20,000 leagues under the sky, 2004- travel blog

St Stephen's

St Someone else's

Spanish Riding School.

Palacy front bit.


Rathaus from palacy area.

Horse and cart.


Many statued building

Statue porn.

Dregs if the party.

Palace at night

Main St at night.

It's a toilet.

14250km from Hong Kong.

Ohh Vienna...

Oh well, I'm definitely back in Western Europe now, I can tell by the prices if nothing else.

I had two main aims for my time crossing Europe, find somewhere good to celebrate new year (failed) and try to get to some of the countries of Europe that I hadn't been to all ready. Slovakia was easy, a one hour train journey from Vienna to Bratislava for the day. My plan from there was to get home via Liechtenstein and Luxembourg, I found a great website from the German Railways which has times for all trains in Europe and although I could see that it was possible I could tell that it wasn't going to be easy. I would have liked to have done as much of the trip in daylight hours as possible but the only direct train across Austria was overnight so I booked it. I booked it using an electronic touch screen machine at the station but then realised that it only gave me a ticket and not a reservation for the train I wanted. I then had a full day for sightseeing in Vienna. I took my bag to the station reasonably early in the morning and put it in a left luggage locker for the day and then got the underground to the city centre. It didn't take long to realise that I wasn't going to see much of the City in one day, I forgot how much there is to see there and how impressive the architecture is. It was another really bad day weather-wise too, about a millionth of a degree above freezing point so that it was really cold but instead of snow I had horrible sleet to deal with. The first place I went to see was the Cathedral, St Stephens I think, but they built it in a really stupid place as it's impossible to get the whole building into one photograph, the surrounding buildings are too close. I spent the first part of the morning wandering around the main centre, partly looking for something to eat that wouldn't break the bank. I started to widen my sightseeing range and wandered out towards the ring road and around the opera house area then I found the castle (or palace) area and spent some time around there, very Ultravox. The Ratthaus was very photogenic or would have been if the stupid yanks had got out of my shot and there was a pleasant park on the way there that still had the scars of New Years Eve. When I got too cold in the afternoon I loitered around an art gallery for a while and in and around the museum quarter although I didn't actually go in any as they were all heaving.

All day I'd been looking out for an internet café as my memory cards were virtually full, I'd given up when I spotted a leaflet advertising one (with "free memory card downloads"!). I went and found it and said I wanted to burn a CD so bought a blank CD off them. I copied all of my pictures from both my cards to the machine but couldn't work out how to burn the CD. When I asked the girl she said "Oh, you can't do it yourself, we do it for you", why the hell didn't she tell me that when I bought the CD? I'd just wasted 30 minutes and this place wasn't cheap. I spent another 30 minutes surfing while she burnt the CD and my total bill was 16 euros including the so called free memory download. That has to be the most expensive internet café I've ever been to; they charged 10 euros for the blank CD. When I left there it was dark so I had a quick wander back around the centre to see if there were any nice night photos to be had and then headed back to the station. With a couple of hours to kill until my train I took my CD to the internet café in the station to do an upload to my site and then found that the PCs there wouldn't let me edit pictures or save anything to the hard drive but I did finally manage to get some pictures on here.

I tried to get a reservation for a seat on my train but the first guy refused to speak English, the second one spoke English but told me to go to the Domestic counter (where I'd just come from and the non-English speaker), eventually someone else came to the other domestic window and told me that it was too late to book a seat anyway and told me to get on the train and look for an unreserved seat. When I did get on the train it looked like every seat was reserved but eventually I found a carriage with a few free ones and grabbed a window seat in a block of four. I'd somehow assumed that the train would be almost empty being the middle of winter but remembered that I was crossing Austria in the ski season when everyone was carrying snowboards or skis. I thought I might get away with having a double seat until an Arabic guy say next to me. I didn't think much of this until an hour or so into the journey he started reading a handmade book that looked like extracts of the Qur'an and started chanting (and I was convinced that he kept looking at his bags) and suddenly thought I was sat next to a suicide bomber. I obviously wasn't the only one either, as I noticed a few other people looking a bit curious and some even moving away to other parts of the train. I wanted to move away too and felt a bit guilty about that; I thought I was being paranoid but then again how may people blown up by suicide bombers have thought something was suspicious and then thought they were being paranoid? I wanted to go to the end of the carriage for a cigarette but thought it would be rude to interrupt him while he was praying. "Man dies waiting for suicide bomber to finish prayers!" Eventually his chanting became less fervent so I asked him to let me out, stupid I know but I felt safer 5m away in the end of the carriage. I spent most of the next hour or so down there as I knew I wasn't going to get any sleep sat next to a potential bomb, at one station the person sat in the single seat at the end of the corridor next to the door got off so I changed seat, no less in blast range but easier to sleep. I managed one or two hours sleep and I'm still here so I guess he lost his nerve.

The train was running late by the time it arrived at Feldkirck where I had to change for Liechtenstein and I only had 6 minutes to find the ticket office get a ticket and then find the train to Vaduz. I managed it in about 5 giving me a whole minute to check the timetable for onward connections to Zurich. I worked out that if I didn't find much of interest in Schaan or Vaduz, I needed to be back there to catch the onward train at 10:10 (it was 7:30am).

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