Friday, April 23, 2010

30th July

As with every other day we had a bit of a lie in but this time Rob woke us up as the plan was to head back down the mountain to base camp. We all packed up in record time and did a classic Rob "sweep search" all as the sun creeped up to give us another Arctic scorcher. Unfortunately, Mary deemed my bag to heavy so I had to do two runs down the hill, as did Tasha and Gribbs.

Back at base camp we caught up with the kayakers and were briefly reunited with our hold-alls, and our dairy milks. Before long it was time for Tasha, Gribbs and I to head back up for the rest of our luggage, and the poo barrel... However Tasha had yet another injury and so Gribbs and I took her bag and let her rot for by the side of the road until the boys from the other group headed back to help. There was a bit of controversy about our "boys" in our group as they did not offer to go up on the second run and get our poo barrel, unfortunately we were getting used to this. But sending Tasha back up was just a bit too far, in fact sending all three cripples back up was a step too far. Gribbs and I collected our bags and went on a search for the poo barrel, it turned out the men from the other group had taken it down for us. Take note callister. To top it off, my mars bar I had left in my bag had melted beautifully in the Arctic sun.

2 hours or so after leaving her, Tasha decided to wait for us instead of heading down with the men as she enjoyed a "chill" in the sun. It was amazing how fast the walk up and down the valley had become compared to the first day. Eventually we might end up like Mary who had just gone for a stroll but ended up on a mission to get a rubbish bag, twice.

We got back to Base Camp at about five and although we had thought tea on the stove might be possibility, we had obviously been too optimistic. Thankfully Gabby, Katie and Laura had put up our tents for us and sorted out our stuff. Eventually the water boiled. During our clothes washing session I discovered a permanent spot where i looked like a washer woman perched on a little rock. That evening I "Accidentally" went into the river for a wash. It was VERY refreshing.

The other mountaineering fire had a fire going(Haha) and a few of us decided to go over and investigate after our evening toilet trip. Someone thought it would be a good idea to try to cook rice pudding on the fire but as James put it, it tasted "cancerous" but this wasn't everyones cup of tea. Nahom lightened the mood by talking about a dirty "pop-up" poster he had when he was 12. Classic Nahom.

We got to bed at 2:30am and although the sun was beginning to set, beautifully may I add, but it could have easily been only 6pm.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

29th July

Again the plan was to get up at 6am but when we did we surrounded by fog and I could barely see Gabby next to me let alone the mountain we were meant to be climbing. The fog was very mystical and got Gabby all inspired as she talked about "the cloud" and although being refreshing it was not the ideal conditions for climbing a pyramidal peak. We got another lie in which was a bonus but it will be a greater disappointment if we won't get to climb and miss out altogether.

Before Gabby and I physically got up we spent a good ten minutes listing the pro's and con's of actually getting up. Soon enough though my stomach and Gabby's bladder took control. After my first muesli of the trip, which was surprisingly refreshing from the stodgy cereal start I was used to, we were told we had to pack away as it was too dangerous to head up the mountain due to the fog and rain higher up. We packed away our temporary rooms for the last time, I had to take the rubbish too, which wasn't great as when I got to unpacking it at the bottom, it had leaked a bit and there is nothing worse than garbage juice everywhere.

The walk down was a slippery one but I was more concerned about the tents. We were told we could leave our tents up with things we wouldn't need up the mountain in them. I thought, "Hey, I won't need my passport up there!" However I forgot that you should always keep such a thing in a safe place. The increased velocity of the river and the camouflaged tents made me think they had made there way down the mountain, passport and all. Alex reminding me that the nearest British embassy was in Tromso didn't help. Thankfully the tents were in sight and as soon as I could I ran into the tent to find my passport exactly where I left it.

The day turned out to be a lazy day with lots of clothes washing and sorting ourselves going on. Tim spoke to us about sorting our Duke of Edinburgh Gold and what we had to do and that we would be told if we deserved it on the last day. There must have been something in our tea that night as we got hyper and shouted "Night Boys!" (shame the wrong "boys" replied) and I think I refered to the tent as sweetcorn due to its yellow centre and green outer layer(see what I did?)

