Burning Tower Book Review

by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
$7.99; 655 pages

I reviewed Burning Tower along with Burning City a year ago. I recently re-read them both, so this seemed like a good time to expand upon my rather cursory review of Burning Tower.

Burning Tower picks up a year after Burning City concludes, Yangin-Atep is myth, the Greenroad is open, and no one knows how Tep's Town will survive exposure to the outside world. The focus of the book is on the budding romance between Sandry, the finest young Lord of his generation, and Burning Tower, the youngest of Whandall Feathersnake's children. Whereas in Whandall's story, we saw an entire lifetime in one book, Burning Tower slows down time so that we can see Sandry and Tower begin to love one another, and overcome the obstacles that could keep them apart.

Sandry and Tower come from different worlds. Sandry is Lord Sandry, representative of the legalistic and militaristic Lords of Lordshills. We get to see much more of the Lords' society in Burning Tower, see what they do and why they do it. Tower's mother and father represent the other two factions of Tep's Town, the kinless and the Lordkin, but Tower is more a child of the Hemp Road.

Dynastic politics is both bane and boon to Sandry and Tower. Normally, Lords marry within their own kind, but Whandall's escape from Tep's Town and subsequent success as a merchant prince has both elevated his status and set in motion a chain of events that threaten to undermine the power of the Lords, and the stability of Tep's Town. The possibility of marrying into a trading empire allows Sandry the opportunity to follow his heart, and it leads him from Tep's Town, across the Mohave, up the Mogollon Rim, and past Meteor Crater to Aztlan.

As a secret history, Niven and Pournelle based this book upon existing art, legend, and archeology, with their own special twists. I greatly enjoyed their version of the foundation myth of the Aztecs. There is a little bit of fun metahistory, some unusual tidbits thrown in for color, and perhaps just a bit of snark towards bureaucracy. A really, really, fun book. Anyone who likes Niven and Pournelle will like this one, and fans of secret histories should as well.

My other book reviews

Brave Movie Review

Directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Thompson, and Steve Purcell
Written by Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, Brenda Thompson, and Irene Mecchi
Starring Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, and Emma Thompson

Merida's hairBrave is about two things:  the relationship between Merida and Elinor, and the natural beauty of Scotland. Actually, three things; it is also about Merida's hair.

I listened to a bit on NPR about how Pixar upgraded their Renderman software specifically to animate Merida's hair. I'm impressed. That is the best hair I have ever seen in computer animation. It makes the hair in the Incredibles look like the Barbie doll hair it is. Pixar hasn't done anything new with hair since Monsters, Inc.

In a way, Merida's hair is Merida, wild, beautiful, and untamed. Much like the misty glens and eerie standing stones that form the backdrop for Brave. This movie is rooted in a furious love of a particular place, much like Cars. I want to go to Scotland. If this movie wasn't sponsored by the Scottish tourism board, they got the best deal ever. I also want to go to the Northern Arizona Highland Celtic festival, because the rough and tumble, boisterous fun of that kind of gathering is on display here.

I liked Brave, and I think you should see it too.

My other movie reviews

 

Freefall

Jerry Pournelle recently recommended Freefall, and this is my favorite web comic of the moment. It may have been slow going waiting for it to come out originally, but I breezed through the first couple of years of comics already. This is definitely engineer humor, but it can also make you think.

There are nice little science tidbits scattered throughout, but also some fun ruminations on political philosophy, ethics, and common sense. From the point of view of a genetically engineered dog. =)

I also still think of the WWF as the World Wrestling Federation.

New Tim Powers book coming March 2012

Hide Me Among the GravesTim Power's newest novel, Hide Me Among the Graves, will be coming March 2012. This is sort of a sequel to The Stress of Her Regard, a tale of vampryic muses in the lives of Byron, Keats, and Shelley, based on actual events in their lives. There is a continuation of this storyline in the most recent edition of The Bible Repairman and Other Stories that serves as a bridge between the two novels.

h/t The Works of Tim Powers

Johnson Space Center

I updated the Places I've Been section with photographs from the Johnson Space Center in Houston. The JSC is a shrine to mechanical engineering. There was a plaque set near the Command Module that designed the Saturn V a National Mechanical Engineering landmark. I didn't even know that designation existed!

