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Old 29th September 2011, 01:28   #136
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Default Re: Day 2: #6 To Hofburg...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post
As you can see both legs of the horse are up in there.
Statues and horses follow a strict code of conduct.
If all legs of horse are in air, that means the dude died a normal death.
If one leg is up, it means he died from battle wounds, but not on the battlefield
If both legs are up, it means blaze of glory, and Bon Jovi will sing a song for him.
Hi Tanveer - Great TL and good going. I have always wanted to know the more correct version of horses, statues and their posture (legs in air). Thanks for sharing the info. I had known about martyrs of war statues seen with both legs in air, did not know about one legged one. Thanks for sharing.
You may want to make a small correction to your statement above - all legs of horse should be grounded if it meant dude dies a normal death. right?
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Old 29th September 2011, 09:37   #137
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Default

Thanks for clarifying that Mr. Sinha. So one myth busted. I guess its the whim of the designer or his master

Quote:
Originally Posted by G-BoleroBoy View Post
Hi Tanveer - Great TL and good going. I have always wanted to know the more correct version of horses, statues and their posture (legs in air). Thanks for sharing the info. I had known about martyrs of war statues seen with both legs in air, did not know about one legged one. Thanks for sharing.
You may want to make a small correction to your statement above - all legs of horse should be grounded if it meant dude dies a normal death. right?
Its a myth actually, as mr. Sinha explained

Last edited by tsk1979 : 29th September 2011 at 09:38.
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Old 29th September 2011, 10:06   #138
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Default Day 2: #9 To the Danube

We collected the jackets, and the 3kg tripod, and now it was time to catch the metro towards danube.
Now danube is a very important river of Europe. First of all its the second longest. You may call it the longest river of Europe, since the actual longest one is Volga, flowing in Russia, and anything in Russia does not count for much, now.

Coming back to Danube, its not just a river, its an expressway of sorts.
Starting from the Black forsest in the land of the BMW, it makes it ways through Austria, hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, and a bunch of other Eastern European countries.
You can actually catch a ship in Vienna, and end up in Hungary.

Since central Europe is totally devoid of anything even remotely resembling an ocean, this river functions as a river as well as an ocean, with beaches and "beach fronts".
And the best part of it is, that it does not stink, like most of our rivers do once they cross any major city.
This is a miracle in itself, since it flows through so many countries.

Anyways, before really hitting the beach, we decided to go one station forward from the river to go to the convention center area.

This area is the "New Vienna", with an imposing UN building, and convention center and all that.
So. not everybody there lives in million year old buildings. They make new stuff too!

So here we are
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Their convention center thingy
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A view towards danube
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As you can see, not much to see here. It was time to do the danube

We decided not to walk the 1 km, and sit in our "metro"

Here she comes
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The metro drops us on a station built on the danube bridge itself
View from the station
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Its very deserted. Because its cold. When its cold all the old people go into hiding
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We spent a few minutes ambling around here and there
A view of the new city
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Bridges and bridges
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Far away sits a castle, or is it a church
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I think I will go with church
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Since the church/castle is a little far away, we start walking across the river.
A shot of another bridge far away
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By the time we reach the other side, its dark
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There are ships there, to take you places, on the danube.
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No, this one does not go to France, its just named that way and is owned by frencmen
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This is a restored old war boat thingy
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I decide to get closer to the church, however, foliage blocks the view, so bad eh?
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Its dark, and tomorrow, we head out of vienna,
Some more random shots.
know what? We went to stephensplatz again just to soak it all in


The underground station
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Stephenplatz
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They have a mcdonalds here
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Stephensdom
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Bank of Austria
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After roaming around aimlesslessly looking for the ice cream vendor(he had gone back :( ) we decided to head back to our hotel. It was late, and tomorrow, we had a long long drive driving a strange car with strange controls in a strange strange land

So Adios vienna.
Time to get to the hotel
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Old 29th September 2011, 11:31   #139
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Uff....I just had a free trip right from my desk

Excellent, mind blowing photos and its more like Live commentary.

Mods its time we upgrade the stars too. time to go 7 stars now.
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Old 30th September 2011, 02:40   #140
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

great travelogue with amazing snaps and a superb style of writing. Enjoying going through this travelogue and will definitely use the information to plan a trip to Europe...whenever
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Old 30th September 2011, 14:16   #141
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Default Day 3: #1 To the Airport - Car Rentals

We woke up at a pretty nice time, around 6:30am, which is 10am India time. A good time to wake up, esp on a monday morning.

However, at that moment I did not know that we would get delayed by 1.30 hours from our planned time of departure from car rental center of 9am.

anyways, the story is simple.
We reach down with our luggage to have a quick breakfast. Its 7:15am, and the dining room is full.

