From the worst of days to best

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - CHRISTINE DAY

We were on the fi­nal leg of our won­der­fully pic­turesque cy­cling trip — Prague to Vi­enna — and to fin­ish our adventure, we had a full day in the stunning sur­rounds of beau­ti­ful, old-world Vi­enna.

The day started out grey and mis­er­able, with our out­door cof­fee dis­turbed by the sur­round­ing cig­a­rette and cigar smoke of the not-so-health-aware Vi­en­nese.

Our ho­tel concierge brightly sug­gested a pri­vate city tour in a luxury van would do us (me, my hus­band, brother and sis­ter-in-law) good. The van duly ar­rived with the driver suf­fer­ing from a very bad cold that af­fected his strictly limited English. The view from the van was on a par with our driver’s power of ex­pres­sion, so we were pleased to re­turn to the ho­tel to plan the rest of the day.

My sis­ter-in-law, suf­fer­ing with in­creas­ing ab­dom­i­nal pain (early ap­pen­dici­tis), re­tired to bed. Like good Aussie tourists, the rest of us headed to­wards Stephansplatz and St Stephen’s Cathe­dral un­der con­tin­u­ing heavy skies and driz­zling rain. A re­viver of some sort was needed and we found an out­side cafe with a large um­brella.

Our wait­ress served us the re­quired beer and white wine to­gether with a huge beam­ing smile. “And why are you so happy?” in­quired my cu­ri­ous brother. “I am so happy be­cause I have found God,” came back the joy­ous re­ply.

Her dec­la­ra­tion must have reached the Almighty: the rain stopped and in no time the sun be­gan to shine. In cel­e­bra­tion with her, we re­peated our or­der and were filled with good cheer.

Af­ter Stephansplatz and the cathe­dral, my brother re­turned to his ail­ing wife (who for­tu­nately was able to make it back to Australia for surgery). We be­gan the long, pic­turesque walk along one of Vi­enna’s won­drous boule­vards back to our ho­tel.

A call of na­ture was re­quired so we tried to creep un­ob­served into a lo­cal Pizza Hut but were im­me­di­ately spot­ted and ush­ered to a ta­ble by the smil­ing manager. We gave our oblig­a­tory or­der and were served with the most un­ex­pect­edly de­li­cious oven-grilled chicken wings.

We found our ho­tel and de­cided our last day had be­come the best of days.

We have since re­turned to beau­ti­ful Vi­enna, with its spec­tac­u­lar rose dis­plays in June and mag­nif­i­cent Span­ish horses, but never man­aged to find our in­spired happy wait­ress or our very wel­come Pizza Hut. Send your 400-word con­tri­bu­tion to Fol­low the Reader: travel@theaus­ Columnists re­ceive a Paula’s Choice Re­sist Es­sen­tial Kit with four skin­care items, in­clud­ing cleanser and nour­ish­ing creams suit­able for all skin types ($119.85).

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