Vienna Calling

Vienna Travel Blog

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Grüß Gott from Vienna.  I always seem to be in Vienna on some Catholic holiday and today is no different,  it is Ascension Day, which means we got to hear a beautiful choir at Stepansdom but that everything else is closed.  I do belieeve that some students have ventured out into the night to find the restaurant with a 7 foot sausage for 6 Euros, they seemed quite excited by it.

Let me catch you up on the travel portion of the trip, or as I like to call, how long can I remain ungodly tired and not die. We left Newark right on time on KLM and the flight was relatively uneventful, except for the couple in front of me making out for most of the 6 and a half hour flight, the flight attendant had to ask them to bring their seat forward so I could eat my dinner, which did interrupt them, and probably saved me from having two Dutch people make love in my lap. I was sitting next to the tallest man on the plane, his legs were incredibly long, I was quite amazed that he fit into the seat. I watched 2 movies, Walk the Line and The Family Stone, both good and a pleasant diversion from what was going on in front of me, other than at one point the woman half of the couple reached back to steady herself in a moment of ecstacy and did briefly block my view of Sarah Jessica Parker dropping her strata.  We got into Sciphol (pronounced almost like ski pole, but not quite) which is the airport in Amsterdam about half an hour early.  This is a good thing as our connecting flight was leaving 55 minutes after our arrival.  Aapparently, the runways at Schiphol were built as far from the actual airport as possible.  We've all joked about taxiing to the next town, but in Amsterdam you practicaaly do -- the group's conservative estimate was 4 miles.  The airport is designed as one terminal for, as the introductory video says, for the ease of travellers, so they don't have to travel between buildings -- what that actually means is that the traveller has to walk a long way through a very big building. Another part of our group arrived from Ddetroit at about the same time and we raced through the rest of the airport to make our connecting flight.  Just a few snags, students couldn't find boarding passes and the like, but we all made our 6:55 am KLM cityhopper flight out of Amsterdam on time and before the rains came.

We got into Vienna on time and flying over the city was beautiful, it is very compact with big green parks and mountains off  in the distance with the Danube and its canals snaking up one side.  The airport was easy and everyone but one person's luggage made it there.  Our only problem was the lack of a bus driver.  Wwe waited a bit, and then I called Jason back in the States -- I felt bad for a minute because it was about 3 in the morning in Aatlanta, but then I remembered I had been up for 21 hours at that point.  Jason helped meout and gave me the numbers for the bus company.  I am now a pro at dialing Belgium from my cell phone.  I spoke with Marino who got me in touch with Jöel, our bus driver.  He was parking the bus when I called  and felt terrible because his GPS had gone down and he had run into problems on his drive to Austria.  I really didn't care at the time, and i just wanted to get to the hotel.  Jöel figited with the GPS the entire way, but we made it to our hotel by 11 and I went in to get our rooms.  No luck, we couldn't check in until 2.  So we stored our luggage in the restaurant and I sent the students into the coolish Vienna day.  I had to meet the other part of the group at the airport at 2:30, so Imade plans with Jöel to leave at 2, and then I went out in search of an unlocked phone for my work SIM card and lunch.  Interestingly enough, the cell phone was the easy part of my journey.  I found an electronics store with helpful people who got me the phone I needed at the price I was asked to pay.  Lunch was harder.  I tried to order my 2 cheeseburgers with just ketchup and a large coke at McDonald's, in German even, and somehow fell short.  After a second attempt, all was right in the world and I even had some caffeine in me.

I made it back to the airport with the student who lost his luggage, so he could see if it came in on another flight.  Iit didn't, but the other part of the group was there, well most of them.  2 of the students didn't make the connection in Amsterdam, so I called Jason again to see if he could locate them.  Aa few minutes later, Jason called back tell us that their plane had been struck by lightning in Amsterdam and they were still there -- it all sounded so dangerous and scary. Lleslie, my partner on this trip, was now here so I was very happy.  Wwe got back to the hotel, and I got to check in and I took a much needed nap -- I had been up for 29 hours at that point. I woke up when Jason called to tell me that our lightning struck students were on the way and he gave me one of their cell phone numbers to text her to find out when she arrived.  She called during our welcome dinner, Wienner Schnitzel and potatoes with apple streudel for dessert.  I had them catch a cab which I met at the door and paid for.  It turns out their plane wasn't struck by lightning, there was just lightning in the area -- things are more exciting and dire when they are translated into English from Dutch.  We then realized our one student travelling on his own wasn't here yet, but literally 5 minutes later he walked in the door.  We were all in Vienna, well except for our visa-less student, still no word on her.  I downloaded some slides for one of the professors and unpacked and hit the sheets by 10:30, I slept like a rock under one of those perfect feather duvets that the German speaking countries have some sort of deal with the devil with and can be found no where else.

This is the world's worst metal keyboard, so I will stop now and tell you more about Vienna from a real computer and not the free kiosk at the hotel.

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photo by: hellenica