Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Hi, this is a long post, and is in two parts, so people who have no time pls do not read as it is going to consume ur time :) so off i go abt my trip to Vienna

My trip to Vienna was an unexpected one. Last Wednesday when I was abt to close my lappie after a tiring day of work, my friend from Düsseldorf buzzed me just to talk for 10 min, n share some gossips ;) so I had no choice but to agree to talk. But what started as a short 10 min conversation, ended in a full 2 hrs chatting and the end was two tickets to Vienna in two days!!!

So the flight was from Köln, a city in Germany, since I live in the border between France and Germany, for me going to Köln is just a 2 hrs drive. So, I decided to surf a car sharing website to take to Köln and luckily found a person travelling to Köln a lot earlier than my flight schedule, but I agreed to share as it is cheaper and asked my friend to reach a bit early so that I would not get bored in the city roaming alone.

So Saturday arrived and I was so excited about my instant trip to the land which is the home of Mozart and Strauss, where the classical music was in the air. Someone told me that if u r in Vienna, u have rewind your clock 200 years back as it is full or history and wonders. Being a fan of classical music I could not wait to see and feel Vienna. So in spite of me being a late riser, I got up early to reach Luxembourg to share the car to go to Köln. My car partner was supposed to meet me in front of the railway station at 9:30 in the morning, but instead of him, I received a mssg from him saying that he is sick n cannot come to Köln today!!! Had this thought dawned earlier in his mind I could have had my good morning sleep and would have started late? So with a hurry I went to the ticket counter to buy train tickets to reach my destination, and ended up paying four times more the price than what would have been 2 hrs quick drive for a lot less money. But I made up my mind not to worry too much as this short vacation is for relaxing after a too much hectic schedule I was having for the past several weeks. So to pass my time I bought a novel called the “girls of riyadh”, which the author compares itself on the lines of “Sex and the City”, except for the city in not New York. So I started reading, while waiting for the train and in the train, which turned out to be a pretty comfortable journey, that took some three and odd hrs to reach Köln and I had no neighbors so I stretched myself like in a very comfortable couch and preyed my book. In between, I thought, since my flight is around 6pm, I can get into some hair salon and have a quick hair cut which I wanted to do for a long time, also my friend is there so she could give me some suggestions for the styles, so I quickly thought abt the different haircuts I would like to try and thought of convincing my friend too, to get one as it’ll be fun, maybe we could end up getting a similar hair cut and go around like sisters!!! So with all my different dreams, I reached the Köln station and immediately found my friend waiting for me. So I told her abt the haircut plan and she readily agreed (there was no use of planning so much as I thought she would not be interested, n was thinking abt ways of convincing her, a total waste of time, lol) so when we came out of the station, immediately there it was the largest cathedral in Germany, a UNESCO world heritage site, right in front of us. I never expected the cathedral to be so close to the railway station, u come out of the station and u face the cathedral which was one the tallest structure in the world. So admiring its beauty I asked Kee (my friend), so when is the flight, shall we have a haircut n go to eat, or eat n go to the airport (for both of us having a good meal is very important, something we learnt after come to Europe) n she replied, yes if it is possible, the flight departs by 4:00 and we have to be there by at least 3:00, and half hr to reach the airport so we have to start from the main station by 2:20 pm for train, and then the time was 1:45, so we postponed our haircut plan for Vienna and quickly rushed to have a bite at the nearest restaurant to be in time for the train. At the airport, both of us had a small backpack, very small to be checked in but some things which needed to be checked in, so we asked for a check in baggage, and the airline asked us to pay extra for the check-in, for which we had to pay more than the things in our bag, so we dumped the things that were forbidden and took our bags as hand luggage and boarded the flight for Vienna. We had a long list of things to buy, as few of the things we dumped and the rest because of confusion, both of us had not brought. So we planned to do some shopping in the city. At the Vienna airport, we went straight to the information, to buy some two days pass so that we need not buy each time a ticket when we travel, so we asked for some information and the man behind was frowning for all the questions we were asking, so I left the job to my friend who is now an expert in German thinking that hearing German can make him smile as it is the official language in Austria. Ha ha but that did not help too, may be it is what he is :D so after confirming twice with him abt the validity and the transport systems that we can take in Vienna with the two day card that we purchased, we headed for the train that transfers us from the airport to the city center. In the train every one had a ticket that was different from us, which was in green color that matched with the train interior and exterior. We laughed at others for buying a separate ticket for this train when there was an option of buying a two days ticket that can include all transports system and is nearly the same price as that of the green ticket. The trick of buying two days pass is an education we learnt after numerous travels in Europe. So when the ticket collector came we happily showed our passes to her, n she with a stern look said, ur ticket is not valid. We argued with her that we double checked that our ticket is valid everywhere in Vienna, and she said but u r not in Vienna, u r outside Vienna and ur ticket is not valid.

Hmmm so finally we had to buy those stupid green tickets and felt that now it is others turn to mock at us, we were so confident of our pass, but we did not think that rules are different in different cities though there are in EU. So after reaching the city centre, we hunted for a shop to buy the basic amenities that we did not have, so we were walking for long to find that all shops are closed, I rechecked with my friend that it was not a Sunday. Finally we stopped a Vinniean (resident of Vienna) to know y are all shops closed and she casually replied, ooh it is Saturday all shops close before 5pm. For both of us it was surprising because, in Germany shops close at 8pm sometimes even 9 and in Berlin station, I never found the shops closing, and in Paris too u can find some shops open till 9pm and Vienna which is another big capital , the shops close very very early. So to soothe our nerves we quickly grabbed an ice cream, and marched towards the cathedral, which is built in the baroque style, something we both have never seen. But as soon as we reached the cathedral we were not very happy as it resembled very much the cathedrals in Europe except for the roof n few sculptures, so we had no interest to see the interiors of it and so we strolled around the place searching for other interesting things and hoping we’ll find at least one shop that is open. After lots of hunting we decided to retire for the day as the clouds seemed to be budging with water were threatening us with its murmur. So we took the metro towards our hotel that we booked and by the time we reached the station, the rain started pouring heavily. We waited for few minutes until it stopped and marched towards our hotel following the map. The hotel had written in the website that it was only 350 m from the train station, but we never seemed to find the hotel at the place it was given. So we again stopped at a pizza shop to fill our stomachs and started walking in the slight drizzle that was soon going to turn into a heavy downpour. Finally we reached a hotel that had no name outside except for it is a hotel, and entered to enquire abt our hotel and later found from the floor mat that this is the hotel that we had booked. So with all the stupid stares and the not very good conversations with the reception we went to our room discussing y are people here so cold sometimes?

After getting refreshed we were wondering what to do as both of us are not used to sleep that early hr, so we settled to watch the TV that they had provided. We switched the TV on and soon found that the remote and the channels were not working, so we called the reception and said our problem and in minutes a man came and checked the TV, he got little electric current from the back side of the TV and finally declared that the he cannot do anything and‘ll have to wait until the morning, when the rain might stop. So after he left, we found that the TV was working but with no volume. So to change the mood to a happy one, first we started guessing the dialogues of the hero and heroine in some movie and then we found a radio and played some nice songs. Then we started talking long stories that were untold and her adventures and mine, Indian economy, food, clothing, our future, our present, others future and others present and finally we dozed off.

Ananthi Sankaran


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