You’re Probably Wondering …

… Why I haven’t posted anything in 10 days. Well, the answer’s quite simple.

I’ve been swamped with work since last week, and will continue to be swamped with work until (Canadian) Thanksgiving, except for a few days here and there where I might get to leave work early. But those are few and far between.

On top of which, I did lose Internet access – just 12 days later than expected. I’ve been on the phone with my Internet company every other day for almost the last week, trying to get a modem that works with my ancient desktop computer. I’ve been told it’ll be 3-5 business days. I’m losing my optimism.

So I apologize for not posting, but please be patient. I’ll be back soon-ish.

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“One Down, One to Go”

He was last out of the womb.

But he’s the first out of the house.

On Labour Day, my younger brother moved into his own apartment.

It wasn’t unexpected. He’s been “threatening” my mom (half-jokingly) for the last few years that he’d be moving into his own space.

And yes, there is that unsaid stigma in North American culture, towards the young adult male still living at home with his parents.

Plus, my brother’s gone from unemployed to hard-working in the past year and a half in his industry, which has rightfully warranted such benefits as winning awards, and a positive job review, complete with a raise.

So this day was coming.

But … *tsk* … I wanted to be fiiirst. I can’t believe he beat me to it.

I had expected to already be in a purchased space of my own when this all went down.

Yes, I know – I only have myself to blame. I’m fully aware. I realize I was the one who promised myself to stick it out for at least the next 12-18 months, while I strive to achieve my goal of The Downpayment (while simultaneously waiting to see what real estate prices do – and hoping they work in my favour).

But this recent development is going to make the next 6 – 12 months feel like the ultimate test of my patience.

It doesn’t help that my mom’s phrase of the week was, “One down, one to go.”

The first time she said it, I muttered, “I don’t know if I’m going anywhere, at the rate things are going.”

The second time she said it – on little bro’s moving day, in the presence of the previous tenant, who happened to drop off a vacuum to help us in our moving-in clean-up – I said nothing. I was just focusing on not letting my eyes roll up into my head in exasperation.

And as an example of what I just might be looking forward to when this year’s cold, harsh winter finally arrives:

Wednesday night, following a shitty end to a mediocre workday, I walked through the front door to hear the strains of what I could only surmise was a heated debate between my mom and dad; their voices were raised loud enough to cause me a bit of concern.

Not to go into the minutiae, but I was essentially sucked into an argument over the difference between a debit card and an “access card”. (Trick question, kids.)

I’m not putting down their knowledge about the use of modern banking tools today. If you don’t know, you don’t know. But it was the wall of loud voices that pummelled me for about six or seven minutes afterwards. Both parents were justified in their views. They were also convinced the other thought they were being stupid and were simultanously trying to convince the other that’s not what they were saying to each other, at all.

So draining. I’m beginning to think that the black hole everyone’s worried the Large Hadron Collider might cause is forming in the family room of the house where I live.

So if you see me walking down the street this fall and you can’t help but notice large bald patches on my head, be forewarned: it’s not alopecia. It’s the beginning of my trip on a train called Crazy.

Central Europe: Epilogue 2.0

I can’t believe it’s been a month since I got back. 

My re-entry back into rainy Toronto wasn’t as humdrum as I hoped. I was stuck at the airport for an extra hour and a half because I gave my parents the wrong arrival time. And Thanks to one supposedly efficient German airline (I’m looking at you, Lufthansa), my luggage was stuck in Manchester for three days.

But when I got home, man, was I EVER glad to have my first hot shower on North American soil. 

Much like my return from Spain last year, the travel bug has got me in a headlock. I’m restless, but not nearly as cranky as I was previously.

It could have something to do with how short this trip was. It might also have something to do with the last-minute planning on my part and the tour’s hit-the-ground-running, frenetic pace.

Make no mistake. I met a lot of cool people during my trip, a few of whom I’ve been keeping in touch with. I saw a lot of places I probably wouldn’t have gotten to in my lifetime, had I not taken on this itinerary. And I was pleasantly surprised by a few of the places I visited. I definitely would like to return one day.

But I have to say, I don’t like flitting around like that- at least in Europe. I like going at my own pace, spending at least two or three days in a city, rather than only a day and a half. I like marinating in my surroundings, if you will. Yes, I can now say I’ve been to these places. But in my heart, I know I haven’t truly been. Know what I mean?

