Off to Vienna
08.11.2009 13 °C
I set my alarm for 5.30am, thinking my flight is at 10.45. For some reason I log on and check my flight details and it tells me it is at 8.45, I race around like a blue ass fly and think there is no way I am going to catch this flight. I had planned to catch the train at a leisurely pace. The instructions for the key told me to leave them on the table, turn the lights off, turn heating off and shut the door. I take one suitcase downstairs and then go back up for the other suitcase. Make sure I haven’t left anything this time, leave the Sugar Daddy for the next tenants, and the washing detergent and leave the key on the table and close the door. I head down the spiral staircase for the last time and it is then that I am terrified. What I omitted to previously say is that upon entering the staircase there is a door that requires a key to open and close it. However, sometimes it was unlocked, other times it was locked. I am now in an absolute state of panic as I have no clue if it is locked or unlocked and the keys are inside the apartment on the table. I hadn’t seen any body else in the 4 nights I stayed there, I heard people using the stair case but that was it. I took a deep breath and turned the handle of the door, it opened! It actually opened! I wasn’t going to have to knock on doors at 6.00 to try and get someone to open the door for me. Then I actually thought, irresponsible people leaving the door open during the night! I always locked it on entering and leaving. I was secretly glad the last person through the door wasn’t anal like me and had left it open!
I head in the direction of the train station, which was about 200 meters away. I notice cabs and think I have to catch a taxi, I’ve no idea how long the train will take. I don’t even know which direction the airport is. I had allowed heaps of time for that to all unfold for a 10.45 flight!
I get in the taxi and the lady asks me which terminal? She asks this question as if I should know the answer. Clearly I was supposed to know the answer. Clearly I had no clue. All this information was on the usb memory stick that had been in London having a good time for the weekend and now enjoying it’ flight home to Australia. I tell her I don’t know and that I am flying Niki Air. She gives me a book and tells me to look it up. She drives, I sweat thinking I’m going to miss this flight a) because I’m late and b) because I have no clue which terminal it leaves from!
I start at the Terminal 1 page, and scroll down, and can’t see Niki Air anywhere. At this stage I didn’t realise there were other pages. The taxi lady just told me to look on that page, the next page had an ad on it, so I assumed that was it. She gestured I turn the page. Now I’ve previously mentioned you get in a Paris taxi and close your eyes. Well I wanted to as even though it was just after 6am, taking corners on two wheels, dodging buses and cyclists seems to be a standard no matter the time of day. I keep trying to concentrate and am hoping that Niki Air bounces off the page. I finish Terminal 2 and wonder how the hell many terminals are there at Charles De Gaulle airport. I get to terminal 3 and there it is Niki Air! I say quite excitedly 3, 3. She nods and then gives me a different book to check, to make sure. Now this book is in alphabetical order, not Terminal Order. And sure enough under N is Niki Air and Terminal 3. I’m sure she gave me the other book first just to test my nerves. Well she won, they were shot!
We get to terminal 3 and I race inside thinking there is no way I am going to be allowed to board this flight.
No issues at all. The guy looks at me as if I was half crazy for worrying. I assumed that I was travelling international and needed to be there 2 hours before the flight. It turns out Paris to Austria isn’t an International flight at all in the scheme of things, it is a city to city flight. Wow and here was me thinking France was one country and Austria was another country, therefore that would mean I was travelling International. Wrong. He gives me my boarding pass and tells me to go through to gate 5.
Going through the security check, this time putting everything in the right tubs and feeling so proud of myself, the alarms go off as i walk through. She guard tells me to take my shoes off, I do. He tells me to go through the walkway again and still the alarms go off. I think that it must be my bracelet or watch, so take them both off. I go through again, feeling confident and hearing the familiar noise again. I start to wonder what the heck it is. There is a little more interest in me know and a female comes over and asks if its ok for her to touch me. Do I have a choice? She pats me down and I mean pats me down and she obviously finds nothing. I’m relieved by this as I know I’m not carrying anything or hiding anything. She is not so happy about this though. She puts the electronic wand over me and sure enough it beeps loudly on my back. Oh god, they are going to think I have something concealed. It is about this time that I can hear conversations in French and wonder what is going to happen to me, when she puts the wand on my back again and it beeps. It appears that my bra strap decided today of all days that it wanted to perform. She feels all around my bra strap and established that I have nothing hiding and tells me to put my shoes on it’s ok to go through. By this stage, people are looking at me. I know if i was in a queue and it was happening to someone else I too would be looking at that person.