There is an army of package tourists, who have invaded, which means getting in a line.
Now a line in different continents means different things.
In Europe, with a cacophony of tourists from different countries, a line takes a very similar shape to the line for a Salman Khan starrer in India.

unlike Americans, who stand one light year away from the guy in front, our French and Italian Brethren(I could make that out from the languages) stand one nanometer away, and sometimes occupy the same state.
Its like quantum mechanics. Two particle occupy the same space in the same instant in parallel universes.
Unfortunately, the the breakfast table was only in one universe, which meant we spent a lot of time trying to eat then eating.

Since today we were to drive for long, we had to hog. We may or may not get food till we reached our hotel in Innsbruck, and opened the packages of MTR.

This meant it was past 8pm when we stepped out, and only close to 9 we reached the WestBahnof.

After purchasing the ticket, we discovered, that the 8:50 train had departed, and we need to take the 9:15 train to the Airport.

Now, we could have taken the 8:55 CAT, which costs 8 EU per person, but spending 12.xx EU more to save 15 minutes did not seem like a good idea.

So it was time to hop into the train. The train was high and the bags were heavy, but somehow we managed to make it to the Airport in one piece.

Now after reaching the airport, we discovered another problem.
you see, in India, at any airport entrance, there are 3.2 million stern looking gentlemen standing with automatic machine guns ready to tell you that you cannot enter.
This means, that the chance of going into a section you cannot go into is very slim.
But here, there is nobody at any gates, so as we entered a strange part of the airport, we ended up in the parking Garage of the rental cars.
Since everybody in Europe has grown old, everything has been replaced by automatic boom barriers and blah blah, and no matter how much you ask them, they will not answer.
So somehow, navigating mazes, we end up at the Sixt Car rental office

A note about the car rental

I had booked the car online. Which means going to various sites, of individual renters(like SIXT/AVIS) and also to aggregate sites.
The best I could find, thats to a tip from Mpower, was the site economycarrentals.com

I decided not to book a "Economy car", but go for a "compact". Over a period of 9 days it was costing only about 10 EU more.

Secondly, due to our travel plan, it made sense to book in Vienna and Drop off at Salzburg.
This meant me doing two things.

1. Check for cheapest 9 day rental for Vienna pickup and vienna drop off
2. Check for cheapest 10 day rental for Vienna pickup and Salzburg drop off
3. Calculate difference

Now you wonder why 10 day. Because if we were to come to vienna to return rental car, it would mean having car for one extra day.
That said, option 1 was much cheaper. Infact both options with 9 day, option 2 was just 10 EU more.

So inter city airport car drops within same country do not cost a bomb, like they do in the US of A

Total rental cost for 9 days came to around 270 EU, but remember, this is only with third party insurance.
If you want LDW (Loss damage waiver) you have to pay extra. In EU you get LDW with deductible. Lowest on offer was 300 deductible. So if you crash, you pay 300 EU and anything above the insurance pays.
Then there are options like tire and windshield insurance (10-15$ for 10 days)

After the car rental was done, I started to search for info on SIXT. Most people had good feedback, and on flyertalk forums, I discovered they have an excellent customer support executives, who answer users.
So after that it was time to contact one such guy, and request if its possible to ensure we get a diesel car.
I was forwarded to the customer support head of SIXT in London, and via email she assured me that she has my rental number, and she will contact Wein office to reserve us a diesel compact.

So all problems soft.

So there I was chatting up with the rental guy, secretly hoping for a BMW 1 series diesel. Or a mini diesel, or maybe an Audi A3 diesel.

I asked him, can we get an upgrade.

"Yes" came the reply, we got your diesel request, and we have upgraded to a bigger diesel.
And then he gave me the details of the Car as well as the keys.

It was parked in parking slot so and so in the SIXT garage(the place where we had gotten lost earlier), and the vehicle was a Citreon C3 Picasso

Now wait a minute, I clearly remembered, that the Citreon C3 is a compact car, just like a Micra/207 etc.,

What is this picasso? Maybe they call a pink citreon C3 a picasso. Oh boy, this was not good.

Then it was time to buy the Insurance, and we chose LDW with 300 deductible + tire and windshield insurance. Total damage = 315 EU for car rental of 9 days
Pickup in Vienna, drop off at Salzburg.

And then, we made our way to the parking garage, and went to our parking slot.

At that moment, my jaw dropped in shock. The unthinkable had happened.
I had been given something born out a tri-wedlock of a santro-wagonR and Maruti Omni.

As the Fiat 500 in the next slot pulled out... we unlocked our "PICASSO"....

Last edited by tsk1979 : 30th September 2011 at 23:05.
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Old 30th September 2011, 14:56   #142
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

Hmm.. this Citrogen thing is surely a devastatingly sad looking car. Maybe you could "roll back" upon the upgrade offer (is that even possible?!).

