corders in the hague

It's like having the Corders round for dinner - except the kids don't smash stuff and Mike doesn't drink all your booze. And when you're bored you can get rid of us with a mouse click rather than having to start tidying up the house.

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Location: The Hague, Netherlands

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My new gulag.

This is my newest gulag, sorry, hotel. It's in Vienna, but just barely.
One of the things I find interesting and unexpected about Vienna, having never really bothered to look for the place on a map, is its proximity to the former Eastern Bloc. As you drive in, you see signs to places like Ljubljana and other cities with too many consonants in their names.
Vienna apparently has a lot of beautiful old architecture - cathedrals, palaces and the like. But I haven't seen them yet. I've seen the newish Ernst Happel stadium where tonight's semifinal and the weekend's final will be played and I've seen this hotel, but that's about it so far. Hopefully I can see something pretty today.
The hotel Airo Tower Hotel is a grim reminder of Vienna's closeness to eastern Europe. In fact, I suspect that when communism collapsed an enterprising entrepreneur actually went to someplace behind the former Iron Curtain and dragged this concrete monstrosity in its entirety back into Vienna. If you listen carefully in the morning, you can almost hear it coughing and hawking up phlegm. The noise can't be the air conditioning, because there doesn't appear to be any and again the temperatures here are in the 30s and muggy. This place must have been the original case study when people began talking about sick building syndrome.
Oddly, it's next door to a health spa that is populated entirely by ancient people with walking frames or sticks. I went for a run in a park behind the hotel yesterday and from a hill I could see the wrecks of humanity sunning themselves on lawns behind the architectural wreck of my hotel. It was not a pretty sight.
The mugginess last night set off a great thunder storm in Vienna during the first semifinal - if you were watching Germany-Turkey, you probably saw the effects as the storm is being blamed for knocking out power at the international broadcast center, meaning that tv images of the second half were regularly plunged into darkness.
The storm was so powerful, we journalists were actually ordered out of the media center, which is a glorified tent that has to be emptied in winds over 80 kmh. In the traditions of frontline sports journalism, we all ignored the evacuation decree and I finished writing a story about the blackout and storm. In the interests of full disclosure, I'd have to admit that the evacuation order probably came a little late. A half hour earlier, it looked like we might get blown away, but by the time we were ordered out it was barely raining.


Blogger Hong Kong Merretts said...

This would be considered bijou in some of the cities I've seen in China.

3:56 AM  

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