Stephandsom and surrounds

Trip Start Jan 27, 2009
Trip End May 15, 2009

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gruss Got, and welcome to my fourth entry!
I will start my entry at the end of today, as that's where my happiest moments are. Tonight when I went out for dinner, at 7pm, I discovered - to my dismay - that 7pm was too late for dinner in a lot of places. I guess it's because it gets dark at like 5 (stupid winter) but still, I thought it would be easier to get food on a Friday night! Anyway I eventually found a glorified fish and chip shop where I tried a chicken schnitzel (Ausgezeichnet! Yummy!) with a salad which was basically winter vegetables floating in mayonnaise. The lady there spoke some English, which helped with ordering despite my valiant efforts at Deutsch, however the male server didn't - but you know what? He was the first Viennese person to try to actually talk to me. We determined that Australia was very far away and very hot (after he guessed I was Czech, then British. British I understand, but Czech??), and that I was a tourist who liked snow! It wasn't an in-depth conversation but it really really lifted my spirits, because it's my third day here and the first time someone was friendly to me (especially after that bitch in the chemist this morning, acting like I was a criminal for wanting meds without a script. Well, I'm sorry, but antihistamines aren't a hardcore drug in Australia!!).
And following this, I returned to the hotel and when I collected my key from the desk (supposed to drop it off whenever you go out - saves having to carry the enormous keyring!) the desk guy started talking to me, too! He understood English much better, was from Turkey, and hated the cold weather. He said out of all of Europe, Vienna is consistently cold... I didn't bother asking why, then, he stayed here :P   He also decided that he is not going to visit Australia, because he doesn't want to fly for 20+ hours XD Well can't argue with that!!
These happy moments have led me to believe that Vienna is a better place after dark :3
Anyway this morning started slowly, with another good hotel breakfast, before finding my way to Stephansdom - St Stephan's Cathedral. This is a very beautiful piece of architecture, built around 800 years ago and modified many times over the centuries. It's mainly very 'late-Gothic' with 'baroque elements' and 'Romanesque histories' or so the pamphlet told me, but I don't really know those terms. It was incredibly tall, with very high ceilings and intersecting archways, statues, paintings and organs - everything you'd expect from such a majestic church.
I paid €4,50 to go up to the Pummerin (Boomer) bell in the North tower. This bell is 21 tonnes and over 50 years old, so I thought it worth a look - however I was not impressed to step out of the elevator (only 70 or so metres up) onto a mesh floor. I'm glad there was no one around, cos I had a panic moment similar to my reaction to the glass elevator in Japan (only without certain people around to pay me out). After aeventually calming down, I shuffled (gripping tightly to the rails) round the tower only to find stairs staring back at me. Climbing them was no small feat let me tell you! But once my feet were on concrete ground, it all became worth it. The view was (freezing) fantastic! A kindly asian gentleman took my photo, with the South Spire behind me. Another thing I took some snaps of was the tiling of the roof, described as 'dazzling' by lonely planet. I don't think that's the word I would use... weird, kinda tacky, crazy, and slightly out of place are descriptions that spring to my mind. But hey it's not my church or religion so what does anyone care what I think? :P
After my ...pleasant experience in Vienna's higher regions, I was tempted to visit the katakomben (catacombs) just to feel safe, but then I wondered why I would pay €4 to see a plague mass grave, and urns containing various body parts of Hofburg royalty.
So the cathedral was two thumbs up in my opinion, being not only free to get in but also allowed to take as many photos as you like. I would love to visit when the choir is on, it would be simply amazing with those high ceilings and giant organs, however I'll be out of Vienna when it's on. Maybe another time.
After Stephansdom I randomly wandered the streets around it, as suggested by Eyewitness guide book. I lost the route they suggested but still found some interesting sights, including a book store that sold English books (YAY! Reading material!) before suddenly finding myself at Schwedenplatz beside the Danube Canal.  I did briefly cross the bridge, however neither of my guide books had maps for the other side of the river and there was nothing within viewing range of interest, so I went back over and wandered the streets some more. Somewhere in there I spent some money in a Starbucks (man their coffee is good) where I got free whipped cream on top (man their cream is good). My wanderings found me somehow back at the centre of it all, Stephansdom! I thought I'd try to find St Peter's Church or one of the museums nearby, but instead found myself back at the Albertina, and then in Karlsplatz in front of Karlskirche (a church built in the name of St Charles, patron saint of the plague... imagine being forever associated with that crap) which, although very beautiful, cost money to get in. By now I was tired and my feet were throbby and my hives were itchy (damn chemist not giving me drugs) so I simply headed to the nearest underground station and caught various trains until I got back to the hotel. Before heading in I smartly grabbed some delicious food from the nearby bakery, then popped into my room where I ate and fell asleep to Deutsch Yu-Gi-Oh on TV.
Sometime after my nap, and watching some badly dubbed Deutsch TV, was when I had headed out for dinner, bringing us all around full circle to having finished the day. After dinner I did wander the streets some, but it was cold and not many people were out so I headed back; before I finish up, though, I have to say why is Adelaide called the city of churches when places like this exist? They're everywhere!!!!
Well anyway while I was compiling today's events, Big Brother was on (it's as stupid here as it is home, and I can't even understand it) followed by fashion news, in which they displayed the (insert sarcasm here) simply awesome jeans boxers, tucked neatly into socks of course, followed by 'treggings'... trousers crossed with leggings... I think it's time to switch off the TV.
Guten Abend, missing all! Cyas later! xoxoxo
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