29-Jan-2005 -- Our first Austrian confluence!
The confluence visit itself went off without a hitch, but before that
we had quite a trip:
Last winter we read about one of the formal Balls held in Vienna (Wien)
every winter, the one organized by the Techniche Universität im
Wien (TU-Wien). Since my wife and I attended the Norwegian
to this institution, and we enjoy ballroom dancing, we wrote an email
to one of the organizers (Herwig Bangert) and asked if we could get
tickets for the
Ball. We got a prompt reply saying we'd be very welcome, so we started
by booking air tickets and a hotel room.
At the same time as my wife was looking forward to all this, I started
looking at the confluences nearest to Wien, and quickly decided that
this one would be the easiest to get to: A good road leads to within
200-300 m, and the point itself is located in a field that would
most probably be frozen in January.
Travel to Wien
We left Oslo on Wednesday, jan 26, and ran into immediate trouble: The
Norwegian air traffic controllers have been in a low-intensity conflict
with the authorities for a long time, leading to mass simultaneous sick
leaves, 'work slow' periods and similar actions. One of these were
taking place now, so our flight to København (Copenhagen) was
delayed by more than an hour, and we originally had just one hour to
catch our connection to Wien. Fortunately enough, the Austrian Air
flight to Wien had been delayed coming in, so it was still lined up at
the neighboring gate when we landed, and we ran aboard.
As we arrived at the Wien airport, everything was total chaos: The
worst snowstorm in meteorological history (i.e. 30 years) had hit the
area, and the airport was stuffed with stranded passengers, as well as
misplaced luggage. After waiting almost an hour, it became clear that
our two suitcases with my tailcoat and my wife's formal Ball gown were
among those that didn't make it, so we had to queue up, report them
missing, and grab a midnight taxi to our hotel, after receiving
assurances that our suitcases had been located in København, and
would arrive early the next morning, in good time for our Ball that
On Thursday we waited until noon, no suitcases: We called the airport
again, and they just told us that the chaos was still complete, they
had no idea if our bags had arrived or not, and couldn't promise when
or if they would be delivered. :-(
Finding replacement formal wear
At this point we had to go out and try to rescue our Ball, we first
traveled by subway to a costume/formal wear rental company recommended
by our hotel. They easily located a nice-fitting tuxedo for me, but had
only costume gowns for Tone, so we had to go back downtown and start
looking at buying a new dress for her, as well as shoes for both of us.
Wien in the Ball Season has a _lot_ of formal Ball gowns available, but
our time was running out: Tone's dress would need some alterations to
fit properly, and these had to be done within three hours so we
could pick it up at 1800.
By the time I had finally found a pair of dancing shoes, and only
Tone's shoes remained, our hotel finally called: "Your suitcases has arrived!"
We ran back to our room, verified that everything was in order, and
called the rental company: "Yes, they would accept a return of my
unused tux, with just a small deductible for the fitting!". So, after
another trip by subway, and then back to the formal gown store to pick
up Tone's new dress, we were finally ready to go to the Ball in the
palace. Hofburg is probably most famous outside Austria for being the home of the Lipizzan stallions in the Spanish Riding School.
The Ball was great, particularly the dancing: Two big orchestras
alternated playing in the main ballroom, so that even when one
orchestra needed a break, the other would go on playing. I.e.
continuous ballroom music!
If this wasn't enough, there were also two smaller ballrooms, with one
orchestra in each, and finally a regular Disco in the basement.
We kept dancing until about 3:15 Friday morning, slept late, and then
arranged a rental car for early Saturday morning:
48°N 17°E was waiting!
Getting to this confluence was just as easy as the previous visitor's
narratives described: We simply followed the Garmin maps west along
Autobahn A4, took the Parndorf exit onto B10, and followed this road
all the way to the point, past Parndorf, Neudorf (lit: 'New Village'),
Gattendorf and almost to Zurndorf, i.e. until we could park along the
road, just 220 m away.
Due to the winter storms two days ago, everything was frozen solid,
making it easy to walk down to the confluence, and the wide open field
gave great GPS reception, making the traditional zero dance almost
superfluous. I took photos for a full 360 degree panorama, as well as
the car parked alongside the highway, the only other nearby feature; a
power line pylon, and finally the traces of a lot of local activity:
Rabbit tracks! Tone counted ten different rabbits around us while I
took the photos!
After bagging our first point in Austria, we drove a few more
kilometers east, and then north, before we returned to Wien. This
allowed us to visit the Hungarian town of
Mosonmagyaróvár, as well as Bratislava, the capitol of
Slovakia. This made it three new countries and one more confluence in a
On the way back to Norway everything went fine, except that baggage
handling in Oslo on Sunday afternoon was so slow that we feared our
suitcases had gotten lost again, but after nearly an hour they finally
arrived on the conveyor belt.
Finally, a big Thank You! to
Herwig and his wife Ingrid who made our trip possible!