Now that we’ve arrived in another European city graced with an easyEverything store (this one sporting an insane 550 terminals), I can finally fill you all in on what’s happened in the last week or so. Apologies in advance for typos: German keyboards have switched the position of the ‘y’ and ‘z’ keys, which is particularlz annozing. See?
Moving from Austria and into Germany marks the final country in the European leg of our tour. The number of postcards sent in my mailouts so far has reached an expensive 55. Some people requesting postcards over the Net have already received theirs, whilst I still have not sent some theirs.
Anyhow, what has happened as of late? It goes without saying that unforeseen events will occur in a trip like ours necessitating a slight change of plans. For us, this was Emily falling ill on our arrival in Salzburg. After lengthy discussion, we decided that it would be best if everyone was fit as possible going in to Nepal. As a result, Berlin was unfortunately sacrificed for extra time for resting in Salzburg and Munich. Another contributing factor was the brilliant accommodation we had at Salzburg – a hostel that was twice as good as the 3-star hotel we stayed at in Bayswater, London. Salzburg was extended for three nights, and Munich by one (I think, there’s been so much chopping and changing that I’m still confused). Nonetheless, the extra time in Salzburg enabled me to visit Innsbruck.
Venice was an interesting city. Any city that you arrive in via a 4 kilometre rail “bridge” is. Venezia is a city comprised of over 100 small islands connected by a series of footbridges and canals filled with (in places) the most foul smelling water. There are no forms of motorised transport there asides from water vehicles. Water vehicle travel is expensive. Most of our travel was done on public ferries called vaporetti. Water taxis charge by the quarter minute, and the romantic gondola rides are not so romantic anymore when you realise they cost over $150 to hire for 50 minutes. Not bad money for someone standing on the back of a boat pushing a stick. Finding accommodation in Venice is easy, as it was in Rome and Florence. They come to you. In our case, soon after alighting the train, we were accosted by a John Cleese lookalike who offered a berth at the Hotel Adua.
Apart from the novelty of Venice’s city planning, Venice is famous for its venetian glasswares, and strolling through the streets will reveal multitudinous glass dealers flogging off the same wares at vastly varying prices (so shop around if you intend on buying something). Despite the Italian love of piazzas, Venice only has one proper piazza (the rest are called campo) which has a pigeon count rivalling that of Trafalgar Square. It is here where the Basilica di San Marco resides – the burial site of Saint Mark. Inside there is a large altar screen constructed from gold and is jewel encrusted, showing just how ghastily poor the Catholic church is. Naturally, we had to pay 3000 lire for the privilege of seeing this screen which looks very… Hindi, in style. But that might just be me.
An afternoon of shopping resulted in me almost losing my credit card. That same afternoon, however, resulted in us fortuitously bumping into Jamie (from Rome, remember?) at the Piazza. He and another friend, Anthony, were attempting to gain access to the actual crypt St Mark was buried in, but that is another story I will tell another time. We met up in the evening with Tom for dinner, before permanently parting ways in Europe. We were bound for Vienna next.
In stark contrast to Italian rail, our Austrian train pulled in half an hour early to Wien Ost-Bahnhof at the unearthly hour of 6.15am. Stumbling out of the train, we were met by blast of ice cold air which reminded us that the comparatively balmy Italian weather was no more. Waiting an hour in the station (conveniently unheated) for everything to open was not pleasant, but eventually we booked ourselves into a hostel.
Vienna looks like a capital city. It’s spacious, with roads lined with classic-style buildings and none of the hustle and bustle of Italy. A bit boring after a while, actually. Vienna was bloody cold. Freezing. -6 degrees Celsius to some (eg: Canadians) is not cold at all in Winter. But to Australians, used to weather 50 degrees Celsius hotter (and I’m not exaggerating, Sydney recorded some 45 degree C days this Summer) this time in the year, it is fricking torturous.
Experiences in the home of classical music involved attending an evening of chamber music, lunching at an Australian pub (yes… we had to look twice at that too to make sure it said “Australian” and not “Austrian”), walking between the entrails of the Habsburg royal family under St Stephan’s Cathedral, and so on. One event that deserves mention was bumping into Herr Lucas and the Trinity Grammar German tour, in the Sigmund Freud Museum, no less. The odds of the happening were quite ridiculous.
Salzburg was beautiful. One or two degrees warmer than Vienna, it, at least, was blanketed in snow. We stayed there for 6 days, basically, and enjoyed every moment of it. Well, almost every moment. On our first day there we had a particularly shocking time with public transport. Quick rundown of some of what we did:
Sound of Music Tour. Fulfilling the girls’ lifelong dreams, we took this 4 hour tour tracking the places where Sound of Music was filmed. This involved 4 hours of hopping in and out of a minivan, marked by periods of listening to the girls incessantly singing over the top of the Sound of Music soundtrack that our driver, Nabil, had put on (and thankfully later pulled off due to him experiencing the same distress I was in).
Die Festung Hohensalzburg. This thousand year old fortress towers over Salzburg and is visible from almost any point in the city. Climbing it resulted in a beautiful view and burning off the numerous calories accumulated from eating way too much.
Mozart Stuff. Mozart was born here. He lived here. He has many memorial sites dedicated to his memory. I think we visited all of them.
On one day Yvonne and I made a daytrip to Innsbruck, 200 kilometers distant. (Emily hadn’t seen enough of Salzburg’s AltStadt, and Kevin “couldn’t be bothered going”.) Innsbruck was awesome. Set in between two mountain ranges provides a 360 degree postcard view, everywhere (didn’t I say this about Lucerne?). We visited the Alpine zoo there, along with the Hofkirsche and a “Golden Roof” (Goldenes Dachl, I think the German for it is) sporting 2700+ gilded copper tiles. Free schnapps tasting and net access capped off the day.
And now we’re in Munich. That was a very brief rundown of what happened, but it’s now dark in Munich and we’re getting hungry. We’ll be back at easyEverything tomorrow, getting our much needed Net fix.