Trip to Central Europe

Trip Start Apr 15, 2003
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46
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Trip End Sep 01, 2011


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Flag of Austria  ,
Saturday, July 31, 2004

VIENNA
We spent so much time enjoying our central European trip that we ended up with only 1/2 day in Vienna. However, we did a lot in that 1/2 day!

Our hotel was a little outside of the center, so we were once again able to use our folding bikes to ride into the central part of the city. We arrived just in time to catch a tour of the Vienna Opera House. Parts of the opera house are beautifully ornate and others are quite post-war modern. It's a tour well worth taking. We wandered the pedestrian shopping streets, ran through the Hofburg Imperial Apartments (they were closing soon) lounged in a beatiful park, explored a flea market, and ate giant pretzels and beer. There's lots more to see in Vienna, but we simply ran out of time.

The next day, as we were leaving town, we were pulled over by the police. We were on an entry road to the highway which had a lower than expected speed limit. Turns out that in Austria a U.S. driver's license is not valid; an international driver's license is required. In addition, Chris' driver's license shows an expiration date in the past, so the Austrian police were doubly unamused. After much conversation (sort of - their English was not very good and our Austrian is non-existant), we were made to pay a fine on the spot and had to follow the police to a hotel parking lot. At the hotel we were given the address of the AAA equivalent and told that we could take a taxi their to obtain an international driver's license. We were told, very sternly, that if we were caught driving without an international driver's license we would go to jail! So, we went inside, called a cab, and went to the Austrian AAA. The police waited in the parking lot - in view of the hotel door and our car -- until the cab came. The cab took about 15 minutes to arrive, during which time the police left, circled, and came back at least 3 times. When we arrived at the auto club, we learned that a passport photo was required and that there was no capacity to take one at that location. Fortunately a very helpful worker gave us directions to a store closeby that did take passport photos -- except it had just closed 5 minutes earlier! Finally, we found another place that took photos, got the international driving license, took a taxi back to the hotel and, 3 hours later, were on our way back to Amsterdam.

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