A building has been constructed around the Saturn V because it was rusting in the humid Houston climate. The rocket itself has been repainted and restored, it was a sight to see. The Command Module was a bit rusty, but I was awed to think of the work that went into designing and building the machine that took man to the moon.

Iron Hill Brewery Dunkel Weizen

Iron Hill Dunkel Weizen

Iron Hill Dunkel Weizen

Dunkel Weizen [Type 27] 6.3% ABV

Iron Hill Brewery is a small brewpub chain in and around Newark Delaware. I was a little surprised at how small their brewing equipment was, but if you just brew beer for one restaurant at one location, I suppose you don't need that much capacity. Each location has different beers available. The restaurant had some nice wood paneling, and a varied menu. I had an excellent hummus wrap that was far bigger than I could eat.

The dunkel weizen came out as I would expect, in a pilsner glass, dark and murky. It was a little heavier and maltier than your standard hefeweizen, with pronounced fruitiness. Low hops.

Rating

This is a good, solid dark wheat beer. I would come back here gladly. I sampled several other beers, including a golden ale, a standard hefeweizen, and a smoked porter. All were good. Iron Hill does a good job. I didn't try anything crazy, but they nailed the standard kinds of beer. That is a very good thing.

My other beer reviews

Vienna- Day 7

Technically, we traveled home today, so we weren’t really in Vienna.  Our flight left early, but there was a train just outside our hotel that took us directly to the airport.  Our flight to London was fine, but then we had a 6-hour layover in Heathrow.  I have a deep hatred for that airport.  We were in the new British Airways terminal, which was very nice inside, but to get there you have walk through empty corridors to a bus.  Once in the bus, you drive through an airport that looks like at any moment they could pack the whole thing up.  The layout of Heathrow really makes no sense.  The upside was there was plenty of time for duty free shopping.  Ben has never had so much fun shopping since we got him two bottle of very fine whiskey for significantly less than you would ever be able to get them here.  We also ate at a ramen place in the airport.  It is apparently this new, trendy chain in London called Wagamama.  It was very good. Hopefully there will be one in Phoenix soon!  The flight home was longer than normal since we had to go around the ash.  We were disappointed with the service on our flights this trip. I think between our hatred of Heathrow and the lack luster service we will probably fly a different airline if we go to Europe again. A collection of the goodies we brought home

I know it took me forever to post all these...Sorry about that. Click here to read them all!

Vienna- Day 6

We went to Hohr Markt today because I wanted to see the clock there.  The square itself was plain, but the clock was very neat.  The Anker clock had different figures that move across it for each hour.  At noon you can see all the figures, but we never seemed able to make it there by noon.  We had lunch at a random little pizza shop near the clock.  The pizzas were decent, large, and cheap, so it was a winning combination.  It was also a little of the beaten path, so it wasn’t busy.  The market also has Roman ruins underground that you can tour, but we happened to go on a day they were closed.

The Anker clock. You can see two figures because it's almost 1 o'clock.

Today was a day for churches. Churches, especially in Vienna, are a great way to see art without paying ridiculous amounts to get in a museum.  The churches are generally free unless they are one of the big tourist draws, but I still always donated a little money because I’m sure the upkeep on those beautiful old building is very high.  We saw the outside of the Ruprechtskirche, which is the oldest church in the city. It was closed, so we couldn’t go in.  While wandering, we found the Am Hof, which is the largest enclosed square in the city.  It was cool, but not the sort of thing you can really take a picture of. We also saw Maria am Gestade, which is one of the oldest churches, and is very gothic.  It had the crazy statues all along the sides of different saints.

Ben in front of the Ruprechtskirche

One of the towers of Maria am Gestade

Interior of Maria am Gestade

This was my favorite statue in Maria am Gestade. I don't know who it is.

After the conference we changed hotels because the Company was no longer paying for it, but my dad travels all the time (Think ‘Up in the Air’ except he’s not looking for love) so he was able to use his Marriot points for our hotel.  We stayed at the Imperial Riding School, which is a Renaissance hotel, or something like that.  All I know is, it was amazing.  Because my dad is a member of the ridiculous travelers club, we could go in the Imperial Club at the hotel.  It had free beer, wine and snacks at night and breakfast in the morning.  Basically, it was totally sweet! Thanks dad!!!  Anyway, the hotel had this guide of things that might be interesting to their clients, and one was a coffee roastery called Alt Wien Kaffee.  It was amazing!  They roast their beans there, and in true SWPL fashion use all organic, fair trade, etc, etc, beans.   It was the best espresso we had in Vienna, and we had good espresso pretty much everywhere.

