Day 3 - Sunday, September 18, 2005

Aside from a cold, I wake up feeling much more alive. Normally I sleep badly when I'm not in my own bed, but on this night I didn't even dream, let alone wake up a million times. Now that it was morning, it was time to start noticing the differences between North America and Europe.

First, though it was a Hilton hotel and very Americanized, they didn't have the traditional million layers of blankets and sheets most N. American hotels do. You get this thin duvet cover, and even if you're on a double bed, each person gets their own cover. Nice, no fighting over the blankets, but bad if it happens to be warm because its the duvet or nothing, no sheets. So there was a tendency to either swelter or freeze. Other hotels we stayed at exhibited some of the other European "quirks" such as no facecloths, or motion detector lights to save energy, and all showerheads were handheld.

Toilets, in hotels and elsewhere were kind of interesting that you have to push a button to flush them, rather than move a handle. Some had one smaller button inside a bigger the small for a small flush, the large for a big one :) And, you could stop the flush if you pressed twice. Interesting, one almost needs a user manual to figure out the toilets.

Cars were small, not an SUV in sight while SmartCars abounded. Mercedes, and VW's were the majority, though we saw a Ford here and there, and bikers were liable to kill you if you happen to stray into their not-so-well defined bike lanes. One had to be alert where one wandered.

The water there tasted amazing...actually, it had no taste at all! Normally I hate the taste of water, I only drink it when there is no alternative or I'm saving money at a restaurant. But in Vienna, I quite happily drank the tap water.

Now back to the tour. We all piled onto the bus to be driven around the city. I wanted the bus to stop a million times as one gorgeous building after another passed by the window. The architecture was so completely different to what I was used to. At home, brick or stone houses are the norm, with big glass skyscrapers downtown and some older building scattered about. In Vienna, I didn't see a single house, they were all pink, cream, white, green or other pale coloured apartment buildings, several glued together to make a single block. And every house appears to have some sculpting, moldings, gold highlighting or columns. Every one was beautiful, each one different and yet the same.

Finally the bus let us have a chance to take some pictures. We hopped off only to discover that it was freezing (about 13-14 degrees and windy). I'm glad I brought a scarf and gloves. We across the street from the Stadtpark. As we walked to the Johann Strauss monument, we passed the Wien Fluss, what looks like a tiny little trickle but has been known to flood Vienna from time to time. Now the try to keep it under control in this canal.

From there, it was just a short walk to the Strauss monument. My mother had been here over 30 years ago and took a very similar picture.

An nearby, a nice little building, most likely a cafe or restaurant.