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Lucky day 7

7th day in Wien and since this number has a strong religious meaning, what a perfect day to go see inside Stephansdom cathedral, the katacomb and the rest.

But first, let's go visit a museum. We decide to go at the Natural history museum, since they are supposed to have specimens of dinosaurs. When we get there, we quickly realize that it is closed on Thursdays. We can go to the building on the other side, which is the Kunsthistorisches Museum (or Museum of Arts).

Once entered, we can appreciate the architecture of the building. Looking above, we can see a large painting on the ceiling.

First exhibition, coins from around the world. We go through rooms, seeing different coins from different time spans. Last room we enter, we come accross a enormous coin, from the Canadian Royal Mint. This pure gold coin, is at the moment the largest coin ever made. Worth over $2M, it weights 100kg. Not very practical if you want to use it and carry it in your pocket though.

Next rooms, paintings from the 15th to 17th century. Not being very informed (or educated?), we quickly look at all the paintings, mostly religious or related to suffering (plague, wars, etc.)

Last rooms, artefacts from Egypt, pyramids, etc. Very interesting indeed. It is amazing looking at all those little hieroglyphs, not just on tablets but everywhere. They even had a mummified crocodile, which is odd at first looking at the shape.

Museum tour is over, getting back outside, it is still raining. We decide to take the subway to go to Stephansdom. Basically, this means taking the U1 after streetcar #2 (sorry, no U2).

Inside the cathedral, the humidity is strong, making it very cold and wet. Except for some plasma TVs on walls, original architecture has been preserved. Not much light inside, but just enough is coming from the outside through the large windows. Having looked around, we wait for the next Katacomb tour to begin.

30 minutes later, the guide arrives. Unfortunately, we won't be able to take pictures downstairs. Too bad, the visit is still worth it.

Going underground, we didn't really know what was there. We then learn that the katacombs contain graves of thousands of people. In each rooms, we can see piles of bones. In certain rooms, piles represent a certain era with the Black Death. Bodies were not burned as it would have destroyed the after-life of the victims. We are even told that at a certain point, the cathedral had to be closed due to the smell. Creepy.

Out of the katacombs, we head back to the hotel, and take a shower... just to be sure we're not infested. No really, we went for dinner instead.

Now time for the Sesame Street Moment: nicht verfügbar. It means not available. We had a hard time understanding what was wrong with the TV at the hotel, every button we used gave that message on the screen. It seems the hotel was doing a remote update of the system and it failed. Back to normal now.

Day 6 in Wien

Plans for day sixth were simple: try to visit places Talie would not be very interested to see. Let's try to visit the Freud Museum, take streetcars and go see Naschmarkt. With the GPS turned on, this is mostly where I went:

First stop, the Sigmeud Freud Museum. As it seems, Mr. Freud lived most of his life in a house in Vienna that is now hosting the museum. It sounded exciting at first, but after entering the museum, you quickly realize he moved back to London at the end of his life with all of his belongings. The museum is hardly empty rooms with pictures on the wall and text about his life. Next time, I'm reading Wikipedia instead.

Exiting the museum, it is time for a quick lunch. Picking up a sandwich at Billa, I continue my journey walking towards the Donau Kanal. There, walking on the bridge, you have a good scenic view of Vienna.

Time to go back on the streetcar. Taking the streetcar #1, I transfer to #2 at Stubendring. Then, passing our hotel, I go west to Karlplatz. Exiting there, I am only a couple of steps away from the Naschmarkt.

Once I enter the market, you can smell (at first the fish) different odors and spices. It is filled with small merchants, selling fruits, nuts, fish, meats, spices and candies like the wasabi sugary thing. As I approach the Kettenbrückengasse U-bahn station, rain starts. I go inside and take the subway go to back to Karlplatz.

Now back on the ring, I take back the streetcar #2. I then enjoy the view from inside while travelling all the way to the end of the line. After a while, I'm back at the hotel, not so wet.