I ring my son in Australia for his birthday, happy birthday Matt.
Terminal 3 is a little terminal that reminds me of an airport close to home, Albury airport. You have to wait, then board a bus and get driven to your plane. I find this very amusing as I had already assumed incorrectly that I was travelling International and therefore didn’t imagine that I would be travelling by bus to my plane.
We get to the plane and the doors are closed. The ground crew staff that accompanied us said something in French out loud. A lot of people on the bus laughed, but I had no idea what he had said. Obviously something about the doors being locked. His female counterpart hit his arm as if to remind him that it probably wasn’t funny. He got off the bus, walked up the stairs and then I really laughed when he knocked on the door. Everyone on the bus laughed. The door opened and the flight attendants greeted him.
We boarded the plane and waited. I thought wow there aren’t many people on the plane. I had been given an aisle seat and though, cool, I will move to a window seat. We waited and waited and then another bus load of people arrived. I figured that i was going to lose the window seat and sure enough I was correct. I moved back to my aisle seat and a couple sat in the other two seats next to me.
The flight was 1hr 45 minutes. Surely people can hold their bladder for that long, but not in this case. He got up to go to the toilet, so I stood up, his travelling companion, I assume wife stood up, and he got out. The reverse happened on his return. He sat down. About 15 minutes later the female needed to go to the toilet so I stood up, moved to the aisle way and let her out. They could have given me the window seat as the both read a newspaper each the whole way. I didn’t need to use the bathroom. It would have been a much better working arrangement for me.
We arrive in Vienna and I am amazed that it’s just like flying between Sydney and Melbourne, you get off the plane, you get your luggage and you’re free. No passport required, no stamp in unrequired passport. This is bizarre.
I catch the CAT into Vienna. CAT stands for City Airport train. It is a dedicated train that only travels between the airport and the city. It takes 16 minutes and doesn’t stop in between.
As all the details I needed were on the errant memory stick I had asked Jacqui to look at my itinerary and text me the address of the hotel. Being the good child that she is, she did as asked. I showed the address to the lady at the city terminal of the CAT and asked her to show me on the map where I needed to go. Now in German there is Strabe and Strass, one is a town and one is a road or street. The address I had was Gumpfendorfer Strabe 39. At this stage I didn’t know there was a difference in Strave and Strass, so the helpful lady at the station told me I needed to catch the train on U3, and get off at a particular station and get the U6 for one stop. I bought my ticket and followed the directions. When I got to the desitnation, I had no idea where I should be. I walked up and down, up and down the street with two cases dragging behind me. I went into a florist and asked for directions there. I soon learnt that English was not so frequently spoken in Vienna as it had been in Paris. I went into another shop and the man glared at me. Oh dear.
I sat there for a while, then decided to open my suitcase and get out my pieces of paper to see if there was any other information I had in paper form and not electronic form. All that my piece of paper told me was what Jacqui had sent me via text, By this stage is was 12.30pm local time so I knew it was 10.30pm home time. I knew Jacqui would be asleep, so thought who else will be up and have internet access and be able to help me. Mother Judy to the rescue!
Judy has a daughter travelling overseas at present and has been known to give directions to her daughter in times of need. This is how I decided Judy was my best bet.
I texted her and asked if she was still up. She texted back saying she was, I hope she didn’t lie to me. I then rang her and told her of my predicament and if she could log on to my itinerary and see if there was any further information. She did and there wasn’t. Hmmm, she then had the brain wave to google the hotel and see if she could get directions that way. It is then that she was able to give me directions that were nothing at all like the CAT girl had given me. Who was I going to trust in this situation? The CAT lady or Judy? Judy wins hands down.
She texted me the directions so I could have them in front of me as I was trying to negotiate a now new train system. She then asked me if I was staying in a hostel. I said I didn’t think so. She said, oh, it just looks very colourful on the webpage. Ok, I thought.
With Judy’s impeccable directions I got back on the train, found the station Judy mentioned and ended up at the right place. This is when I established that Strabe and Strass are different. The girl at the CAT must have just looked at the first part and not taken into consideration the rest.
I finally got to the hotel and yes it was very colourful. I hoped I had the right place and the welcome I received assured me I did.