I haven’t had a whole lot of down-time since I returned. I’ve been back at work for exactly a month now. And I’ve got the usual things on the brain. What I’m going to do about my current job situation … My living situation … 

And with the bank stamp barely dry on the enormous VISA bill I just paid, I’m already thinking about my next trip. I don’t even know if it’ll come to fruition, but if I can make it happen, I know of two things:

(1) It will be on a continent other than Europe. (Unless I somehow make big enough bucks to make a short stop somewhere on the way home.)

(2) I would like to go next spring – sometime around March or April … time and finances permitting.

If there was only a way to bank enough days in lieu and and work save enough cash to make it happen …

 Guess I’ll have to wait and see, won’t I ?

Meandering in Munich

Munich, August 8th.

You know the feeling where you’re simultaneously exhausted and just killing time until you board the plane the following day … and melancholy because you know the end of your trip (and vacation) is right around the corner?

I feel that today. I especially dread my attitude when I return to work. After Spain last year, I was cranky for at least five weeks. I’m really not looking forward to seeing that woman in the mirror on Monday morning. 

It’s cloudy outside, cooler than it’s been the entire trip, and has been raining sporadically. It almost matches my frame of mind this morning.

I eat breakfast, send Kelly an e-mail about meeting up with her briefly (she has to pay back some money I lent her the previous day), and then I hurry and get myself on a free walking tour leaving from the hostel shortly.

The tour guide is an exuberant dude from Texas, wearing suede lederhosen (no joke), who takes us from the hostel to Marienplatz via the metro. Once there, we become part of an even larger group, which is then whittled down according to language.

The tour begins in earnest with another tour guide, an Australian girl holding a can of Red Bull in one hand and gesturing with the other, yelling in an already husky voice so we all can hear. We actually get to witness the movements of the Glockenspiel (pictured at right. It’s a bit anti-climatic, since (a) I’ve already read in my guide and heard from trip leader Carla what happens and (b) the “chimes” that sound and play during the “show” aren’t even real – they’re pre-recorded, ’cause the real bells don’t even work … or were they removed? I don’t remember).

We move away from the square, past various buildings, while the Aussie guide continues. Less than 10 minutes later, the enormous group separates into three smaller groups, and I’m back in the group with our Texan guide. Between the bursts of rain, he’s quite informative and is kind of funny where it counts, and serious where he needs to be.

I meet two young guys on the tour who are also from my hostel: James, works for a mortgage company in Newmarket; Ben is from Cambridge, and may be either in school or just finished.

The tour ends, after which I tip the tour guide (heavily) and make my way back to Marienplatz (James and Ben in tow) to try and catch Kelly. That plan doesn’t work – I give up the search after about five minutes and return to the hostel with the guys.

I check my e-mail and find out Kelly’s leaving for Innsbruck (Austria) later in the afternoon. I manage to get down to the central train station – Hauptbahnhof – and meet her on the platform of the train she’s boarding. She arrives about two minutes before her train’s scheduled to leave, runs up the platform, dumps the money in my hand and keeps on going. (‘Bye, Kelly.)

After, I wander around. I just walk and walk and walk. Eventually, my stomach in knots from hunger, I find a café where I have a latte (not my first choice, since I don’t drink coffee, but I’m too hungry to change my mind) and a small sandwich, while I write my postcards and play catch-up writing in my travel journal to pass some time.

Then it’s back to walking around and around. I buy a couple more small souvenirs, including yet another plate for my Crazy Plate Collection. (I know you think I’m either crazy or an old woman stuck in the body of a young woman who should know better, but I don’t care – I love my plates of the world, so suck it.) I see the same classical music buskers from two days ago and stop to listen one more time. I even buy one of their CDs (15 Euro, which is crazy expensive, but I don’t care, ’cause it’s my last day), and just keep killing time and snapping pictures until I’m too tired to walk anywhere else.  

In my hostel room, I quietly write and write down as many thoughts from the previous several days as I can remember, until I can no longer write without the light of a lamp.

Heading downstairs after in search of something to eat, I run into James, who suggests the place across the street – which turns out to be a beer hall, and part of a huge beer brewery. How apt … And how packed.

I enter the front door of the beer hall, take one look at the people waiting for seats and another at the scores of dozens of people seated, and walk right out, heading straight for the metro going to Hauptbahnhof station.

I know the European foodie experience is about eating ANYTHING BUT than North American-based fast-food. But at this juncture, with so few hours remaining and my stomach grumbling and gurgling, I give an imaginary, misanthropic finger to cultural experience for the third time (I had McDonald’s the night I returned from Füssen – the shame!) in favour of a Burger King.