Parallel note to Tsk and everyone- to save people from reading extra lines, I am not going to say "awesome Travelogue" etc any more on this thread. Please assume that appended to whatever comment may be posted from now on.
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Old 30th September 2011, 15:34   #143
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Default Day 3: #2 To the road....!

Citreon C3 Picasso. The name is a mouthful.
The first thing to do after locking the contraption, it was time to open the boot.
Now it was time for jaw dropping, in a positive way.

When booking the car, I had planned for one big suitcase, and one bag. Now we had 2 big suitcases.
These 2 suitcases do not fit in the boot of an indica, or a micra, or a wagon R or a santro or whatever.
So I had thought, we will drive with rear seats dropped.

But as I gaped at the "boot", one thing was rear.
This omni weds wagon R contraption had a big boot.
A really big boot.

Almost as big as an Omni's boot, and yet it was a hatchback.
Well a mini MPV Hatchback hybrid.

Top gear magazine UK even awarded it as the mini MPV of the year. It was simple. Jeremy hated this car. Every year top gear takes the 5 cars Jeremy hates most, and then picks one as the best. After all if Jeremy Clarkson finds some car rubbish, then its bound to be good.

Anyways, our top gear mini MPV of the year (2009 I think) was a small car with a big boot. It somehow does not sound very appropriate...

Anyways, not it was checking time.

Orange reflective jackets : Only one in car. Good we had gotten a pair from Sudev before coming
First aid kit, spare and toolkit : All there
Fuel : Full
Blue parking disk to avail free parking in blue parking spaces : None.

Now that was a bummer. But later we realized, there were hardly any "free blue" parking spaces available, esp in switzerland.

So it was time to settle down, but not before I took out the owners manual with my trembling hands.
I had to find out what powered this contraption.
And when you are in a hatch which weights 50-100kgs more than other hatches, and also has 50kgs of luggage in the bigger than car boot, you worry. Esp when you have passes with names like "STELVIO" in your itenary.

Before the trip, I had researched, what unfortunate engine may power our compact car.
See in the USA, you can chose any economy car, and it will be bigger than your house, have 120-130 horses, and will drink petrol like a fish drinks water. Unless you get an Altima Hybrid, which is more of a sipper, and is probably larger than two houses.
But this is not USA, this is europe. With narrow streets so narrow that if two people come head to head in a street on foot, they take out torches to flash right of way.
So cars here are tiny.

Europeans believe in fuel effiency. So tiny cars(by US standards) are powered by tiny diesel engines.
Just like we get in India.

Speaking of diesel engines, globalization has ensured that between a million mfrs, you get 4-5 engines.

So I had researched what sort of diesel engines we could get.

To start with I had looked at the optimistic side. BMW-1 , Audi A3 etc., all with 100BHP diesels. Yay.

And then came the compact cars.

Choices were simply.

You could get 75 italian monkeys, the kind of which go into our national diesel engine, aka the Multijet

You could get french "mules" or asses. Good on low end grunt, and grunt grunt elsewhere, the kind of which go into Micra and Logan

Or you could get American Donkeys. All 69 of them. Grunting.
And this is what I feared.

Will we get 69 american donkeys to drive the alps in a car which was slightly heavier than the Figo!!?

Yes, as fate would have it, it was the Hdi, which is Citroen/Peugot speak for Tdci, or Duratorque.

But wait a minute, there is a silver linking to this donkey!

It has a 90PS engine! Not the silly 69 horses!
It was time to show the monkeys and donkeys of who's the boss. So what our Xyloish contraption looked weird. It had 15 more horses.

And with confidence and courage, I engaged the reverse gear, and then the car lurched forward, almost into the pillar.....
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Old 30th September 2011, 20:29   #144
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Default Re: Day 3: #2 To the road....!

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Originally Posted by tsk1979 View Post

And with confidence and courage, I engaged the reverse gear, and then the car lurched forward, almost into the pillar.....
Man you really know how to stop, Keep everybody guessing, I say you can be a good novelist. Waiting eagerly for next post! BTW excellent review, Fantastic pictures.

I see you have till now , not posted the expense incurred side by side, as said earlier.
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Old 30th September 2011, 23:06   #145
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Default Re: Day 3: #2 To the road....!

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Man you really know how to stop, Keep everybody guessing, I say you can be a good novelist. Waiting eagerly for next post! BTW excellent review, Fantastic pictures.

I see you have till now , not posted the expense incurred side by side, as said earlier.
Sorry about that Have added that. I realized I totally forgot the mention the expense part.

That said a 10 day car rental of a compact in Europe can be done for around 350 EU inclusive of LDW (300 deductible) + tire and windshield insurance(10$ for 10 days)

And good to know atleast somebody is actually reading the t.log line by line!!

Last edited by tsk1979 : 30th September 2011 at 23:22.
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Old 1st October 2011, 00:55   #146
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Default Re: Day 3: #2 To the road....!

