Monday, October 28, 2013
Salzburg and Vienna
(Transcription note: I'm pretty behind on Transcriptions, but worry not, I'm keeping up on the writing side.)
How quickly time passes. To think I'll be back on a plane to Taiwan in a few short hours. Life is too short for me to experience all that I wish to, but it'll have to be enough. I'll make do.
This morning, we visited the Schonbrunn Palace, a giant cream yellow edifice with two bronze eagles out front flanking the gate. A tour through the palace informed us a bit about the history of the Hapsburg dynasty, though it mostly focused on Maria Theresa and Sisi. Today was also the first time I've seen wooden tiles(basically, tiles made of wood set just as regular tile is, with grout and mortar), apparently to keep down the sound of horsed carriages traveling upon them. After Schonbrunn, we hopped over to the Hundretwasserhaus, apparently designed by a man who abhorred straight lines. I was equally abhorred by his resulting structures, and believe that said structures are a danger to visitors.
Lunch was at the same dance Chinese restaurant where we had dinner the previous night. After lunch, we were lead to the shopping district surrounding, yes another cathedral, St. Stephen's, and left to our own devices. I wandered around for a bit, visited the cathedral, and decided that while the exterior of this cathedral was charmingly Gothic, the interior was rather plan compared to previous cathedrals I've visited, especially for a cathedral in a city the size of Vienna.
Dinner was a fried pork chop in what purported to be a Mexican joint. Bout the only thing actually Mexican about it was the tequila.
I figured to myself, can't come to Vienna without listening to Mozart concert, right? Wrong. 50€ lead me to an old concert hall after dinner. The décor was certainly beautiful and antique, and the orchestra was certainly dressed to match, in powdered wigs and embroidered coats, but the seats...were a travesty. I don't mean the position of seats, that was fine. No, the seats themselves were bent wooden constructions made with the ergonomic know how of Dali and the spacing of that quack Hundretwasser. There was no possible comfortable position in the damned things, and even when seated properly, my knees were pressed heavily into the wooden back of the seat in front.(I wouldn't sit a goddamn masochist sub in it, it was so bad) I barely heard a note through the two hour long concert through my discomfort.
Toward the end of the concert, another member of our party, a panicky woman, rushed up to us after having received a message on her phone saying our hotel had caught fire. This resulted in our leaving in a hurry, and while I was thankful to leave my seat, I didn't see a reason to rush. Either the fire was burning down our hotel, and emergency services was taking care of it, or someone set off a smoke alarm and it wasn't a big deal. Either way, what the hell were we going to do about it? But Panicky Woman was Panicky, so we rushed back to see the firetrucks no longer there, and that everything was fine. And thus I ended my first trip to Europe, on a very anticlimactic note.
As far as the tour goes, today was probably the most boring. We left Salzburg in the morning, driving to the nearby lakeside town of St. Wolfgang. It's a small town with a church as it's centerpiece, though most come for the stunning lakeside views. The lake is pretty clear, leading to me to believe that it likely fills from snowmelt. As is my custom, I walked through various parts of the town, leaving the tourist districts behind. The small size of the town leads me to believe that I actually walked through the entire town, residential streets and all. As it was Sunday, the church bells were tolling for Mass, and shops were most definitely not open(which was a pity, I did see some bronze statuettes through a shop window that I was interested in).
After leaving St. Wolfgang, we immediately headed off to another lakeside town, Hallstadt, situated by a different lake. Unlike St. Wolfgang, which is built more traditionally, on flat land, Hallstadt is built on a steep slope, creating terraced layers of structures on the hillside. We had backed trout for lunch(probably because there was no Chinese food to be found, thank the gods.), followed by my normal wandering. If I were to differentiate the two towns, besides the lay of the land and the consequential city planning differences, I would say that St. Wolfgang has gondola lifts up a nearby mountain, and Hallstadt is built on the side of a mountain.
After these two pleasant lakeside destinations, we drove some 4 hours and 300km to eat Chinese food, visit a park with creepy statue of Strauss, followed by checking into our hotel for the next two days, where I promptly dropped off my bags and headed out on my own to the real highlight of the day.
A 5min cab ride from mine hotel lies the Goldentime FKK Sauna Club(FKK stands for free body culture or something). 90€ gets you a towel, a bathrobe, and a key to a locker and a safebox in the lobby. You go in, put your valuables and money in the safebox, and have yourself a shower in the locker room before donning your bathrobe and wandering into the club proper. The club facilities include saunas, swimming pool and whirlpool, a buffet, more showers, a bar, and lots and lots of lounging chairs and sofas. Said facilities tend to be populated by young, nubile, and very under dressed girls. I only say under dressed rather than stark naked as each of them have at least a pair of high heels strapped to delicate ankles, if nothing else.
