Category Archives: Europe

Vienna

Hello again from the train! We are en route to Budapest.

I’m really enjoying writing away on these train journeys, it really passes the time. This trip will be about three hours. We paid a bit extra to reserve seats today, and I’m glad we did because the train is mega busy.

Vienna was stunning. We arrived, got the underground to the station nearest our hotel (let’s hear it for my lovely Londoner, although he did start marching at around 100mph with his backpack on as soon as he hit the underground, but he can’t help it. It’s in his blood)

The Flemings Hotel was super swanky. We did have hysterics when we opened the door to our room and found that the shower was in our room. I have no idea why.

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Tom found a walking tour of Vienna online which we followed through the afternoon, stopping at five minute intervals for alcohol and icecream.

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Vienna is definitely the most grand city I have ever been to. All the buildings are incredible. We found a beery restaurant that Tom had been looking for and I had some lovely dumplings.

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(Above is the bar in the restaurant – Tom’s idea of heaven)

We discovered that we are really close to the town hall (rathaus haha) where there is currently a film festival. Here they showed films on a giant outdoor screen every night, and that night they were showing…. a Depeche Mode concert. We don’t know any of their songs but sat and watched a bit of it and soaked up the atmosphere. Then we went back to the hotel and watched “Ex on the Beach” very cultural.

 

The next day we had the most decadent buffet breakfast at the hotel, then went out on the very very sweaty tram to the Belvedere art gallery. There was an awful lot of religious paintings, or as Tom likes to call them “Loads of eye-rolling dickheads floating in clouds and pointing at the sun.”

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But we finally managed to located the Gustav Klimt exhibition which I really enjoyed. I’ve always been fascinated by his work and was really happy to see “The Kiss” in real life. Beautiful. They also had some sections of the “Beethoven Frieze” but it was all split up and not as good as when I saw the whole thing at the Tate Liverpool. I’ve realised that art gallerys are slowly becoming like live concerts when you end up looking at what you’ve come to see through someone else’s iphone. Annoying! But we still had a great time.

We returned to the hotel, then went to a little restaurant across the road and sat in their garden for some food when the heavens opened which was quite funny. More deep-fried cheese for me and a beef goulash for Tom. We are considering an extra stop in Eastern Europe on the way home so we can both have a gastric band fitted!
We then got dressed up smart (or as smart as you can be when your clothes are bundled up in a backpack!) and went to the Mozart concert at the Musikverein, massive thank you to Mimi, Dan, Sam and Natasha for our tickets!

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We entered a wonderfully ornate golden hall, and found our pre-booked seats…. in the second row! We couldn’t believe our luck!
Eventually the orchestra walked on, in traditional Mozart dress, including grey wigs, which was hilarious. Then we got a fit of the giggles at the conductor who was like Borat in a Mozart outfit, and the tenor who had the biggest bum chin I’ve ever seen. We are terrible. It was that silent/shoulder-shaking laughter where you’re digging your nails into your palms and trying so desperately to stop. But we eventually pulled ourselves together and enjoyed the rest of the concert in a sensible manner like the mature adults that we are.

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We went back to the hotel and watched Ex on the Beach in bed (I don’t know why this has become part of our routine but it has!)

On our last day, we walked to the park that’s home to the Vienna’s iconic Reisenrad wheel. Thank you to Tim, Grace and Joe for our tickets for the wheel! We had a nice trip up which gave us some great views of the old and newer sides of Vienna.

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Then we slowly wandered around the park, stopping on benches to people watch then went to a restaurant for lunch. Tom had this gigantic “pork knuckle” thing he’s been lusting over for ages and I had a salad…. and chips.
It was a really hot day. We’ve just been reading about the heatwave “Lucifer” on the news that’s currently hitting Europe, and we can definitely feel it. It’s usually over 35 degrees at the moment, not that I’m complaining!
We went back to the hotel, and then in the evening took a picnic tea back to the Rathaus Film Festival. That evening they were showing “Swan Lake Reloaded,” which I was decidedly dubious about, but it ended up being amazing! It was a screening of a live performance of a contemporary dance version of the Swan Lake ballet. I’ve never seen any contemporary dance before and it just blew me away, I was absolutely riveted. Loved it.

In conclusion, Vienna has been one of my favourite places so far. I love the Austrian people and the food, and the grand city provides an incredible backdrop to the history of Western Classical music.

I shall leave you with a haiku about Vienna from Tom:

Lot of grand buildings

and tasty viener schnitzel

Gustav Klimt woz ere

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Mozart’s Balls

Hello again from the train, this time we are en route from Salzburg to Vienna. Most of the morning has been spent fending off questions about the trains asked by strangers in German. I have always seemed to give off the air of someone who knows where they are/where they are going and I have no idea why.

