October 16, 2009

Less than 24–hour Vienna trip

15 Oct (Morning)

I am on my way to Vienna from Graz. As I plan to depart from Vienna to Graz Airport tomorrow, I said bye to Graz, the City of Design. I bought an one-way train ticket at 33.70 Euro. Taking a train instead of coach/bus was highly recommended by the host of the Workshop of 80 Days Consortium. He said the railway journey is a UNESCO World Heritage: the first railway on the mountain. This railway reminds me of the tour in Switzerland last year in April. I can still vividly remember the fascinating sceneries of Switzerland, and what I am seeing now is very much alike: mountains with snow, authentic countryside with fairly-tale like houses. Even the train ticket is very similar—with German that I cannot understand.

Going to Vienna is like a dream. Like the experience to Geneva last year, I never imagined that I would have the chance to visit Vienna before I landed on the UK in March 2008. In my old house in Malaysia, I kept a series of calendar-posters which depict European sceneries when I was a teenager. I always dreamt of visiting these places since then. And now I am realizing my dreams, one after another.

Due to the nature of this journey, which is meant for attending a conference and a workshop, I travel alone. Language was a barrier but English plus body language keep me at ease. The best thing about being alone is the maximum flexibility. I have to admit that I am tagged as a well-planned person, but not when I am having holidays. Like now, I don’t know where am I going and what will I do when I reach Vienna later. The good thing about flexible is that when I hungry I eat; when I feel like taking photo, I take photos; when I discover a museum that I feel like visiting, I visit, etc. To be frank, it is not easy to be flexible—I need at least a healthy body + sufficient financial capability to be flexible. And I am really grateful that I have both at this moment.

I am not a food-fancier but in Graz, I was fortunate to taste all kinds of authentic Styrian food: typical food of Austrian students in the FH JOANNEUM University of Applied Science; Mid-range/ splurge food at Hotel Daniel, Hotel Das Weitzer and SchloBBerg-Restaurant (at the Clock Tower). To balance the feeling of being a humble student, I had Doner Kebap when there is no arranged meal.

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16 Oct (Early morning)

I am on my way back to the UK. The train passed through Alps again, and I am trying to record my memory in Vienna.

Vienna is a beautiful city, no doubt though the weather didn’t seem to be very friendly.

There were combinations of snow, rain plus strong wind throughout my stay. Here I have problems to communicate, most of the people I asked for direction didn’t know English. What’s worse, I thought I understood German! Because of this, I was looking for the Wombat Hostel under rain with my luggage for one hour, and the actual walking distance should be 15 minutes.

As I knew I have only one day, the least I can do is to visit a museum and watch a concert or performance, therefore I made my visit relaxing. After analysing the transportation network in Vienna—interconnected tram, train and underground networks, I started my adventure by going to the Parliament Building. I met an Australian who lost her camera after she visited some of the famous tourism spots. She bought a new camera to re-take photos in Vienna. We felt good to meet people who can understand English, and helped each other to take photos in turns.

The rain got heavier, I ran to the National Library of Austria which was part of the Imperial Palace. I visited the museum inside the palace which holds three types of exhibits: musical instruments, weapons, and the ruins of Ephesos. Next, I visited the Natural History Museum. I was impressed by the magnificent collections of minerals in this museum. Also, I saw the Venus of Willendoft, the earliest known human sculpture.

In the evening, I watched a concert-like performance at 1, Beethovenplatz. The performance featured the works of Mozart, Beethoven and Johann Strauss. It was designed for tourists, thus it combined talk-show, concerto, opera, ballet and symphony orchestra. The acoustic was great and if I am not mistaken, this concert hall was used for performances dedicated to the imperial family.

So I did manage to accomplish what I wanted to do without proper planning and gained a happy and interesting experience.


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