Friday, 25 July 2008

Austria

Karl pointed out yesterday that it was not acceptable to have a blog in Polish and don’t have one in English and apparently, as Mike’s spokesman, it is my turn again to do the English one – so here it comes….

Ironman Austria in Klagenfurt – 200 miles from Vienna – we knew that after 7 mths non-training break is was going to be tough so we both made an effort to make it as relaxed as possible (everything was booked in advance and bike was packed a week before instead of usual night before the departure).
We’ve arrived to our hotel Windenhof early afternoon on Friday and not wanting to miss on the great weather set of to the nearby beach to catch up on a bit of sun and a gentle swim. In the evening we tried to go for a drive around the bike course but got lost half way through and ended up just seeing only easy part of the course.
The Hotel has been recommended by our friend and we couldn’t have asked for a better one – 1 mile pleasant walk to the start along the canal and it had a good restaurant (very important - everyone who knows Mike will agree).

On Saturday morning we woke up in good moods, sun was shining so Mike quickly unpacked the bike while I packed his racing bags. Surprisingly by noon all the pre-race activities were done so we rented a second bike and cycled to the nearby village for carbohydrate loaded lunch (we never managed to agree whether this was a huge or a small portion). After race check-in early afternoon we spent the rest of the day on the beach.



Sunday – race day was a long day starting at 5am. Weather deteriorated and it was obvious that it was going to rain. Walk to the start, last minute checking to ensure that bike was ready and at 7am race started, Mike was off for his 9-10 hours adventure. Half way through the run heavy rain started and a thunder storm closed in – the weather didn’t improve for rest of the day and it really spoiled the closing ceremony. Mike didn’t keep me waiting long – only 9:36 (4min slower than his PB).





As 7 months seeing the world was not enough on Mon morning we decided to skip the awards ceremony and head to Vienna. Unable to admire nice landscapes due to rain and fog.




Our first stop was Schönbrunn Palace – summer residence of Franz Josef, who was reigning for 68 years till 1916. The please was nice and the audio was superb – we never before went to the palace where we could learn so much about day-to-day life
· Franz Josef's wife, empress Sisi spent 3hrs a day just making up her hair, washed it twice a month (it took entire day) in eggs and cognac, was obsessed with her weight 46kg with high of 172cm – those days she would qualify as anorexic
· Until World War I porcelain was only used to serve soups and deserts as it was thought not to be good enough for the king; when the war started most of the silver dishes have been melted into money so the king had to adjust to eating his main courses on the porcelain instead of silver
· Franz Josef I hold audience twice a week lasting around 2 min; every one who wished could come and talk to him but needed to be very brief




In the evening we had a lovely dinner with couple of pints in the traditional Austrian restaurant – Mike was working hard to replace all those calories he burned during the race and got so carried away that he eat half of my meal. After such a feast we went for a long walk around the old town (National Bibliothek,Parliament, Sisi Museum, Franz Josef Plaz)






Guess what we did on Tue morning – went for a quick run to the nearby park – probably the only time I’ve managed to keep up with Mike. After that we visited Sisi museum in Hofburg castle, had a coffees break and of course roasted sausages.





What is great about Austria are cycling paths. They are wide, safe and even I run out of the excuses why I don’t want to cycle. In Vienna they run schema – CityCycle. The bikes can be rented 24x7 from many street points: put credit card in, take a bike and drop it any time you want at any of the frequent points. It only costs 2euro per hour and with those great cycling paths why wouldn’t you take bike instead of bus or car?


Vienna is definitely a highly recommended city break destination – relaxing, lovely architecture, great atmospheric restaurants.

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