After our exciting evening of beer and sangria in downtown Vienna, we checked out the Museumplatz on our way out of town. I had visited it back in 2008 when I was in Vienna for the first time. It was a very similar situation... we just walked in and had a little wander. This is one of those places that is (still) on my list of places to come back to and really spend some time. I swear I could spend days there. There are two sticker photos in this group that are significant. The first is mine - the Give More Hugs - and the second one is a no monkeys sticker. That is a photo specifically for my friend who is monkey-phobic. :)
From Vienna we hit the road to Czech Republic. Every time we crossed into another country, we had to buy a 'vignette' for the car to use the expressway. We ended up with these vignettes all over the windshield :)
We were going to meet some friends at a cottage that they had rented in Moravia (the eastern part of Czech Republic). My plan - as we had no GPS and could not actually call (but we could send a text message if my cell phone battery was not dead...). As we drove into CZ, we discovered that everything - EVERYTHING - was closed because of a national holiday. I knew about the holiday, but I was expecting to find an open bookstore in Brno, a big city, where we could get a regional map to use. Nope! Ah well. It was pretty frustrating because my Czech was TERRIBLE after not having spoken it since 2008, and not regularly since 2007. Yikes. I did eventually find an open pub with two younger guys working there who were able get me rough directions to the town.
So... we did eventually find the town. I had some vague directions from my friend, Vasa, about how to get to the cottage once in town. The key word there was vague. We ended up recruiting and old man (Mirka) who spent a good half hour riding around with us in our Panda (which was absolutely full of stuff and had no space for another person to fit) and getting out every five minutes to ask anyone knew where the Americans were going. He also kept trying to talk to Mike and Sam in Czech. Like a lot. Mike was driving and ended up learning all the directions in Czech (right, left, stop, straight, keep going, etc.). It was a pretty hilarious experience.
At one point we stopped at a house to talk to some people. While Mirka and I were talking to the people there, Mike decided to play with my camera as he is learning about shooting manually on an SLR. The shirtless dude started FREAKING OUT and wanted to know why Mike was taking photos. He thought that Mike was doing some kind of identity theft surveillance or something... I tried to explain that Mike is just visiting the country and taking photos of things that are different from what we have back home and the guy would have none of it. He started shouting and pointing at Mike in Czech (of course) and then started to take pictures of him back as a 'so there' gesture. Of course Mike had no idea what was going on. Ah, good times.
Anyway, we did eventually find Vasa and the cottage and spent the night there. We had big plans for a bonfire and a sleep under the stars, but it rained. It was so, so great to see Vasa. He was another close friend that I spent a lot of time travelling with (along with Robert who we'd met up with in Palmanova).
Want more Europalooza? See more of Vienna or visit Czech Republic.
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Vienna was a good day. We didn't have much planned aside from a nice wander, a cheap lunch, and some beer. We did achieve all three AND Mike also accepted a new job that day! We found a pay-as-you-wish Indian buffet for lunch, which was fantastic. It was REALLY hot in there, but really tasty and cheap. We did see some weird things around town during our evening walk, which was fun and unexpected. I did a lot of shooting with film that day, so we'll see how those come out (I still haven't sent the rolls off to the lab...).
And yes, that's sangria in a a little yellow watering can. It was a good night!
More Europe? See a little more from Vienna or visit Palmanova, Italy.
We were all exhausted at this point and decided to have a leisurely morning before the ride up to Vienna. We decided at the last minute to stop there (rather than going straight through to CZ), and better yet - to spend two nights in one place, which we hadn't done yet.
On the way, we met up with my friends Robert and Eva from Czech Republic. They were visiting Italy on vacation and we were able to meet up on the way out of Slovenia in Palmanova, Italy. It almost didn't happen because it was relatively late by the time we actually got in touch. We did finally manage it, though, and after some goodbyes with the lovely Pia and Tine, we headed to Palmanova, Italy.
The city of Palmanova was pretty interesting. It was dead quiet (weird), but it was shaped like a star. The old fortification walls were still intact, and at each side there was a road leading into the center of town. Each road leading to the center was marked with colord flags indicating the cardinal direction. Pretty cool!
Image from www.mtvfriulivg.it/
We planned to meet in front of the church with the tallest steeple in the main square and actually managed to find each other. It was the first time I was able to meet Robert and Eva's kids... I hadn't been to CZ for four years, Eva was pregnant with their son the last time I was there. For lunch I ordered shrimp... which was an experience. You may or may not know that I am vegetarian, and seafood is an occasional cheat for me while at restaurants. I wasn't too strict on this trip because sometimes it's just super-hard to do while travelling, especially while travelling with other people. So anyway, I ordered shrimp for lunch. These shrimpies came with heads on and were not de-veined, so I literaly had to perform surgery on them... oy. That was a thing. My brother (who is an omnivore, btw) was totally grossed out. Fortunately, there were only six, and one of them was not even cooked through all the way, so there were really only five for me to... work on. To top it off, they were more than a euro a piece. Fantastic.
Anyway, we had lunch, spent some time chatting and getting to know the kids, and then set off for Vienna. I am really, really glad that we decided to meet up. Robert was one of my closest friends when I was living in Plzen. We spent a lot of time together partying in pubs and travelling... camping and hiking in Corsica, in the Italian Alps, and all over Czech Republic. We have big plans to make a trip with another friend, Vasa, to the French Pyranees for some backpacking one day. Robert and Eva have always been open, welcoming, and willing to help with anything. So lucky to have such good friends <3
After parting ways, we hit the road for Vienna. It was a really pretty drive. There were a lot of tunnels as we passed through the Alps. It was so gorgeous... every bend leading to a more beautiful view than the last. It was just impossible to capture with a camera (plus I think I was driving at that point) so I don't really have any photos of it. You'll just have to trust me!
We did stop at some crazy Austrian rest stop... it was so weird. It was called Old-Timey or something, I don't even know. I can't even describe it, so I'll just let the pictures do the talking here :)
We did finally make it into Vienna and spent a long time driving around and getting lost as we searched for our hostel. It was late, we were tired. I was driving, so whenever Mike and Sam went to ask for directions, I stuck my camera out the window and played with the low light of the dark city. We did eventually find our hostel. For you photo nerds... I was flipping out when I saw the Impossible sign. :)
More Europe? Visit Vienna or see some of the perfect fariytale land that is Slovenia.