Wednesday, December 21, 2011

785. Travel Stories - Day 2 - Vienna

Dec 22, 2011 5.38 am Hotel Bosei Singapore time 12.38pm

Yesterday, the morning was spent touring the Summer Palace and as I had studied European history in my school days of the 1960s, I could appreciate the history of the Austrian kings and their families. After lunch at Sapporo Restaurant (run by Chinese Nationals), whole afternoon wandering around the area - market place, Parliament house. Wanted to drink coffee at 4 pm at the famous cafe where S.Freud wrote his book but it was full house. For dinner, Restaurant Chinatown. Guide Marcus could not locate the place earlier, so some walking around and losing him. "Same braised pork knuckle, vegetables and oranges as for lunch, but we had fish, prawns." The restaurant had buffet BBQ meat and oysters but not one customer while we ate. Same with the lunch at noon in Sapporo restaurant. Could it be the Euro crisis and recession?

He had initiative, bringing his home made chilli and making tea for us at his own expense. Able to joke and converse in any topic - important attributes of a guide.

Austrian guide told me that this was the warmest winter - climate change as there ought to be snow from November. Not a flake of snow. "What's the lowest temperature?" I asked. "Minus 15 deg C," she said it was some years ago after 2006 when she started work, after having been with Austrian Airlines in Singapore (office closed now).

"The snow was ankle-deep," she showed me her shoes. "The Malaysian tourists s could not walk through the snow in this garden to see this golden Mozart statute as they had no boots. They asked to buy boots but it was a Sunday and all shops were closed. So, they " In Vienna, shops close early apparently.

For this second day in Vienna, the temperature was around 5 degrees C. Bright sunshine. The bus driver was late (traffic jam) as I waited outside with a Salem-smoking couple, appreciating the chilly air. A police car arrived. Two Singapoerans from the 5-star tour had their cash stolen from their rooms at around 7 pm while they were having breakfast and they had to make a police report to claim insurance. So they would hitch a ride from us of E.U. Tours to the Summer Palace as our driver was late.

The young man with central elevated hair and two balded sides was quite mad as he had lost over 1,000 Euros, 500 US dollars and 2 Sing dollars as well as his keys to the luggage. His room was further in while mine was near the escalator. I recalled having seen a trolley used for house-keeping by maids when I left my room 406 at 7.30 am for breakfast and was puzzled. No maids around but Daniel said he saw two men, one in pony-tail. The policemen came and took some statements and left without interviewing any one of us. "It is an insider job, if you ask me," the be-spectacled young man said to me and the smoking couple outside the hotel entrance. "The receptionist would view the cameras and know I had left the room. Then the thieves would enter my room and took the cash." His credit cards and wallet were left untouched. An older Singaporean in his late 50s in another room nearby also had lost his cash and had initially not wanted to report to the police.

"Is there any CCTV in this hotel?" I could not see any bulbs or cameras in the corridors. I still don't know. I doubt it.

There was a note on the writing table informing guests not to leave valuables in the room but in the room safe or hotel safe free of charge. Singaporeans need to know that there is another world where people make a living out of stealing or scamming and therefore need not be employees even in developed countries like France and now Austria.

Will go to Budapest today. Had some phelgm of yellowish colour. Cold air affected throat and cause upper respiratory tract infection. Must keep warm or get pneumonia and die. Take health seriously.

Punctuality is not the strength in Eastern Europe apparently. Salty food and pork are the main things.

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