The front of our hotel at night.

The roaster for the coffee beans. It smelled so good!

Ben enjoying his espresso.

Me in front of the shop.

We also went back to the Nachsmarkt.  Ben hadn’t seen it and there was a shop near by that I wanted to stop in to get my brother a college graduation present (we got him Apple schnapps if you’re curious).  The coffee roastery was also nearby.  Ben liked the market, but not nearly as much as I did.  I could have spent all day there.

One of the fruit and vegetable stalls at the Nachsmarkt. I loved the way everything was displayed.

We were rained on while on our way to get a treat.  It wasn’t just a light rain; it was a torrential downpour.  Everyone was hiding in the U-Bahn station to wait it out. It was weird to see the square around Stephansdom completely empty.  We went to a café called Aida and got an espresso and a Sachertorte, which is a Viennese specialty. It’s a kind of chocolate cake, which was good, but not amazing.

Me and my cake!

We also went back to the Belvedere Palaces.  Ben wanted to see the gardens, which was fine with me.  I enjoyed it more this time because I knew where I was going.

Ben in front of the fountain that is between the two palaces.

For dinner, we decided to take a chance and choose a restaurant that looked a little more down home than the other places we’ve been eating.  It was definitely a place that the locals went to after work.  The food was decent.  Ben was happy because he got meat wrapped in meat.  The best part of dinner was the very nice lady we met.  Her name was Inga, and we got the impression she was there at least once a week.  She asked if we spoke German, which we don’t, but that didn’t bother her at all.  She talked to us the whole dinner in German.  We learned that her Husband had been in the Philharmonic orchestra, but had passed away.  She had been a ballet dancer, and they didn’t have any kids.  She was hilarious.

Our new friend, Inga. I was sad when I discovered the picture was blurry. Oh well.

The food was good, but the company was better!

Vienna- Day 5

Today was the first full day that Ben was able to join me, and it started off with Mass at the Burgkapelle, which was the private chapel for the Hapsburgs. That would be cool enough, but it was a Mass by Mozart, sung by the Vienna Boys choir. Amazing!  They were in the choir loft for Mass, but they came down to the front afterwards to sing one song.  They were originally founded to sing Mass for the Hapsburgs, so it was especially neat to see them in the Chapel.  They were so adorable in their uniforms.  The soprano that sang the solos was simply amazing.  To think that a little boy could sound that good!

Vienna Boys Choir in front of the high altar at Burgkapelle

Exterior of the Burgkapelle

How cute is this kid!?!

After Mass, we walked around the outside of the Hofburg palace.  We saw the Spanish riding school, but we didn’t see the horses because it was extremely expensive and we had spent all our money seeing the choir.  The outside of the palace was beautiful and huge, and now it is full of art museums.  The area around the palace is known as the Herrengasse and is lined by former houses of the nobility.

Biggest palace ever!

We walked around the Kohlmarkt, which leads up to the palace and is full of shops.  These are more along the lines of the shops I was looking for earlier in the trip. Though expensive, the shops are full of beautiful things that Vienna is known for.  Also in the Kohlmarkt is the Pestäule, which is this giant statue to commemorate one of plagues.  We had breakfast at Demel Konditorei, which is a famous pastry shop.  I had apple strudel and espresso, which ranks as one of the all time best breakfasts.  The shop is very Victorian inside.  We also walked around the Kärnter Strasse, which is another shopping street lined with beautiful architecture.  We saw the American Bar, which has a ridiculous sign and a beautiful interior. 

The yummy and beautiful pastries at Demel 

The Pestäule 

Got to love the sign!

Beneath the Kapuzinerkirche is the Kaisergruft, or the tomb of the Hapsburgs.  We couldn’t go in the church itself because it was closed, but from the outside it was surprisingly plain.  We could go in the crypts underneath the church and see the tombs of the bodies (minus the intestines and hearts which are in other churches) of the Hapsburgs.  Ben’s favorite was Maximilian, who was the Emperor of Mexico for a brief period.  All of the sarcophagi were very ornate, but the tomb of Maria Theresea put all the others to shame.

The Kapuzinerkirche where the Hapsburgs are buried

Maria Theresea's tomb. It was at least 8ft. tall.

