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Night 2 in Wien, Seeking U2

Second night in Wien, and it seems the rain just stopped. With xGPS installed on my iPhone, I now feel more confident about getting lost, as I now have the maps of the city even without Wifi. Still, let's plan the trip ahead, trying to memorize all the names in my head.

Tonight's challenge: Go see U2. Of course, not the band, Talie would hate me. I'm talking about the U2 line of the underground transportation system U-Bahn. If I'm understanding the map correctly, I just need to enter at Stadtpark station and transfer at Karlsplatz where the U2 line begins. From there, it seems there is a district two stations after with museums and nice buildings. It would make lovely photos.

Now that the trajectory is calculated, let's see where I really went. On the map, indigo is walking, green the U3 and red the U2. Pins are where I was scratching my head trying to find where I was:

Now, walking by Stadtpark, I quickly recognize the big U sign that indicates the U-Bahn entrance. Couple of minutes after, my ticket is bought (1,70€) and I'm waiting on the platform. Surprisingly, this is not an underground station, and you can see the sky from inside.

I only have the time to take a couple of photos and the train arrives with a quiet hum (resembling the Toronto subway). Train stops, and I'm waiting on the platform. Is it normal that the doors are still shut? Looking at them, they do have a door knob. Intrigued, I open one of them. With a simple push, one of the door opens magically. While the doors are automatic, they won't open by themselves. Probably another ingenious energy efficiency feature we just don't use in Canada!

Inside the train, I only have one station to go. 2 minutes later, the train arrives at Karlsplatz. Same trick here, you have to open the door if you want to exit. Looking around, this is a much bigger station. I can connect with two other U lines, but obviously I am only looking for the U2 line. Couple of meters ahead, I'm now on the U2 platform. I quickly enter the waiting train. 2 other stations ahead, I exit the suburban network. Enough public transportation for one night.

Going back to the surface, I realize that I am now completely lost. As usual, I cannot find the street names, and I don't know in which direction to walk. Trying different directions, I then discover where to go. I quickly find the Naturhistorisches Museum Wien and the Kunsthistorisches Museum. With all the lights pointing at these buildings, it makes beautiful night pictures. Continuing my journey (while getting lost again at Karlsplatz), I find the Wiener Staatsoper (or Opera House). Unfortunately, it starts raining again and I must head back to the hotel.

Waiting for the rain to settle down a little, I decide to wait near the tramway stop where stands sell shish kabab and weiners. Near me, the dude behind the counter greets me with a strong "Kalispera". For a unknown reason, I answer back and turn around. The guy now starts to speak with me in Greek. Uh-oh.. let's hope he understands English. He did. However, he was convinced I was greek. Guess it's time to shave then. After a short discussion, I head back to the hotel, grabbing coffee for the run.

Trail is now over, time to upload photos. Since I've seen on the news that they are cutting the Sesame Street staff, let's help education a little. By each day, I'll try to introduce a new German word. So, today's word is: kreditkarten. I'm now able to pay and say thank you. It sure does make some people happy.

Fun with maps - Day (Night) 1 in Wien

As some of you might already know, I'm currently visiting the city of Vienna, Austria. While I've been there since yesterday, it is the first time I actually have to walk around and try to understand street names.

After a quick walk around the corner (around the ring?), here is a map of where I went:

Basically, I was looking for coffee. I discovered maybe 7 McDonald's, but realized afterwards that these were only signs pointing to 2 or 3 real restaurants. Naturally, every corner you could find a chique coffee shop, but I was missing the caffeine factor of dripped coffee. Plus, the espresso I had last night was exactly tasting like the ones at home. Whether this means I make good espresso or the coffee shop was bad, yours to decide.

After walking a little bit, I found myself in front of the St. Stehpen's Cathedral (Stephansdom). Just on the other side, a huge pedestrian street with a lot of shops (clothing, books, etc). Still, no cheap dripped coffee. After trying for 15 minutes to see where I was on the map (street names are difficult to spot on buildings), I decided to walk on Stephansplatz as it was crossing Kärtner Ring southbound which becomes the street of the hotel eastbound.

Now, don't let me try to pronounce these names, as I would probably insult someone. I'm just trying to find the same sequence of letters on my map. Shame on me, the only thing I can now say is: "Yes", "No" and "Thank you".

Alright, still walking now. While going south, I'm close to Walfischg street. Is seeking now over? Looking at my left, a Starbucks store is there and open. As recommended by Maxim, if you want your caffeine, Starbucks' coffee is the one to choose at 21mg/oz. Good, let's hope they do understand English now.

Just inside, I'm next in line. The women in front of me is struggling to order a cafe latte. Can't understand what they are saying, but it seems this one won't be easy. Taking a deep breath, I'm probably looking terrified. It's my turn now, prepared to play the "point and nod" game with the guy. To my big surprise, I'm greeted with: "Hello, good evening". As it seems, the women in front did struggle, but with her English. Good.. "Grande Coffee" it is.

Time to pay, I see that big credit card machine that accepts the chip thing. Let's try to see if my new card works. Just popping the card on top, Deutsch menus simply change and everything is now in French. Pretty good sign considering the machine knows where I'm from. Typing my PIN, I'm now seeing a "Merci veuillez reprendre votre carte". After 4 weeks of trying to use it at home, I'm finally able to test the chip technology.

Being a happy person with my coffee and credit card tested, it's time to head back to the hotel. There is still a little bit of rain and the humidity makes it feel colder outside. Just have to walk along the park. Couple of minutes later, I'm back in my room, drinking that good (same old) Starbucks, writing this arcticle. Now that the post is over, the cup is also empty. Let's try to see if I can take some night pictures.