Anyway, our trip from Venice ran smoothly to begin with. We had two changes, and were congratulating ourselves saying “ooh these train journeys are so easy”…
We arrived in Salzburg train station and couldn’t find the 28 bus recommended by the hotel. We went to the information point, showed the man where we wanted to go on our phones, and he told us to get the 180 bus. The bus driver also confirmed he could take us to our hotel, so we sat down.

30 minutes later we were getting further and further away from Salzburg. We consulted the maps app, and we were literally going off the map. I went to ask the driver, who kept nodding. I had a bad feeling though, so asked if he would be going back to Salzburg, to which he said no. So we decided to get off the bus. It was getting dark. We crossed the road to see the bus times back to Salzburg to discover we’d missed the last one. It was Sunday night, and everything was closed, with no one around. After a bit of tracking around with our backpacks, we found an open Italian restaurant. The staff didn’t speak English. Eventually a couple asked if they could help us. They said “Do you know where you are? You are in Bavaria! We can’t call you a taxi from here, you have to walk back over to the Austrian border and try there.”

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We bemusedly walked until we crossed back over the border to Austria, found an open restaurant where the lovely owner spoke English, booked us a taxi to our hotel and poured us a beer while we waited. The taxi showed up, it was a mercedes and the fanciest taxi I’ve ever been in. 30 minutes later and our wallets 33 euros lighter, we pulled up outside our hotel. The staff were wearing traditional dresses with plaits and leiderhosen, showed us to our room and then we sat in the restaurant, ordered food and drank steins of beer. We could finally laugh. We’ve been lost all over the world but we’ve never ended up in the wrong country before!

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Day 1

The next day we saw our hotel in the light. We’ve been alternating planning the trip, so I booked the Venice hotel, and Tom booked the Salzburg one etc. So I didn’t really know what to expect but our hotel was in the sticks, a traditional building filled with weird objects, and it brews its own beer. Here are some of the weird things…..

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(I like to think of the above as “Muppet Jesus”)

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(The above became the “lucky toad” which we patted when entering and leaving the hotel)

Shout out to Kate, Melody, Fab and Brekke for our hotel stay, we had a wonderfully confusing but entertaining time!

We were filled with dread at the prospect of catching the bus again, but luckily we managed to make it to the centre of Salzburg without any unexpected border crossings. We wandered through the city centre, and paid a visit to the museum of Mozart’s birthplace.

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(Massive thank you to Graham and Mike) I kept getting goosebumps looking at original manuscripts and learning all about Mozart’s early years, it was really interesting. We ate some chocolates called “Mozart’s balls,” which inspired Tom to write another haiku:

Mozart’s Balls

Eating Mozart’s balls
Get on a bus and get lost
Here! Have a schnitzel.
We then got a funicular up to the top of the hill above Salzburg where a big fortress stands. This gave us great views of the city and it was nice to learn all about the medieval castle.

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We had a picnic lunch by the river, then got the bus back to the hotel. That evening we tried the restaurant across the road. We have FINALLY started to use the google translate app. In the past we’d enjoy picking at random from the menu. In the case of Japan, you’d still have no idea what you were eating even when it arrived…. but now I’m veggie I have to be a bit more careful (OMG FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS) anyway, I delightedly ended up with a grilled emmental and salad, and Tom had bratwurst wrapped in bacon with chips.

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Day 2
The next day we decided to have a “lazy day” we were pretty knackered from all the early mornings and travel. We chilled out by the pool, read our kindles.

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and then Tom decided we should walk to the supermarket for lunch. This was a nice idea in theory, but in reality it meant walking for half an hour in 35 degree heat along the motorway passing through lots of industrial parks… not very glam. But we came back with a bag full of beer so that was okay.
We sweated our way back again, then played cards and drank the beer and went back to the restaurant across the way again.

I shall leave you with a closing limerick from Tom.
A couple went into the mountains,
To explore all of Salzburg’s fountains,
After drinking some beer,
It became clear,
That they were really in Bavaria

And also this photo:

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When the moon hits your eyes like a big pizza pie…..

Well hello there!

I am writing this in a Hogwarts Express style train carriage en route from Venice, Italy to Salzburg, Vienna.

