Okay, I disappeared there for a bit. Sorry about that. I began writing this blog entry two weeks ago and then kept getting sidetracked with the rest of my travels, a cancelled airplane ticket that delayed my trip back home and then a lot of catching up on sleep and catching up with friends and family. Although I write the blog to be read, I am always surprised that people actually do look at it, so for those of you who do — I’m sorry to keep you waiting. I’m safe, I’m back in Toronto and I had a lovely rest of my time in Vienna and in England.
I didn’t do very much in the last two days in Vienna except walk around the city and manage to fail to do a bike tour (twice). The bike tour company offered a guided tour in the morning and another that covered different parts of the city in the afternoon. Based on the descriptions, the morning tour was more interesting but I couldn’t get out of the house in time to do it (my persistent cough made sleeping difficult and so I stayed in bed later than usual). The tour operator’s office was in another part of the city several subway stops away from Leon’s apartment. I figured I’d take the train out there in the morning, register for the afternoon tour, wander around this new area of town, have a quick lunch (I didn’t have breakfast) and then take the tour. Sounded reasonable.
Unfortunately, when I got out of the station, the neighbourhood was nothing at all like the Vienna I’d come to know in the previous few days. It was kind of like Don Mills and York Mills – wide, green, function-over-form industrial-complexy kind of buildings with very little happening on the ground, especially in the punishing heat. I walked the wide treeless sidewalks and got a little bit lost and a lot sweaty. I eventually found the bike place whereupon the bike mechanic said that there was actually another office in the centre of town (just a few blocks from Leon’s place!) and that’s where I needed to go. Sigh.
On my ride back into the city it was amusing to watch people on the subway. To open the train doors you have to press a button on the side. So many people impatiently pressed the button while the train was still moving in the tunnel. It’s just like people with elevator buttons: they impatiently press the button five-six-seven times as if that will make a difference in the speed with which it opens. I would have loved for a door to spring open in the middle of the tunnel some time, just to see how people would react.
By the time I got into town it was too late to eat AND do the bike tour. I knew I wouldn’t have the energy to bike if I didn’t eat, so I opted for eating and walking. I was happy to be back in the pretty part of the city. I love the architecture here. I love that most buildings are about six storeys tall. It makes for lots of sky and a feeling of manageability. There are also these funny newspaper dispensers around the city. It made me think that Austrian papers must be very thin, or else the plastic wouldn’t be able to hold the weight of more than three copies.
I had hoped to try some sacher torte on this trip — it’s an Austrian specialty. Unfortunately, it goes best with the other Austrian specialty, coffee, and since I’m not a coffee drinker and tea here leaves much to be desired, I ended up missing out on this bit of culture.
On Monday evening Leon and I went to the Naschmarkt to eat. We were both impressed with the liveliness of the space on a Monday evening — it was packed! — and also by how the market transforms from fruit and meat stalls to open air cafes in the evening so seamlessly. After our lovely meal, one of the World Cup games that included Brasil was playing at another outdoor cafe in the market. We decided to watch there. After being yelled at by a woman when I asked if I could take the extra chair at her table, (“NEIN!! NEIN!!! NEIN!” she hollered after I misunderstood her and began lifting the chair) Leon and I sat at the next table and were joined by Philip, a lovely, funny Austrian fellow who had offered us his spare chair. After the game, the three of us went to Kunsthalle cafe (which has an art gallery that was showing Marilyn Manson’s paintings; yes, they are as creepy as you’d think they’d be) and we had more drinks. The Austrians are not the most friendly, warm people you’re going to meet, but all of the ones we got to know were super nice.
On Tuesday, I walked around some more. Vienna has several amazing museums, none of which I saw from the inside. The weather was just too beautiful to spend time inside and exploring a museum by myself isn’t that interesting to me; who can I turn to to mock or marvel at the art? So on this day, I explored the Stadtpark, a pretty park in the middle of the city. It was a lovely location for a picnic. I had neither a blanket nor food so sat on a park bench like a stalker staring at the people who did have blankets and food. In the evening, I met up with MNAB (my new Austrian boyfriend) at the same Kunsthalle cafe that I’d been to the night before and we had a lovely evening. We were joined by his best friend, who was super nice, and then went for dinner at a Japanese restaurant. After dinner, we decided to watch that night’s World Cup game and more of his friends joined us. All of them were super. I had so much fun and was disappointed that my time in Vienna was already at an end. I would definitely go back.
Stay tuned for the next adventure. I don’t know where or when that will be, but I’ll definitely write about it when it happens. Cheers!