Peterkirche is another beautiful church that was apparently modeled after St. Peter’s in Rome.  What made it stick out for us was the martyr beneath one of the altars.  It used to be that there was always some small relic of a saint in every altar, but they weren’t normally visible and they certainly weren’t whole bodies richly dressed.  On the one hand it was very cool to see someone who had the courage to die for their faith. On the other hand, speaking as a convert to Catholicism, Catholics are weird.  We also saw the Minoritenkirche, which apparently has a funny shape due to shells fired by the Turks in 1529.  We couldn’t go inside because they were having an opera concert, but we stayed outside for a few minutes to listen.

The martyr. How cool/weird is this?

Me in front of the Minoritenkirche

After so much walking we decided to ride the tram around the Ringstrasse, which is a boulevard that replaced the city walls, so you can see a lot of the sights.  The only annoying part is there isn’t a tram that runs all the way around, which we didn’t realize at first, so we ended up a little ways into the suburbs.

The trams. Very cute!

For dinner that night we went to a restaurant called Centimeters in the Spittelberg Pedestrian area.  It is neat area in the Museum Quarter with lots of different restaurants.  The one we chose allowed you to order everything by the centimeter.  Ben ordered their specialty, two meters of sausage. I think it was the happiest day of his life!

Ben exploring the Spittelberg Pedestrian area

Two meters of sausage

The happiest day of Ben's life!

Vienna- Day 4

Today I had breakfast at a Café across from our hotel.  They looked at me funny when I didn’t really speak German.  You would think they would be used to it since they are right next to the Hilton, but it’s okay because the food was good.  Austrians believe in real butter on everything!  After breakfast I went to the Schottenring and Alsergrund area.  The first thing I visited was Freyung and Freyung Passage.  The Freyung is a square where you could claim sanctuary with the monks.  The Passage is a covered shopping area that runs between buildings to a very pretty courtyard. It was a bit disappointing only because it was so small. I also saw the Schottenkirche in the square but I didn’t go inside because it was ugly in comparison with other churches.

Next I went to the Josephinum.  Because I was trying to save the major sites for when Ben was done working, I got to see some stuff that was a little weirder than normal.  It was an Eighteenth century surgical institute and now contains a museum.  The weirdest part was the wax models from about that same time.  They were used for teaching anatomy, and were very cool in a nerdy, morbid sort of way.

18th hospital where the wax models are kept

On the way to the creepy wax models, I saw the Votivkirche.  It is a gothic style church built in the 19thcentury, and it was gorgeous! The interior really took your breath away.  The point of church architecture was to make the worshiper feel small and humble in the sight of God, and boy did I feel small when I went in this church!  One of the cool things about being in a Catholic country was that in almost every church I went in, there were people praying.  It was wonderful to see that these magnificent churches were still used.

The gothic exterior of the Votivkirche 

Pictures don't do this breathtaking interior justice

The stained glass was very vibrant

After the Josephinum I went to the Freud museum.  He lived in the same flat in Vienna for 40 or so years until he was forced to flee in 1938.  There wasn’t much to the apartment because the family had taken everything with them to London and his daughter Anna wanted to preserve that apartment as he had left it when he died.  There was a room playing home movies of the Freud family that was neat.  They apparently had a thing for Chows. Overall, it was interesting, but a bit of a disappointment.


Freud's flat 

I was supposed to meet Ben for lunch, so I on the way to the station I decided to swing by one more church. It was perfect timing!  It was the Servitenkirche, which was very beautiful, but the coolest part was that I got to see a procession.  I was having some trouble finding the church, but I heard a band playing. I decided to just go see the band, and it ended up that they were playing in the square in front of the church I was looking for. Right as I got there, the door of the church opened and all these nicely dressed people, the priest, and little girls in white dresses and boys in suits came out. It was their first communion! The priest and altar boys lined up behind the band and all the people lined up behind the priest and they all processed to a hotel a little ways down the street to have a party.  The police were stopping traffic and everything!  It was the coolest thing I have ever seen!  Catholics are awesome!

Exterior of Servitenkirche

How cute is this altar boy!?

Interior of Servitenkirche. The iron gate was very unique.

