Stephanie Burgis
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Ho, hum. It felt like a nasty shock this morning to have to get serious about working again, after our nice long holiday weekend. Patrick flew back out to Leeds this morning. Sigh. I caught the train and then the subway back into town, emerged next to the Hofburg Palace, and headed straight into the Musiksammlung. The good news is, it looks like the work really will all get done by Saturday. (I wasn't so sure about that when I first got here!)

It was a really great holiday. Patrick and I lived together here for 6 months, two years ago--actually, our first joint apartment was in Vienna's 23rd district--but we were too broke (and apathetic) to actually do any touristy things when we lived here. So this time we walked through the gardens of the Belvedere Palace, looked around the Stefansdom cathedral, re-visited the wonderful Butterfly House in the Hofburg, and, for the first time ever, paid to go inside Schoenbrunn Palace and look around. Frustratingly, no photographs were allowed--they obviously wanted visitors to have to buy their own books of photos in the gift shop at the end. Of course, those were all full of photos of Empress Sisi's 19th-century writing desk, etc., and missed out all the cool weird 18th-century bits we were really after...but hey, never mind. I brought in a notebook and took three pages of notes on the 18th-century furniture, decorations, paintings and architectural layout, and we found all sorts of secret stairways, servants' doors hidden behind tapestries, and other fun stuff. It was really fun.

Our big disappointment was that--bleagh--we didn't manage to go to Eszterhaza after all. Worst of all, we only realized this at the last moment. We'd planned to go yesterday morning, catching the 8.19 a.m. train to Hungary. (It's about a two-hour ride.) I'd called the ticket office on Sunday to check on prices, and 21.50 per person seemed just barely do-able. (Well, we've got more money than we used to, but not too much more!) We dragged ourselves out of bed at 6.30 am, made it out to the train station at 7.50...and it turned out that it cost 21.50 per person each way. Aaaagh! Mega-disappointment. Patrick spent about an hour talking me down while we walked through the beautiful Belvedere gardens, past statues of large-breasted sphinxes, unicorns, and mermaids. We sat in front of the huge reflecting pool and gazed up at the Belvedere (Prince Eugen of Savoy's palace). I said, "But it's not my palace!" Eventually, I got over myself. We found a book of Eszterhaza photographs, and took some notes on it. We went to Schoenbrunn instead. We had a really good time.

We will go to Eszterhaza someday. Really, really, truly. And in the meantime, I will stare more and harder at the eighteenth-century floor plans, and I will read many more books, and I will keep my descriptions and setting as authentic as humanly possible.

Well, as authentic as a book about magic, murder, and other things That Never Happened can be.

And the best news is: I got an editorial email from Tim Pratt today, asking for a contributor bio for Flytrap 2! Copies to follow soon!

I would have done a happy dance, but I was standing in the middle of the Austrian National Library when I read it, and I was afraid that people might look at me oddly. But I'm psyched!


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