Monday, April 05, 2010

Tag Sieben

Althoguh I got up several times that morning becuase I had gone to bed so late I was very confused about what time it actually was. However I was up at 8 and ready for breakfast at half past eight. Our breakfast was buffet and so I had all the different types of bread as well as some nesquick to feel at home. Before we knew it we were checking out of our hotel, it was sad as I think we felt we had grown to love this hearty woman and the owner spoke to us in German, although he knew we were english speakers, which I loved. Like he knew we wanted to practice our German. Once out of our homely Hotel Post, the heavens opened and it was blowing a gale. Hopefully it will clear up before hungary. We followed the signs with the H for Hungary and after more vineyards and boarder towns we reached the boarder, which was derelict. There wasn't even anybody to ask for a stamp. Thats the only reason why I hate the EU, I can't get my stamps easily nowadays. We hoped out of the car just before we crossed for a typically touristy photo and then we were through.

It was bizarre how obvious it was we were in a different country, there was instantly a more eastern European feel. The infastructure just wasn't the same as Austria, the main roads were full of pot holes and the houses seemed more run down, however this just added to its charm in my eyes. I was glad not to see the same thing, I wanted there to be a difference in the two countries. After some mistakes from Frieda we eventually found our way to Sopron which on the outskirts was like any other city with an industrial estate and tesco, about the only thing I could actually understand, but near the centre it became more and more like a picturesque old town. There were plenty of parking spaces and we got one right in the centre, so it should be easy to find when we come back. We went a short walk around to find a ATM but when we got there the hungarian currency baffled us, since we weren't too sure how much 1000 forint was, as in could we get coffee and cake with this? So we took out 5000, turns out it is about €20 so we could definately get one. As we wandered we walked past a famous casion in Sopron by accident. The weather was a bit too much for us after these weeks of sunshine and so we seeked shelter in a cafe which was like a smaller version of all the viennese cafes but it had just a little bit more charm. The cakes looked pretty impressive too.

We decided to complete our circuit of central Sopron before heading back to the car. It was a shame the weather had decided to ruin our trip to Hungary but the fact it was Easter Monday didn't help much either. On the way out we tried old school navigation by using a map and road signs while Frieda warmed up. We failed miserably at this as we drove towards marshland but with the autobahn ahead, in the distance. Frieda got us back on the A5 again and northbound back into Austria, again nobody was guarding the boarder, and my phone said "Viszontlátásra" to T-mobile H and "Guten Tag" to T-mobile A. It was oh so very exciting. We headed along the west coast of the Neuseidler See and stopped off at the small town of Rust which is reknown for its stork population so we were bound to see some storks. We saw about 6 nests in a row of chimneys all filled with Storks. Aunt Var showed me a rundown building that she was planning to turn into a restaurant, with the way they are going they will have a chain of restaurants from renovated ruins. She then showed me the town square and the basket shop, which there is an injoke that she will comeback someday and buy a basket, and what better time to do it than now! Rust was another Austrian version of Stromness that is becoming a tourist town, weather permitting. Back in the car we got back on the road and followed the familiar route back to Wien. I must be bored of the scenery on that journey from the airport to Goldegggasse since I fell asleep.

Back in the apartment it was very quiet as now Meg had gone away too it was just the three of us(and the cats). It then dawned on me that I will probably have to pack. I did this after I had uploaded all my photos from our little adventure and finished telling everyone about it. It didn't feel like my last night in Vienna at all.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tag Sechs

Today, Easter Sunday, provided us with a leisurely breakfast.We discussed politics: a thing that I dread back home thanks to my marxist sister and a father nicknamed Stalin... Also probably because you can't escape it in the UK whereas some Austrian residents don't actually know the current president, which I like since, its good to have a break from important things. However the discussion was about international poitics(to an extent and probably had something to do with Maria's recent MUN trip...) which I find marginally more interesting. Anyway, it made us feel very civillised and spurred us on to go on a walk around the Beledere gardens in the sun. It was surprsingly busy for easter Sunday but we began to notice most were tourists who couldn't interperate the "keep off the grass signs."

