Friday 21 September 2007


We rejoined the train at 10.20 am and were scheduled to arrive in Vienna at 2.18 pm. Actual arrival time? Sometime after 3.30 pm! Tut! Tut!

When our cabin steward offered us mid morning tea and home made cakes I begged him on bended knees not to bring me any more food. He ignored me. I ate the cakes!

Lunch at 12.30pm was:-

Chicken oysters and morels in a light pastry case

Gratined pike-perch fillet and soft water crayfish (I had steak), with braised fennel and sweet garlic and parsley potatoe (their spelling, not mine. So, they really are human after all)

Gingerbread cottage cheese blancmange and stewed apricots with almond milk.

Colombian coffee.

We have become so used to musical welcomes and farewells that Vienna proved to be a bit of an anti-climax. We figured that they would probably keep the best to last and expected big things. The Vienna Boys Choir at least, maybe an odd philharmonic orchestra or two?

It was tipping it down when we arrived and the Orient Express “excellence team“ handed us all umbrellas as we disembarked. The “local hosts” then sped us through the station at high speed.

At each turn we thought “where are they hiding the welcome committee, will it be around this corner”- no – “will it be around this one” – no. It began to dawn on us that there wasn’t one! How dare they treat us like mere peasants? Obviously Vienna was not overawed by Orient Express tourists.

Our itinerary was a city tour by coach following the famous “Ringstrasse” past the Opera House, Imperial Palace, City Hall ending in Heroes’ Square. We would then visit a traditional Kaffeehaus, the Café Griensteidl, and then ride in a “Flaker” horse draw carriage through Vienna’s old town.

A few tables had reserved for us in the Kaffehaus. What was this? They hadn’t even banned the local populous! Shame on them! I was force fed apple strudel (delicious) and our group was offered and consumed rich chocolate cakes wash down with Viennese coffee which is coffee and a glass of water, originated by poor students who could linger longer and shelter from the rain.

And did it rain? It rained and rained. We had to have the hood up in our horse drawn carriage so we saw nothing of the city, but we shared our carriage with a very interesting couple from Boston, USA. Earlier in the week the lady had appalled another couple from Boston, UK by exclaiming, “Oh! I didn’t know there was another Boston”. The couple from Boston, UK soon put her right on that score.

My friend and I really “bonded” with them on the short tour. He was the supplier of one of the components in MRI’s worldwide. Their story was so interesting. He had been in the US Forces for five years and then studied engineering. They had a young family and life was very, very tough for 12 years. He started a small business that was struggling and then he recognised a niche in the market.

I asked if he was retired and she said “He would find it so difficult to retire, he struggled so hard in the beginning and is now so passionate about the company. He and really looks after the staff and feels a responsibility towards them. No I don’t think he can do that”. Empathy!!

After the horse drawn carriage ride the “local hosts”, who were faultless, decided that we would continue the tour in the coaches. Our guide pointed out one hotel that has a “Presidential Suite” which was unfortunately occupied by Mick Jagger when President Bush visited. He was accommodated in another hotel that was, ironically, within shooting distance of the Iraq Embassy. Her words!

She ended the tour by declaring that Austrians were pretty smart people. They had convinced the world that Wagner was Austrian and Hitler was German. Boom! Boom!
Back to the train for our last dinner with complimentary champagne and so to bed. Tomorrow we arrive at our destination. Venice.
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Originally uploaded by anninfotel


DogLover said...

You really are slumming it now, aren't you. They're getting you ready to go out into the world again.

I can't wait to see you in the current M & S commercials on TV. How did you get on with Twiggy? I bet SHE didn't ask not to be served with any more home-made cakes!


DogLover said...

PS Ask your new friends where the Pilgrim Fathers came from. Answer: Boston, England.

doglover said...

M&S asked me to pose, but I said "no, I don't want to be associated with those skinny, beautiful people, they make me feel scummy and old".

The people from Boston, England did, indeed, put the people from Boston, USA right on that very subject!