Church ceiling in Ráckeve

When you work as freelancer, weekends and national holidays mean nothing. There are no set summer holidays, no half-terms, no winter breaks. There are no set long weekends, three-day weeks, or working Saturdays. It’s all in the hands of the workflow gods. Some weeks are quieter than others. The rhythm that most lives have is something I have long since forgotten. Were my life a musical score, it would be a cacophonous tune running parallel with a sublime melody. I’d not have it any other way.

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Sculptures along The Road of Woes at the Bridge at Andau

WTF?!*  Had I been doing anything more than a sedate 25 mph on this relatively remote stretch of a very minor Austrian road, I might have left skidmarks. As it was, I braked hard, and stopped dead, not sure where I was or what was I was looking at.

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LOOs bar in Vienna

I used to collect stamps. Then I moved on to frogs. Now I collect experiences. And chief amongst them is my quest for the perfect cosmopolitan. It doesn’t take much by way of enticement to lure me inside a cocktail bar. As long as cosmos are on the menu, I’ll happily try it out. But when the invite is prefaced with ‘this is where John Malkovich and Quentin Tarantino drink when they’re in town’, I was sitting on the high stool before the first shake had shaken. (Trivia: Tarantino named one of the characters in Kill Bill II after one of the barmaids.)

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Naschmarkt Vienna

When I pitch Vienna against Budapest or even Bratislava, it always comes in third. I’ve never taken to the city – and I have no idea why. It seems a little sterile and old-fashioned, without a sense of humour. It seems to take itself far too seriously. Yes, it has some magnificent buildings and some spectacular museums and galleries. And yes, it’s the home of sacher torte, that delicious chocolate cake immortalised by Franz Sacher in 1832 (interestingly, he trained first in Bratislava and then in Budapest, before ending up in Vienna). And yes, it has some great schnitzel and sausage, but aside from all this, there has always been something missing…for me. Vienna was just a little too predictable.

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Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser

With a name like Friedensreich Regentag Dunkelbunt Hundertwasser, is it any wonder that this Austrian artist believed that the colourful, the abundant, the manifold, is always better than mediocre grey and uniformity. I’ve long since given up any pretensions about knowing my Art and have resolved to like what I like without trying to justify or explain. Until taken to the Hundertwasser museum in Vienna, I’d never heard of this chap. My museum preferences lean more towards death, resistance and the Holocaust rather than ecological or environmental but he was sold to me as Austria’s answer to Gaudi.

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