In the summer of 2006, I worked in Munich and hungered to see the world. I was able to get 8 days off my summer internship and decided to go to Austria (Vienna) and Italy (Rome, Pisa and Sicily). After that chaotic trip, I wrote an email to my family and friends chronicling my adventures and these are the tales I will share with you for the next few weeks.
Hmmm I assure you people that Austria is as beautiful as it looks in the Sound of Music. As soon as we got into Austrian soil, the scenery changed. It was lovely rolling hills, grassy mountainsides, small houses, streams, rivers and lakes. The grassy mountainsides were so lovely and I could just picture Julie Andrews running around singing “Do- A deer a female deer”. The landscape was breathtaking. One minute the train would be at the bottom of the hills and one would look out the window and see that we were surrounded by a fortress of hills in all directions. The next minute we would be at the top of a hill looking down into a valley. Hmmmm thinking of it makes me smile. It looked like a scene from the garden of Eden. We got to Vienna at 1335 (four hour journey.) I put my suitcase in storage at the train station in Vienna (2euros).Vienna is in relatively flat ground for Austria . It was beautiful. It’s so strange how in Europe one just crosses a border and sees people who look totally different from where you left and who also speak different dialects or languages. I guess this change would be more drastic in Africa where if one moves across borders the people look totally different eg Kenyans, Sudanese, Ethiopians, Ugandans, Tanzanians and Somalis. Even across towns I guess. In Vienna the people were slightly shorter than Germans and they spoke German with such a cute accent. The mannequins in shops were also short (which looked really strange.) Doorways were also slightly lower.
Our first stop in Austria was the castle of empress Elizabeth who was the most famous empress of the Austrian-Hungarian empire, and lived in the late 19th century, and was assassinated in Geneva. In Vienna she is a a cult icon with many movies having been made about her life. She was originally from Munich and did not take to royalty well. She suffered from depression, anorexia and hysteria during her time as empress. She is also famous for her haunting beauty and love of sad poetry. Her castle is like something from a story book. With our tickets into the castle(7euros) we also got entrance into the gold display. The gold display is basically gold articles from the castle. It was unbelievable. I have never seen so much gold in my life. They even had gold cutlery. If I was ever a dinner guest at the castle I would surely have accidentally carried out a spoon or two of solid gold:-) It was just sooooooo sooooooooo much gold that after a while I couldn’t look at it anymore. Gold candlesticks, Gold picture frames, Gold lamps, Gold statues etc The rest of the Castle was also really lovely and well adorned.
Our next stop in Vienna was St. Stephans Cathedral. A lovely old cathedral whose architecture I really can’t define. It looks gothic, but it is sort of wide though it has one really high steeple pointing towards heaven(but it is on one side of the cathedral.) The cathedral is highly asymmetric, and interesting to look at. It is really famous for it’s outer roof that is a mosaic made up of tiny little pieces that must have taken ages to put up. After this Adele and I decided just to randomly walk around, and see what we could see. Adele has already been to Italy , and I remember we were talking about Italian guys. She told me they are cute but they are generally shorter than the average European. I was thoroughly taken aback. Surely life is not fair. Surely this cannot be true!!!!! What???? Italian men- short? I tried to push this thought to the back of my mind for it was more than I could fathom. However, she told me that Venetians are taller than other Italians. By this point however I was already inconsolable. Short, dark and handsome……but short nonetheless. Surely, surely do not believe all you see on TV my dear friends………
So anyway we went to a few parks in Vienna , and by this point the weather (which had initially been rainy) was now beginning to warm up. The parks were lovely with huge trees which were a lovely shade of green, and lovely fresh air. Finally I realized I had an hour before my train left for Venice/Venezia/Venedig (in English, Italian and German.) We calmly started walking back to the train station, and let me assure you people that places always seem closer than they really are. I guess we must have walked really far for when we tried getting back to the station we just couldn’t reach it. I am telling you people that 10 minutes before my train was to leave we were still ages from the station. You would think once beaten twice shy….but yet here I was again about to miss my train. Hmmmm I have never ran like that. We ran like mad women through the streets of Vienna . Finally got to the train station, got my bags and jumped into my train just seconds before it departed. Off I was to Venice ……the land of dreams.