I went back to the hotel after watching the procession to meet Ben.  Cleaning up after the conference took longer than expected so I went to a street vendor to get lunch. I’ve never lived in a city that has street vendors selling food, so I’m always a little suspicious, especially since I’m a vegetarian.  This place had a big sign that said ‘Vegetarian Falafel’ and I was really hungry and it smelled delicious.  It was some of the best food I had in Vienna.  They had this special sauce…just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  Ben and I went back for lunch the next day because it was cheap and it also had this spinning pile of meat that they shaved some off to make your sandwich that I thought Ben would like. So good!!!

After Ben finished we went and saw the Stephansdom, which is the actual Cathedral of Vienna.  It was cool because it was one of the oldest churches in the city, but it was very crowded.  It also wasn’t very pretty inside, though there was some beautiful stained glass and a really neat altar.  The coolest part was the crypt tour we took.  You could look in rooms that were full, floor to ceiling, of bones because they would move all the bones in there after a certain amount of time to make more room.  There was also a plague pit, which is rare to see inside a city for obvious reasons.  The guide said that they think that it was probably where they put the nobility that died of the plague.  There was also one of the crypts where they the Hapsburgs are buried.  They were only buried there up to the 13th century and after that the only kept their intestines here, which is weird.

A statue on the exterior of Stephansdom

An ivy covered tower of the Stephansdom

Ornately carved side altar in the Stephansdom

After looking around the church we just wandered around the Quarter on our way back to the hotel. Vienna is such a beautiful city that you don’t need to be seeing anything special to have a good time.   We did see the Fleischmarkt, which is a very quaint street that had the restaurant where we had dinner.  We also saw the Jesuitenkirche, which is the church the Jesuits built to be nearer the Academy of Sciences.  To say that it was ornate would be an understatement.  We also got Ben a sausage from a street vendor.  He said it was delicious, but the coolest part was the bun. It was like American hotdog buns; it was a solid piece of bread with a hole in the middle.  It was also yummy crusty bread instead of the crap most people serve at barbeques.

The Jesuits' church

The organ and some of the marble columns in the church

Mmmmm....sausage

We had dinner with Gore people and doctors at the Griechenbeisl.  There’s a bagpiper on the sign because legend has it that a bagpiper was drunk one night and passed out.  Thinking he had died of the plague, they put him in a plague pit.  He attracted attention the next morning by playing his bagpipe.  The food was good, and I got to try Eiswein, which is a dessert wine made by leaving the grapes on the vine through the first frost.  There was also a guy playing the accordion during dinner.

We had dinner here with Gore people and doctors. Notice the piper sign.

Live entertainment

The funniest part of the night was that after dinner we went to the club in our hotel called ‘The Box.’  They were having a live photography shoot of these models, and they were also taping the crowd, so in the midst of all these young trendy, beautiful people, they have a bunch of old Gore people and doctors. Hilarious!

 The club the morning after.

Vienna- Day 3

Sorry for the lack of posts.  It turns out that between walking around all day and hanging out with Gore people I just didn’t have the energy left to post. =)

This morning I went to the Belvedere Quarter.  I started the day by getting a pastry at one of the dozens of bakeries by the U-Bahn stations.  The Austrians obviously love their pastries and coffee!  I went and saw the old Karlsplatz stations.  The original pavilions are quite pretty, but were replaced when they built the new U-Bahn.  While I was eating my pastry at the pavilion I picked up a stray child.  He wasn’t really stray, his mother was sitting at a bench, but he was only about 2 and tried following me when I left. He was so cute! 

 Karlsplatz pavilions

After the pavilions I went to Karlskirche.  It was built after one of the Emperors vowed to build a church to St. Charles if the plague ended.  Like all the churches in Vienna, it was gorgeous!  It was very large, about the size of a Cathedral here.  (Most non-Catholics and/or Americans call any large Catholic church a Cathedral, but it is technically the church that is the seat of the bishop.  That church comes later in the trip.) They were restoring the frescos on the ceiling, so the scaffolding blocked the full effect of the interior of the church.  They had an elevator going up to the scaffolding so you could see the frescos up close.  Once up in the scaffolding, you could walk up stairs into the smaller dome in the top of the larger dome.  It was very cool to see out the windows onto the city from that height, but I’m terrified of heights so I didn’t spend very long up there.