At one o' clock it was a mad rush to get Esti and Maria on the half one train to Warszawa. We arrived with about ten minutes to spare and after Esti's failed attempt at a vending machine, spending about €2 on a bottle of water which turned out to be about the tenth of a normal bottle, they decided to risk it and run to a shop. Just as they were out of sight of the platform the train turned into the station. Thankfully it was early so they had a good ten minutes before the train left. However we still felt the need to chase after them in panic. Aunt Var and I secured a compartment for them which was unreserved and then flung their bags on before flinging the two girls on. We were early so there was some awkward standing around until the train left and when it dif, it was so bizarre to be seeing them off from Vienna, rather than the otherway around.

So back to an Esti and Maria-less apartment, the silence w as bizarre. Meg was well and truely into her homework and I thought I woulf follow suit. Really didn't get much done. Aunt Var and I then tried to decide what to do with ourselves for the next two days before I left on Tuesday. After investigation the Semmering Railway opening time and realising that its not open until May we decided a road trip. The plan was to drive east out of Vienna to drive around the eastern side of the Neuseidlersee, which is also known as the Viennese Sea since they don't have the real thing ;) Most of the lake lies in Austria but a small section lies in Hungary and so we thought a good idea would be to go all the way around it and stop off at Sopron in Hungary. Before we left Aviott helped us find and book a room in a Gasthaus in a little town before the Hungarian/Austrian boarder called Illmitz. Before we knew it we had packed out overnight bags and in the car on our way(Frieda keeping us in control, obviously).

This was very exciting for me as there is no way you can do this in Orkney. You have to get on a boat or pay for a ridiculously expensive flight to get off Orkney only to get onto another island and pay for another boat trip or ridiculously expensive flight. However in Austria you can get in the car and an hour later you could be anywhere. NOT FAIR. As we drove east I was shown Pandorf which Maria was always saying the must take me to. It is basically a village of designer shops and actually looks like a quaint little village and the stuff is usually at a discounted rate. For the drive out there, I think I might just prefer a bargain nextdoor... Soon the Autobahn began to seperate out as we drove along the lake. It was bizarre as there were hundereds of vines and being as ignorant as I am I had not considered that wine could be grown in Europe outside Italy and Spain :S So that was pretty cool to see, the countryside was atypical of Austrian scenery as I thought we could be in Holland but you could see tell-tale mountains in the distance. To get right on the side of the lake we stopped off at Podersdorf am See which often holds wind surfing championships and is usually filled with tourists. However on this blustery April evening it was quiet. Infact the wind and sea was much like home but it was strange not to have the usual smell of the sea from the salt and sea weed considering that the only expanses of water I have seen this big before as been the sea (there I go playing the sheltered island life card again...). Aunt var and I walked down the pier and sat by the lighthouse and appreciated the view, and the show of a kitesurfer attempting to lift is kite out of the water.

Back on the road again it was not long until we arrived in Illmitz, but it was a long time before we found the entrance to our Gasthaus. Mainly because it was being renovated and so everything was all over the place. We were greeted by one of these hearty women who are needed to run a Gasthaus. Her German was really easy to understand (or maybe she just covered the topics of the higher course...) which I liked. We were taken up to our room but were then told the heating didn't work so then we had to be moved, however we were offered a free glass of wine in the bar while we waited. The wine was actually the first red wine I have enjoyed drinking, I should have got a bottle since you know I could legally! The bar was full of drunk men and it didn't take us long to realise they were on a stag do and we were the only women in the room. I was just hoping they didn't think we were hired or something...

Once we had settled into our second room we decided to have a walk around Illmitz since it was a nice night. We discoved Illmitz is home to a wine world champion but unfortunately it didn't look like anyone was in. I had never heard of a weingut before but I think I will be going more as its nice being offered lots of free glasses of wine followed by nice company and a comfortable sleep. We headed out the edge of town and walked along a vineyard to a small lake in search of storks. However we came across something more exciting, deer. At first they were on the lake and then sprinted to the other side but we also found ourselves ridiculously close to a group of deer before they noticed to and sprinted to the other side of the lake. The sunset, mountains, lake and deer provided some very lovely photos and soon our stomachs got the better of us and we headed back to our gasthaus for some tea. With all of the food I have had here I was not disappointed. I had some wonderful soup and my third schnizel in about three days followed by a pancake with vanilla ice cream and the most amazing chocolate and hazelnut sauce which was just the perfect size. All I can say is that the UK has a lot to live up to when I go home!With our stomachs satisfied and aunty to neice bond suitibly rekindled we headed back up to our room for bed. I was pleased to see a Wunderschon, a programme I used to watch in German for practice, was actually on but I still had no idea where they were or what they were doing.

