Keeping Faith by Cindy Bradford (serial 54)
Chapter 20 Part I
The flight to Vienna was uneventful. Patrick read brochures about museums and landmarks and slept little while Carol was rarely awake.
“I guess I was more tired than I thought,” she said when he woke her for breakfast.
“Weddings are hard for you, huh?” he asked her.
It was still early morning when they arrived at their hotel, an elegant old pensione centrally located inside the ring between Stephansplatz and the Staatsoper. Tall, vaulted and frescoed ceilings and floors of beautiful dark wood adorned the room that was furnished in Old Vienna Biedermeier style.
Carol unpacked while Patrick went to the desk for a map.
“Are you ready for a walk?”
After they had gone a few blocks, Patrick stopped a taxi and asked to go to the Museum of Fine Arts. “You want to see Rubens, and a few Rembrandts, don’t you?”
“Yes, and they have the world’s largest collection of Brueghel’s.”
“Our next stop will be the Belvedere.”
The Austrian Gallery, home to works by Renoir, Monet, Van Gogh, Pissarro, and Max Liebermann, and a walk through the gardens was more than Carol had even imagined.
“Patrick, this is even better than I dreamed.”
“I’m starved,” he said, taking her hand. “Let’s get something to eat. I think I remember reading about this place,” peering through the ironworks into a covered courtyard of a vine-covered building. Daily specials were posted on a chalkboard by the front door. “What do you think?”
“Looks good to me,” Carol said, suddenly realizing she too was hungry.
After wiener schnitzel and apfelstrudel, Patrick leaned back in the booth and let out a sigh. She read his thoughts perfectly.
“You’re tired, aren’t you?”
“A little, I didn’t notice until I sat here for awhile. Then after that meal, I feel drained, but happy.”
With her foot she rubbed his long leg under the table and then put her hands over his. “We have a whole week, Patrick; we don’t have to do it all today!”
He grinned at her for a minute and then just gazed directly at her enjoying the silence and the comfort of their relationship.
“You know what I would like to do, Patrick?”
“What?” forcing himself to sit straighter.
“I would like to go back to the hotel and have a nice, long, relaxing bath with tons of bubbles and maybe a glass of wine.”
“I don’t think the Europeans have those big round tubs for two,” he whispered, mischievously.
“I think I used the word relaxing. You would never allow that. There is a nice balcony outside our room, I noticed. Perhaps you would enjoy that.”
He smiled longingly at her. “Then a bath it is and a nap for me.”
Carol sank into a cushion of pearlescent bubbles, enriched by the fragrant luxury of almond oil, jasmine and musk. The hotel had left a bowl of rose petals and she sprinkled them on the creamy foam.
“Are you sure you don’t want me to join you?” Patrick mischievously grinned, handing her a glass of cool Pinot Grigio.
She closed her eyes, pretending to ignore him.
“I guess that means no…” He stripped to his briefs and stretched out on the duvet and immediately fell into rapt slumber.
Carol had no idea how long she had been in tub when she forced herself out. Standing, she felt replenished and warm inside. She drew a pale green knit sweater over her head, found a pair of low-rise jeans in the drawer and tied her hair up with a ribbon that matched her pullover and went to check on Patrick who was sitting on the balcony.
She put her arms over him, forming a V on his chest and leaned to kiss his ear.
“You smell delicious,” he said, turning to look up at her.
“I certainly feel better.”
“Yes, you do,” as he stood and put his hands on her narrow waist.”
She gave him a long, lingering kiss.
“My turn, but my shower won’t take long,” he winked, pinching her gently.
He had to admit, the hot, sudsy water felt good hitting his skin. He stood there longer than he planned, letting it pepper him on the back. The mirror was fogged and the warmth of the small room covered his nude body as he stepped out of the shower. He didn’t deserve to feel so good, he thought to himself as he wrapped the thick towel around his waist.
“If the rest of the trip is anything like the first day and night, I don’t know if I will ever take you back to Maine,” he said, lightly pulling the cover over her long, sleek body. “You have made me a very happy man, Mrs. O’Brien.”
“Did you say horny or happy?”
The moon cast its glow through the curtains, revealing a broad smile on his face.
“Well, both, and it’s your fault,” he admitted freely. He kissed her cheek, “I hope you sleep well,” adjusting his pillow to her level.
Her eyelids were heavy, the word, “goodnight” barely left her lips before she was asleep.
After breakfast the next morning, the couple walked to the Schönbrunn Palace. Standing in the gardens that encapsulated it, Patrick said, “I know you are disappointed about the opera, but I noticed on a flyer that there is an operetta both tonight and tomorrow night.”
“That’s perfect, Patrick. It was not so much the opera itself that I wanted to see, but the opera house, besides I saw in the palace that during the Rainbow of Music this month there will be waltzes there every night.”
As the week took shape, the couple took in as many sights as time allowed, seeing the homes where Mozart, Schubert, Strauss, Haydn and Beethoven had lived and their statues that adorned the city. At high noon on Wednesday they gathered in the city’s oldest square to watch the twelve historical figures and pairs of figures of the Anchor Clock parade across the bridge of the Anker Insurance Company building, accompanied by music from various eras. They ordered special tortes and carafes of coffee in some of the famous Vienna coffeehouses, and walked along the same cobblestone streets and medieval alleys as the Hapsburg royalty had, more than six centuries prior.
At the Prater, Patrick won Carol a small stuffed animal and they rode the famous giant Ferris wheel in spite of Carol’s objections, but over a glass of wine at a small tavern, she admitted she was glad he had cajoled and coerced her into the ride.
“I’ll keep the teddy bear for our first child and tell him or her how mean Daddy was to make Mommy get on that big, scary ride.”
“Are you still taking the pill?”
