See You Later, Slovakia

Trip Start Jun 08, 2010
Trip End Aug 26, 2010

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Thursday, August 19, 2010

My actual last day in Slovakia was basically just a long drive to return my rental car. In Hungary, I went in a circle, but in Slovakia, I drove in a straight line, so the return was like a "Greatest Hits" of my trip. I got stuck in the same traffic jam as yesterday, I passed Spiš Castle, Levoča, Slovenskı ráj, the Tatras, etc. When I stopped to grab lunch in Trnava, I even got thrown-off course by a poorly labeled detour that had misled me before. I didn't remember about it until I was commited to the path, unfortunately.

I also had a little trouble finding a gas station to fill up my car before I returned it. There was no station near the airport, so I had to go back up the highway a few exits. Another shock was a 50% tax on car rentals. I don't know if it was a city tax or a country tax, but I'll be checking on tax rates before I choose a rental location next time. It may have been cheaper to just keep my car from Budapest.

Now without a car, I took a bus to the train station and then a train to Vienna. I arrived at the large Vienna Südbahnhof (Ostbahn) station. As in Budapest, I didn't manage to find any helpful tourist info, although I didn't search very hard so it may have been there. There was a lot of construction as the station was a temporary replacement for the city's main southern station. Like Budapest, Vienna had a couple major train stations. The Vienna tourist board may also have not been too concerned about visitors from the south or east. It made me once again appreciate the prominent and helpful tourist center at Ljubljana's train and bus station.

Even without help, I made it to my hotel without any problems, but I would have liked to known things like whether the 72-hour pass for the street car was good on buses and/or the subway as well, and whether a change from the street car to the subway meant I would need a new ticket. Also, there seemed to be two different types of rail and I didn't know about transferring between the two. I ended up walking a couple of blocks to the subway instead of taking a street car because I didn't want to buy one $2 ticket, then have to get another after such a short distance. I'll have to figure these things out for tomorrow.

My hotel looked like it was in a good location. It was four star, which isn't my thing, but I got it for around half-off at the last minute so it was one of the cheapest choices in town. On my pillow instead of chocolate they gave me a bag of Gummie Cubs labeled with the non-trademark infringing "Fruit Flavored Jelly Shape" name on the back. In the lobby, the bellman grabbed one of my bags and carried it up to my room, even though there was an elevator. He asked if I'd been in Vienna before and I said basically no. When we got to my room, he proceeded to show me how to operate the TV, the mini-bar, the room safe, and even showed me where the bathroom was. (It was behind the only door in the room, surprise!) When I said it was my first time, I meant it was my first time in Vienna, not my first time in a hotel room...

At some point during all that, I think when I was pretending to pay attention to his instructions about the TV, I realized this was probably the type of hotel where I needed to tip him. Usually, when someone carried my bags to my room, it was at a pension and the owner didn't expect a tip. I didn't know what to tip, because I'd never paid someone for carrying my bags a few feet down the hall and into an elevator. I went with one euro, because that was all the big change I had in my pocket. I do have to say the guy didn't stand around waiting for me to tip, as soon as he showed me the toilet, he bolted for the door and I had to practically throw the tip after him. He didn't seem surprised by it, though. I didn't get a reaction to the amount because he made sure not to look at in my presence, so I still don't know if the amount was sufficient. I suspect it was a little low, even for Europe. Grrr, fancy hotels...

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