Aller et retour

I’m back from my trip to Vienna. I spent ten days of my two week winter holidays there. The schools are closed during these two weeks and I also don’t have my French course. And ten days, even so soon after my Christmas holiday in Vienna wasn’t too long at all.

I went by train this time, but I don’t really recommend it. It was more expensive than if I had booked a flight at the time. And it took 12 hours with one change in Frankfurt going to Vienna and two changes (Salzburg and Mannheim) on the return trip. I usually like train rides. I can bring liquids and a backpack and a shoulder bag if I want to. I sit around a lot anyway. But 12 hours is a bit too much sitting around next to strangers with strange habits.

Model train at Frankfurt train station.

Model train at Frankfurt train station.

I love the retro look of the controls. I almost expected a different currency.

I love the retro controls. I almost expected a different currency.

I managed to read an entire book on the train ride. I haven’t done this in a long time. Mostly, because I think I should be reading in French, to practise. Instead I end up reading nothing, because reading a book in French is hard.

Vienna was hectic, but good. I managed to meet four groups of friends that I couldn’t see during my last trip.

A lamp made from a crash helmet at our friend's place. Love the idea and execution!

A lamp made from a crash helmet at our friend’s place. You are not supposed to use a helmet after you had an accident. So he decided to upcycle it. Love the idea and execution!

I also spent some time with the triplets, of course. They are almost a year old and all walk now and pretty fast at that. I tried taking photos with my phone. But despite getting a lot of comments for the big lens, it’s not great indoors. Sometimes it looks like the kids are missing limbs, because they are waving around an arm too fast for my phone camera to capture.

I was staying at my mum’s place this time. Gergö and I took her out to her favourite café. It’s a gem in an unexpected place: opposite the U2 stop Krieau, right next to an old lady hair dresser and one of those Viennese Beisl I would probably never set foot in. It’s called “Little Britain” but has nothing to do with the tv show. It’s all twee and cute and has scones and those little triangular sandwiches.

On my last full day in Vienna I made the classic mistake of trying to squeeze in *everything*. We went for the above mentioned breakfast and afterwards bought Mozartkugeln as souvenirs. At noon, I went to the hairdresser that always takes much much longer than expected (two and a half hours this time) and then returned home to have coffee with my brother, my niece and my sister. Around six I dropped in at my other sister’s to say goodbye to her and the babies. We bathed them (and they us, really, with the splashing) and afterwards had a couple of beers with friends at a nearby Beisl. This is more action and interactions in one day than I normally have in a week.

In the last two weeks two people who had promised to visit finalised the exact dates and two more will follow soon. So maybe I will stay in France for while now and have everyone come visit me, instead.

My return trip was pretty exhausting. The train to Salzburg was late, so I had to run to catch the train to Mannheim. Bizarrely, there was a chain mounted between the two platforms, with a sign saying “border controls” or something similar. Because of the police present I didn’t just slip underneath it but ran along the length of the platform to the opening in the fence. The police ignored me, of course, and checked the brown family with kids instead.

After the luxury of the railjet the German train was a bit…basic.

They don't even have sharpies, poor Deutsche bahn.

They don’t even have sharpies, poor Deutsche Bahn.

I had a reservation but because of the delay I was on the wrong end of the train. I ended up staying where I was since it wasn’t very full anyway. Also, you could watch the train driver at work and see out of the front of the train. I love sitting in the upstairs front row of double decker busses but usually kids get there first. There were no kids on the train, but a few guys in suits checking out the train drivers / view.

Is it called cockpit in a train as well?

Is it called cockpit in a train as well?

I had time to buy dinner while changing trains in Mannheim. I had been offline for quite a while at this point, so I queued at a coffee shop advertising free WiFi. First I dropped my French SIM card, when I opened my wallet. As I bent down to retrieve it, my water bottle fell from my backpack. I cursed loudly and said “Ja, hearst, Oida!” and then hoped I brightened the rush hour of the many grumpy looking, business suit wearing Germans buying their after work lattes. If that didn’t do it, then probably when I took photos of Mannheim train station.

I didn't cheat when taking this picture. Even aroud the corner all you can see is "Erster Wiener". I somehow doubt it is, though.

I didn’t cheat when taking this picture. Even aroud the corner all you can see is “Erster Wiener”. I somehow doubt it is, though.

I don’t know what I find weirder: the singer’s name or that he plays at Mannheim train station.

The TGV ride I caught from Mannheim was uneventful. Despite it being the same route as ten days earlier, only in reverse, I was surprised again that all these places I only know from football club names and “Wetten, Dass” broadcasts really exist. Frankly, I’m still surprised that Kaiserslautern and Saarbrücken are TGV stops.

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