The hotel is called Kopling Wein Zentral. It is run by a mother ;and son, and when I get to my room I read the philosophy of the hotel. It has been built that people with disabilities can come and use the hotel freely. Therefore the doors are wide etc to accommodate wheelchairs. There is also a Christian philosophy behind the hotel. It is very clean, it reminds me of a hospital room. It has everything I need and the cheerful people that run it are absolutely lovely. It wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but I figure if I was planning on spending most of the time in my room, then I should have booked into a 5 star hotel.
I head off and venture into town. I don’t plan on doing too much today as it is now about 3pm by the time I get settled and unpack the necessary things. I do note though that there are some funny signs, that I have understanding of them at all. I'm not sure what ghey is in German, but it amuses me.
It is about a 10 to 15 minute walk into town. I head for the Opera ring. It is there that I am approached by a guy wearing period costume asking me if I would like to see Opera and ballet. I tell him that I would, and we negotiate that I am going to be attending on Friday night. So that is that sorted. I pay for my ticket and am quite excited by this prospect.
I head back to the hotel as at 4.30 it is almost dark. I’d forgotten I was in Europe and that the days are shorter. Not knowing how safe the area the hotel is in, i didn’t want to push my luck on my first day in Vienna. My first impressions of Vieanna are that it is beautiful.
I ask at reception for a recommendation for dinner. The lady asks me if I would like traditional Austrian or Italian. I am in Austria, so of course I choose traditional Austrian. She gives me the name of the place which is off the street the hotel is in about 5 minute walk. I ask her if it is a safe area to walk in the dark. She assures me it is very safe, and off I venture.
I get to the restaurant and a lovely man greets me with hello beautiful lady. He is a lovely man and asks me if I am here for drinks or dinner. I tell him for dinner. I establish that I am the only one here and think maybe i have been led down the garden path. I soldier on regardless. The menu is all written in German, and my new found friend assures me he will translate. The place is called Ludwig Van and it is old with very old paintings on the wall. He lights a candle and brings it to my table. He asks me if anyone else is joining me and I tell him no, just me. He says a beautiful lady like you dining alone, shame shame. I think I love this man. He asks me what I would like and I say schnitzel. He smiles and says, ahhhhhh schnitzel! It was how I imagined it would be said and I smile. He asks, just schnitzel? And I say with some vegetable. He goes to the kitchen window and orders the schnitzel. I then here extreme hammering going on in the kitchen. I can only assume this is my schnitzel being beaten into submission.
The said dish arrives and there are two pieces of schnitzel on the plate. He then brings me some potato in a dish in some kind of sauce. Not much sauce, but some.
It turns out the potato is cold and the sauce has apple in it. It is absolutely beautiful. Not what I expected at all, but fantastic all the same. The schnitzel if melt in your mouth tender and the meat is almost white. I have no idea if this is veal, nor do I want to know. I just know that it was the best schnitzel I have had in my life!
He then asks me if I want dessert. He sits next to me and translates the German desserts for me. He tells me of gnocchi with a jam sauce, that doesn’t sound appetizing for dessert. He then tells me about something like tiramisu but Austrian and then tells me about a baked apple with currants and a sauce, which sounds amazing. I settle on the apple and he tells me nooooo, you have to try the Austrian tiramisu. I laugh and ask him why he told me about the others and he shrugs his shoulders and laughs. I agree with him that I will try the Austrian tiramisu. I ask him if it coffee based and he smiles and says, coffee, rum, a few other things He assures me I will love it. When it is served, it comes out on a plate in two balls, not what I was expecting. The flavour is sensational. Not like an Italian Tiramisu, but exquisite. It is light and not too sweet and just the right amount of everything. He asks me if it was good and I tell him yes. He smiles and says I don’t lie for the beautiful woman. I blush. By this time there are other people filling the restaurant and I just want to sit and watch people. I hear them order, having no idea what it is they are getting. He picks up on this and says to me you are happy, you are watching people. He is obviously observant as I love doing this. He asks if I want tea or coffee and I decide I will have coffee. It is also beautiful. I sit and obseve all the goings on for a while longer and then think i better move as it probably looks odd a lone female sitting watching the goings on around. I pay and leave and think wow, that was an exceptional meal and evening.
I fall into bed quite happily fed.