Monday, December 10, 2012

Austria Take Two - Day One: Snow (Action)

Hello all! I am once again jet-setting around Europe, and back in Austria, this time among the Alps. It was snowing when I arrived, and we had to walk across the runway to the terminal as snowflakes spun down and clung to our coats.

Thankfully I didn't have to leave the house this morning at a quarter to seven to get to the airport, as I originally thought - it turns out that Stansted Airport is much closer to my house than my brain was telling me, and I didn't have to go all the way into Victoria and back out again. There are 5/6 London airports, depending on who you talk to, and though I know Heathrow and City and where they are (City is, strangely, near the City) I always get confused about which other airports are which. I pulled up outside Stansted this morning and thought 'Oh! This one!', because I have actually been here multiple times. For future reference, Stansted is the one closest to Stratford, and is big and square and white and tent-like in construction.

I'll probably forget that.

Non-EU citizens have to get their passports checked at the bag drop (just because non-EU people can't be trusted. Well, I guess they check our visas?) so I did that, had some very early lunch and stood staring at the display boards until they put up my gate number. Then, I joined everyone else in a brisk walk towards our gate, none of us actually running, but everyone sliding looks at each other to make sure no one else was breaking into a trot. First person to the gate is first person on the plane, and the person who gets the pick of the seats.

I ended up about twentieth in the queue, and bagged myself a nice window seat behind the wing (I can never remember - which part of the plane is most likely to end in your fiery death in a crash?). There appeared to be no seat pockets in which to put my iPad and book, so I laid them on my lap and stuffed my coat, jacket and jersey under the seat in front, and we took off.

As we were flying over the Channel and coming in over the low countries, I saw a huge area that was sort of a hazy chalky colour. I was horrified. What kind of industrial waste was this? What had they done to their city?

It was a while before I saw others patches just like it, and realised it was snow.

As we flew eastwards, the snow patches got larger until they all joined together into a great white snow plain, and then the clouds came in and you couldn't see anything.

It was -4 Celsius and snowing when we landed in Salzburg. We had to walk across the runway to get to the terminal, so I bundled up in all my clothes and braved the snowy cold with my ugg boots. From there it was a matter of getting the trolley bus to the main station where I met The One Who Speaks Russian, and we caught a train that we really hoped would take us to the little Alpine village (look! Literally alpine!) where we would spend the next week.

The conductor didn't tell us we were on the wrong train when he checked our tickets, so we assumed we were on the right one, but we didn't know how long we had until we had to get off. At last the speaker informed us the next station was St Johann im Pongau, so we grabbed our bags and got off into the snow.

We didn't get too lost on the way to the hotel, though we did wander through a small Christmas market twice, and very soon we were in our nice hotel room with our snowy balcony and beautifully painted Austrian TV cabinet.

It was dark, so we couldn't see out the windows very well, but we had a nice evening of books and movies and cake for dinner.


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