Exterior of Karlskirche 

Ceiling in the church with the scary elevator on the right

Ceiling frescos up close

High altar

After the church I went to find the palaces.  There are a bunch of palaces here that were built after they defeated the Turks in 1683.  The palaces are galleries now.  I visited the gardens around the two Belvedere palaces, but I didn’t go inside.  The gardens connecting the two Belvedere palaces are epic. They are very ornate and intricately designed.  There are several beautiful fountains, and there are sections almost completely enclosed with hedges.  I also walked around the Botanical gardens, mostly on accident.  I was trying to find the way out of all the gardens to the nearest train station, and found the botanical gardens instead.  It was a happy mistake because everything was blooming and they have some of the prettiest songbirds I have ever heard.  I had lunch at Salm Bräu. I had a yummy spinach strudel and Märzen beer that they brew there.  It was a very picturesque restaurant.  It was in an old building with a garden and window boxes.

Front of the larger palace

Gate leading to the palaces and their gardens

Beautiful blooming trees with the roof of a church peeking through

The beer I had with lunch. It was very yummy.

After lunch I tried to find another area, but got lost, so I went back to the hotel.  I did pop into the Imperial Hotel for a peek, and they gave me a funny look since it is such a fancy hotel.  Ben and I went to dinner at a restaurant near our hotel called Pfudl.  It was good, traditional Austrian food.  The trouble with Austrian and German food is that it is very similar to traditional American food, so I didn’t really feel like I was eating anything different.  The major difference was that they still use real butter on everything. Yum!  I had a whole fish for dinner.  It was somewhat traumatizing, but I just tried not to look at the head.

A very fancy hotel

 Ben and I had dinner here.

Vienna- Day 2

Today was the first full day in Vienna. Ben had to set up for the conference, so I was on my own.  I went to the Opera and Nachsmart district.  I went shopping down Mariahilfer Strasse.  I was trying to get all the souvenir shopping out of the way, since Ben hates that, but the shops were mostly chains that we have in the States. It was a bit disappointing. There was a really beautiful church though.

The high altar in the Mariahilfer Kirche

I also went to the Nachsmart, which is an open air market. They had some tourist junk stalls, which was all I saw at first so I skipped it. I went through it on the way back to the train station and I'm glad I did. It was full of bakers, butchers, fruit stalls, cheese stalls, and pretty much anything you would want to eat.

Near the Nachsmart is the Secession building. The building is a very different style of architecture than most of Vienna, but it was still very nice. I didn't go inside because it's a modern art exhibit you have to pay for, and I don't really care for Modern art.

Secession Building

I toured the Opera house.  It was beautiful, but I thought it would be bigger.  I got to see them setting up the stage for that night's performance of Carmen. We unfortunately won't have time to see an Opera, but it was neat just seeing the building.  

The Opera house

The stage

I also went to a park near our hotel just to wander around, and I ended up having a beer at a real life Beer Garden.  It was everything I hoped for and more!

Best invention ever!

That night there was a dinner for the conference that I went to with Ben.  We saw an old friend from Ireland that we hadn’t seen in ages, and met a British doctor and his protégé that were very funny.  The highlight of the evening, besides the free drinks and funny doctors, was that they had this giant mound of ice cream that they would crave pieces off of for you. I was in heaven!  I was also butt-bumped by a VIP from Gore (who shall remain nameless) who was trying to get to the food.

  All in all, a good day!

Vienna- Day 1

*These entries will all be written by the Magistra since Ben is working and I'm just here to have fun!

Today was mostly a day of travel.  We left Flagstaff at about 12:30, which put us in Phoenix way to early for our flight, so we walked around a Mall to kill time.  Not the most exciting way to start a trip.  Once we made it to the airport, we were still really early, so we got a beer at one of the restaurants.  Finally, we're on our way. We flew British Airways, which we have flown before and liked. This time the down side was that the flight was packed and they had some trouble with the entertainment system, but the upside is free drinks!

 Ben boarding the plane

We made a Muslim friend. An older lady was on her way to visit her niece in Vienna, and kept getting lost in Heathrow, so we helped her out, and kept helping her all the way to baggage clam in Vienna. She was very sweet.  Heathrow is officially the worst airport ever! We had to take three different shuttles to catch our connecting flight, which we almost missed, and our bags did miss the flight! Not to worry; they made it on the next one.

The highlight of our trip so far was dinner with a bunch of the guys from Gore.  We went to this really nice restaurant called Harry's Time.  Multiple drinks, excellent food and dessert, and some Cuban cigars later, we had an awesome time and it's only the first night!

Best chocolate cake ever!

Everyone enjoying drinks and cigars