As for the Sesame Street moment, today's sentence: Nicht malen unsere Zimmer, während wir weg sind. If Google did this right, it means: Do not paint our room while we are away.

Wien: Rainy day 5

Although it's been raining quite a bit since we arrived, this time, getting out was almost impossible. It was dark all day long and it never stopped raining. Plus, Talie was working all day so I ended up doing Sudoku and watching CNN... yeahh..

Positive outcome, I had time to plan what we should go visit, and how to get around using as much as possible public transportation (using a car is a mess).

The day is quickly over, and it's time to find a place for dinner. Let's try to see if we can find a nearby coffee with good food. It is still raining and getting soak is not my intention. As we walk, it seems everything is closed. Of course, it is Sunday after all and most little places don't open.

Still, walking on the ring, we continue up to Schwarzenberg street. Longer walk than expected, but the Cafe Schwarzenneger (err... Schwarzenberg) is open. Good, we won't have to cross the street and go to McDonald's.

Entering the restaurant, we can hardly see if tables are still available. Walking around, we find one spot, near a piano. Well, I don't want to exagerate here, but near is not strong enough. We were probably more eating on the piano itself. We start looking at the menu, while enjoying the music (not like we could ignore the sound getting out of that piano!)

We order and enjoy our meal. Good food, respectably priced (although the bread is not free). Now, time to pay, using the beloved kreditkarten. The guy comes back, with the credit card in his hand and a question mark on his face. He then asks: "erm.. you're not from France?".

Well, of course we're not from France, we explain we're from Canada. Usually, people tend to say: "Ohhh... Canada... good", and then stop talking as they just know we are a quiet northern country somewhere and don't know much about it. This time it's different and the guy wants to know more.

Discussing with him, we discover that he went three times to Montréal. Last time he went to the city, he took a car from Halifax and drove all the way there. He told us one time he had a hard time getting understood as no one was speaking English. Turns out, he was at Rivière-du-Loup and most people were only speaking French. He trully knew where Canada was.

As for the Sesame Street moment, today's word: Brot. This is bread my friend, and if you see it on your invoice, I hope you ate it and I hope it was good, because you just paid €3,40 for it.

Wien: Real day 4

After a short shift, Talie is ready to walk around the city. First stop: Stephansdom. We won't have time to go inside, as I have to head back to the hotel for a call. We will at least observe the building during the day, as it is difficult to see the complete architecture at night. After heading there, we will look around the center of the city. Overall, this was our complete walk:

Arrived at Stephansdom, we can barely walk. Center of Wien on Saturdays is packed. People are dancing, singing, playing instruments and drinking beer in the middle of the streets. This differs significantly from my last walk there, which was at night in the middle of the week. We are told by a young man selling concert tickets that streets are filled with people on Saturdays, but since everything is closed on Sundays, it quickly gets back to a more quiet mode.

Looking up, we can see the cathedral. Some parts are being renovated, but you can see all the details of the architecture. Even the roof is amazingly detailed. On top, we can see people walking around visiting the building. We definitely need to go back and take the tour.

Continuing our trip, we take all the little streets in every direction. At some point, even if we knew approximately how to get back, we couldn't say if we were facing a particular direction or not. After a while, we are back on Kärtner street. We just have to go south to cross the the ring.

Almost arrived at the ring, Talie asks if we should eat something if we want to survive until dinner. On our left, a hot dog stand selling their local version of the food. We take one and end up with a 12" baguette, carved and stuffed with sweet ketchup, strong mustard and a huge sausage. Good thing we only took one for the two of us.

For the two of us? Yeah right, Talie almost ate the whole thing. Turned out, it was pretty good, and probably more nutricious than what we call hot dog sausages.

Heading back to the hotel, we look where we could go for dinner. We decided on a spot and went back couple of hours after. That restaurant is almost the proud sponsor of today's Sesame Street moment. It is a word Talie decided to memorize carefully: Schopftintling. This, is a sort of mushroom.

Day 4.25

Not really a long post and I'll make one longer once I've done something interesting today.

