Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Sunday / Monday / Tuesday: Vienna

We have spent the past three days exploring Vienna. Sunday was really only a half day - we were all pretty tired on Saturday night, and Dgym and I were kept up by a huge grasshopper or cricket or something (it was about 3 inches long) that decided to hop into our room at about 2am, then jump and fly around for a bit and be very hard to coax back out of the room again. We eventually managed to trap it in the wash bag and set it free as far away from the room as possible, and it was about 4am by then.

So on Sunday we got a taxi to Petrzalka, the southern station of Bratislava and boarded the train to Vienna. The buildings of Bratislava disappear fairly quickly and quickly turn into fields and woods, with hills in the distance. Once in Austria we started seeing lots and lots of wind turbines, far more than we've seen anywhere else.

We arrived in Sudbahnhof and, not knowing how or where to buy bus or tram tickets (or which ones to get) we started walking towards the town centre.

The highlight of Sunday had to be the visit to the Eiscafe (which are even better in Vienna than in Germany, although more expensive) - we had just sat down outside the cafe with our overloaded Kugels when Pete pointed that Ant and Dec had just finished eating at the same cafe and were about to walk past us (for non-UK readers, they are English TV presenters). They were both shorter than you'd think, and quite scruffy. But apparently they gave me a really dirty look when I took a chair from a nearby unoccupied table (there were only three chairs to a table). I don't know why, as it wasn't their table. Maybe they heard us speaking English in an English accent, saw that we were of the generation who is supposed to recognise Ant and Dec on the street, and then I went in their general direction to get the chair, probably looked straight through them, and then walked off.

At least they have good taste in ice cream - I had lemon and blackcurrant - the lemon was at the bottom, and as I got to the bottom it combined with the taste of the cone to produce a cheesecakey flavour. Mmmm.

Dgym and I took the underground out to meet Maike in the afternoon, it was lovely to see her again - we played board games for a while and then went back into town to meet Rachael and Pete (who had spent the afternoon hiding from the rain) for dinner. We found an all you can eat sushi buffet and, well, ate all we could.

On Monday we went to Schloss Schönbrunn to visit the zoo and see the beautiful grounds and buildings. The zoo was pretty good, among other things we saw little tiger cubs with enormous paws, tiny monkeys carrying even tinier baby monkeys on their backs, otters with friendly faces, giraffes, elephants, penguins, and in the rainforest house you could walk through a dark room full of bats.

We went back to Bratislava for dinner, this time we stayed out of the Old Town and went to a Slovak restaurant on the high street - much cheaper than the tourist areas, came to about £5 per head with beer and pudding and stuff and was very nice.

Rachael and Pete have those job thingys to go back to, so we put them on a coach to the airport on Tuesday morning and spent the rest of the day having a nice relaxing walk around and eating ice cream and chocolate on their behalf. Vienna is pretty expensive compared to Bratislava, although not as high as England prices - but food quality is excellent. We had a nice relaxing walk around. In the evening we met up with Maike again in a cafe with over 800 board games, which were all stacked up in huge piles everywhere. We spent the evening playing games and eating chilli con carne. We really liked the idea of this cafe - so we have decided when we settle down, wherever that may be, we will set up an internet cafe with board games, snacks and free wifi. You will also be able to get your bike fixed there.

We have finished with Vienna for this trip - we have one day left in Bratislava, and will spend Thursday in Prague. Three capital cities in a week's holiday is not bad going.

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