Our journey from Leeds to Venice was fairly hellish… we took a silly train to Manchester airport which stopped at every small village possible. Then the flight was delayed, but that didn’t stop them from opening the gate and shepherding a flight’s worth of people into a tiny waiting corridor. Passport check in Venice took over an hour of standing in an unmoving queue (thank god for kindles) we then had to find a boat into the centre of Venice. There was a forty minute wait here whilst I lay on my backpack, mouth completely parched (no shops were open) eating a tea of the digestives I’d shoved in my backpack. It was quite nice in a way. It felt like travelling again. The boat arrived, it was pitch black by this point, and it took 1 hour and 45 minutes until we got to Saint Mark’s square. By this time it was gone midnight and we were exhausted with pounding dehydration headaches, Tom muttering that he was on the brink of drinking his own urine.

Anyway, this ranty bit has been the only bad bit of the trip so far. We walked across Saint Mark’s square, and checked into Hotel Noemi. Thank you so much to James and Nikk for the hotel stay, it was absolutely beautiful!

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Day one

The next day we had a cheese galore breakfast in the hotel, then went to pick up our museum tickets from the Doges Palace. Shout out to my sister-in-law (!) Katie for the museum tickets! We spent a good hour gaping at the ceiling in the Doge’s Palace, then went around Saint Mark’s Bassilica, which was equally lavish.

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The rest of the day was spent in and out of museums, with Tom stopping to browse EVERY SINGLE restaurant menu en route. (This made me laugh after months of him doing this all around Asia, despite the fact that we’d usually just eaten!) Most of the day was spent wandering little side streets, stopping along the way for gelato. Massive thank you to Linsey, Lesley Richard and Scott for keeping us topped up in icecream (lemon, pistachio, tiramisu, chocolate, peanut butter in case you’re wondering) I also ate a meringue covered in dark chocolate that was so big I’ve been put off meringues for a while. We won’t be getting married again soon because there’s no way I’ll get back in that dress haha.
We stumbled across a lovely little canal side restaurant a bit off the beaten track where we had pizza, pasta, prossecco and Aperol Spritz.

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After being slapped with an obscene service charge we found a litre of limoncello in the supermarket for four euros, went back to the hotel and necked the bottle of wedding champagne Tom had popped in his backpack. We found the pub district…. (old habits die hard) and drank a few bevvies whilst people watching by the canal as the sunset. A beautiful first day! Thank you to Meg, Laura and Susie for the Italian cuisine money, we have taken eating and drinking quite seriously!

I’m interrupting this diary for a brief haiku written by my husband:

The sinking city
Made up of water and stones
Quick! Get in your boat

Day two

We got up fairly early and got a vaparetto to this island of Murano, which is famous for its glass-blowing factories. Tom was distinctly unimpressed by the glass shops saying “It’s all quite tacky isn’t it?!” But that didn’t stop me from buying a small glass goldfish in a globe…

We then got back on the boat to Burano, famous for its brightly coloured buildings. It was really beautiful, and great to see in the sun. The last time I came to Venice, it was November (I think) about ten years ago, and the light really does feel different at this time of year.

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It’s most definitely high season, there are HORDES of tourists, but it’s still beautiful. I’d just like to say that there is a special level of hell reserved for the following however:

People who stop suddenly in doorways

People with selfie sticks
People who give wheelie bags to their children

Just no.

In the afternoon, we went back to Venice, and hired a gondola. Special shout out to Leanne and Louie, and also the Bryers’ for their wedding gift. It was an absolute delight. I was concerned that we’d be just bashing into other boats but it was really serene, and so quiet compared to the rest of Venice, and a really great way to see little alleyways and entrances to swanky hotels you can only reach from the water.

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Plus, I didn’t fall in or humiliate myself in any way…. until…

We were walking across a square and I could see the back of a buggy with what I thought was a curly-haired toddler sat in it. I said very loudly “WHO ON EARTH DOES THIS BABY BELONG TO?!” And then passed the buggy to see a curly-haired middle aged woman glaring up at me.
I’m not really sure
A) Why she was sat in a buggy or
B) Why I was so loudly concerned but oh well.

We bought a gigantic four cheese pizza from a takeaway shop and a bottle of bellini and sat dangling our legs by the canal and watched the gondolas go by. I’m not sure why we’re happy as larry like this despite being on our honeymoon… maybe it was getting ripped off a bit the night before, or maybe the backpacker mentality will never leave us! We waddled back to the hotel for a lie down then went back to saint Mark’s square to watch the musicians and devour a final gelato.

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Venice was beautiful, I loved it.

Anyway, i was joking about this train having dementors on it, but there actually is one in our carriage in the form of a miserable old bint dressed head to toe in black who has just bollucked me in Italian for typing too loudly so that’s me over and out. Next stop: Salzburg!

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