Viennese whirl

I managed a long lie in until the heady time if 7:00 before getting up for a rather awful McD’s breakfast and to jump on my coach to Vienna. As the Czech Republic is an Eastern European nation, we had to stop at passport control on the way out and two girls managed to get their passports stamped – I should have thought of that! The border guard quoted them 5 Euros per stamp and they were quite taken aback until he said he was kidding.

The coach dropped everyone off on the outer ring road, but it took a while to figure out where I was as there are three Eurolines stops in Vienna. I managed to wander up to the East train station in the sweltering heat only to find that half of their left luggage lockers were “kapput” and the other half were in use. Great. So I lugged my bags around with me all day.

This included a walk to the Eurolines office I would be leaving from in two days time, to colletc my ticket and to figure out where it was. I’m glad I checked as Lonely Planet has the correct address, but the dot on the map is around 4km away from where it should be. An underground ticket is a much better way of getting there than shoe leather.

I walked around a fair bit of the centre then spent an hour trying to locate a payphone to call my couchsurfing host, Thomas. I finally did and we arranged to meet just after 5pm at one of the underground stops.

Vienna does “grand” the same way Prague does “fairy tale” with some of the most impressive buildings I’ve ever seen. The parliament building is done in Greek style, the town hall more gothic (though I didn’t get any photos as some muppet had decided to put a summer festival up in front of it so I couldn’t see the thing), the music halls as good as anything in London or Paris… simply breathtaking.

Unfortunately, it’s also really expensive like those cities. Within the centre, at least, expect the internet to hit 5-6 Euros an hour. I wolfed down a Burger King before hopping on a tube to Ottakring, out to the west, where Thomas was waiting for me. His flat was only a short walk away and we were there in minutes where he got me settled in, provided me with slippers and showed me the ropes.

While at Thomas’ I managed to get in touch with Anita, another local couchsurfer and arranged to meet her the next night for some sightseeing and dinner. It chucked it down that night as I was trying to locate a pizza shop – quite a change from the bright sunshine earlier in the day.

I slept on the floor this first night as Jamie and Hanni from Singapore had decided to stay another night and they had first dibs on the couch. Thomas offered me a camp bed but I wanted to get used to my sleeping mats.

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