell with traditional dances.

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