Back at the hostel, I pull up a seat at one of the empty cafeteria-styled tables, and just mow down on a Whopper and fries with mayo and ketchup and syrupy, non-fizzy Pepsi, while I watch the CNN International reports about the conflict in Georgia and former American presidential candidate John Edwards’ extramarital affair (sad, and also anti-climatic). Ben appears as if out of thin air, and he sits nearby and chats while I eat and watch.

I hit the hay somewhere around midnight, my backpacks – large and small – just about packed with my possessions. The window’s slightly open, allowing whatever breeze might be in the air to waft in.

As I lay there, I can hear the faint strains and bass of Latin music from some nearby club. But I’m too tired – and pre-occupied with my return trip home – to care.

The Train to Füssen

August 7th …

I don’t have to get up early, but I do anyway, to see Lauren off. It’ll be quite strange having a whole room to myself, albeit for only a few more hours. I’m most nervous about finding my way over to my next hostel – my brain’s been on auto-pilot for the last 10 days.

As my acquaintances assemble by the front door, a young couple apparently tries taking a taxi van meant for my mates.  From what I can tell, the taxi driver basically yells at them to get out of the van; they do so quite reluctantly. The driver proceeds to get out of the van, has some choice words with the guy, and gives him a shove (I suspect the dude said something not-so-nice to him). The woman – wearing something more appropriate for a club than for outside a hotel at 7:20 a.m. – tries defusing the situation. But Taxi Guy’s clearly incensed. Somehow the situation dissipates.

After saying goodbye to Lauren and my other tour-mates, I rub my eyes and figure out what to do with myself.  

I change, shower, check the internet terminal to see if it’s free – tour-mate Kelly from New Zealand (one of the few remaining) is checking work e-mails and trying to find accommodation for the next night. I wait a little while longer, then check out what’s for breakfast in the “dining room.” I opt instead to return to my room and scrounge around in my backpack for a strategically-packed granola bar (one of many).

I return back downstairs to see if the terminal’s free, and run into Randy coming downstairs with his belongings. He’s going to his next hotel – a Hilton, no less – and then plans to take the train to the south of Bavaria. Apparently there are two castles, one of which belonged to King Ludwig II and was featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – and he bought a tour ticket to see both.

I voice an interest in also wanting to go; he says if Kelly (who’s still on the Internet) and I want to go with him, he’s going to catch a train at 9:51 a.m. from the central train station to Füssen, Germany, which is the nearest stop to the castles.

We hurriedly agree to meet and he takes off.

Upon discussing further, Kelly and I decide not to rush, since both of us still have to figure out where our respective accommodations are. And besides, haven’t we already spent 10 days rushing from place to place?

We leave together sometime after 9 a.m., the sun already beating down on us. We find the metro, and take some time figuring out our respective routes, as well as what time later trains leave for Füssen, then split up, promising to e-mail each other about when to meet up.

I reach my hostel surprisingly quickly, only to find out the room won’t be ready until 3 p.m. I store my bag in the luggage room in the basement, then wait for a free internet terminal and e-mail Kelly. We were going to try and board the 10:51 train; we agree instead to meet by the train ticket booths by 11:15 so we can catch the 11:51 train.

I kill some time in the main lobby before walking over to the metro, and taking it to the main station (I get there early). I pick a spot and I wait. And wait. And wait.

At 11:46, when I debate whether to go by myself or go back to the hostel, Kelly shows up. We bolt for the train station.

Trying to figure out what tickets to buy from the automated machines is stressful, as we don’t understand the system, and we have about four minutes to buy our tickets, and board the train. But how Kelly figures it out for us to board with about two minutes to spare, is still beyond me.

Once we stop panting from all the running, we settle in for the trip. Kelly was nice enough to get lunch for both of us – something resembling pizza or pizza-bread; whatever – at this point, I don’t care – and some lovely pastries.

We take in the scenery and try and get whatever breeze we can, as the train car is boiling hot.

Here’s where a seemingly simple trip gets complicated. We both fall asleep because we’re so tired. We’re awoken by the man checking tickets, who says first in German, then in English, “Last stop.”

