Another beautiful sunny day in Vienna and the temperature is about perfect, still not quite enough to get me out on the streets as the gym is calling yet again due to the recent collapse of my self-imposed ‘no beer’ directive. The thing is that German beer as we all know ‘is chemical free’ and tastes delicious and this ruling seems to have extended to Austria. We have discovered a brew-pub across the street called Der Stadtbrauerei and it’s too good to miss. The gym and pool at the hotel fit the bill well and since the place is only a year old, it’s all nice and shiny with machines that work well.
The day trip today is taken by road since Bratislava, just across the Slovakian border is under an hour’s drive from Vienna. We head out in the cars, past the airport and into the countryside. The first thing that strikes you is the number of wind farms in this part of the world. Since Austria was the first country to begin a phase-out of Nuclear energy in 1978, it stands to reason that they love a wind turbine here although as ever with these things, it’s not all plain sailing. In fact only last month the Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Lower Austria kicked off their election campaign announcing they would stop the expansion of wind farms. The interest group IG Windkraft strongly criticizes this as they claim that the law undermines the turning point of energy. According to the new Spatial Planning Law, wind farms cannot be built everywhere any longer. The government of Lower Austria does not want to permit any more wind farms until the law has come into power. This could take up to two years. We know the farmers love them thanks to various incentives but for me, political wrangles aside, the beauty of the countryside has been compromised by the sheer numbers of these turbines.
If you follow the Danube downstream for 80 kilometers, you come to the city of Bratislava, last visited by us back in 1996, the city was then quite a different place. Like most Eastern European cities, growth has been fast and vast. Our venue this evening is a tennis center with beautiful outdoor clay courts and the arena, with it’s removable roof, housing what one would assume is ‘centre court’. Rather appropriate with the Wimbledon tournament kicking off tomorrow. As we drove up in the Rangers, I cannot deny there was a strong urge to go and hit a few balls. We were of course on a tight schedule and with no tennis rackets or gear packed, it was out of the question.
Catering today was housed in ample kitchen facilities as I discovered on my daily trip to greet Dave and Chris and to get a heads up on the evening menu. Roast dinner this evening with a choice of Argentinian beef, Chicken or some lovely looking salmon. All served up with the usual roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, green beans and cauliflower cheese. Merchandising maestro Cod’s love for the catering team is clearly as developed as mine as he was in the kitchen sniffing around too…
The relatively small seated venue housed around 3,100 but you would have guessed there were many more as the atmosphere was electric from the get-go. It was another fabulous, warm show with great performances all round from the band. The runner was back into the cars and once more back to Vienna where we arrived just after 11pm. I had the good sense to check the opening hours of the Stadtbrauerei and learned that on Sundays they closed at midnight. Perfect. Time for a nightcap or two and most of us made it across the road for a few rounds of their Helles beer. It’s all made on the premises and delicious.