|Subject: Vienna Travelogue - Part 8|
6 of December 1999 - Monday
We woke up too early. We had already packed the previous day, so we went early for our breakfast. There were many Italians (I told about the bank holiday) and Chinese coming down for breakfast, but we could eat properly and quite good, as all the previous days.
Our train was leaving at 8.45, so we left the hotel by 7.35, walked up to Stephansdom (thanks God for the wheels), and get the metro. We were in the train station by 8.00 am. Mum and I decided to invest 100 ATS in the bakery at the station (krapfen and topfengolatschen - pastries filled with cheese).
Once in the train, there was a man that was confused with his reservation (he had a reservation for the previous day), so we got our seats. There were a few young children and people going skiing to Salzburg. The sun was shining, and we were able to see all the landscape that on the coming journey had been dark in the middle of the night. We saw Melk from our window, the Danube, Linz,... Mum and I decided to spend time in the restaurant car. There is nothing nicer than seeing the snow on the fields while you are travelling, sipping coffee and eating strudel, and it wasnīt expensive, just around 100 ATS. I got some pictures from the train, Salzburg with the glistening Alps, a small village in the snow. They have come out quite OK. Once we passed Munich, we went again (the two of us, Gabi had decided to sleep all the way) to the restaurant. This time for a proper meal. A salad to share, wiener schnitzel and chicken kiev, mineral water and a glass of a brilliant white Burgundy wine, 425 ATS. I think that by this time of the journey the waiters knew us already. We stayed for a long time there, just watching people and the landscape. Many people came into the train in Stuttgart and in Strasbourg, and we decided to finish our train journey by calling for a coffee and a piece of Sachertorte. There were many people having dinner, but our friend the waiter managed to get us a table, and when the people around us saw how good the cake looked and tasted, they ordered more. It was the same people working, a cook and two waiters all the way from Vienna to Paris, and always with a smile and quick. Thatīs a hard job.
We arrived into Paris by 22.20 pm, and we got a taxi to our hotel. Again we had to sit in the back seat, and thanks God we knew more or less where the hotel was located, because he was trying to get us out to the Peripherique. When I began to ask where were we, well, we got a nice speech about the driver not being an italian mafioso and the like, but suddenly the taximeter went slower and we arrived to the hotel. I donīt know what is going with the taxi drivers in Paris, but I know quite a few people that complain about the rudeness, and itīs going on for a long time.
The hotel is small, and the rooms are diminute. At least we only need them for the night, but I wouldnīt recommend them for a long-term (more than two days) stay.
7 of December 1999 - Tuesday
The train was leaving at 10.05 am, and we didnīt know how long would it take us to walk down to the station (we werenīt calling another taxi, no way). So we woke up around 7.15, get a shower, get dressed and down to the breakfast room. Very small room, many french businessmen. It was a typical french breakfast, bad orange juice and good croissants.
We left for the station, it took us around 10 minutes, all straight walking from the hotel, and we were there before 9.00 am. We bought a couple of sandwiches, and I bought a magazine at a bookstore. In the meantime, mum got another argument with Gabi. This time, because she wouldnīt take care of the bags of a woman that was supposed to travel in our same train. I know, maybe we are a bit paranoic, and I am bored to death with the questions from the BA land crew each time you fly with them (did you pack it personally, could someone put something in your suitcase, are you carrying anything strange), but in these times it is better to be overzealous than careless.
There were many people from Madrid in the train. Nothing special happened during the journey. We had a couple of bad coffees at the bar, and we arrived into Irun (Spain) at 15.45 pm. There was a bus leaving for Bilbao at 16.00 pm. There is a problem if you are carrying a lot of luggage, because you have to go down and up two flights of stairs in order to get to the main building in the station, and there isnīt any lift. The bus ticket office is located at the station main building. We bought ours, and sat down for the return trip. My brother had offered to pick us up, but there were three of us and the car is small. At the end it worked fine. The bus was more expensive than usual, but also it was much comfortable (not that the normal ones are bad. In fact they are quite good, and the bus is a good option in Spain), leather seats, free drinks and papers, and a useful toiletries bag at the end. Once in Bilbao we got a taxi home, by 18.00 pm we were unpacking and my brother was sitting in the kitchen table eating the Milka chocolates we had brought, and driving us mad.
We finished our holidays by driving the next day to buy our Xmas tree, install in the balcony the lights we had bought in IKEA, and going to a mountain pass near the sea and have a nice grilled sea-bass while looking at the waves.