Monday, April 14, 2003

European Whirl - Day 5

April 14th

Vienna …Hotel Honnecker

The hotel for this time was crazily far away from the city, that Kristy didn’t bother to tell us how to take the public transportation. A cab would cost around 60 Euro. The room is not big, 3 people in a room with small bathroom, and a television. But the breakfast was very good, the only places that provide hot milk! They also have a very nice fresh bake sandwich with ham and cheese inside. Maybe it is because a family ran the hotel that they gave a more attentive treatment ^.^

Off we go to Vienna. Craig drove us around the Ring, to let Kristy did a short city tour about buildings that scattered along it. Ringstrasse is a wide boulevard surrounding the old city in a loop. New buildings (in that time) were outside the ring, gave the visitor a lesson in art history, any styles from Greek to Renaissance. I saw lots of copies here and there among the Jugendstil (art Nouveau) buildings. A good surprise of not doing a ‘homework’ to saw the Secession is in Vienna … seems that the modern architecture history came alive ^.^




There are 3 cars at nearby that wrote “The first who brings the balls of Saddam Hussein wins this car” ^.^

First we entered the St. Stephen Cathedral for the catacomb, already long queue for that. We waited for 10 minutes before the tour began. The guide was a tall Viennese guy who spoke both German and Viennese English … quite difficult to understand. Catacomb, it was the first time in my life to see such amount of human bones in a day, and intestine that was put in jars. They know very well how to use particular lights to create a special atmosphere for a cemetery without giving visitors the fear of ghost … 5 Euro for that. St. Stephen Cathedral is said to be an un-finished cathedral. The legend said that there’s a guy falling in love with a princess. The king asked him to build a cathedral without any help from other people. So he made a secret agreement with devils. The deal was, he was not allowed to speak any name of god or saint before the project was done. He did it. When the Cathedral was almost finished, he was so happy that he shouted his beloved princess’ name, which unfortunately was ‘Maria’ …the project collapsed at seconds.

Frankly speaking, I didn’t see any un-finished part ^.^


Me and Strauss at Stadtpark

I had a lot of accompanies for this day, maybe they thought that I was a good guide since I know a little bit about architecture history … I was afraid I disappointed them ^.^ Fren, Ji Su, Gillian, Yuki and her just met new friend, an ABC guy who approached her at a restaurant in Vienna the night before (he joined another Contiki tour that at the took the opposite route. We met many Contiki groups occasionally in different cities, quite fun since we could share experiences) walked to the East side of the city to the biggest park is – Stadtpark – where Musician’s celebrate their fame. Then we took South path to the West, the area with massive buildings where the Royal family spent most of their political matter.


Gillian and me in front of the statue of Maria Theresa with her children


Ji Su and me in front of the Parliament building that took Greek pediment - a precise copy

Gillian bought a cake that Kristy recommended very much, a must-eat-original chocolate cake called Sacher Torte, with a stamp that was also made from chocolate on top of the cake. A block of 3 cm piece costs 2,5 Euro. She bought 2 and gave for me, thank you very much for her, but sorry to say that it is not as stunning as what Kristy said. She had the similar feeling too ^.^

There’s a building called Urania in the North East corner of the Ring. It was a planetarium before, with a big dome at the roof where the telescope was kept. It worked very well for astronomers, until neon lights took over and the stars dim away. Now it is a gallery.

4 at the evening, it’s time to back to the coach for the Schonbrunn palace, a summer residence for the Hasburg family … don’t know how to describe how big it is, only for a summer residence! It has everything inside; a palace (of course), a maize that was made from tress, a zoo, a hill with a huge pond, and gardens everywhere. Vin Lee, a Hong kong girl, was so lucky that she could slip the ticket booth and enter both the palace and the zoo for free ^.^ I was too tired to enjoy this palace anyway. And the bad news was, we wouldn’t be able to go back to the hotel until the Viennese dinner excursion finished, which was 11! And it’s silly if I stayed in the palace for 6 hours … the palace would be closed at 8 anyway. There’re 6 people who didn’t join this excursion. 4 of us decided to go back to the city. I saw Ji Su’s travel book said that there’s a standing point ticket for Staatsoper for only 3,5 Euro. I was planning to go, but the other 4 girls wanted to save money by walking to the city. “It’s only 4 stations anyway!” they said. That what Kristy said actually, which was not correct … 6 stations, and there’s huge distance between each station … it took us 2 hours to reach the city! But I was glad that I went to the city, although the standing ticket was already sold out, I still had the chance to have a big bowl of hot Chicken noodle … Chinese food … YUPPIE! And Internet coffee … same price all around Europe, 1 Euro for 8 minutes! I wonder who the genius is who make the rule about an 8 minutes timing ^.^

We bought subway ticket back … thanks God … We met 8 people from another Contiki group who also waited for the bus. They told us some stories that happened in their group, a 29 days trip, not surprising if rumors hanging around. They said there’re some guys that got very drunk every night, and slept the day off no matter what countries they arrived. That’s … different … not the way I want myself to enjoy this trip though ^.^

2 Contiki coaches arrived at the same time. Loud music and the smell of beer welcomed us as soon as we entered the coach. More than half of the bus got drunk. Gillian said that the whole dinner went crazy; how a girl in our group who got so drunk that she kissed a guy from another group so passionately, stop only while the rest of the people whistling, how Yuki’s new friend had already waited for her outside the restaurant, how Kim dance with her ballet, how … it’s fun to hear those news, but I was really glad that I didn’t go and had a big bowl of hot Chinese chicken noodle instead ^.^


A huge vending machine in the underground station.

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