Alex's Alliterative Adventures

Thoughts on Programming, Life, and Travel

Archive for the 'Germany' Category

Austria 7 – Vienna

September 28, 2008

Breakfast at Café Central seemed like a great idea until we saw the prices. We walked away to avoid any noticeable change in the contents of our wallets, and unfortunately stomachs. Another restaurant was just a stop away, and with reasonable prices at that.

We followed breakfast with a trip to the World Press Photo Exhibition. The exhibit contains hundreds of photos from around the world, each more jaw-dropping than the last.

Next up: a walking tour of the city, including a visit to parliament and city hall.

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Austria 6 – Vienna

September 27, 2008

The day started with a stroll around Naschmarkt, Vienna’s largest flea market. The bizarre variety of wares being hawked included a lone controller for the Sega Master System, a viking helmet, and a box full of Marklin train tracks, the same foul beasts our real time trains bounced across for three long months.

I escaped the terrible stench of all things Marklin and landed safely in Do-an for breakfast. The Do-an breakfast (Frühstück) consists of eggs fried with pieces of salty cheese, which was a new and tasty combination.

We burned off our breakfast at Schönbrunn, Vienna’s castle.

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Land of the cheap

To ease my transition to Frankfurt, I grabbed a prepaid ja mobil SIM card from the local grocery store. Wireless internet from ja mobil costs €0.35/MB, which is about $0.53 Canadian. In comparison, Rogers (Canada’s only GSM cell phone provider) charges $0.05/KB without a plan. There are 1024 KB in a MB, so that works out to $51.20/MB. That’s right, wireless internet is almost 100 times cheaper in Germany than in Canada.

Hot damn.



Austria 5 – Vienna

September 26, 2008

Our borrowed GPS navigation unit guided us to Vienna, where we were greeted by Tina. Our dinner pub of choice was Centimeter, where Felix was served a small shovel of food.

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Austria 4 – Graz

September 25, 2008

We had planned to spend the day hiking on top of a glacier, but the weather report (which is always clarified by altitude in Austria) showed rain on the ground, snow at the cable car, and more snow at the summit. We cancelled our sunset dinner above the clouds, which leaves me something to do on my next trip to Austria.

We turned tail and headed back to Graz. We rendezvoused with a few friends, grabbed some burgers the size of your head for €4, and spent the evening at a local spa. The water in the spa was heated by volcanic vents to feel like a warm bath.

Relaxed and carefree, we spent the rest of the evening lounging around the house. Annina, who spends her days at the hospital training to become a doctor, tried her hand at Trauma Center, a surgery game for the Nintendo DS. She quickly used her professional skills to put us all to shame. She somehow found it less thrilling than real surgery, though. I guess some people just don’t like video games.

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Austria 3 – Ice Caves and Salt Mine

September 24, 2008

This morning started with a visit to the Höhlenwelt ice caves in the Dach Stein. We rode a cable car above the cloud line, coming to a stop about 1500m above sea level, above the first layer of clouds.

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The German Toilet

When my high school band traveled through Europe, I noticed that something was fundamentally different between European and North American culture. The shock has stayed with me for years, and it’s only been recently that I’ve reached out to the online community for comfort. I’ve found that I’m not the only one who’s been traumatized by these stark differences in behaviour.

A few European countries, particularly Germany, Austria, and apparently England, seem to be eternally visited by the ghost of sewage past. A wise man wrote a brilliant essay in which he coined the term the German Poo-Shelf Toilet (GPST), although Wikipedia refers to it as the Flachspüler, Washout, or shelf toilet.

Washout Toilet

Whatever you call it, it’s horrible. I had close encounters with 6 of them in just 10 days in Austria. My kingdom for a properly designed toilet.

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Austria 2 – Monastery

September 23, 2008

I spent most of my second day in Austria driving with Felix and Nina to the tiny Austrian village of Obertraun. We stopped in Admont along the way to visit a monastery called Benediktinerstift Admont. The abbey contains a massive library, the biggest monastery library room in the world. It was built in 1074, and it comes fully equipped with fake bookshelves that cover hidden windows that doubled as emergency exits in dire times. We also saw books that were more than 1000 years old. It turns out that the scribes of old doodled as much as we do today.

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Austria 1 – Arrival

September 22, 2008

Waking up to catch a flight at 02:30 is even worse when you have a cold, but that’s a small price to pay to spend the next 10 days visiting my Austrian friends, Felix and Annina.

Felix and Annina whipped up an awesome walking tour of their hometown, Graz. Like any good tour, it started and ended with chocolate. I saw an alien which commemorates Austria’s 2003 title of European Capital of Culture, climbed a rope maze on a metallic river-island, and gazed out over the beautiful rooftops of the city from the top of a once decimated castle:

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A Polish Welcome

My flight plan had a stopover in Poland. I guess this is normal there.

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