Sunday, April 15, 2012

A Day in Vienna

What I like about living in Europe is that you don’t only have to take the plane or a train to cross over to another country. Sometimes all you need is a reliable car plus a visa ( that’s if you need one) and off you go.

During my trip to Vienna, a six hour drive from Croatia, I kinda braced myself for unexpected surprise that may come along the way. Not necessarily bad though considering that it was Friday the 13th. We know that anything can happen that can either bring the best or the worst in you.

My main purpose of visiting Vienna was not to sight see and rediscover Mozart’s home country. But to do some official business at the embassy. Since the embassy’s consular services work up to 4 pm only, I was under a lot of nerve wracking time pressure. Thankfully, my friend who was kind hearted enough to drive me from Zagreb to Vienna while I snoozed off was as cool as cucumber. So he kept my strained emotions at bay.

Though he was expecting me to help him navigate through the map ( no GPS in his car unfortunately. I agreed at first but uhmm there was only a slight problem, I don’t know how to read maps. I turned the map upside down and then turned it sideways just to see where we were but I couldn’t find it. So, I got a better idea. I slept in the car so I got a good excuse.

We arrived almost past lunch time. As soon as we reached there, it was crunch time. We’ve got only approximately 2 hours and a half before closing. We were given instructions by a friendly and nice Turkish businessman who owns a Jewelry Shop to park the car and go by tram and subway to our destination.
That’s when the misadventure started.

We bought tram tickets but we didn’t know where to get off until we asked a pleasant old man to help us which stop we need so we could catch the train heading to other side of the town. He mentioned U-ban which is an equivalent of a subway. Then the train has a diagram of stopping points where passengers can glance for guidance but the Austrian names that are as long as their Frankfurters are not only tongue twisting but confusing as well. So after stepping on a few wrong platforms and asking more than 10 people for directions, we finally made it to the embassy and did what I had to do.

Now the challenge after that was how to get back on the street where we parked our car. Then tracing back how we came in was like having a feeling of Hansel and Gretel tracing back the trail of bread crumbs in the woods to reach home. Along the way, we had encounters with different pecular reactions from people on the street as we asked for directions in macaronic language- German, English and Croatian.

We even had a bizarre encounter with a middle aged lady, reddish watery eyes obviously wasted since she was holding a can of Heineken who stopped my friend and moved her face closer to his- stepping on his personal space like she was about to kiss him. Then with a very soft voice she whispered something that made my friend react and said “ Oh so you have a secret?”

Then the lady raised her voice a bit and said “No, I said, do you have a cigarette?”
Then we understood what she meant and in fairness to her, she gave us directions as she slurred.

Finally, we reached the parking space area and felt it was close to home when we saw the car. Two cups of coffee and short stroll after, we got back to the car and found our bread crumbs again drove out of Vienna…Gratz…then Maribor ( Slovenia) and finally Zagreb.

It’s good to be back home.

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