Bleary-eyed, we get off the train and wander around … only to discover we didn’t go to Füssen. We have, in fact, have ended up in the town of Memmingen, the western-most town in the state of Bavaria, which sits near the border with the state of Baden-Württemberg

Of course, we don’t know any of this until we go to the station’s ticket office, where the man at the desk shows us Memmingen on a small map. He also informs us we should have transferred roughly an hour east of where we are, in the town of Buchloe. I’m slightly annoyed, but soon smiling and shaking my head with Kelly at our misadventure. We grab some pop and pastry, and then walk back to Memmingen station to wait another 40 minutes for the train going in the opposite direction.

We reach Füssen three and half hours later, taking in the scenery – and finally getting a fantastic view of the mountains as we pull into the station. We wait for the bus, then decide to cab it to the ticket information centre for Hohenschwangau and Neuschwanstein castles. We can still see the former, but the latter will be closed by the time we get there. So we get tickets for Hohenschwangau Castle and then decide to go the whole hog and take a horse-drawn carriage to the base of the castle.

The tour itself was only okay, but the inside – all the ornate fixtures and decorations – was ridiculous. It’s too bad I couldn’t take any pictures. Even if I did, they probably wouldn’t have done it justice.

By the end of the tour, it’s started raining a bit. We take a chance and walk over to the other castle to get a look. It takes about 40 minutes, and I’m not kidding when I say it’s a bit of a climb – the way up is steeper than what we’ve been used to during the trip. But just being out in the fresh air, taking in where we are, makes the walk well-worth it.

We then decide to cap off our visit by walking up and around to Marienbrücke (Mary’s Bridge), from which you get the best views of Neuschwanstein Castle.

The upward hike takes another half-hour or so. The bridge itself when we get to it, is ridiculously high. And for two women of the Commonwealth who are skittish about heights, that’s a big friggin’ deal.

We inch arross the bridge, snap some pictures of the castle (which really is something in its own right), and go back across, trying NOT to look down. We go back on it a second time, since Kelly figures we can’t come ALL this way not to take pictures of ourselves on the bridge. (If I had a full bladder, I would’ve peed myself right there from sheer nervousness.)

We make the steep ascent back down, take a cab back to Füssen, where again, we cut it even closer trying to catch the train back to Munich. But make it we did, about three or so hours later.

Wow. What an adventure. But it’s almost over – one more day in Munich.

Some Mountains, Some Beer

August 6th.

Our drive to Salzburg is filled with the sounds of music. Literally.

Trip leader Carla throws in a few songs from The Sound of Music soundtrack to get us in the right frame of mind for our short stop in Salzburg (which is about an hour and 40 minutes long).

(As I learn later, some of the movie isn’t really filmed in Salzburg, but in nearby Salzkammergut, which is supposed to be very pretty. Ah well – perhaps next trip.)

Living back home in Canada, I’ve never been out west to see the Rockies. So it’s simultaneously breaktaking and disconcerting to see an enormous mountain range (albeit in the distance) for the first time with one’s own eyes, but on another continent. I try to snap as many photos as possible, because I think this will be my only chance. Unfortunately I get a lot of blurry shots with highway guardrails.

Off the bus in Salzburg, we stop off at Mirabell Gardens – which are lovely, but hard to truly love when compared to Schönbrunn. We then take a walk along the river, making sure not to drift over into the bike lane. Ever since hitting Hungary and Austria, I’ve had a hard time trying to keep to a part of the sidewalk that won’t piss off cyclists, but won’t put me in harm’s way. I’m still trying …

We then make our way through the narrow streets, past the Mozarthaus, and over to Stiftkirche St. Peter (or St. Peter’s Abbey Church, pictured at left). We stop briefly inside to take a look and take a couple photos. Then it’s out and around to the enormous cemetery, complete with fancy headstones and a waterwheel in the corner of the cemetery grounds.

There’s enough time for a group of us to grab lunch before getting on the bus. I have some pasta in a delicious cream sauce, and some kaiserschmarm for dessert.

Then, back on the road. We reach Munich sometime around 4 p.m. and check into our hotel. It certainly isn’t anything like our last hotel, but considering almost everyone’s leaving the next day, it’ll have to do.

As it happens, I’ve run out of toothpaste. I read the sign sitting on our table of what our hotel provides. Despite stating that the hotel could provide whatever “hygenic needs” we needed, it’s false advertising. I go down to the front desk to try out this “service”; I get a “Nein” from the Santa Claus lookalike in the loud Hawaiian shirt manning the desk when I gesticulate to ask whether or not they sell toothpaste. Lauren is kind enough to let me borrow some of hers, at least until she leaves. 