“No, and after this week, you might worry.”
“I told you, the sooner the better,” he smiled.
“The desk clerk told me that we should go to a Heurige in the wine growing district of Grinzing. They have about twenty of these wine taverns. They’re actually outdoor wine gardens and he said the wine tastes better under the sky. Each door that has a sprig of pine or fir and small plaque with the word ‘Eigenbau’ written on it means it is open and the grower serves his own wine. They call it new wine because it can only be served the year it’s made.” He added, “It probably will not be the best wine we will ever drink, but it is worth the experience.”
“I’m game; do you know how to get there?”
“The clerk said to take tram #38. It is about a twenty minute ride.”
Along the route there were vineyards scattering the fertile landscape. Many of the grapes, had already been picked and were piled two and three feet high, filling and spilling over the edges of open trailers, parked haphazardly along the sides of the roads leading to the outdoor wine gardens. Like translucent purple marbles, the grapes sparkled in the fading light.
Pointing, Patrick said, “Look! The clerk told me we might see some grapes, although he said it will be about three weeks or so when most of the harvest takes place.”
“The houses are so quaint. They look like scenes from a child’s fairy tale,” Carol said.
In Grinzing, they walked hand-in-hand, absorbing the sweet smells of summer blossoms that filled the moss containers hanging over the terraces. At wooden tables and benches people of all ages lingered, talking and laughing, sipping wine from quarter liters.
“This looks like a fun place,” Carol said, watching a group of tourists toasting.
“You want to try this it?”
“Yes, let’s do.”
Patrick took Carol by the arm as she led him through the vine covered trellis to a sign that read, “Built in 1527.”
In a wine garden, they quickly learned, everybody is jovial and friendly. Within minutes they found themselves sharing a table with five Canadians and three students from Munich who appeared to be vying for the wine drinking championship. First they drank and then they sang and drank again.
Looking at his watch, Patrick noticed it was after ten. “If we’re going to feel like seeing the Vienna Woods tomorrow, I think this should be my last wine.”
He gazed up through the leaves of the grape arbor to see the skies twinkling in the ebony sky.
“I think I should have stopped an hour ago, but the cold cuts, cheeses and Schweinebraten were so delicious that I thought I needed a little more wine,” Carol added, giggling, with a slight slurring in her words.
“Mrs. O’Brien, I believe you are becoming drunk,” he teased, “but be assured you are in good hands.”
She grinned, “That I don’t doubt.” Falling asleep on Patrick’s shoulder during the train ride, she didn’t know when he put her to bed.
When she awoke the next morning she said, frowning, “Oh Patrick, do I ever have a headache! I think I should have had more mineral water and less wine. Would you get me two aspirin and a large glass of water, please?”
“Sure,” he said, smiling as he handed them to her.
She drank the whole glass in one gulp; “More please. I’m really thirsty.”
“Do you feel like going anywhere?”
“I’ll be fine as soon as these take effect. Why don’t you shower and I’ll nap a few minutes.”
Within thirty minutes she felt better and dressed quickly for the thirty minute train trip to Baden.
“Do you feel like walking to the village? I think it’s just about a ten minute walk.”
“I really am feeling fine now, Patrick. My head is okay and that toast settled my stomach. I had a great time last night. That kid from Munich was funny, wasn’t he? I hardly remember going to the hotel though.”
“The reason you don’t remember is that you were asleep. I’m just glad you’re fine now,” he said, pulling her closer to him.
“Can you smell the sulfurous baths?”
“Yes. We should have brought our bathing suits. Look. There’s a thermal pool, just right over there!”
“I read they have several, and this was once a popular destination for Napoleon, Beethoven, Mozart and others.”
As they entered the pedestrian-zoned small downtown they saw boutiques, beautiful gardens and sidewalk cafes lining the square.
“I might like to do some shopping.”
“I was afraid of that,” he smiled, “Would you like to meet me back here in an hour or so?”
“What will you do?”
“I think I’ll go over to that café, pointing to an open air seating area, have a cappuccino or something and just watch the people stroll around the square.”
“Are you sure? I really haven’t done any shopping and these look like wonderful shops.”
“Take as much time as you like. I’ll be right there. Do you want a glass of wine before you go?” he asked, teasing her.
“Patrick, you’re cruel.”
Smiling, he dodged to keep from being hit.
“Don’t leave,” she said, as she walked away, looking like a woman on a shopping mission. Two hours later Carol came back to the café, arms loaded with shopping bags.
Turning his head to see, he quizzed, “What did you find?”
She began pulling a sweater out of one bag, “Isn’t this beautiful. It is pure Austrian wool.”
“That’s perfect for Maine. What else?”
Actually, I found three sweaters,” showing one to him. “This is for you, holding up a brown wool sweater with just a hint of orange blended through the wool, around the collar, wrist and waist bands.
“I like that.”
“I thought it would look good with your hair. What have you done while I shopped?”
“I’ve talked to several people. I particularly enjoyed one older Austrian gentleman who came here today with his wife so she could take a thermal bath. She has arthritis so they make the trip from Vienna three times a week. He was very helpful with information. He suggested we take a boat down the Danube to Krems and then take the train back. You’ll like this. He said they usually have some kind of art show in an old converted tobacco factory. He also told me it was too bad we’re not going to be here at Baden over the weekend because they have musical events celebrating the grapes. They do that each year for a month.”
“There is so much to do and see; tomorrow is our last day, Patrick,” her shoulders drooping as she finished her sentence, “I have had such a wonderful time.”
“But then we are off to Venice for two nights. This time I am riding the gondola!”
“You didn’t when you were there?”
“No. It looked too romantic, those guys serenading couples…” He paused and glanced down at her, “Now it will be good to be romantic.”