Vienna, Austria, D-Day plus 13

by - September 09, 2010

Alex has finally allowed someone else to write something else on the blog, and i apologise if this post is not as good as any of the previous ones but i refuse to spend 4 hours on each city redrafting each paragraph about 7 times before finally deciding to click ‘post’.

We got our first high speed train on the trip from Salzburg which had the rather fitting name 'Railjet’ that allowed us to reach Vienna at around lunchtime. Our hostel, which was spectacularly named the 'Do Step Inn’, was located just around the corner from the station. However on leaving the station a rather well built security guard standing outside a multi-storey car park approached us and asked whether he could help us, clearly not that many backpackers went out of that exit. However as soon as we started asking for directions he kindly pointed us on our way.

Now i should explain before i go any further that this hostel was the cheapest on our trip and the room was described as a 'basic basement dorm’. So we really didn’t know what to expect. As it turned out we actually got a lot for our money and it may well be the best hostel we will stay in.

We had a free afternoon so we had decided on the train to make full use of our interrail tickets and had decided to try and get a train to the Czech Republic. So after dumping our bags we ran back to the station and found a train we could get, it was going to be tight though, we needed to get to a different station the otherside of Vienna. So we jumped on the U-Bahn and hoped. It was looking hopeful, a train that would take us to the other station turned up just as we jumped down the last few stairs so our spirits were high. However we didn’t make the train, by 2 minutes. Shame.

This unfortunate occurrence allowed us to get lunch and we headed back to the hostel to sort ourselves out.
The main problem we had were wet tents from the weekend. So we set about making ourselves a 'den’ hanging things from any hook or nail we could find. This created quite a spectacle that resembled some sort of Guerrilla war camp.

Once we had made the room more 'homely’ (including putting the Union Flag up on the mirror) we decided to head out and make the most of the weather, we haven’t had much sun really. We laid on the grass outside the National Library with a drink and icecream whilst we were waiting for the last members of our trip to arrive in Austria. Hunger got the better of us so we headed into the city for a traditional meal and another local beer to add to our list.

We met the girls at the airport and got the S-Bahn back to the hostel. Quite an exciting day really. However as this is not my blog i feel it only fair that i leave the core of Vienna to Alex. I seem to have waffled on quite a bit now so i apologise.


Okay this is Coles again and I have redrafted Daniel’s section - he spelt the word “decide” with an x.   The girls - Het Kelly and Ellie Fitzakerly, for those of you that hadn’t gathered, arrived late last night - Emma had left Salzburg yesterday morning.  Having spent yesterday pretty much waiting around for the girls, we had a lot of sites to cram in today.  They had arrived the night before to a room COMPLETELY covered in wet, smelly tent, we decided that we would try and keep ourselves on their good side by having the unheard luxury of going out for croissants for breakfast. We started by walking down the main shopping street - Mariahilferstrasse, towards the city centre where the palaces and museums were located.  Unfortunately having spent yesterday afternoon lying in the sun amidst said palaces, it was now raining.  Luckily we had taken pictures of the Hofsburg Palace, Natural History Museum and National Gallery in the sunshine yesterday.

It was walking through this district that I made perhaps my biggest mistake of the trip thus far.  When approached by a man dressed in traditional Baroque clothing (Het says this is the technical term), instead of running away, I decided to hear him out, and several minutes later when my brain re-engaged, I found that four of us had tickets to a “classical” concert.  But more on that later.  From here, we strolled through the Spanish Riding School towards St. Stephen’s Cathedral - the main cathedral in Vienna.  For those who are avid followers of our “European scaffolding updates”, you will be delighted to hear that once again, we couldn’t actually see the full building.  We could however go inside and take photos.

From there, our stroll continued past the Austrian Parliament.  For a relatively insignificant country (no offence to our Austrian following), it was clear that Vienna was hugely out of proportion as a city to the country itself - living off a lot of former glory.  After a drink in a cafe and a MASSIVE lunch - Tom and Het had their meal served in a shovel, the group split up.  Tom and Daniel, who had been defeated by Germanic carbohydrates, went back to the hostel to sleep.  Ellie, Het and I however went to the “Belvedere”, a fancy palace that had now become a gallery.  Unfortunately, looking back, I didn’t actually take any photos here - me and Ellie were too busy calming Het’s excitement about going to a gallery, so if you want to see what it was like, you shall have to google it.  As a relative art phillistine, it took me about half an hour to cover the three floors of the gallery, after which I sat in the cafe waiting for Het, who arrived an hour later. She seemed to have enjoyed herself.

As I have mentioned earlier, our evening entertainment was to come in the form of a classical concert.  My original plan had been to go to an opera at the National Opera House, but the tickets to this were very expensive, so when a man in a funny costume approached me and told me that he was selling tickets to a “best of Strauss and Mozart” concert, it seemed ideal.  Unfortunately upon arrival, it became clear that we had been completely ripped off.  Instead of a concert hall, we found a cross between a school hall and a hotel lobby.  Instead of an orchestra we found a quintet.  Instead of a glorious opera singer, we found a chubby woman with scary eyes and instead of a full ballet cast, we had some kind of weird brother and sister leotard display.  To conclude, I died inside.  I shall try and sum my pain up in the form of a photo.  Tom, the only sane member of the party, who had stayed at home, turned up with a massive grin on his face, having seen the last five minutes through a crack in the door.  The only option from here, was to sample the Viennese night life, so after a few clubs and bars, we headed back to the hostel.

In the morning, onwards through the Iron Curtain to Bratislava.

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