It took me forever to get to sleep, probably because this was the earliest I had gone to bed in about four years but also the stag night and their families seemed to be staying next door, and outside and the drunk shouting and singing kept me up a while. My auntie got up at 12 and turned on the light and I genuinely thought it was 7am and we had to get up now I could not understand why I was so tired. Turns out I had only been asleep for an hour. From then on I slept like a log.

Tag Funf

Esti was a little bit worse for wear this morning, especially as we had a wake up call of 8am as today we were heading west out of Vienna to a small town called Melk which was home to a spectacular Abbey where the film "The Name of The Rose" was filmed(how fitting ;) ). The journey there was spent sleeping or listening to Maria and Meg's delightful singing. We arrived and there were several fancy building to treat the eyes but the one we wanted to see turned out to be colossally more fancy than the others as it's "schonbrunn yellow" walls stetched for miles(well or so it seemed). The free part involved a walk through some gardens and into a courtyard and then the official tour started ( we actually missed the english tour but eventually did catch up with it at the end). It began with museums of artifacts from the earlier days of the abbey, favourites being the shin bone chalice and tiny travel prayer book, and then there were the grand rooms with illusions painted on to the ceiling and gold plated window sills. Between the library and another fancy room was a balcony which had a magnificent view of mountains to the left and small towns and villages sprawlling along to the right. The several photos of the same view shows what I thought of it. Following the balcony was the "piece de resistance" according to my Auntie and it was the library and it did live up to her expectations as it was very grand and massive in all forms. However the staircase the followed infactuated me more and then there was the church itself and those who know me know I am not a religious person and being in churches is bizarre for me. It still was but I appreciated the architechture at least even if I didn't see the light this time.

Esti couldn't skip through the gift shop at a faster speed as her bladder and stomach took the reigns. Unfortnately for her we were getting food in town. Melk looked much like the Austrian version of Stromness, that is designed for tourists but with roads not suitied for cars and sunshine. We found a nice little gasthaus which had a small courtyard which cancelled out the (limited) traffic outside and concentrated the heat of the midday sun. I chose the sunniest seat in the place in an attempt to recharge the vitamin D but this almost landed me with some sunstroke so the hoody had to stay on, oh the joys. However the food was brilliant, another how basic Austrian food is at the same level as 5 star british food! I have been craving that cream of pepper soup ever since I had it. After being suitible stuffed to the brim we headed back to the car. Again the trip home was accompanied by Meg and Maria's beautiful singing but it was interrupted my stops at more tourists towns enroute home. It was nice staying awake on the way back as he scenery was lovely and spotting the many castles on the hilltops was a great workout for the camera. Turns out I was the only one who could stay awake this time as Esti, Maria and Meg had all konked out, in a variety of positions which I found hilarious due to my sleep deprived state. Esti's constant battle with her elbow and her armrest as it kept slipping was definately side splitter.

Back in the apartment, the rest of the sleepy heads were up for a quiet night in whereas I had had a sudden burst of energy. As my name suggests, I am a bit like a plant and intially the sun drains me out but then gives me a burst of energy. I decided to wander around Schwedenplatz lookiing in all the touristy shops to get gifts and my all important hoody since the shops will soon be shut for Easter. I forgot that Vienna is quite a classy place and I forgot, unlike Orkney, that wandering around in a hoody and trackies isn't that normal. Well or so it seemed to me. Anyhoo I got over that soon enough and had another enjoyable wander around in the sun not really having a plan.

