I’m sitting in, or should I say outside the Cafe Benno, opposite the Sigmund Freud Park on Universititstrube in Vienna. The little I have seen of the city so far is beautiful, busy and the stunning weather helps of course. The language challenges take a little adjusting though, but I’m surviving. There is not ‘G’ in the lifts; a “0” designates the ground floor. A black coffee is an ‘espresso’ or a ‘double espresso’ and I cannot for the life of me pronounce the street names.
Adelaide needs to emulate the pedestrian, bike and car separation here. Bikes share the footpaths with pedestrians and each have their own area to walk/ride and there are substantial fines if you stuff up.
However, back to Dubai for a moment. Monday was a bit of a rest day after the flight from Adelaide and then the busy activities that my colleagues here provided. Sunday afternoon we went on a Desert Safari, about a 75-minute drive south of the city. The hour bouncing around the red/brown sand hills was exhilarating and the Indian driver was certainly experienced.
Following that excitement I rode a quad-bike for about 30 minutes, but declined the camel ride though. Partly because I had ridden camels in Broom Western Australia on the beach at sunset – and that is hard to surpass. Secondly is the current concern regarding the ‘camel flu’ about which the Australian Government has issued health warnings. After sunset, a range of local and Indian food was provided and that was filling. The entertainment was limited due to it being Ramadan, so no ‘belly dancing’, or singing and no female performers. It was a late evening – after 11pm when I was dropped off at my hotel.
Monday evening I met up with an Indian colleague/friend and we went to one of the resorts for a smorgasbord dinner, at 9pm. Even later we met friends for a crazy car ride to a popular tea outlet. Driving at 110+ kph, one handed, whilst getting directions from his iPhone held in his other hand – scary. However, the tea was refreshing and it is certainly a popular venue. It is run like a takeaway with car-park service. A confusion of randomly parked cars, horn tooting, yelling and eventually you get your ‘Indian tea’. It was worth the wait, but I’m not sure about the driving though.
Tuesday (June 30th) was a travel day: Dubai to Vienna. I was collected at 6am from my hotel and the check-in process at the Dubai airport was painless. The flight was uneventful and the plane was not crowded. At the Vienna airport it got interesting. The English version of the ticketing machines for the train into the city was not working so I had to line up. Why is it that I always stand behind the people who are confused, unorganised, or just worrywarts? Twenty minutes later I got my rail pass to the city. Next challenge was the signs – none were remotely understandable by me. So I resorted to sign language, and was given directions to the correct platform. The train was packed with travellers and school-kids. Chatted with one of the teachers, she had a group of eleven twelve-year-olds. The teacher is Austrian and had been to Adelaide, Melbourne and Tasmania in 2013-14. At Prateratern I had to change trains to the underground for three stops alighting at Rathaus.
It was a short walk to the Mercure hotel in Joseftadterstr., but I missed the street and walked two blocks too far. Playing the lost tourist and a friendly gentleman pointed me in the right direction. I certainly have trouble recognising, reading and pronouncing the street names here. The hotel has an old-world feel about it. After a shower and unpacking I wandered the streets in the local area – I tend to get my bearings and then walk in a clock (or anti) clockwise direction until I’m a little more familiar with the area. For dinner I walked a block to Fromme Helene. This was a corner restaurant that was full of atmosphere. The food was delicious and I ate too much. I had my first ‘real’ schnitzel garnished with a spinach and potato salad. The Aussie schnitzels do not compare. I was temped and also had an apple strudel. The red wine was mellow, a little lighter than a Merlot however, a second glass went down well.