Friday, 30 July 2010

"Are we in Germany now?"

We are off to Vienna! At a very early start of approximately 3am we left the hostel in Copenhagen and entered the windy rainy streets to reach the station in which we would get to Copenhagen airport. Our journey on the train encountered many strange people, including those coming home from a night out, a couple of guys belted to one another and also a scary grumbler and after about 30 minutes we reached the airport. Checking in was fairly rapid – getting to print the luggage tags ourselves! We were all under the weight limit for the hold but Harriet did the team proud with a hefty 20.1kg bag, leaving us thinking of inventive ways to cut it back before the Ryanair flight in Hungary. We also contributed to meeting international scouts challenge by meeting some Danish scouts (with a Baden Powell hat!) off to a Jamboree in France who were then subjected to a photograph with us all, not a good thing for any of us at 5am! Due to the quick check in we had time to find some food, shop, have a mooch etc-meaning for Rachel getting a few hundred over priced pastries ;)

We soon boarded the plane, with a suspiciously looking young pilot and soon was in the air Vienna bound. The flight was only an hour and a bit so just in time for everyone to take a nap or read, we then landed in a rainy Vienna at approximately 8.30 , although it seemed like late afternoon by now! Lizz made the arrival a little more interesting with the quote by Lizz ‘Are we in Germany now?’ as everything seemed to be in German rather than Austrian! We collected our bags, almost picking up a cute dog left in the ‘bulking luggage’ en route and made our way to the S-Bahn which we got to Westbanoffe (Westbahnhof) station. It was here where the problems began, I may have wit and good looks ;) but I sure can’t read a map  We hadn’t walked too far before realising my sense of direction was poor and got some help from some fellow English tourists – we had gone the opposite direction! Luckily enough the hostel was not far from the station and we soon arrived to a variety of d├ęcor and merchandise with many a strawberry on, we had found our destination, the strawberry hostel. It was rucksacks away and off for the day as it was less than 24hours before we would leave again for Salzburg.

I began the walking tour of some of Vienna’s main attractions by walking to the Austrian Parliament, on the way we took in a lot of the Austrian culture, many of us indulging in chicken Schnitzel aka McDonald’s, cultural! After picking up some postcards, nomming our Mcdonalds treat, finding an amazing Hello Kitty shop (which was closed ), passing the Natural History museum and embracing some other lovely Viennese architecture we reached the parliament. The rain had picked up by now and so rainjackets and ponchos were out as we reached the building, outside displaying a fountain depicting Athena and also representing the 4 four rivers of the old Austro-Hungarian empire. After taking lots of photos and of course having the standard statue pose next to the fountain, we went inside the visitor centre where tours can be taken around the various rooms etc. We opted against this due to time but had a browse in the shop, bought some stamps and used the toilet facilities before leaving to visit Rathaus. Rathaus (City Hall) was an amazing Neo-gothic style building in which Viennese and part of Austrian Politics take place within. Currently there is a film festival out of the front staging hundreds of chairs and a massive screen in which films are played daily. Wearing our neckers we attract some attention from the public and Vienna was no different, a man helped us to understand Scouting in Austria a little bit (his memory being slightly warped from his childhood we think) and wished us well on the rest of our trip.

Many of us were feeling peckish for lunch as it had been about 9-10 hours since we had woken up and so we began to make our way into the main area. St Stephens platz was our destination but looking for food places under budget on the way we found some lovely shops selling decorated cakes, beautiful dresses and crafts etc proving that Vienna is quite a sophisticated city in most parts. We searched and searched for lunch and so in the end to stick under budget trip 2 to Mcdonald’s commenced, with Gem and Jennifer being slightly more health conscious and going to the nearby supermarket. Once refuelling at lunch (and using the Mcdonald’s straw for comic value) we had a quick browse in the square and picked up some breakfast for the next day –finding Austria’s value range ‘CLEVER’ I can assure you all now that our intelligence has improved after just one meal! We had plans for a guided tour at the Vienna State Opera at 4pm and so had a quick browse in the beautiful Cathedral – famously connected to the parish Mozart belonged to before making our to the Opera. Our travelling was interrupted by some filming on the streets for an Austrian movie, looks like we are much more than just local celebrities now! (One of the challenges!) The tour at the Vienna State Opera was really good, enabled by the period of time during the summer, which shuts shows performing on stage. The building was really beautiful and had lots of intricate details, it was nice to see both behind the scenes and the atmosphere of the opera from a spectators point of view. The tour and visit lasted just over an hour and we had planned to look around the Opera Museum as it was included in the ticket but once again we became a little bit of a celebrity. We saw in the distance a big crowd of scouts, they were from Taiwan being tour guided by two Austrian Scouts and seemed very excited about seeing us! We posed for lots of photos, answered a few questions and asked some similar ones about their trip and also each got given individual business style cards from every single Scout as well as being invited to a Jamboree next year in Taiwan celebrating 100 years of Scouting in China (yes we are already planning ;)!)

We made a quick dash as we had to make sure we had plenty of time to get to our next destination – the Viennese Scouts we were planning to meet. After a quick rest in Stadtpark – rapidly trying to repair feet ache and injury we hopped on a tram into the outskirts of the city centre to meet Christina and some other Scouts that we have been in correspondence with prior to Stampede. We sneakily got on the tram without paying or shall I say using our Guiding charm and soon enough we were at the stop for us. It was a little nerve racking, as we didn’t have exact address or any clue who or what it would be like! Turns out the Austrian Scouts were absolutely lovely and we had a very cultural evening, with nothing to worry about! There were 5 Austrian Scouts in total and they run Viscout 88, a group which caters for international scouts in Vienna ranging in age. They had prepared a feast for us, when we arrived they were in the process of making Apple Strudel which would be our desert, but first for the main! We were firstly shown how to make Wiener Schnitzel, the process involves dipping pieces of pork firstly in flour, then egg and finally in breadcrumbs, which then would be fried, they then let us loose to have a go, it becoming almost a race to see who could get their Schnitzel on the end plate first!
The schnitzel was served with a red berry sauce which complimented the pork well, salad and potatoes. It was so yummy and we definitely all were up for seconds! The next course was an unusual pasta style dish made from dough and a special cheese, that also was very yummy, we were told that Austrian beer is often drunk with it and so we were obliged to have a sip, slightly against our charter :-p!

Throughout dinner we discussed both Guiding and also Scouting in Austrian and after the main course we sang some campfire style songs, teaching them some and also disastrously attempting some German ones of theirs. ‘Once an Austrian went yodelling, on a mountain so highhh …’. All the signing and also very bad dancing helped us to build up our appetite for the amazing Strudel! We happily ate a few portions of the apple and fruit filled pastry before having some photos and giving them our gifts from England (some tea and shortbread) and then saying goodnight in the traditional ways, Brownie bells, taps and their equivalent.

Overall we had a lovely day in Vienna, definitely worth a longer visit, the weather was slightly disappointing with the rain and we were sure happy to get into the hostel and sleep at night.

Onwards and upwards to SALZBURG tomorrow, Auf Wiedersehn!

Amy xxx
(Wow longting blogting)

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