Thursday, September 18, 2008

Public transport has been conquered

Today I took a tram to Mariahilferstrasse and the U-Bahn home. Very exciting. A moment of mild excitement when I passed a tram stop where a duck had apparently exploded. I had the opportunity at the stop to examine the entrails and the feathers and ponder why this may have happened. I don't think ducks generally explode in Vienna but I can't read the newspapers so cannot be sure. It may well be a local phenomenon. I will investigate.

We have 8 keys to our apartment. With the usual Viennese engineering efficiency one key fits everything - building door, front door, store room door, common room door, mail box.

The downside is that you lose a key in Vienna it makes front page news. It has to be reported to the police and there is the potential for you to have to pay to have the locks changed in your building so that your neighbours are not at risk of burglary. I have roughly estimated that if we lose a key it may cost us about €400,000 to have the locks changed on the apartments in our building - which is really two big buildings.
Needless to say - we are very careful. We impress on visitors how much it may cost them for room and board if they lose the key we give them.Even more terrifying is the thought of locking oneself out of the apartment because not even spider man could get into our place without a key. I think it involves calling the mayor, the fire brigade, the police and a locksmith and I am sure it will be very costly indeed. It will certainly lead the evening news. 'Foreigners implicated in lost key scandal - government considers deportation'.
We have put a spare key in Cate's office so that we have at least a chance of recovering the situation.
I am not sure if I validated my train and tram tickets correctly and won't know for sure until I am asked to produce them by an inspector. Apparently they are ferocious and take no excuses from anyone - especially tourists. Fair enough - you'd have to be pretty dumb to think the trams and trains in Vienna were free when you have to pay €10 for a coffee and a muffin (they are not called that but you know what I mean).

Croissants are not called Croissants either and I haven't quite worked out what they are - something like grudelkneropls.
Good news - we got the tickets for the Vienna Boys Choir on Sunday. I now get to rise at the crack of dawn to go to mass - and pay for the privilege. Cate has lots of things like this planned. Can't wait.
There are more parking police in Vienna that there are statues of long dead musicians. They are apparently woken at dawn, beaten with big sticks and sent out without breakfast into the cold to book as many motorists as they can. They do this with a will and a level of commitment I haven't seen in any other place. Perhaps they get a commission? It is pretty easy pickings because the parking situation is both incomprehensible and impossible.
I haven't even attempted to park the beast anywhere at this stage - firstly because it is too large and secondly because I have no idea what the many parking restrictions are. There is a system that you can use to pay parking fees by mobile phone but as I cannot yet set up my voice mail I am a long way off doing this.
The QM has suffered its first scrape. This was caused when it was being inserted not quite deftly into its burrow in the basement. The proximity alarms are not very useful because it is nesting so close to the wall that they sound loudly and continuously. I imagine that there will be more scrapes before its time is up.
I have developed some theories on the missing girls and and will share these with you soon.

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