Most of our ILMAE colleagues had arrived by the time we met for breakfast on Thursday, our first full day. However, not all had arrived by the time we were met for dinner on Wednesday, so just Sharon and I accompanied Andrea, our host, to the local heurigan restaurant. We were joined much later by Christophe who had driven straight to us from Ansbach in Germany.

Typically, a heurigan restaurant is only licensed to serve it’s own produce. [See quote“Heurigans, by law are only open a few weeks each year and the vintners are allowed to sell a percentage of their wine tax free! In addition, the kitchen prepares all the traditional favourites.“] So we sampled local and not quite as local, wines and food. Apparently, (we were told by Andrea that..) heurigans in and around Vienna itself are not quite as pure as the tradition demands. See I had dumplings stuffed with minced meat, and a Muskateller wine from Styria both of which were delicious.

Following our first meeting on Thursday morning, we were taken to Schönbrunn Palace Park. Despite the often torrential rain, this was an excellent visit. We had a guide who showed us around the park (not the Schloss itself) and told us something of its history. As I write this in the hotel foyer, having escaped form the mostly procedural meeting upstairs, to continue with my own work, Sharon has returned to the park to see it again in the sunshine.

a view of Schonbrunn palace - rear view
My role here in Vienna is to support Khawar at the project meeting and to continue work on our own workshop’s handbook. ‘Handbook’ is something of a misnomer, as it will be online. It consists of several thousand words which will ultimately (hopefully) support other users of the resulting workshop materials. At the moment, that’s hard to see – but there’s plenty of time yet (really!!!)

After the park visit, we caught the U-Bahn into a part of Vienna where the Vienna Boys Choir [Wiener Sängerknaben] were to perform a free concert in support of a local community project. This is apparently a quite unique event and one I certainly won’t forget. Apparently there are four choirs – each one being billed as THE Vienna Boys Choir – so although the illusion is that they never stop working, there are plenty of boys to go around. This particular charity event was held in the church of a run down, multi-cultural area of Vienna and featured two other local school choirs. Both were sweet, as school choirs are but the difference in class was easily shown because the final school choir used discordant recorders and flute during their performance which was immediately followed by the crystal clear ‘boys’ voices. Lovely.

We then had another heuriger meal (not as good this time) and came home.