Hmmm…I need to keep up with this at least every other day so I can actually remember what happened. It seems I actually have some things written down in the travel journal Ange bought me, so I’ll try to recap from there.
Wednesday the 17th I was possibly getting a ride from one of Nina’s friends to Maribor, on the border of Austria. Nina, if you recall, is the very generous lady that made Slovenia such an awesome trip. I guess the drive fell through on Wednesday, but I was in no hurry so I just kind of hung around at the flat most of the day. I went downstairs to the diner for lunch, and they not only screwed up my order (not too badly though), when I tried to order a struedel for dessert the server informed me all the had to offer was pancakes with chocolate (which were actually crepes with Nutella). I said no thanks and asked for the check, and she brought me back damn crepes with Nutella. Nutella is the most disgusting creation of mankind. And being such a bad language barrier, I couldn’t explain her error to her. So I had to pay 4 Euro extra for no reason. Apart from that the night was uneventful.
The next day I took the bus into the city early. First things first, I got myself some gelato. Sorry Ange, but I have a new favorite gelato spot. It’s right near Triple Bridge in Ljubljana, and I went there at least once everytime I went to the city. Then I had some asian food a little north of the main square. About noon I walked down the river for a bit until I found a good place to hang out. So for about an hour or so I just sat by the Ljubljanica River, relaxing like the locals. Everyone said I would get bored with the city after only a day or two. I don’t really see that as a bad thing.
I returned home around 1330 or so, and then something not so fun happened. Here’s the story behind it: Nina had invited another surfer over, an American that moved years ago to Finland that was in town to photograph the Flow Festival. Or Flo Festival. Something like that. Anyway, kinda creepy awkward older guy, no big deal. There are two beds in the apartment. Problem is, she only has one set of extra keys. And you can’t even get into the complex without a key. If you don’t have a key, you are either stuck inside or stuck outside. So other guy takes the key when I get home, says he’s gonna check out a waterpark nearby, and comes home AT ALMOST MIDNIGHT. I was stuck there for over 10 hours. I couldn’t even leave to get some damn food. And he complains that his cheese is missing in the fridge the next day. Yeah, jerk, I ate your entire block of cheese. It’s the only thing that kept me alive. Asshole.
But enought about all that. I woke up early on Friday the 19th. Nina came home around 0900, but had to leave for a doctor appointment until 1300. No problem. Without even saying hi to other guy I took the keys and left. I went to a restaurant nearby and ordered what I think translated to “pig meat and potatoes.” And…was actually really good. Then after Nina returned she took me to the bus stop. I was supposed to get a blablacar ride, but it fell through for some reason. So I waited two hours until the next guy said he would be there. He drove a big van and had two other girls with him that were going to Czech Republic. Then at Maribor we stopped and picked up another couple that I think were also heading to Czech.
The drive took several hours. It was raining hard most of the way and there was some minor traffic issues, so it took a little longer than usual. Regardless the fee was the same: only 20 Euro from Ljubljana to Vienna. Pretty good if you compare it to any other transportation (except maybe hitchhiking). So we got into Vienna about 2100, but unfortunately I didn’t have a very good idea of where I was going. Luckily, my phone service works in Austrai (unlike Slovenia). So I was able to use my navigation to walk to my next couchsurfer. 6.5 kilometers. With a 25 kilogram backpack. I think I finally showed up around 2300. Side note, in Austria the official language is German, and in German Austria is spelled “Osterreich.” Like that ugly flightless bird I think.
Anyway, my new host is Oliver, a middle-aged man that has so far spent most of his time at the gay-pride parade or festival or whatever it is that is going on in town right now. He’s a really generous host and gave me a quick tour of the city on his way to the festival this morning. Apparently he is dating a guy in Helsinki. Not sure how that works out, but more power to him. The spare room in which I’m sleeping has maps of Vienna as well as a “gay guide to Vienna.”
So I spent the day basically just orienting myself with the layout of the town. I toured the outside of many of the attractions. I may get a Vienna Pass, but for two days (with travel included) it costs 82 Euro. Worth it, as long as I have two FULL days to explore. So I will probably pick that up tomorrow. I know Oliver said we can go to a show at the famous Opera House. If we get standing tickets it is much cheaper. Also, if possible, I’d like to see the 450th anniversary of the Spanish Horse Show or whatever it’s called. Looks like it would be a fun tradition.
But the architecture here is spectacular! Oh, St. Stephen’s Cathedral is just awe-inspiring, if not a bit ostentatious. This was the main city for the ruling Habsburg family for many centuries, and you can tell just by looking at all the extravagant structures built for the royal family. Tomorrow I will most likely pay for entry, so hopefully more pictures will follow. One particular piece I found interesting was the Holy Trinity Plague Column, or the Pestsaule. In the late 17th century it seems that Vienna was hit brutally with the plague. So Emporer Leopold I knelt in the town square (which I guess royalty never did) and begged for god to spare the city. Then after the plague subsided he commissioned the column built. Now, you can’t tell from the pictures I’ve taken, but if you look real close in person, the Emporer looks a bit…odd. Some indepenent research informed me that he had the typical “Habsburg Jaw.” It seems the Royal families of Europe were so incredibly inbred that many recessive genes were prevalent, such as a horrible underbite. This got to be so bad that one of the last Habsburg Kings in Spain, Charles II, was so deformed he couldn’t chew his food properly, he was physically and mentally disabled (couldn’t talk until age 4 or walk until age 8, and had a tongue so large be could barely talk). Also impotent and infertile, ending the Spanish bloodline. They literally inbred their own bloodline out of existence. I found out this is also the reason for the above-average occurence of hemophilia in a lot of the royal family.
There is your history lesson for today. Although you needn’t require a history lesson: the Queen of England is married to her cousin, the Duke of Edinburgh. Yes, even in the 21st century it’s okay for royalty to marry their cousins.
I recently signed up on the workaway.info website. I’m hoping that I can find a farm either in Czech or Romania and spend a few weeks there, helping out 5-6 hours a day for as many days a week for room and board. It’s not that I need to for lack of cash, but I want to. First of all, I feel like my vacation is going too fast. I’ve been to four countries in less than three weeks. I want to slow it down a bit, and I think the best way to do that would be to take a few weeks and spend them in the middle of nowhere. Additionally, I’ll get to see exactly how rural people live in East Europe. I think I’m going to meet up with a friend in Prague next week sometime, maybe spend about two weeks there, then look for farm or other country work. Helping to fix up a house while tutoring English. Can’t wait!!