Thursday, May 3, 2012

Vienna's Golden Arch

Our tour of the imperial cities of Europe continues.

We hopped a night train from Prague and were spit out at a random train station in Vienna, Austria, at 6 a.m. This was not the main station. There was no central station vibe like when you walk arrive in Grand Central Station in New York or Union Station in Toronto. This was just a platform. Without an information booth. Or signs in English. Or maps. Or (gulp) anything.

Standing on the platform, looking at the street, wondering which direction was which, I had but one thought:

"I should have thought this through."

Or even bought a map of Vienna prior to this moment. 

I had done some research on touristy things to see and do in Vienna. But the map? Oops.

These are the moments that test a relationship. It's really easy to lose your nerve. By now, Christophe and I were both caffeine-deprived and had spent the night on a train. Not in a sleeper cabin either. We woke all night. Twice by gruff ticket men, but mostly by paranoia that we would miss our stop or lose our wallets.

So we started walking in one direction. Based on instinct alone. And that's when we saw the golden M. Not an M for the metro station, which would have been helpful. We found the other M that was even more helpful.

McDonald's.

Now, if you recall, I spent a good deal of time as a vegan back in my California days. I had a healthy position about McDonald's and the harm it was causing the environment, health and every street corner in major cities around the world.

But this morning in Vienna? McDonald's was coffee, a clean bathroom and free WiFi. Oh my stars in Heaven did I ever love McDonald's in this moment. After a few coffees, a few trips to the restroom and locating ourselves with my maps app, we figured out how to get to the hotel. (My iPhone's 3G didn't work in eastern Europe. Who knows why. I blame AT&T even though I broke up with them last year.)

Soon we were on our way with a drawn out map of how to get to our hotel. When we arrived at the our hotel, our room was ready, even though it was only 8 a.m. Sweet!
Actual restroom sign of our hotel. Yippee!


A few hours later, after a shower, nap and study of the free map provided by the hotel, we were off. 

A brief history of Vienna for those with attention-deficit disorder.
Vienna is the capital of Austria and home to Mozart, balls and Mozart balls.

Gimme another one.
Like most European cities smack dab in the middle of western and eastern Europe, Vienna has had its share of wars and malleable border lines. For a long time was part of the Holy Roman Empire. Later, Napoleon came along and bossed everyone around. Eventually Hitler came to town to boss people around further and put a serious dip in the population. And in the middle of all this, there was a royal family, the Hapsburgs, that sometimes did, and sometimes did not, boss people around.

But seriously, what you really want to know about is the wienerschnitzel.
It's veal breaded and deep fried. Who ever thought this was a good idea? It tastes like cardboard. But goes well with beer.

After burping our way through the streets of Vienna, we stormed another castle. This time, the home of the Hapsburgs. In the next post (because we're all attention-deficit) we will find out what makes this royal house famous. From the inbred droopy lip (!!!), to Rapunzel-length hair of a famous queen, to the color yellow.

Burp. I need to pee.

7 comments:

  1. We've stayed in the Hapsburg Suite at The Fairmont in San Francisco. Almost the same thing, no?

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  2. I got lost in a river once with my ex-husband. Those kind of moments do test a relationship.

    My god, I would have given my firstborn child to have found a McDonald's in the woods that day.

    P.S. Love your jacket and scarf. <3

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  3. That was us in Berlin - off the plane fully expecting to somehow easily find our way to our hotel (without having to pay a taxi driver). I'm still not sure how we figured it out.

    I hope you are singing songs from The Sound of Music while you're there!

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  4. I hope you got to pee quickly enough. Can't wait to read about inbred droopy-lip- will you photograph yourself demonstrating it for us, please?

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  5. Rough intro to Vienna. Should be all uphill from here!

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  6. I arrived in Vienna 21 years ago to work for two years. The city worked it's magic and I am still here. We arrived with twin two year old sons, who are now back in Canada. (One just got his first 'proper' job as a teacher about 10 hours ago!) (Sorry for that digression. It's just that I'm, well, SO PROUD)
    We were unsurprisingly rather awestruck when we arrived, but the little ones were not impressed. Until we found McDonalds. Within hours of arriving here, we found ourselves guests of the golden arches, having thought we had escaped. Apart from McDonalds, Vienna had pretty much excused itself from globalisation, and remained so for many years. Not so much now. Shame, really.
    How long are you here for?

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  7. Uncle BradMay 07, 2012

    All you need to know about the Hapsburgs' fame can be found in the film "Mayerling" with Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve as star crossed lovers, James Mason as Emperor Franz Joseph and Ava Gardner as Empress Elizabeth. It was made in 1968 and so is authentic history! Anything refuting that is merely revisionist!

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