(Note to self: always carry a full-sized tube of toothpaste with you, unless you plan on using pea-sized portions. I had packed one, only to have my mom offer me a travel-sized tube. It’s never a good feeling to know you’re going to have to chew gum every day for two days before you leave.)

It’s back onto the bus for our last ride into town, our last orientation of a new place – and our last dinner together as a group.

We start off the mini-walking tour in Marienplatz – the centre of town and site of the famous Glockenspiel. We also briefly stop by the Frauenkirche (Church of our Lady) and hear the legend about the church’s architect and the devil and the footprint one can find upon entering the church.

Following orientation, we all elect to stop walking around and hit one of the most well-known beer halls, the Hofbräuhaus.

It’s loud and packed, and the oompah band is in full swing. We manage to find a table (translation: two long-ass benches) for 14 of us. And then the real fun begins.

We all order drinks. In my mind, I’m figuring it’s going to be the average beer-mugs-with-handles I’m so used to seeing back in Canada. Nope. Try one litre of Bavarian beer madness – at least that’s what I discover when I crack open the menu to select my drink. I take the plunge and order a Hofbräuhaus Original beer. I’m a little afraid because of (a) what it might taste like and (b) the prospect of downing an entire litre of beer and trying not to get sick.

The waitress comes back with most of our drink orders, somehow managing to fit as many as four or five steins in each hand. The fact she does this without spilling it amazes me (and definitely makes me respect her much more).

As I slowly start trying to drink my beer, the waiter comes round and takes our orders. I settle on some Bavarian white sausage (which may look disgusting and possibly uncooked, but is actually quite nice) and a pretzel.

And herein lies the trick to drinking two beers at a time: eat the saltiest pretzel known to mankind. The salt makes your mouth dry, or at least coats your tongue with so much sodium that you have no choice BUT to drink more beer.

This isn’t so bad. The beer tastes way less bitter than I imagine, and I successfully drain my glass. My mistake may be in ordering a second litre. I’m nowhere near sick, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m peeing like a racehorse.

The meal over, we walk (or stumble a little bit) out of the hall and wander around, taking in some classical buskers, and finding a statue of Juliet. (We’re told, if you rub her breast – I think it’s her right one – you’ll be lucky in love. I’m waiting to see if this theory actually works.)

Once back at the hotel, it starts sinking in: it’s the end of the tour. My roommate Lauren heads for Rome the following morning. Others are heading back to London, the U.S., or Toronto. To my knowledge only I and possibly two other tour-mates – Randy and Surabh from the States – will remain a day or so longer.

But it will be the strangest feeling, after being surrounded by a couple dozen people for a week and a half, to be virtually alone for the next two days.

Vienna, Day 2

Picture in your mind a cloudy, periodically drizzling Vienna, August 5.

Our tour group is dropped off in the Ringstrasse – the centre-most district in Vienna – for a brief orientation/history lesson with Carla.

We pass by the Hofburg Imperial Palace and the Spanish Riding School (which is closed during the summer). Afterwards, we’re let loose until the group excursion in the afternoon.

I team up with Lauren and Robyn (from San Diego) and decide to first hit Stephansplatz (St. Stephen’s Cathedral, pictured at left), located smack in the actual centre of Vienna.

We look around and snap some obligatory photos. We then take a half-hour tour into the catacombs, deep in the bowels of the church. Our bilingual tour guide (whose enthusiasm makes him so cute, you just want to put him in your pocket and make him give you a city tour in German and English) shows us where 37 Habsburgs are buried (along with some of their internal organs), as well as the community boneyard.

Following the tour – by which time the sun has peeked out from behind the clouds and has started warming up the city – we three decide to poke around and do a little shopping. I decide to try and find a dress for the concert we’re attending later in the evening – after looking at my selection in wardrobe the day before, I decide I can do a bit better.

I manage to score some souvenirs for back some – some tea and a scarf for my mom, as well as a couple little magnets for my dad and my friend (with whom I was originally supposed to travel, but who couldn’t make it). And I do find a dress at the second H & M I went into that early afternoon. It’s not something I’d normally wear to a music concert, but what the hell.

At this point, we take a pastry break. We wander down the street into a pastry shop – which, as it turns out, happens to be Café Demel where Lauren has a strudel and a little cuppuccino, and Robyn and I each dig into a slice of chocolate truffle cake, with a nice tall glass of milk. Mmmmm-mmmm … I don’t want that piece of cake to end!

