After we'd checked our luggage, it was discovered that for some reason we were not booked on our return flight on Wednesday even though Dan had paid for it. Not a big deal and we had some time to spare before we had to clear security, so we decided to try and get in touch with the online agent Dan had booked the trip through. Well, Internet I'm here to tell you that we're living proof it is absolutely bat-shit crazy to not have internet capable devices--beyond computers--in this day and age.
You see the only internet capable device I own is my laptop, and I will not pack that with me when I go on holiday because frankly it's unweildly and when I'm on vacation I don't give a crap what's going on in the world. I'm off the clock. I never feel the need to check my email, check my favourite websites, or fall through random internet worm holes that suck away three hours of my life. For me personally, I am not truly on vacation if I'm still tied to my at-home vices.
Now, that said, we are living in a world where business is increasingly online and if you've ever tried calling a company's 24hr hotline at 7:30 p.m. on a Sunday night to figure out what the eff is happening with your return booking, you too will realize that the telephones in airports? They're just for show. The telephone numbers provided by online companies? They're just fake numbers jumbled together. Nothing works and no one wants to talk to you. At all.
After we'd cleared security we had about a half hour before our flight was going to board and I spotted an internet station set up at our gate. So we plugged millions of dollars in loose change into a stone age clunker computer, swore loudly when it crashed, put another million dollars of loose change in when it rebooted, and then went online to figure out the deal. After doing an online chat with a slow typing agent--yes, really; remember, no one wants to ever speak to you--it was discovered there was just a little glitch and everything was fine. Of course we thought it was, but it was nice to know that all the same and it would have been even better if we'd been able to connect online right away and save those two million dollars in loose change that the old monster computer devoured like potato chips.
Our flight was awesome, it was only an hour long, and we got a free hot sandwich! And no, we weren't in any sort of business class/first class situation. We were with the rest of the cattle in the back, trying to avoid the wet and slimy cough of the germy man sitting in front of us. I mean, let me repeat it again: we got a free hot sandwich! To put it in perspective, the only free food I get on a six hour flight from Vancouver to Toronto is this dippy little foil package containing six sesame crackers that are roughly the size of a dime. So as you can imagine when that piping hot sandwich was placed in my hands I almost wondered if we were flying into a magic fairyland that I wouldn't want to return from. I mean, what other explanation is there for getting one whole sandwich on a late night flight, with the smiling stewardess telling us we can have another one if we want.
Oh Austria! You must be a magical oasis!
Needless to say I was feeling good when we arrived, and bolted from the airport excited to discover what oasis awaited me at that near-midnight hour. Then I ran back inside the airport because holy mother of winter, it was cold.
Like, my teeth rattled after brief exposure.
But I suppose that's why I'd been given that hot sustaining sandwich, so we bravely marched out into the cold, caught our train, and headed to our hotel. Our hotel was in the circle of old Vienna and occupied the third and fourth floors of an equally old building; the night porter buzzed us in and then we entered the world's darkest, coldest, building. I'm assuming we entered some sort of vacuum that sucks up light because we found ourselves in the building's lobby and were able to see absolutely nothing except for a glowing red light on one far wall. After feeling all along the walls hoping for light switches (nope), we tripped over the stairs and then gave up looking for an elevator and just started tripping up three flights of spiral steps, using our hands and careful footing to guide us so that we wouldn't bite it on the marble steps, fall over our suitcases and break all our teeth. I am not exaggerating: there was no light. I repeat NO LIGHT. When we reached our floor there was a sliver of light showing as the night porter cracked her door just a peek in order to hand us our room key, give us hasty instructions about entering the main lobby, before she slammed her huge oak door in our faces and left us shivering in the dark stone hallway trying to feel around for the main door that would take us into the lobby.
But when we entered the lobby? Oh, it was heaven. Beautiful Persian carpets on the floors, cozy wooden walls, and a warm amber glow from the old fashioned chandeliers guided us to our room. Our room was equally as cozy and Dan and I decided it reminded us of artist's quarters, and since we were in Vienna some composer probably wrote his opus in that room, once upon a time.
We crashed and slept soundly, waking up early the next morning to sunshine, a complimentary breakfast, and an exciting trip outside the city to tour the Habsburg's summer residence: Schoenbrunn.
Oh, it was bright.