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On getting up, Dewi was not really well, but did not realize it. Maybe too much sun the previous day? Both of us had breakfast at our hotel, but Dewi did not enjoy it and ate very slowly though hungry. Back in our room, we slept the morning away and got up feeling much better. Dewi was awakened by children singing. I think there may be a kindergarten by the hotel. Later that morning we went to the Opera and sat around in the shade on the ring. Dewi wandered around, looking at memorials to sufferers of WWII, and finding when the tour bus would load for trip to Bratislava (which at one time was known as "Pressburg")
Close to 1pm we walked to the tour bus office, buying one bun with meat on the way: Eufron was too warm to eat. The bus came, moved a bit, and we were going to sit down but found it was assigned seating. We were given seats in the second row which suited us very well.
We witnessed a little drama on the sidewalk (in German).
A: yak yak yak, "Nabucco" B (gently): Nein, "La Traviata" A (condescendingly): Ja, "Nabucco". B (more firmly): "La Traviata" A (very firmly): "Nabucco" B,C, D and chorus: Nein, "La Traviata"! A: "La Traviata"? Chorus: Ja! A: Scheisse!
and A ran hurriedly back into the tour office.
Eventually the bus left, a full-sized bus with only 11 people on it; yet we'd secured the two last places when we booked. The limitation must have been the number of free seats in the opera house.
The traffic was heavy leaving Vienna, and then we had to go
through border controls to leave Austria and to enter Slovakia.
The first thing we noticed after crossing the border (which was very close to the city of Bratislava)
was that the highway was lined on both sides by closely spaced billboards (a bit like the movie Brazil).
Our driver lost her way in Bratislava, and this, combined with the very slow exit from Vienna on the Friday afternoon, meant that we were about an hour late at the pick-up point for the local guide. It also meant that we missed part of the tour as we had to be back in time for a meal.
Anyway it was an interesting bus tour, with views of the castle and town. Then we had a walking tour through the old city pedestrian area. Very interesting, all new to us. Also an interesting asymmetric bridge over the Danube (Danuj): rope-stayed, from one side only, near the beautiful modern hotel where we had dinner. Sweet liquer wine (aperatif) before the meal, tuna salad mit anchovies, then a sort of stroganoff but pork not beef, then creme brulée cake.
We sat with the other English-speaking couple on the tour: they were from Ireland. I was reminded of the character from the old ITMA radio comedies: "It's being so cheerful that keeps me going". She seemed to look on the downside of every event.
We walked to Opera house, enjoyed La Traviata, and were served champagne after the first act.
Dewi enjoyed the local trams before the performance.
Return to Vienna
All boarded the bus smartly and off we went - coming to a halt after a couple of km at the border. We were surprised to find that the border patrols did a thorough check on people leaving Slovakia: we were more used to the proposition that you are thorough on who enters your country, but that you are free to leave at any time. It took about an hour to get out of Slovakia, but we got special treatment going back into Austria - our driver by-passed the long line of buses and vans with trailers. Commercial traffic was getting through very quickly. There must have been an alert of some kind, we thought - but people from vehicles ahead of us seemed to be unfazed by the wait and were partying at the edge of the highway.
While we waited, there was chatting on the bus. Most people were Viennese. One lady asked about our plans for the rest of Austria. She went back to her seat, and then came back with a revised itinerary for us! It made sense, so we decided to adopt it, and on the morrow, we would go to Salzburg, not to the Wachau then Linz. She gave us the name of a Salzburg hotel (as best she could remember), and to say that "Trudy in Vienna" sent us.
The late departure from Slovakia gave us concern about missing the last trams in Vienna. We disembarked at the Opern-Ring, and just missed 23:45 D tram, but got the 23:56 on the 1 route, and set off for the Schottentor. Suddenly there were flashing blue lights, polizei sirens, and traffic (including us) came to a halt as a long convoy of hundreds of in-line roller-bladers and a few cyclists rolled past us and turned right into the Hofburg grounds. All on board the tram were impatient, but we arrived at Schottentor with a few moments to spare to catch the 00:12 tram on the 44 line, which left exactly at 00:12. It took only 3 minutes to get to the stop for our hotel: I suppose we could have walked it if needed.
We did walk towards the hotel door, hearing very loud music and wondering whose car it came from. Then we found that it was coming from our hotel! But when we got to our room, we found that it did not disturb us - we could hardly hear it. We fell asleep, some more quickly that others.
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