Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mother Nature and Ash in the Sky

I've been washing the skies for several weeks now, with an eye on the Icelandic volcano whose name we can't pronounce but which holds such power over all of us travelers. Even up to today, it's impending eruption has the potential to change the course of our vacation. I figure though, that there is no point in stressing about it as how can I argue with mother nature. I suppose that what will be will be and that it is completely out of my control. Fortunately today, the ash cloud has blown north and we are free to leave. The weather we leave behind is clear, dry, warm, and beautiful. The weather in Vienna that we are going to is wet, cold, and gray.

As we board the flight on Lufthansa, I am surprised at the changes to their seating since we flew with them a few years ago. My memories are of extra wide seats with thick navy blue cushions - these seats are extra narrow, with minimal armrests and no space to bend down and pick up anything on the ground. I can only imagine how someone bigger than I would feel like they have been put in a metal box overnight! My hand luggage, which was considered small a few years ago when I bought it, barely fits in the overhead compartment. I guess the airlines expect us to downsize both in body size and in belongings!

The flight is uneventful, which is good and we land in the early evening to rainy skies. Feeling adventurous and cheap, we opt to take public transportation to the hotel, which is the CAT subway with a transfer to a local bus. We follow the masses of people to the underground passageway and learn by copying, how to purchase and validate our tickets. Up and down stairs and through many halls- it is not very accessible, is it? It is no wonder that Europeans are so slim. Coming out of the station, we know it is a short walk to the Hotel Shermin, but in the dark are not quite sure which street to take, and I approach a group of teenage girls to ask directions. They mock my attempt to pronounce the street, shout and laugh in my face and send us in wrong direction, makes me realize how it feels to be bullied -how unkind young kids are! Finally, a decent young man directs us to the main road and we arrive at our hotel, the Hotel Pension Shermin well situated on Rilkeplatz just down the road from Karlsplatz and find Jen already in bed. The room is spacious for being so close to the city center. It is so nice to see her! She has spent the day walking the city and has gotten the lay of the land and what is what, has already had a wienerschnitzel dinner and is settled for the night. We look forward to what awaits us tomorrow and fall dead asleep very quickly.

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