Our five days in Vienna weren’t quite what we had expected – it turned in to a week of work and rain supplemented by illness. The major earthquake in Christchurch and the death of Craig’s Sleepphones didn’t help either … but at least we had a weekend in Slovenia at the end of it.
30/8 Monday After a painful morning of work, we enjoyed the hotel’s lunch buffet and a glass of Zweigelt then headed out to do some shopping.
31/8 Tuesday The rain and our worsening colds kept us inside most of the day – in fact, I think we just went out to buy dinner from the supermarket. The hotel put on another excellent buffet for lunch.
1/9 Wednesday We’re not used to this amount of rain and cold – we worked in the morning, had cordon bleu for lunch then watched TV in the evening. I went for a walk in the afternoon, but Craig was feeling particularly rotten and turned in early.
2/9 Thursday At least the weather was better today. We were staying quite far out of the city, and the rain and our colds had stopped us from going into town. I didn’t want to spend five days in Vienna and not see it, so in the afternoon I left Craig shivering in bed and headed out to revisit the sights of one of my favourite cities. It was awesome to see the impressive architecture of the central city, and nice to go back to old haunts like Vapiano and C&A.
3/9 Friday We worked in the morning, then settled the bill and – as always – headed out the door just a bit too late. We missed our first train but managed to make it to Wien Miedling just in time to hop on the 2.30 train to Villach – fantastic. We had another option but we were glad to be on the first choice, and spent the four hours of the journey chatting with a nice Aussie couple who are also Eurailing. We had no problems with our next connection, to a town called Kranje, but as we were crossing the tracks my phone started ringing in the depths of my bag. I dumped things in Craig’s arms in my effort to answer it in time, but finally succeeded.
It was Moroni, calling from Chile to let me know there had been a major earthquake in Christchurch – 7.4 on the Richter scale according to some reports. Since Craig’s dad and stepmum live there, we were really concerned, and spent the 15 minutes of our wait in Kranje trying to get in touch with them. We couldn’t get through, but I called my dad and he promised to keep trying to get in touch with them.
In the meantime, we had to catch another train, find the right stop, ask for directions and find our way to our couchsurfing host’s home – only to find that he wasn’t there. Luckily his neighbour let us in through the gate and sat with us until Robin arrived five minutes after us – he thought we were going to arrive a little later. We had good chat with him about NZ then thought we would try Norrie and Anne one more time – and got through! We were extremely relieved to hear that they were okay.
4/9 Saturday After a very welcome sleep in, we attempted to see Ljubljana. I say attempted because at first it seemed doomed to fail – we kept finding things that we had to do before we left the house, and then we had to walk for 2km to find a shop to sell us a card for the bus. Then, we missed the stop that we wanted and had to walk about a kilometre back into town. But in the end we made it and had a great lunch before spending a pleasant hour walking around the city. We caught the funicular up to the castle and saw as much as we wanted to before the weather packed in, quite spectacularly really. We had to wait about 20 minutes for the funicular back down, I think they weren’t running it because of the heavy rain.
We sat out the worst of the storm in a cafe with a limonada each, then went to see some more beautiful buildings and bridges, and a 2000-year-old Roman wall. We had more bad luck on the bus home (missed our stop again), but had a great evening with Robin, two of his friends, and two other couchsurfers that Robin had stayed with recently in Liverpool.
5/9 Sunday We didn’t have to get up too early, so we lazed in a bit and just woke up when Robin poked his head in the door to say goodbye. Knowing Italy, internet will be painful for the next week, so we tried to get a bit of internet-heavy work done before we headed out the door. The bus then train combination to Villach went smoothly and we had lunch in the main square, and played Settlers of Catan to fill the time until our bus to Udine. It was comfortable but we weren’t happy about having to pay a supplement for it on top of our Eurail passes – that wasn’t mentioned anywhere! But we made it to Udine and had a pleasant (if laden) walk through the town to our hotel, where we met up with some of the other people staying here and had dinner with them.
Now, I’m trying to finish this post and upload photos for it – I think I’m fighting a losing battle. I think I might just have to say: photos to come.