Home > European Vacation > Vienna: Musical toilets, a mob museum, and shopping for diamonds and fridge magnets

Vienna: Musical toilets, a mob museum, and shopping for diamonds and fridge magnets

July 17th, 2009

In our planning, Jeanne read somewhere that Vienna would be a disappointment, that it had gotten old and tired.

Well, old is fine, but tired it is not, and we can now see why it is one of the five most-visited cities on the planet. We heard that on our jump-on-and-off tour bus that we sat on for several hours Friday as the temperature pushed toward 100 degrees.

On the way to the bus tour, the girls needed to visit the WC (my new code for a potty stop). In the underground station we found the “Vienna Opera Toilet” and it played such lovely waltzes to attract customers (at 60 cents a visit) that everyone who walked by, even if they didn’t have to pee, still broke into a stuttering dance as if they had to.

Beyond the fancy pay toilets, Vienna is a very very very impressive city, for its palaces and parks (half the city is green space, one of the bus-tour recordings noted) and plazas and public buildings (among the many museums is the Museum of Crime and Law Enforcement, a name not nearly as endearing as Las Vegas’ Mob Museum). 

It’s a great place to shop, too.  Jeanne is on a march across Europe looking for the most fitting refrigerator magnets to mark our journey.  And  don’t know why, but it is very stressing for me.  Yes we are spending thousands of dollars on this trip but I can’t let go of the fact that a magnet that condenses all of a city’s scenes into a three-inch-by-two-inch magnet might cost 4.50 euro at one shop when we could have bought it two blocks earlier, at another cart, for 4.25.  Twenty-five cents, wasted!

It was with that sense of stingy spending, then, that Daughter discovered we were walking by a Tiffany jewelry store. This was suddenly relevant since the night before, Boyfriend had proposed to her at our campground in Vienna and her idea of a good time shifted from S’mores to solitaires.

We indulged Daughter, and I promised to talk Boyfriend-turned-Fiancé off the ledge with a few beers later in the day.

This was a nice Tiffany’s and the lovely staff made us feel welcomed. They must have profiled us as Class A prospects, what with our water bottles, cameras and Vegas sun visors. Real world travelers, the Gormans.

We were directed to the diamond collection upstairs and Daughter darted to the Legacy collection of engagement rings. The sales clerk looked quite pleased by Daughter’s homework. “Ah, this one has a 1.19-karat center stone. Nineteen thousand Euros, she said.

Boyfriend looked up to me. I saw him swallow hard. I waved him off, the kind of man-to-man signal: Don’t worry man, we’ll get out of here soon. Wal-mart has a fine collection of rings. And Kay’s at the mall. Every kiss begins with Kay.

I asked the sales clerk, Tanja, how she calms the nerves of boyfriends when their fiancés check out the merchandise and their eyes fall out of their sockets like they’re attached by Slinkys. “If we think we are close to a sale, that the young lady is serious, we bring out champagne,” she told me.  Huh.  That’s how they close deals in Vienna.

I made friends with Tanja, to buy time for Daughter to look at the rings, because she may never get this close to the Tiffany Legacy again. Tanja told me to say high to the Tiffany’s associates who, she assumes, have extended me fine service at the company store at the Bellagio, back home in Vegas.  Oh yeah, I said. Good friends, all.

We decided to move on. Boyfriend needed a beer.  But Daughter lagged behind, unwilling to leave the counter.

I told Fiancé that in 30 years, the wife will pore over kitchen magnets.

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