Thursday, August 16, 2012

Vienna and the laundry machine chase

Day 9- Vienna…a low point.

Quote of the day “The further east in Europe you go, the closer you get to the 1980s.” (Matt)

3am. Stella is half mumbling and half crying. I shush her to be quiet. The tent is still brightly lit and we don’t need to turn on any sort of lantern to see. Stella continues to wail, and by now Matt is sitting up in his bag. We are able to decipher that Stella has had an accident in her sleeping bag and she’s soaking wet. Emory chimes in “uh, I had a little accident too.” Matt and I stare at each other in utter frustration and confusion. Accident? These children haven’t had a bed wetting incident in years? Why now? Why? Why? Why?
Matt wanders around the grounds in the darkness to find a washing machine while I bark in a whisper in the well lit tent for the kids to change clothes. They change and drop urine soaked pjs and undies at the tent door. I find myself muttering words like “incredible”, “ unbelievable”, “ridiculous” and contemplate how to arrange sleeping for the next 3 hours. Matt returns with discouraging information. The washing machine requires special tokens. The tokens can only be purchased from the reception desk which opens at 9am. Things were shuffled, and campers settled until the sun “woke up” as Arleigh so gently describes.

Upon waking and for the next 3 hours a heated debate insures between Matt and me. Matt gets washer tokens. He takes the smelly goods to the washing machine but finds we’re 3rd in line. This means we stood to begin our recovery mode with laundry room time starting at noon. Laundering urine soaked sleeping bags was not listed on the Vienna itinerary, so we decide to abandon the items and prepare to tour the city with the intention to launder everything afterwards.

Vienna is a lovely place, but we lost a lot of time contemplating our washing machine competition and strategy. We decided to go for a hop on hop off bus tour for orientation and then to follow up with planned touring based on our pre printed maps and walking routes. If you have children, the hop on hop off buses can be a decent compromise. Unless of course, you chose seats where head phones don’t work. The kids spent 20 minutes messing with language channels and challenging each other to translate German or Japanese while the other listened to French. This is not only frustrating, it’s distracting.

So I can’t actually tell you much about Vienna except that it is the fifth most visited city in Europe and it was crowded.

1) I loved the fashion. Traditional sharp classic dress for men and women.
(I’m not referring to the Lederhosen in shop windows, or the Mozart costumes sported all over the city…)

2) It seems sad that they diverted a major river so that now canals looked drained and mostly empty.
3) The horse and carriages have a special name (which I completely missed). Viennese believe these are quite special and unique to the city. I can assure however, that every other major city in EU has these carriages as well, so I’m still wondering what’s special.

4) If you want to buy an ice cream cone or chocolates, you’ll possibly have to spend your children’s inheritance.

We ended the touring day with a stop at a monument mentioned in a Rick Steves article. “Monument Against War and Fascism”.
Kids- “What’s that?
Matt-”It’s a collection of statues we came to see.”
Kids- “Ugh, what’s it supposed to be exactly?”
Matt- “I’ll read the article to you. Listen up. “
Meanwhile I’m adjusting my camera’s exposure settings and taking in the surroundings the statues and details. He begins to read “….Standing directly in front of it, you're at the gates of a concentration camp. Step into a montage of wartime images: clubs and WWI gas masks, a dying woman birthing a future soldier, and chained slave….”
I look up. He’s not kidding. There’s a birth going on in this sculpture in graphic detail. I glance back at the kids who are not paying one iota of attention to Matt or his explanation and realize that this is probably a good thing.
“Ok” I suggest, “Let’s go.”
We wander ten yards back to where we entered from and Matt gazes backwards, regarding the first sculpture of the monument. “Holy cow. That is exactly what it says isn’t it?

We return to the campground a.k.a parking lot, to find that we’re now 7th in line for the washing machine. Now our proposed wash time will commence at roughly 2:20am. We agree to set an alarm and check out the facility at midnight, hoping that people might retreat from the laundry room. The crux- from midnight to 4:30am, I wash all urine soaked laundry and watch Cirque de Soleil on the laptop, read a book, and observe random strangers across the way. There are a surprising number of people still about the grounds at 2:45am, which is creepy. These, I think to myself, must be Addie’s devil worshippers. (Ok, just kidding- but I did let my mind wander in order to stay awake…..)


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