Thursday, August 31, 2006

Vienna, Day 1.

Strolled over to downtown Vienna today, and you know what was the very first thing that hit me?

O.K., it wasn't the first thing, it was like, the 2nd or third, but the first couple of things that hit me: that Vienna was the cleanest city I've ever been to, and the one (or one of the ones, I forgot about Rome) with the most beautiful architecture clustered together in one place, was more or less, not expected, exactly, but rather what one imagined Europe to be, kind of, so it wasn't quite surprising, but rather...satisfying/vindicating, I guess, so it kind of just registered in the subconscious and doesn't really require much gushing about.

But anyway, the 3rd thing that hit me, or more precisely the first thing that consciously hit me was this super cool University bookstore right at the edge of the old town, with tons and tons of books about law (there must be a very good law school here), business law, and economics, but most importantly LOTS and LOTS of excellent books on the EU: policies, regulations, history, treaties, comission reports, you name it, everything you wanted to know about the EU, they had it in a book: its how it was formed, its economic policy, effects of migration on wages, dossiers on labor laws, studies on the liberalisation law's effect on the service industry, I literally mean everything, and both in German and in English. I could've spent hours in there.

Isn't it a delight, to find a freely available and easy access treasure-trove repository of information?


And then what happened: right across the street just as soon as I lifted my head as I (very regretfully, I tell you) walked out from the University bookstore, what do I behold?

The Freytag-Berndt bookstore.

Oooooh. Oh my God!!

Now, for those of you who may not know, Freytag & Berndt is a very renowned Austrian map company, publishing not only atlases (roads, biking and hiking), but holds an extensive collection of GIS raster data and Geodetic info, etc, and basically they are not just your "buy your tourist maps here" company, but mean serious business with users in the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) industry. Anyway, this bookstore, though, was the "for the vacation trip planner" consumer, as it was stocked and its shelves filled to the hilt with every possible tourist guide to any country in the world published by pretty much every possible tourist guide publisher you could think of (Lonely Planet, Let's Go, Michelin, Guide Routard, Hungarian-published guides, etc), and in several different languages (German, French, and English the most common, of course, but also some in Czech, Italian, and Hungarian). And the maps? Sure, and what was nice they were not just the F&B maps, but maps by other companies like (my now very much disliked company) EuroAtlas, Cartographia (pretty good Hungarian company), Michelin, etc. AND, not just road atlases, but cycling and hiking maps, and even nautical maps. Not to mention, of course, the phrasebooks and "learn Chinese in 5 minutes a day"-type books and CDs, plus the non-fiction travelogues, and coffee table exotic location photo books. Oh lordy!

What a beautiful city, Vienna. :)

The day today was rather rainy and dreary, winterlike, even. I had to buy me a jacket (if the weather is to be like this when I cross the Carpathians I will definitely need it!), but even in spite of the autumnal darkness and cold, the city still looked beautiful.

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