Kate and Bron's Diary for 2002-08-10

Stayed the night in Vienna

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From: brong@zebkrahn.brong.net (Bron Gondwana)
Date: Thu, 15 Aug 2002 08:29:09 +1000
Robert dropped us in town near the tourist info. We looked first at a
big cathedral (yep, it was another big cathedral - they seem to like
them over here) with very cool bright stained glass.

We had lunch at a very expensive and crap market - oops.

Bought 72 hour "Vienna Card"s at the main tourist info desk. The
automatic vending machines at transport stations also sell a "Vienna
Card" that only covers transport, and not the discounts. Not that the
other card helps much - for an extra 5 Euros you get discounts of about
10 or 20 percent, not the free entry we had in other places. Felt a
little ripped of by that, since we didn't use anything like that much
discount over the time we were there. Kate also purchased some stamps
for postcards back to Australia - double checking that it was indeed the
same price (58 Euro Cents) to both Australia and other places in Europe.

Saw the crown jewels exhibition - very interesting, especially with the
audio guide (essential). The jewelery was amazing, and the history of
the Hapsburgs (what a bunch of crooks - the whole story is one of them
forging documents to get power, and then carefully building up
collections of holy relics and symbols that seem to suggest they have a
divine right to rule. The image I came out of there with was that lying
- when done carefully - is the way to sucess and power). The history of
the "Order of the Golden Fleece" - of which the head of the Hapsburg
house is of course the leader, and any other powerful person they wanted
on side was a member to keep them in line. Yay for the reality of royal
rule. The story of the "Electoral College" was an interesting take on an
early form of election.

Oh - I should throw in my political quote from a book I read
yesterday... "American Democracy is a fine idea, and will work until the
politicians realise they can bribe the people with their own money!" -
I'm reminded of it by the story of how the Hapsbergs bribed the
electoral college to always elect a member of their family as the next
emperor, neatly bypassing the entire system - which had been built to
stop the problems of the son squandering what the father had worked so
hard for that plagued inherited monarchy in the past.

Tried to buy food from the supermarket suggested in the Lonely Planet
guide (open late and on Sundays they say) - pity they don't sell any
cooking foods on the weekends, as it's against the law here in Austria.
Opening hours are limited to 72 per week, and they have to pay double
time on weekends, unless they use some workaround like being in a train
station and only selling finger-food to be eaten on the train. I don't
mind the law, that's a local issue - but the author of the Lonely Planet
section on the city should be shot for listing that under "Self
Catering" and not mentioning such an obvious point. Grrrrrrrrr.

Went out with Robert to drink with a bunch of computer geek people (the
other reason we were staying with him - computer people BOF (birds of a
feather) get-togethers). Got very drunk!

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