Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Flying north again

Our last stop was the train back to Austria, at Mannsworth, a town near the airport. This was probably the most stressful event in our vacation. For the last five days I'd been popping into internet caf├ęs trying to get directions from the Mannsworth station to the hotel. The booking website, , was completely unhelpful. In the first place, after demanding my booking confirmation number, they gave us incorrect directions from the southern train station, Sudbanhof, to Mannsworth. Then they said it was a 10 minute walk to the hotel. Okay, so what street? What direction? They couldn't say. I had no phone, of course, and after websearching, found a map that showed the hotel but not the station. The station stop was imposingly empty: no phone, no stores, no taxi stand, and no people, only an enormous refinery to the north and a grassy expanse to the south. Fortunately, after waiting 15 minutes, someone came to catch the train and that gentleman spoke enough English to tell us to take the street going north through the refineries. It was damned scary for the mate, for whom breathing was getting difficult. It took us a half-hour to get across, over the freeway, and into town.

Then there were two hotels called Das Reinisch, both on the same street and 250 meters apart. We'd booked the bed and breakfast. As it turned out, they're owned by the same people, and the reception is the one on the street we'd come down. By sheer fortune I went into the one with the reception to check if I'd found the right place, because the mate was by now exhausted and a 250-meter walk only to find out we had to check in at the original spot would have been terrible. I don't have enough German to know what Das Reinisch means – for all I know, there's a perfectly good reason to have two hotels with that name and have them be completely separate entities.

We were both wiped out – it was hot – and we changed rooms so we stayed in the hotel rather than walk down to the B&B. It was very civilized (by my American standards). It's a full-service hotel with laundry, a workout room, room service, apples in the lobby, courtesy bathrobes, and even a sauna, for 92 euros per night. I'm sure it caters primarily to business people and those going to the airport, which is only 5km away. In the early morning we got a gruffly manic-depressive cabbie who zipped us to the airport with charm and grace.

A short flight to Heathrow, and a long flight to San Francisco... at last we're home. It's been fun and memorable, and we might just do it again next year.

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