My last day in Vienna was fairly uneventful… this seems to be my pattern now. I got up, and Imbi and I went and dropped my bag off at the bus station before grabbing breakfast (well…trying to find breakfast was an issue and we finally just settled for Starbucks where we could get free wifi). She tried to talk to her mum and dad and sis on skype on my computer but it was too
slow so she went off to find an Internet café while I finished a post from last week (I swear I’m trying to get caught up). Then I went looking for a post office (which I found and wasn’t open on Saturday) and met up again with Imbi while she was finishing her family chat.
I had wanted to go to the Lower Belevedere museum to see an exhibit but by the time we were both finished with our stuff, it was getting later in the day and besides, it wasn’t really her thing so instead, we just walked around the park, talking and doing things for free. Took some pretty cool pictures under a dramatic sky and generally had a lovely afternoon. Around 4:30, we parted
company, she had things to do in the evening and eventually, I had a bus to catch.
Of course, it was only 4:30, so I decided to try and get to the museum (which closed at 6) and see if I could catch a little bit of the exhibit. I tried to read the map, had a bit of trouble but hopped a U-Bahn and headed in what I thought was the general direction. When I got out of the underground, I saw a sign pointing the way to the museum. Yay me! So I started walking. And I walked. And walked.
(sensing a pattern yet?)
Eventually, I oriented myself and my map (seriously, this was like negotiating an Israeli/Egyptian peace accord in 1973) and discovered I’d been heading in the wrong direction. I turned, refocused and began walking. And I walked. And walked.
I’ll spare you the gory details but suffice to say I when I finally got to the museum , it was nearer six than half five and when I asked if they offered a late entry discount. Nope, not a chance in heck (Bailey and Riley are reading this!). So I went into the gift shop just to see what I was missing and you know what? The exhibit wasn’t what I thought it was! Actually, I’m glad I didn’t go earlier, I would have been horribly disappointed. This way, I got to find out I didn’t want to see the art AND got 250 words of a funny story. Win win I’d say.
So I left the museum (not gonna talk about the horrid directions I received from the cloak check girl which put me on a tram going the wrong direction and ending up further away than where I started) went back to stephensplatz and waited out my bus.
When I got the bus station, I was about 45 minutes early. Not a big deal, really, so I had a candy bar (oh man have I discovered I really like Twix!) and waited, knowing my bus was going to be pulling into gate A. About 3 minutes to 9, still no bus and now there were three of us waiting. It should have been more, but the departure board was still insisting we were in Gate A. 20:59 and I headed to another bus, just to check. Yeah, you guessed it. No indication the bus was going to Krakow, in the wrong gate, but sure enough, that was the bus I was supposed to be on. So I handed over my rucksack and got on board, looking for an open seat. I finally found one and settled in, knowing I had about 7 hours of sitting too close next to a complete stranger and trying to sleep . Looking around, I noticed a mother and son had taken up two whole rows across the aisle from me, each sitting on the end with backpacks on the window seat and stretched out luxuriously. Just plain rude if you ask me.
The bus took off, and I caught some cat naps. At one point, my row companion departed so I ended up with a row to myself, which was nice and then the bus stopped. And the driver got out. I tried to sleep but then I heard some sort of industrial clanging. Don’t know what was wrong, but when I looked out, the driver had his shirt off and a huge box of tools open next to him. I kept my eyes closed like a kid who didn’t study for a math test, hoping I wouldn’t get called on to try and fix something (completely irrational, I know, but it was 5am and I was still sleeping). When we finally pulled into Krakow it was just after 7am.. I found my hostel fairly easily, dropped off my bags and booked a tour for that morning – The Salt Mines.
The Salt Mines were pretty cool (cold actually, though not as cold as the Ice Caves). They started the tour with a bit of history, some statues made out of salt and then some dioramas showing how the mines worked. There’s 2% of the mines open for the tour and we ended up about 135 meters underground. Even down there,
we saw two chapels (a little one and the big one, dedicated to the queen who was responsible for the salt coming to Poland, according to legend) Both chapels are made entirely of salt and you can book them out for weddings and other ceremonies (they have a big ballroom for receptions as well).
After the mines, I wandered a bit around the town square, then headed back to the hostel to officially check in and have a nap. That evening, I didn’t do much, made use of the wifi, talked to some people and generally relaxed. I knew what was coming. Monday was Auschwitz.