TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! So, did we make it to Vienna? Well, I told you yesterday we did so that ruins that surprise!
I’m sitting in the same park as where I related the second part of yesterday’s adventures to you, I’m just going to keep writing and fill you in on the story so far today.
I woke to a terrible occurrence! It was truly traumatic, it may be several years before I am fully recovered! My poor back right leg was coated in some horrible viscous bubbly stuff which Charlie said was probably shower gel, but we could not find out how this had leaked, the bottle itself appeared intact. It was horrible, I had to be given a bath in the train toilet wash basin, using wet loo-roll. Bubbles went everywhere and I feared my beautiful pink fur would never be the same again!
We eventually made it to Vienna HBF (Central Station) two hours later than expected and instead of heading out into the city, we did what any good travellers would do and headed straight to ticket sales to fill out compensation forms. Ok, we didn’t go straight there. We went to Information first and they told us to go to ticket sales, which slightly ruined the narrative but let’s just go with it.
The task of filling out the compensation form was made considerably harder by the fact that the forms were in German, but with the help of Google Translate (other translating services are available) and the Austrian sales person who gave us the form, we managed to fill it out and could expect 25% of our fee back, well hopefully. Although as we have an Interrail ticket and so really only paid for the reservation on this train, who knows exactly what it will be 25% of that we’ll get back!
Charlie and Jack were each given 8€ compensation in addition to this 25%, which was used to buy food, water and souvenirs (not necessarily in that order). I wasn’t given any cash but decided not to assert my rights, my reasons were three-fold. 1 – I didn’t pay for a ticket, b – I have no use for any of the three items mentioned above and numero tres – I don’t really understand the concept of money as I have mentioned on at least one previous occasion.
Our first stop was, surprisingly, a park. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that these humans of mine spend a lot of time in parks. I cannot fault them there.
This park was at the Belvedere Palace, or Schloẞ Belvedere to give it its native name. Well, technically I believe these would be called gardens, not a park, our first clue being that we were told off (in Austrian-German) for sitting on the grass – who knew that was even an offence, certainly not me!
The huge fountains and sculptures of sphinxes and topiary trees were our next clues, as well as the neatly gravelled paths.
We sat and admired the views, then after a short walk through the city, took a U-train (we are getting quite expert at these things now) to Schönbrunn park. This (apparently) contained another palace which once belonged to the Austrian royal family, but we are yet to find the giant building. Despite this, lunch under the trees was what one might term a ‘pleasant affair’ and we watched someone practice slack rope walking, an interesting spectacle. We also managed to capture the elusive crow-pigeon on film, the humans were very pleased with themselves.
You’ll be pleased to hear my poor fur has recovered from its hideous encounter with the shower gel, it seems as good as new.
I then took a cat nap and Charlie accidentally joined me, and why not? Us cats are geniuses (or should that be genii?) after all, maybe more humans should take up our ways.
Actually, on second thoughts, don’t! You would all be too busy sleeping to fulfil the roles I need you for while I’m sleeping!
When we awoke from our nap, we visited an organic supermarket because someone (Jack) didn’t bring enough food for the week and had to replenish, we almost passed for locals (I’m joking, my humans could never pass for locals). I’ve never been to an organic supermarket before, or a supermarket come to think of it, my humans left me in our room in Oslo whilst they visited Rema 1000, I was happy, I had the amazing view remember?
No matter, my humans enjoyed the supermarket (probably) and bought some food, which is important to them. No food = hungry humans = dead humans, not the case with me. I’m not sure how long humans can actually survive without food, but based on the frequency of meal times I guess it can be no more than 5 hours, longer overnight while metabolism is slower. Sometimes I surprise even myself with my scientific reasoning.
Food purchased, we returned to the park (we still haven’t found the palace) and enjoyed the shade of a different tree in another area of the park. It was another blisteringly hot day and, none of us having slept well on the train, a lazy day in the park was just what we needed. We also happened to have chosen a spot next to a drinking water pump (these are relatively common in Germany and Austria, I have noticed) so the humans were cool and refreshed all afternoon.
