Sunday, June 03, 2007


Chisinau is pronounced 'Kishinau', and is the capital of Moldova, that tiny country between Ukraine and Romania, and other places. There's a region of Moldova, Transdniestr, which would love to be in Russia, but might have to leap across Ukraine for that. My Moldovan project does not work in Transdniestr, nor does my Georgian project work in the disputed region of Abkhazia....it wasn't just the Brits who got their map drawing wrong!

Anyway, flitted over today from Tbilisi, for the next little while. For some reason I travelled business class, which is most unusual in my line of business - the EU does not tolerate its consultants travelling in comfort, but the Moldovan project is funded by the generous British tax payer.

Until I hit Tbilisi airport I had not appreciated that I was not flying Austrian to Vienna, though perhaps I should have known, what with the later starting time....Georgian is one I've tried to avoid ever since they had an emergency landing somewhere in Georgia late last year. Then again, Austrian planted a plane in a field near Munich a few years ago.

The Georgian catering included wine (at 7 am!), and a rather interesting sweet rice dish, where the rice was cooked with raisins, but in water, not milk. Very nice, even though it looked a bit like the pavement outside a curry house early on a Saturday morning!

Had the usual Cafe Landtmann breakfast in Vienna; first time for me that it was on a Sunday, when the cafe was fairly full with well-to-do Vienna families and their bright and shiny offspring. I see the cafe, which is virtually only staffed by male waiters (much like the Vienna Phil is staffed by men), has a new apprentice. His status is very clear, because he wears a white jacket as opposed to the black jackets of the other waiters, is about 20 years younger than all the others, and also much shorter - I hope he will grow. I wondered what a young guy has to do to join such a fuddy-duddy establishment, and what kind of an outlook he would have.  He could have done with a haircut, but so could some of the other waiters, those who had hair.

They must have read my comments about their bread rolls, because today they had much more character...

In Chisinau I have a nice little flat - the company had booked a fine hotel, but I did not fancy it. Particularly because on Friday morning I had a really good piano lesson, and it seemed a shame to abandon all the progress again for a fortnight. Luckily I happened to find this travel company on the internet who had a selection of flats, and two with a joanna! I discovered this at 4 pm yesterday, and frantic negotiations took place over the next 12 hours, until my departure. The flat is in one of those soviet blocs ('Plattenbau' in German). As always it looks as if it's falling down on the outside, but here even the stair is acceptable, and the flat is nice - only the piano needs tuning. Boy, does it need tuning!

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