To walk off the rich pastry, we stroll on over to Vienna’s historic Schmetterlinghaus (Butterfly House), where we take a peek at the various types of pretty tropical butterflies flitting about freely, eating fruit, or resting on various trees and plants, in the huge replica rainforest inside a greenhouse. We don’t stay very long, only because it’s so much hotter than the pleasant weather we’ve been experiencing since arriving in Vienna.

We walk past the Österichsrat (Austrian Parliament Building), snapping pictures of the many statues covering the front of the building. Half of the Österichsrat was destroyed during World War II, according to one online blurb I’ve read, and apparently some of the artwork inside is being restored. The statue on a pedestal at the very front of the building is Athena, the goddess of truth.

Time’s running short for us, so we hurriedly head over to the food courts near the city hall (Rathaus), gulping down some lunch, before scurrying back onto the bus.

Our next stop: the Schnaps Museum. We go on a half-hour tour of the building which houses the factory owned and run by Gerhard Fischer, which has been in his family for four generations. We start out in the old part of the museum, the “office” section which, if I recall, has all its original furniture, right down to the cash register. This part has been used in a few Hollywood films, according to Mr. Fischer.

Next, we pass through the halls, adorned with pictures of some of the various celebrities he – but moreso his son – have entertained in the building throughout the years. We then enter a room with various vats (I can only assume are for making or temporarily storing the schnaps – not “schnapps”
as we spell it here in North America), along with a table showcasing some of the many types of liqueur Fischer’s company makes. 

He runs down the varieties with his oddball sense of humour, which range from his award-winning butterscotch flavour (apparently because so many Aussies on tours previously asked him why he didn’t make one – so he did) to one known as Wiener Blut (Vienna Blood), nicknamed “Rocket Fuel” because of the taste. Apparently unlike the schnapps made here in North America, there’s not a whole lot of sugar in the schnapps made in Europe, if any at all.

The company also makes absinthe – not the hallucinogenic ones you hear about in movies (and which apparently may have contributed things like Van Gogh cutting his own ear off), but Bohemian absinthe similar to ones you might find in the Czech Republic.   

Then the fun part. We finish the tour and go into the store, where we taste some of the various flavours. I sample the butterscotch, hazelnut … and Rocket Fuel, which I think might actually burn a hole in my throat. Call me crazy, but I end up buying one, because I hear it’s really nice with orange juice. I also purchase some absinthe (because I missed my chance in Prague, and really, there’s no way I am coming home without any “exotic” liqueur).

Next, it’s back to the hotel. Lauren and I shower and change, but end up late for meeting the others, so we make it to the restaurant on our own, via the metro. (During the entire time I’m in Vienna, I make doubly and triply sure I buy the proper fare – after Budapest, I’m not taking ANY chances.)

Despite sweating a bullet or two, dinner is amazing. I have a lovely spinach and goat cheese soup, followed by possibly some of the best salmon on the planet, and topped off with a creamy white chocolate mousse for dessert. If there was any way to re-live that meal again, I gladly would.

After dinner, it’s upstairs into the concert hall, for a couple hours of classical music. The musical ensemble play some familiar pieces, as well as a couple I don’t recognize (which is good). Besides the musicians on stage, a few of the pieces are accompanied by dancers (which I find a wee bit distracting – I’m constantly wondering how they can dance about without knocking a musician in the face) and opera singers (much more suited, in my opinion).

This is followed by a half-hour intermission, complete with sparkling wine (and some gold-flecked schnaps Carla smuggles in – good job!), and then the remainder of the concert. Only one thing could probably make the concert an awesome one – if there aren’t so many RUDE PEOPLE in the room. All the talking and the snapping and videotaping of the concert as it’s on, is ridiculous! At one point, the man who is the “ringleader” of the musical ensemble actually turns and glares at people in the front rows, which to me speaks of the lack of manners in the room on this evening.

Again on my trip, I’m annoyed, but only briefly. Seriously, these people shouldn’t be coming to a show if they’re only coming to say they’ve been to a concert OR if they’re so bored they’re not going to SHUT THE HELL UP! I did not pay good money to hear people speak – that’s what cafés are for!

And the worst culprits? People some 20, 25 years or so older than ME. What’s UP with that? I should be the one requiring some discipline and restraint during cultural events, not them. And they were SO pushy, shoving past patrons just to get onto the outside balcony for their free drink during intermission. No joke. 

Aaaaanyway. We pile back into the bus after the concert, and are driven back to the hotel, where we stay and drink for the rest of our respective evenings.

Another city crossed off my list. And one more city closer to the end of my trip …