The local bookstore with a Global Conscience

Fiction, non-fiction, environment, poetry, history, mystery, biography, travel guides, children, young adult... and much, much more!

Wide selection of quality second-hand English paperbacks at reasonable prices. The most "dangerous" street in Budapest: good books and gourmet food

A Day in Vienna

vienna hostelBen had to lend some Segways to Pedal Power over in Vienna on Monday for a large tour, so I jumped in as co-pilot for a change of scenery and to clear my head a bit. Pedal Power is like Ben's Yellow Zebra in Budapest, doing bike rentals and bike and Segway tours. We stayed with Adam at the Ruthensteiner Hostel very close to the Westbahnhof train station. This is an amazing place, run by two wonderful people, Erin and Walter Ruthensteiner. They were backpacking around the world and had already opened their hostel long before many of us were born. They do it right, and somehow just keep on improving every year. The hostel has a great courtyard, roof terraces with grass, musical instruments scattered around for anyone to use, a bar, and even a stack of small safes by reception with individual plugs inside the safes for leaving and recharging your phone, tablet, etc. in safety. They also just changed all the windows to more modern energy-efficient ones, and added thick insulation around the outside of the building. Erin and Walter are so full of positive energy and life, it makes me wonder how it would be surrounded by such people every day.

We grabbed dinner at the nearby Mozart Schnitzel. A traditional schnitzel place with friendly service but unexpectedly on the steep side. Over 4 euro for a bottled domestic beer was a bit much.  Two uniformed cops wandered in for a beer and cigarette while we were eating. Strangely, Austria has not gone smoke free yet. Moreover, it is strange, as Walter observed, that Austria is considered quite democratic compared to some of its neighbors like Hungary. The next morning we checked out Adam's Vienna Explorer office around the corner where he rents bikes and takes people on his famous Grape Grazing Tour. Bikes are waiting for you at the vineyards and wine cellars of Wachau Valley just outside Vienna, just hop off the train and hop on your bike to explore the area's wines. I plan on going on this tour in May. While Ben had a meeting I met friend and poet extraordinaire Neil McCarthy for coffee, and then a yummy felafel at the Naschtmarkt open market where I also did some food shopping (aged goat cheese, black olives, sate sauce...). When I used to work for Austria's largest environmental organisation Global 2000 in the early 1990s I used to jump in to this market just before going back and grab fresh basil, pine nuts and Parmesan to bring back to Budapest and make pesto.