It is not like I intended on walking street after street when I headed out of the hotel this morning intending to see a museum or two. I had even asked for directions from the Bell Captain – getting the “go right and then go right” in response to an inquiry about walking toward city center.
Really, I bear absolutely no resemblance to all of you who just happen to have a Y chromosome. I will ask for directions. Sometimes, occasionally, or when desperate enough. Now, let us add in the question of “when” one needs to turn right – or how many right turns are actually involved. It just might have been smart to ask for a specific location of the hotel on the map before I headed out the door now wouldn’t it?
You know what is coming already don’t you? I didn’t turn right as soon as I should. Continuing in what I thought was the correct direction, my street eventually came to a T with a major road. There just happened to be a streetcar line and multiple lanes. Not being a complete fool – I pulled out my map with rapidly stiffening fingers.
(aside – did I mention that it was cold and damp this morning? Temperatures above freezing but nothing to write home about. The knitter here did not pack either hat or hand coverings. )
Finding my current location was a bit south of where I needed to be: all right – I was walking away from the river rather than toward the Donau, I finally turned right and headed along this outer right back toward the city coming within two blocks of where I started before branching off into new territory.
I love the architecture – a combination of graceful palaces and reconstruction with enough detailing and trim to make even the newer buildings appear as if they date from the 1800s-early 1900s. Of course, there are a number of the quick slab permacrete thrown up at the end of World War II as rapid replacements for structures bombed beyond restoration.
By hook, crook and frequent looks at my map I managed to get myself to the Naschmarkt. Again, completely wrong direction but at least I knew where I was. By heading to Karlsplatz, going under the streets via the U-Bahn entrance I was able to land on Opernstrasse which took me to Opern Ring. At this point, I had enough sense to figure that I was still south of where I wanted to be which meant left was the correct direction.
I walked along the ring past hurrying people, souvenir shops and the occasional meter maid spreading joy, cheer and tickets to the Museum area where I encountered medium size herd of tour buses. From destinations as close as Salzberg and Prag to more distant Netherlands, Italy and Northern Germany it seemed that the Christmas Market ranks right up there with the Museums as a must see stop on their itinerary. Even this early in the day, the booths in this particular outdoor market set up between the Natural History and Art Museums were packed with customers. Roasted chestnuts, sizzling waffles and the scent of Gluwein hung on the air.
After carefully thinking over the 20 Euros in my pocket I elected to continue on my route, zig-zagging over two streets and following along till I reached the Rathaus U-Bahn stop before heading right toward the Rathaus and yet another collection of holiday booths. After navigating the square, I settled in at Cafe Einstein to wait on a friend. We are meeting this afternoon to exchange some books and enjoy a cup of coffee.
Volksopera is on the agenda for the evening. We may even be a bit Viennese and have a bite to eat after the performance. Since I am now a bit more sure of myself after walking for almost three hours around the city, I may just attempt the kilometer between here and there on foot rather than on public transportation. After all – I will have a couple of hours to find it.