After a weird night (where I had sneezing fits every few hours and the guy above me, after getting in at 4am, sleep-talked the whole morning) we checked out and went to get our train. We were 40 minutes early so we did a bit of people-watching to pass the time. We've seen more goths here than anywhere else on our trip, and some more brilliant t-shirt slogans:
"Inside the Downtown perfect"
"Turtle On Me"
"Check it, Wear it or Leave it Alone!"
"Win Some Cash!"
and the best one ever, "Privileged Snack"
There were 3 old men on the edge of one of the platforms, all with chess boards set out for a game. A couple of people went up and had high-speed games with them and I couldn't tell if they were paying for the privilege or paying up because they had lost the game. The announcements at the train station were really pretty and melodic. Our train to Vienna was completely packed, no compartment just for us this time! We met some other Interraillers, though they looked very clean and tidy and I noticed on their tickets that this was only their second journey so that would explain it. We looked like that once... I slept most of the 3 hour journey, and there was no passport check at the border, which was a shame as we wanted more stamps in our passports.
The weather in Vienna was lovely and we U-Bahned it to our hostel, which turned out to be another of those hotel/hostel jobbies, and our room was huge! Bags were dumped and we left for an afternoon wander. We walked to the centre of town and saw Stephansdom, a beautiful cathedral in the heart of the city. There was only scaffolding on it, wasn't there? We made our way inside, despite all the tour groups, and it really was very pretty, there were candles everywhere and when we peeked around the corner into the praying area we saw two nuns - one dressed in black and one in pale blue. Further into the cathedral we saw another three nuns, all in pale blue. We walked to the west of the city and saw the Hofburg and the Musuem Quarter. We spied some snowstorms, but they cost 15 Euros, and walked pastVienna's Opera Toilet. On the sign outside it said "The Opera Toilet welcomes you with the Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss! A theatrical ambience for nature's call!"
We walked home, getting lost along the way, and bought falafel from The Snack Academy and apple juice from Billa - a fine feast! We saw three odd and grumpy-looking teenage boys (separately) who were all wearing t-shirts saying "Smile if you're Horny". We have seen these t-shirts before, but never on such depressed looking people. Back at the hostel we were joined by an Argentinian couple, a German guy who's training to be a doctor, and an American guy.
After a fairly peaceful sleep (no sleep-talking but very odd mattresses) we took to the city again. We started by going to Schloss Belvedere, a very pretty palace surrounded by botanical gardens and lakes. We walked through the gardens and up to Schwarzenburg Palace at the other side of the gardens, then up through the east of the city towards Prater Park in the north east corner of the city. We had read that there was a big ferris wheel there, but there were also another 200 or so fairground attractions. We used an entire roll of film there alone, there were so many pretty flashing lights and loads of really odd sculptures. We ate pistachio ice cream and wandered among all the stalls. There were a few souvenir shops, but all the snowstorms were crazy expensive again. We read in one of the tourist places that snowstorms were actually invented in Vienna, so we had to get one from here, no matter how much it cost!
After leaving the fair (and walking through Antifascismplatz) we headed back to the centre of town, ate bread and crisps, drank Trendy Cola and watched lots of old men walk down the street beside us talking to themselves. The weather was around 28 degrees and the sky was bright blue, not a cloud in the sky, so imagine our surprise when it started raining! Coming up to the cathedral we noticed lots of women dressed as Mozart, and decided to slowly wander home while people-watching again. We saw a man in a pink shirt with a Burberry tie, passed a Friends of The Earth stall pumping out jungle music (get it?) and an amusing French Canadian doing, in his own words, "Extreme Theatre". We found another Hotel Bristol, and watched as two young women proudly posed outside it while photos were taken. I'm tempted to start a Hotel Bristol Quest for our next adventure - to visit each one and see what all the hype is about!
We took a route that would pass by Karlskirche, the prettiest church in the city in my opinion, and saw a shop window full of novelty toilet-brush holders, including lots of dogs, ducks and a snail, and realised that in order to get to the hostel we had to walk up "Favourite Street". Dinner was pastay and soupy and we met the new guys in our dorm - 4 more Americans and 2 Chinese ladies. We went for another wander in town just as it was getting dark, as we wanted to see the city by night. We were expecting the cathedral to be all lit up and pretty like in lots of postcards we had seen, but it wasn't. The extreme theatre guy was still there though, and had a vast crowd this time. The laughing filled the entire square and we slowly walked home for an early night.