Between 6 and 9 in the lobby of the hotel, you can get complimentary coffee. Basically, it is an automated espresso machine with pictogram buttons. I've been using it for 3 days, and I can't really figure out how to ask for a double espresso (and short ones, not allongé). What I found out is that it is best to simply press twice the small cup button.

Still, waiting in line, there is a blond mid-40 women in front, trying to understand the machine. She is pressing a button, transfering the small styrofoam cups inside her big thermos, then doing the whole thing again. She definitely looks American. Turns out, she's from Texas.

After a short discussion on how difficult it is to get coffee (still, don't forget she is from the US and must be drinking a container of cheap Dunkin Donuts coffee each morning), I just remember the Starbucks I discovered the first day. Asking if she would want to know where the Starbucks is, I get a strong: "REALLY, Where?". I guess she'll be heading there now.

During that time, couple of taxi drivers entered the lobby and took a small cup of coffee for the road. Each morning, they are drinking their small cup while waiting in line for clients. Even the polizei (police) is doing the same thing. At least, some people are happy with that complimentary machine. Rule of thumb, if you want to fill your thermos, you're at the wrong spot.

Day 3 (really, DAY)

Day 3 in Wien, that's right, we are now living like the rest of the world and sleeping at night. It also means we can enter buildings and see some sunlight. Although like the other days, it's raining outside. After a pretty good storm, it seems we will be able to get some blue sky, time to get out and show Talie the surroundings.

First thing first, time to start the GPS tracing see if the trick really works. With the iPhone switched on in my pocket, I will try to collect our position as we walk. This should allow us to precisely trace our steps on the map and geocode the photos taken. After some GPX to KML and KML to polylines conversion, here is the output:

Not bad, we can even see where we crossed the bridge in the park to go to the other side of the canal. We can also see where we entered the shops at the end because of the sudden storm (believe me, rain was pouring!).

So, simple walk in the park, but we were still able to see some interesting things. Upon entering near the canal, our first reaction was to see all the flowers everywhere. It is still cold here, around 2-6°C. Still, without any leaves in trees, the grass is green and flowers are surviving. Just on top of us, a weird tree with hairy balls. Don't know what this is, but it scares me. Let's move on before one ball falls on my head.

Walking the length of the canal, the sun quickly reappears. We now have a complete blue sky, with still dark clouds on the horizon. There is a small bridge nearby, we cross it and exit the park on Am Heumarkt. Continuing our walk, we pass by a board announcing future concerts. In big letters, we can read: "Orchestre symphonique de Montréal, Kent Nagano". A block away, we are in front of the Wiener Konzert Haus.

Continuing our walk, the sky gets darker and darker. Back on Kärntner ring, we see now opened shopping centre. Couple of minutes after, rain is now pouring. We quickly get inside, even if we don't really need to shop.

On the lower level, we see a market selling fruits and vegetables. We decide to go see if we can find some nutritious food. When eating at restaurants, it's hard to get your daily dose of fresh vitamins. We head down to realize that the market is bigger than expected. We go inside, take some fruits (no chocolate for me..), Red Bull (Austria is where this stuff is from after all) and some bread.

Waiting in line to pay, we are greeted with a somewhat cold women. As she starts scanning our groceries, she's mumbling words that we cannot understand. Looking frustrated, she gets up and walk away from the counter. Not knowing really what is happening, it seems she has scanned everything and I begin packing the items. However, it seems the apples are missing, where have they gone? Talie also seeking the missing bag, the wonderful women comes back with our forbidden fruits.

Looking at the bag, we both realize why she was such pleasant company. In the store, you have to weight your own things and apply a label on the bag. She continues mumbling German words, even if she now realizes we can't speak it. Oh well, let's pay and get out before she jumps on us.

Going back outside, the rain has stopped again. However it is still dark and we decide to head back to the hotel. It will be dinner time soon and we have to wake-up early the next morning.

As for the Sesame Street moment, today's expression: Es tut mir leid (S toot meer lide). This is what we should have said to the poor women, given the fact that we were overall "sorry" for being misinformed.