I took offence at this arrangement for, firstly and most obviously, the presence of water, and secondly, the constant stream of dogs playing with the wet stuff.
Right, we will soon be off for dinner and then catching our second and last night train to Geneva, so I will catch you up on these later… or whenever I can be bothered… I can’t let writing get in the way of napping!
Part II – we are on the train! In a very long tunnel, I believe. If not, all the lights in the world outside the train must have gone out.
And I learnt why we didn’t find the palace – we were in the wrong park, not in Schönbrunn, but another park across the road from it, called Hadikpark. These humans do make me worry. Well, it doesn’t really matter, we saw most of the same sights, you know, the important things like U-stations and construction work, which seems to follow us everywhere.
Our next journey was to dinner. Three short trips on three U-trains and a slight detour when we missed a turning later, we were at the Swing Kitchen.
Dinner, I’m reliably informed, was absolutely splendid once again – the Swing burger and the Vienna (schnitzel) burger with a side of huge chunky chips and onion rings for the first course. With the exception of our previous schnitzel burger in Berlin, this might be the only time we’ve eaten food native to the country we have been in, schnitzels are a famous German and Austrian dish, usually made with veal or pork (you probably knew this already), but can also be made from chicken, or soya in Charlie and Jack’s case. This was followed by a hazelnut crunch ice cream ‘burger’ – ice cream sandwiched between two chocolate cookies, the circumference coated in hazelnut crumbs – and a triple layer nougat cake with chocolate sauce icing, a blob of cream and a chocolate spoon (not too eat with, for decoration only) – both, again, were apparently fantastic. My humans highly recommend Swing Kitchen to vegans and non-vegans alike spending the time in Vienna.
This was the end of our Vienna trip, back on the U to Wien Meidling Station this time. I say, Charlie and Jack have really got the hang of this U-train business. Oh, schnitzels, I said I was only going to praise them once. Pretend that didn’t happen, let’s start again. This was the end of our Vienna trip, back on the U to Wien Meidling Station this time where we discovered the washing up liquid had exploded in Charlie’s bag. This is the true cause of that horrible substance which had coated my leg earlier. As well as myself, other less important stuff such as food packaging had also been mercilessly attacked. This tidied up, we were ready to board our second night train to Zurich, for the change to Geneva.
Vienna has been a fascinating city, not speaking Austrian was an unexpected development although Charlie did know this wasn’t a language. I would have loved to spend more time here, perhaps to actually visit the Schönbrunn Park and maybe even see the palace. Then I could give you another of my riveting history lessons. I will tell you that the palace was the summer residence of the Austrian Habsburg monarchy, built in the 1740s-50s and has 1441 rooms (thanks Wikipedia). Anything else you might like to know, you’ll have to find for yourself, seeing as we didn’t actually go there, I don’t think I can justify too long a history lesson.
Anyway, as I said, I would have liked to spend more time here, but the train timetable people wouldn’t let us, the two hour delay also didn’t help.
Yesterday I didn’t take much time to describe the train, and as it is the same type of train as last night’s, I will discuss them both together. If you’re not interested in trains or suffer a nervous disposition where description of vehicles is concerned, you might want to skip this bit.
The seats are in compartments of six and can be set back to recline, almost completely flat, although this does take a bit of manoeuvring and assumes, of course, there is no one sitting opposite you who would also like to lay flat. Or has legs. There was the option to have gone in the sleeper car and have an actual bed, but in a highly responsible yet completely idiotic money saving initiative, the seats were opted for by the humans to sleep in. The compartments were air-conditioned, but this only worked when the train was moving and also had a dial for speaker volume, not that we ever worked out what it was that we would be listening to.
Ok, it’s safe to read again now, we are settled into our compartment for the night. I can’t imagine anything else exciting will occur, if it does, I’ll tell you about it in tomorrow’s entry.
Until then, Chesh.