Vienna, Austria

A day off, up early, gym togs on and off I go to the 2nd floor fitness centre. Total rubbish, useless, a few very tired machines stuffed into the space of a walk in closet. Really the only useable piece of equipment was the one treadmill that required 2 staff people to figure out how to make it go. Never mind.

After a shower I wandered round the area and fell into an Italian restaurant for a caffe latte, ein bier von dem fass bitte (one draft beer please) and a small pizza. For breakfast? I'm afraid so. From there I came across a cool book and record shop, loads of jazz and world music. I've been good about not buying CDs on the tour (don't want to haul loads of the things around like I did the last two tours) I couldn't resist a small purchase. A collection of Dizzy Gillespie's RCA big band recordings from 1947, stunning big band bebop loaded with Diz's good humour. A Charlie Parker live set from 1953 at Storyville in Boston and from the same year a Clifford Brown album. Clifford was the up and coming trumpet man of the day when in 1956 his car sped out of control and he was killed, as the liner notes say, outright.

This afternoon Glenn, Matt, our driver Alex and I went to the Sammlung Essl Museum for an exhibit of Mexican modern artists. Works on display spanning the 1920's through the 70's by Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Clemente Orozco, Fufino Tamayo and more, very earthy, very moving and often disturbing. After returning to the hotel we regrouped and everybody went to the Liechenstein Museum where we were given a brief guided tour of their art treasures, primarily Italian baroque. The museum houses the world's most expensive piece of furniture, a large cabinet and set of drawers that took umpteen artists 4 years to make, all ebony construction with many panels of scenes created by inlaying rare gems that had been sliced very thin and done mosaic style. The whole thing was frosted with solid gold and it sold last year for 27,000,000 euros. Not my bucket of blood but what do I know? On the grounds of the museum quietly tucked round the back is a restaurant called Ruben's where a table had been arranged and we lingered for a couple of hours over an exquisite dinner, many ordering fish and a few ordering steak. No point trying to explain, simply great food, wine, beer, dessert and a perfect end to a well spent day off in Vienna. "It was a hell of a Vienna."--Charles Bukowski.

So long,