Day 23: Wien

Well the rain seems to be following me around Europe. I saw the news report before I left my hotel, rain forecast for the northern half of Czech Republic, lucky for me the plan was to be in Vienna by 3.

Leaving my hotel at 9 after a nice breakfast I caught the tram to the main train station where I bought my tickets for Vienna. I’m not sure if I mentioned in my last update but my rail pass though “global” doesn’t cover the Czech Republic, though the “east” pass does… what the hell is with that? So I had to pay an extra 10 euros after crossing the boarder to pay for my transit on Czech tracks. So today I had to buy a ticket that covered the other main part of Czech Republic up to the boarder with Austria, which came to $30, ouch.

The train this time was much more comfortable than the one I rode into Czech, and I had a pleasant 4 ½ trip. Actually this ride seemed to pass quicker than normal. Unlike the way in though where I had a great view of the Elbe River, this time all I had was rolling farmlands outside my window to watch. As the news predicted we were hit by occasional rain showers.

Arriving in Vienna I found I wasn’t at the main train station, and the tourist office couldn’t help me with hotels. I had tried to make reservations the night before, but the hotel I was at had a really lame setup for their internet. Not only did they not have wireless, but the two computers you could use were just sitting on a mini-switch not even a cheap ass router, so there were all sorts of problems with packets being lost, wrong server responses, and when I tried to connect my laptop, I found there was no DHCP server, which makes sense with such a bad router, so I couldn’t connect to the network. A $50 Linksys P.O.S. would have at least had DHCP built in, and wouldn’t have all the other issues. Anyway, so when I would try to reserve a hotel I would get errors I think because packets from the other computer were also being sent to the server and messing things up. So not being able to get help from the tourist office I asked for an internet cafe and booked a room that turned out to be relatively close, but also 40 euros.. but that was the cheapest I could get. It is somewhat central which made it easy to get around town, and its close to the rail station so tomorrow I’ll have no trouble getting there easily.

After dropping off my stuff I had a look at what I wanted to do, and discovered that the 2 museums I was interested in were closed on Mondays. I didn’t have any Euros left because I had to pay for the room in cash, so I set out for an ATM and must have walked a mile down pedestrianized streets before I found one. Having some money also meant I could finally have lunch. It was now around 3:30 or 4 and I was starving. I don’t really see any Austrian style cooking anywhere, its all just international like the rest of the populated cities I’ve visited. You see a lot of McDonald’s, plenty of Kebab places, and a good helping of Italian. McDonald’s is good for two things though: cheap sodas(1.5e gets you a large soda), and soft serve ice cream.

I then set out to walk around the city. I’m getting further east so even though I’m still in the same time zone as Spain, the night comes earlier, but with still quite a lot of time on my hands I figured I could see all of the main part of the city, though not inside any of the attractions. Truth be told however I’m not all too disappointed because I’ve been able to see plenty of amazing art exhibits at places like the Louvre, and Huge expansive castles like the one in Prague and Munich. What Vienna has to offer in that respect is more of the same though perhaps less impressive, other than maybe the 1400 room palace the Hapsburgs used to inhabit, but my guide book says you need a whole day to see it because of lack of better accessibility and its sheer size.

The weather though was still not very good, overcast with occasional drizzle, but at a point it became sunny for about an hour before clouding over again.

I tried out a new style of sightseeing; jump on a tram that goes around the city, get off when you see something interesting, then just jump the next one no matter where its going. You can always find yourself on the map again later because you know what tram you just got off of, and its a pretty care free way to see much of a large city like Vienna. By about 6:30 though I saw some flashes and noticed very dark looming clouds coming towards the city, and decided it was time to go back to my room, I wasn’t going to have much fun walking around in the rain without a proper rain jacket or umbrella. I made it back to my hotel just as the rain was starting to come down. The lightening passed very close to the city with thunder claps and flashes only about 2s apart.

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