En Route to Vienna
by Robert Catterall (CheckFree)
A week from today, I will be on an airplane en route to Vienna (by way of Paris), travelling to the site of the IDUG 2006 European Conference (I have to be there a little earlier than most folks, because the IDUG Board of Directors will be meeting in Vienna the day before the conference begins, and one of my responsibilities as IDUG President is to chair these meetings). I am very much looking forward to the trip, in part because of the good memories I have of two previous visits to the "city of music."
I first went to Vienna in 1981. It was the summer after my junior (that is, third) year in college, and a friend of mine and I were traveling throughout Europe by train. Two experiences stand out as I think of that trip. One involved a late-night visit to a "wine cellar" in the historic heart of the city. There, in a very old (centuries?) and cavernous space distinguished by stone walls and vaulted ceilings, I enjoyed "ein viertel" (a quarter-litre glass) of the most delicious red wine. The other really memorable experience was a dinner in a Greek restaurant (there's much more to dining in Vienna than schnitzel, though the schnitzel is fantastic). My friend and I were seated at a table near the restaurant's bar, and we were having such an obviously great time that the bartender came by at the end of our meal with two snifters of Greek brandy. "From me," he said with a big smile. It was great to feel so welcome in a place so far from my home.
It was about 14 years before I had the opportunity to travel again to Vienna. This time, I was with my lovely wife, Marcia, and we were there for a few days of vacation. It was October, 1995, and our base for exploration of the city was none other than the Hilton Vienna, the venue for this year's European Conference. We were delighted with the hotel's location - upon exiting the building, one had only to cross through a beautiful park to reach the old part of the city, where Mozart walked so long ago. Vienna is full of remarkable museums, but our best times were spent strolling through the maze of cobblestoned streets, stopping every now and then at an outdoor cafe or a cozy coffeehouse for a drink, a snack, and some great people-watching.
I am very pleased that Marcia (lovely as ever) will be joining me in Vienna for the week of the conference. Yes, I'll be quite busy during the week (various meetings, various speaking duties, session-moderating, and trying personally to thank as many IDUG volunteers as I can), but I look forward to some periods of free time, when my wife and I will be able to retrace our steps through one of the most romantic cities in the world.
To those who will be attending the IDUG European Conference: safe travels, and I hope to see you there.