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And with confidence and courage, I engaged the reverse gear, and then the car lurched forward, almost into the pillar.....
I am guessing here that the reverse gear position is at the top left of the 1st gear position, and you forgot to depress the shifter that is required to engage reverse.

But this is not fair ending your post like this. You could have added just one more line.

This reminds me of the 2-frame Phantom comic strips I used to read in the newspaper everyday on the bottom left corner of page 2. The last frame showed a thug firing a bullet at Phantom's head, and I had to wait with bated breath for the next day's paper to find out whether we were *finally* going to have the 22nd Phantom, or the current one will whip out his gun in a nano-second and shoot the bullet halfway.

Good going anyway . Enjoying every bit.
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Old 1st October 2011, 10:37   #147
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

And with confidence and courage, I engaged the reverse gear, and then the car lurched forward, almost into the pillar.....

Oh Ooh....what happened next. Does our Phantom crash his Citreon or not !

Tsk i bet you are going to have a problem with the windshield wipers next, AND the indicators AND the LH driving.
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Old 1st October 2011, 10:46   #148
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

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I am guessing here that the reverse gear position is at the top left of the 1st gear position, and you forgot to depress the shifter that is required to engage reverse..
Nope! it was a simple gearshift, not the ring mechanism....
Quote:
Originally Posted by rxpaul View Post
And with confidence and courage, I engaged the reverse gear, and then the car lurched forward, almost into the pillar.....

Oh Ooh....what happened next. Does our Phantom crash his Citreon or not !

Tsk i bet you are going to have a problem with the windshield wipers next, AND the indicators AND the LH driving.
Not really, have driven quite a bit as far as LH cars are concerned. Wipers are always a problem though, with the stalks interchanged.
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Old 3rd October 2011, 12:25   #149
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Default Day 3: #3 Road Trip!

Imagine, siting in a car and engaging reverse gear.
How do you do that?
Well you pull the lever towards right and then backwards.
Well yes and no.

What I said is technically correct, however, our mind does not think like that. Atleast mine does not. So reverse, is pull lever towards yourself, and then back.

Only different, I am sitting on the left side of the gear lever now, so when I pulled towards me and then left, it was actually second gear.

Try to eat food looking in the mirror, and you will get the drift.

However, the pillar was far away, so no problemo.
I engaged the reverse, got out, then engaged first gear, after lot of thinking, and we started on.
The steering was light, the car felt tight, not very noisy, and low end torque, well it was awesome.

It was slightly hideous, but I am sure, live with any car, and it grows on you.

The car odo showed 4269, so it was pretty new now.
It had the center console, but thankfully with a digital speedometer with large letters. Then it also had onboard trip computer which was telling me I had a range of 1000kms on this full tank.

And then we reached the exit gate.

The gate was automated. I pushed the button, and it printed out a slip, and as it opened, I quickly engaged 1st gear, and stalled the engine.

*Groan* I had engaged 5th gear against 1st, as now, first was towards me, and 5th was away from me....!

Restart the car, and time to hit the open road.

As we emerged from the parking garage, I had to continue with my sense of direction, as the GPS had not got its fix.

After a few agonizing seconds, the google maps came into view, and I was right on track, on the blue line.


Merge with the autobahn was seamless, and then we were on the open road.

Fortunately, it did not take long to adjust to driving on the wrong side of the road. Being on an autobahn helped too.
However, I learnt a new thing about the lane system in Europe. Due to construction zones, many lanes were now 2m wide only, and new lanes were painted as red/orange on the old lanes.
It took a little time to figure out where is the old lane,and whats the old lane, but following traffic usually does the trick.

After a few kms it was time to take another autobahn, and the interchange was simple, and then a few kms more of boring driving came a complex interchange.

Now here was a problem.
With a traditional GPS, it tells you, take the 5th exit towards so and so.
Here I had just a blue line, indicating to merge with the other autobahn, but I had not taken down the exit numbers....!

Ended up taking the wrong exit, and then trying to remerge was a problem.

This happened a couple of more times, and we had had enough.
Time for plan B.

I decided to fire up zaNavi (an openstreetmap app) on the phone. Now this app does not give you house numbers yet, but it will navigate to city centers.

Since your next destination was Hallstat, a small village, we decided to trust the power of community.

Needless to say, next interchanges were seamless. So with two GPS systems, it was time to hit the open Austrian roads.

We will start with road trip pics in the next post...!

Last edited by tsk1979 : 3rd October 2011 at 14:00.
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Old 3rd October 2011, 13:07   #150
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Default Re: Sonata Europa - 5 countries, 4000kms and 15 days

When I drove left hand car in Europe, I used to put my hands on door handle instead gear lever.

I had bought voice activated GPS, so it used to tell me "take left turn after 100 meter", it was easy, but it used to tell in German , but after some time we were able to understand, what we need to understand
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