Roll up that (road) map

Day 7 - Vienna

We'd been there only hours before but there was no sign of the absinthe bar. The place where it should have been seemed to offer no sign of its existence. Maybe we did drink that hallucinatory stuff after all but not here... The miles behind the wheel were starting to take their toll and both drivers eagerly accepted the opportunity of an extended break. The next stop was Vienna and we could pitch up there for a few days, visiting Hungary and Slovakia by train. We passed Austerlitz, scene of Napoleon's most renowned victory 110 years ago which caused the dissolution of the Holy Roman Empire the political entity, centred around Germany, that had dominated Western Europe for near a thousand years. There is a certain irony that the wild and unconquered Germania delineated by the Rhine and Danube should become the spiritual successor to the Roman Empire, in the west at least. The battle caused William Pitt, the British prime minister at the time to say of the map of Europe "Roll up that map; it will not be wanted these ten years". Throw a stone in Europe and hit a piece of salient history, fire a gun and create one. From Napoleon with his Grand Armeé of 350,000 to a single man on a train we have ever tried to shape our world through violence, the fallacy of the continuance of diplomacy by other means. But then the pen is mightier than the sword, however little comfort that gives to the person being stuck with the sword. To coin a phrase like that would do me for this life.
An essential feature of everywhere we have stayed thus far has been the availability of secure parking. This is owing to the fact that Matt's £3500 bike (wheels not included) was in the back and was, as he reminded us, far more precious than myself or James. The Meininger in Vienna had promised parking but not delivered so we were forced to find an alternative. As well as being underground we managed to park next to a classic Porsche 356 Speedster worth around £200,000 making the trusty Polo an even less likely target. I'd been to Vienna earlier that year so felt reasonably able to act as tour guide, I was also aided by Burgess Maps™ although hindered might be a better term. We took the tram along a stretch of the Ringstraße though not too far as we didn't buy tickets and I rated our chances of talking our way out of a fine as slim given the general Viennese disinclination towards levity. We tried for dinner at Figlmüller but the place gets ridiculously busy and for once on this trip it was easy to believe a restaurant when they said they were booked out. We found dinner nearby at a place called Lübeck instead. Finishing the evening in Champions Bar to watch Liverpool play Arsenal in what was a riveting 0-0 draw, no really it was, more riveting than this blog entry anyway.

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