However epic monopoly had to be done in the evening, unfortunately Esti won.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Tag Vier

Today we did something new, we went a bit outside of vienna called Kahlenburg which is the hill behind vienna which offers a view of the city and some fresh air. We headed out quite late and there was a bit of agro about this but i would prefer everyone came with us and be late rather than only some of us go really early. Anyhoo we drove up past some very posh houses to a small place Baumkreis am Himmel with as it sounds has a ring of trees which represented a time of year. My birthday was coverned by the Esche (aka Ash) Baum, as was Maria's. We wandered into a nearby forest after investigating each tree, I see a theme coming on here. The woods were exciting for me, as is everything, since we don't really have them in Orkney, i mean you can't really count Binscarth in comparison. I didn't see any woodland creatures though :(

We headed further up the hill to Kahlenburg to the polish church which was nice to wonder in and always healthy for the architect in me. Then was the piece de resistance, the view itself. It was bizarre seeing the full thing in full daylight since i had only seen it from a plane, or from a ride at the Prater, at night. It was stunning anyway not easily described anyway. A topfenstrudel und Vanillensauce was in order along with the panoramic view and the sun. It was lovely.

Now we were planning to get ready for Katies and for some reason Esti trusts me a lot and asked me to cut her hair. Fair enough I do mine myself all the time and I think it turns out alright... But I have never done it on another person but it shouldn't be that different right? Well it wasn't really, the bad thing was; Esti asked me to dye her hair too. Now he handed me a kit of Blond hair dye so I don't really know what she was expecting... So it went a bit lighter. Well quite a bit lighter but it looked really nice but she HATED IT! No matter how much Maria and I tried to convince her she would not have any of it. Thankfully she was still planning to go outside with it and out to Dicks. Thats not the end of the hairdressing though. I thought "Hmm my hair's feeling a bit stragley, maybe i should cut it too. Shame Mum's not here to do the back of it in a straight line. Oh I'll just get Esti to do this." BIG MISTAKE! I forget that mum knows how much I usually like to chop off. Esti does not. Mum knows its one inch Esti thinks its 5 inches. Initially I was properly devesated because my hair has not been short since I was about 5 years old. However in hindsight it did cut off all the straggley bits and is in much better condition plus it gets very curly. So in a way I thank you Esti, even though I have realised there is a massive chunch longer than the rest that I have only noticed now.

Tonight it was Katie's birthday and leaving party at Dick's and all the usuals were there and all the usual things happened really. Had kopparberg, got happy, esti and Owen did their thing, spoke to stangers, chatted up by asian men and listened to live acoustic music. Fun times had by all. We even got a free lift home from Stuart. Success for all of us I think.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tag Drei

Today there was no plan whatsoever and it took us a long time to get on our feet. Eventually Maria and I decided to just go a wander and I tried to convince her that we don't need a plan. She agreed even if it was rather reluctantly. It was a nice day so there was no reason not to just go a walk. We hoped on the U-bahn, not actually knowing where we wanted to get off at but decided Stephansplatz was a good starting point. From there we headed through streets and into quiet little backstreets and always ended up going in some sort of circle which was helpful. Maria managed to go places she had never been which is always a bonus! We ended up wandering down to Schwedenplatz and buying ice creams and sitting on a wall in the sun for ages talking about school and life and all that jazz. One highlight was a woman coming up and handing us roses each, asking for money, taking all my change, asking for a rose back and leaving. It was bizarre. But it was a lovely way to spend my afternoon and it was very relaxing.

We then headed up some nice old looking streets and ended up seeing the Holocaust memorial which I had read about in Higher art as i had studied Rachael Whiteread and so understood the concept and explained it too Maria. She seemed interested at the time. We were then more serendipidous as we stumbled across three sets of Ostern Markts and one had freshly baked cheese bread which was gorgeous! More going wherever our feet took us landed us outside the Universitat and the ringstrasse. We didn't really know which way to get home but we were pretty sure it wasn't in the direction of the rathaus, so we headed in the opposite direction. Now here is where we play the role of stupid tourists. We saw a cathedral and it looked like stephansdom, so therefore, we thought, it must be Stephansdom. Nah it wasn't an we walked all the way round it thinking " Woah its so quiet compared to the otherside!" Only to realise that there was no other side. After that epic fail we decided we better just give up and go on the U-bahn and get home.

That night we went to see "The Blind Side" and it was really good, the right mixture of happy bits and sad bits and we were all surprised to see it was a true story! The way there was very hectic as Esti was determind not to miss the beginning and so we had to rush and did miss a bit but it was a flashback so was repeated convienetly throughout the film.