Let me tell you, there wasn't a single girl in there I would kick out of bed. Some were certainly more beautiful than others, but I would not say that any one of them was ugly. European girls already tend to be more thin than girls in the States, and this is especially true among sex workers. English language skills were more or less universal, and while many would not be able to carry on a decent conversation, their language skills are able enough for your needs. Prices are set at 60€ for 30mins per girl, non-basic “special services” to be and additional, negotiable cost. Most girls are of Eastern European origin, and the majority of those tend to be from Romania, though there is a sizable Ukrainian contingent, and several Bulgarians. I also spoke with an Italian, so I expect most of Europe to be represented in that room.
Odd thing I noted: There is a single stripper pole in the lounge, and for the three hours I was there, not a single girl danced on it.
Had my first threesome experience with a petite blonde and a thicker(relative to the blonde, so therefore still thin) brunette, with hard to remember stage names. Meh. While threesomes are off my bucket list, I will say that next time I have a threesome, I will make sure it is with two long term partners, and all participants will be more familiar with each others' wants and put more effort into the act. Overall experience was positive, though there was much to be desired, which was a statement that would apply to the rest of the night. As a man, I heartily approve of such an institution, and dearly wish someone would do the same thing in the States. Personally, I feel like only some of my needs were being met, as it lacks the casual intimacy and affection I'm used to with those I am intimate with. Also, with long term partners, I would expect much more familiarity and acceptance of my particular needs and wants, eg. I like it when my girls cuddle up to me after I beat them, neither of which is available without a large increase in price at the club. It can therefore be said that for me personally, quality of sex is an issue here.
Do not let all the above turn you off to such an institution, however, as the club does have several things going for it. It is likely both cheaper and less time consuming than an actual girlfriend, and said girlfriend is likely never going to have skin as soft nor be as physically attractive as one of these girls. Also, to be certain, while quality of sex is an issue, for some, variety is a quality of it's own. While all these things are certainly not able to overcome it's faults, they are enough that I could honestly be enticed to go again if it were extremely convenient for me to do so.
10/19/2013 Salzburg Wals
I spent the day wandering around the city of Salzburg today. Apparently, the town was named after the salt mines in the hills nearby, which accounted for the great wealth of the city. In fact, the city was so wealthy, that when the city burnt down, they built it right back up even better than before. Said wealth also explains the huge fortification on the hill the city surrounds, as well as the cathedral in the city center.
As Salzburg is the first Austrian town I've spend any amount of time in, I did a little reading about Austria in general, then tried to look up something to do at night, when I discovered something amazing. Prostitution is legal and regulated in Austria like it is in Germany. (I should have realized this before, since they're basically one country. No, I didn't immediately set off to for a brothel, though I admit that the idea was tempting. Actually, the more I read the more curious I became. Apparently, some brothels in Austria are actually controlled by the police, ostensibly to prevent human trafficking. I can't help but draw comparisons to our own US government, which, when attempting to run a brothel and casino in Nevada, ran both into bankruptcy. How on earth does someone run a casino into bankruptcy when people go to lose money there? (Then again, how did I expect a bureaucracy that spends twice as much as it takes in to be able to run any kind of functioning business.) But enough about brothels and government.
Salzburg architecture is more simple that that of Prague and the cities we previously visited, with the notable exception of the Cathedral. The Cathedral was actually rebuilt several times, ost recently after having its dome bombed in WWII. I actually rather dislike this particular cathedral. Externally, it's quite nice and cathedral-y, but inside, it's decorated with white a multitude of white plaster figures on it's walls an ceilings in a Baroque style that gave me a heebee jeebies. The rest of the castle town is a high class shopping district, mostly filled with shops selling Mozartkugel. Did I mention that Mozart is big in Salzburg? Because hes's goddamn everywhere. Mozart bridges, Mozart buildings, Mozart candy, Mozart streets, and Mozart parks. Everywhere.
I spent an hour sitting along the banks of the Salzach river at sunset. Pretty calm end to the day.
On an unrelated note, about something I'm not really entitled to complain about, since I didn't spend a dime on this tour, but going out with a Taiwanese tour group is particularly painful in the dining aspect, since they always want to eat Chinese food. We eat Chinese food whenever possible, in fact we ate at a particular Chinese place twice, because it was the only restaurant in town. Goddamn annoying.