Monday, 22 December 2014


We've been here before. At about the same time of year. In fact, we were in Vienna for New Year's everything in 2001 - right after the 9/11 event.  There are differences, of course, but here is the biggest one:  there is no snow this time. The gauge sits well above zero and it is all very mild. 

Last Time (LT) the snow was heaped up on the footpath and the going was tough and slippery, especially with three little-uns in tow. Heading outside the boiling hot apartment took an inordinate amount of effort and time for the five of us. This time a quick hat and coat sees the four of us 'out and at-em' in no time at all. It's all a it of a worry, really. Still, Tony A and Joe H say not to be concerned, so I simply shan't!

There are some intriguing differences between our two cultures that deserve mention. The first is the train ticketing system, as outlined by Ally. You see, there are no points at which tickets are checked at any stage of the trip. You buy a pass (in our case two day, in Ally's case the semester) and off you go.   No tap on and tap off!  No inspectors that Ally has seen. No gates. Just travel. Stunning!  That was an interesting bit, wasn't it?

Here's another interesting bit: there are a lot more smokers. In Vienna, in fact, restaurants have smoking room alternatives for their diners. We chose the non-smoking section on our first night and it was remarkable (that's why I'm telling you) that there was little to no 'seepage' from space to the other - of smoke, that is. 

Christmas is huge here. By that I mean that Christmas is REALLY BIG. Whopping.   Christmas markets have popped up everywhere - stalls selling all thing Christmassy. The decorations are all so very tasteful here. For example, the tiny lights - of which there is a multitude dangling along every street - are NOT  MULTI-coloured!  They brightly glow and gently sway in the winter's dark. 

Yet another treat is the performance of Yuletide choirs that strut their stuff in the Rathaus in constant succession.  No sooner had one choir finished than another is up there in the stage belting out another carol. Young choirs, old choirs and everything in between. There is no charge for these performances. You grab a seat when some chap or other has had enough and skitches off. FABULOUS!

That's it for now. More about today tomorrow. 

See youse!

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