Trip Start Apr 01, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2008

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

He says:

Day 1 - I woke up a broken and dejected man. I couldn't shake the feeling that I was never ever going to experience as good or as cheap beer as I had had during the past two weeks. As I silently cried into my pillow so that I wouldn't wake Gaynor I thought back to the golden days of the Prague spring when life held such promise. The black cloud tenaciously followed me around as we got ready, had breakfast and caught the underground into the centre of Vienna. Gaynor could sense something was wrong but I dismissed her concerns with a silent shrug of the shoulder and a wave of the hand. I wandered sullenly around the Hofburg palace, grumbling about the prices, lines and tourists, silently comparing the place to Prague castle. The Hofburg palace was big and imposing but I felt lacked the charm and beauty of the palaces in Czech (the 20 euro charge to see one little corner also didn't help my mood). By the time we left the palace I was no longer holding back with my opinions about the place, however, to my suprise Gaynor was in agreeance, though was a little more tactful. So with that settled it was off to find an escape from the bullshit and to try and find the 'real' Vienna... We wandered around the city centre but despite our attempts could not escape the tourists or crowds as we had done in Prague. We eventually found ourselves in the Museum Quartier, which had a very cool and relaxed vibe and I thought this was an improvement... Until we happened to pay $16 for a beer and an iced tea, and thus my black cloud returned with a vengance... So it was with a black heart that we walked dejectedly out of the Museum Quartier and headed South.

Thankfully, we rounded a corner and as the sun broke through the clouds we were presented with the wonder that is Naschtmarket. Naschtmarket is a huge food and clothes market, which would have been cool enough, but we arrived on a Saturday and found that, on Saturdays, half the market is a flea market, where gypsies, scoundrels and hawkers sell off the detris from imperalism, communism and capitalism... It is a place where you can buy imperial medals, soviet knicknacks, stolen mobile phones, scrounged fossils, broken electronics from the 70's and/or one shoe if you happened to have foolishly bought the matching twin the previous week from the dodgy looking stall owner. Needless to say we both loved it, ended up spending the rest of the day there and ended up having dodgy but brilliant turkish food from one of the market stalls (unfortunately gaynor talked me out of buying the Lenin medal I had my heart set on). So the day that had started so gloomily ended with in the blazing glory of new dawn... We had found ourselves a slice of Vienna that we liked and felt excited to be a part of.

On the way back to our hostel we bumped into Prue and Sinead from Cesky Krumlov (the 2nd and 3rd people we had randomly bumped into from Krumlov... Small world...) and organised to meet them in the city later to check out 'Life Ball' (Vienna's version of Mardi Gras)... Despite our best of intentions, we never got there... Embracing my new found enthusiasm for life and our fellow men we headed to the hostel bar... 9 hours later having generously shared our goodwill and a huge plate of sausages, dumplings and sauakraut with a couple from Tasmania (Hi Harm's and Bill), a girl from perth, a rough as guts chef from Sydney (trouble with a capital T), a couple of guys from Chicago, 4 funny guys from Canada, a toff from Cambridge and a crazy Swedish guy (and others who escape my memory) it was off to bed for some well earned rest. Great night of copious drinking and good natured Canadian/Australian and US rivalry (piece of advice... Make sure you play your countries drinking games first and not last...).

Not suprisingly the next morning we were slow to rise and even slower to get going. When we did we decided that it was the kind of day to go and see mummified heads, so headed off to the Museum of Criminology... We bumped into Harmony and Bill on the way out of the hostel and after hearing of the mummified heads they decided to tag along. Now this is the point where you need to understand Austria's weird relationship with death... In short they are obsessed with it, you can even buy pension plans to ensure that you have the biggest and best funeral among your friends... Thus the Criminology Museum was mainly focussed on capital crimes throughout Austria's history and was full of murder weapons, stained clothing with emporer Franz Josephs blood, the most grotesque execution implements (including one that simply consisted of a large wooden mallet and a lump of wood), photos of mutilated bodies and, the piece-de-resistance, mummified heads of executed criminals. I was kinda grossed out by all this, queasy as I was feeling, but Gaynor loved it...

As grossed out as I was we decided that we should head back to the hostel for a lay down and nanna nap. However, while on the underground we realised that we were on the same train line as the Schonbrunn palace so headed out there instead. I liked it a lot more then the Hofburg palace, mainly due to the huge gardens out the back that gave you fantastic views over the city. So we did a tour of the palace, which was pretty interesting (the hapsburgs sure knew how to build impressive buildings) and walked around the gardens until it began to rain on us at which time it was a mad dash back to the train station.

Yesterday we did a couple more churches and cathederals (getting close to catching a severe case of Just Another Bloody Church syndrom). The hghlight of which was St Michaels crypt, which is located next to Hofburg Palace. In the crypt there are a number of open coffins with mummified bodies from the early 18th century all still wearing period clothes, shoes, corsets and wigs and bonnets. Very creepy but cool at the same time... It was also explained to us that the floor we were walking on consisted of 4 metres worth of crushed coffins, bodies and bones. This was due to the fact that, despite paying more then the average annual wage to be buried there, after a couple of years when they ran out of room they simply smashed the coffins that were there and put the new coffins on top... All the alcoves were also filled with thousands upon thousands of bones. As I said Austrians have a bizarre relationship with death... We also got out into the suburbs yesterday on a failed attempt to find a crazy looking council flat development. Unfortunately we failed in our attempts to find it but nonetheless had a good explore around the suburbs... We also 'bumped' into the Adelaide serial killer from Krumlov (we reckon he has a tracking device on us). The funny bit about this is not the 'Krumlov connection' as I am calling it now but the fact that I appear to have infected the entire Krumlov Hostel with a cold virus... 3 out of the 4 people we have met post Krumlov are all complaining of being sick and looking at me with slightly pained expressions that could be confused by the wrong person as deep abiding hatred... And here I thought that I had bad hayfever... It would appear not...
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