Vienna, Football and My New Austrian Boyfriend

I have lost my genius. See, I’ve moved around a fair bit in my life and I’m a genius packer. Seriously… total genius. But as I packed to leave Nice, my suitcase, which theoretically contains less than I came with (I only bought shoes in France and I sent a big box of things home through the mail), was overflowing. And, man, was it heavy—four pounds overweight, the woman told me at the airport. So I was the girl rooting around my open suitcase on the floor of Terminal 1 deciding what to throw out. Bye-bye full bottles of lotion and expensive hair products, so long leather-bound notebook. When I had removed the four kilos necessary to get me to 20kg, the woman behind the counter asked kind of accusingly, “What did you do with everything?” I told her I threw it out and she apologetically told me I could have gotten away with tossing only 1kg. Great. Thanks for telling me NOW.

So now I’m in Vienna. It is a BEAUTIFUL CITY. Beautiful in a different way than Nice – bigger, cleaner (I don’t have to watch for dog poo!), vast open green spaces, and more, um, Austrian. 🙂 Leon’s apartment is PERFECT. Seriously, it’s my ideal home, bright with 12 foot ceilings, big windows, spacious but not too big and it has a guest bathroom. I could totally live here.

I’m having a bit of a Sri Lanka flashback though as it would appear that there are only about four other black people in Vienna (probably also tourists) so I get lots of stares. My hair is also a bit crazy at the moment (a problem that will only get worse since I threw out my hair products 😦 ) so that might contribute to the looks.

After I grabbed a quick shower, Leon and I went out to dinner. At the recommendation of his colleague we ended up at a non-touristy restaurant that is known for its schnitzel. I ordered a very Austrian sounding dish that I couldn’t pronounce, which included dumplings, bacon, mushrooms and cheese and I insisted Leon order the large schnitzel so we could share. Holy moly! When it arrived, it was two pieces of schnitzel, both of which were bigger than the plate! (Stop salivating, Petra. 🙂 )

There's a plate somewhere under that schnitzel.

We did a pretty good job of making a dent in both dishes but it was a slog. In general, Leon and I weren’t particularly impressed with either dish, but I was glad we’d tried it. Afterward we walked to a nearby bar. People still smoke in bars and restaurants in Austria, which I find so bizarre for a city that seems otherwise very, very progressive. (The streetcars are flying rainbow flags and the parks have big water fountains that encourage people to refill their bottles and reduce plastic.) There were a pair of 15/16 year olds sitting at the table next to us enjoying a beer, so I’m curious what the drinking age is here.

SATURDAY
On Saturday, we started the day at the Naschtmarkt, which is a giant outdoor market much like St. Lawrence. We bought flowers and supplies for dinner. I had the cutest exchange with one of the cheese vendors. I asked for Emmenthal in English and she pulled out a piece and asked if it was okay. I said “oui, merci” (I keep accidentally speaking French here) and she was thrown off. She asked if I was French. I explained that I speak English but I’d just come from France and keep mixing the two up now. Her coworker then said “French people don’t speak English very well.” And the girl serving me said, very proudly, “But I can English.” Her coworker looked at her and said sarcastically, “You. Can English?” and then the girl realized that she’d forgotten a critical word and said, “I can… SPEAK English!” and jokingly pushed her coworker away. We all laughed. It was cute.

Leon made us a lovely omelette lunch (I’m totally living the life of Riley here. Leon is so delighted to be able to cook again and he’s so meticulous about it that I don’t have to (and wouldn’t dare) lift a finger.) Afterward, we went down to the Kartnerstrasse, a large pedestrian street with various stores. We can’t resist pronouncing every sign we see, as German is at once so unfamiliar and similar to English. No doubt we sounds like complete fools: “Die wiener linien! Hundertwasserhaus! Schlachthausgasse! Heeresgeschlictliches!”

A couple of buildings next to the market.

The pedestrian shopping area.

Kartnerstrasse was packed with tourists and reminded both of us of the Eaton Centre, except outdoors. We went to St. Stephen’s church, which is a 15th century structure, but there was an important funeral with lots of media outside snapping photos outside so we were only allowed into the back of the church. After wandering all over the museum quarter, we headed back home, where Leon made an awesome chicken dinner and we watch the U.S. lose to Ghana in the World Cup.

Next: dancing. We headed to Heaven Vienna, a gay night at a bar whose name I don’t remember. It wasn’t particularly good or busy. Donauinselfest (Danube Island Festival), which is the largest music festival in Europe, was taking place this weekend so people were saying that it might affect club attendance, but that the club generally didn’t get busy until 1:00 or 2:00 a.m. Leon and I decided to leave because even if it did get busy, the music was uninspiring. Outside, we pulled out our map to see how to get home and this ADORABLE young guy came up and asked us if we knew where Heaven was. We showed him and then decided to go back. We ended up hanging with him for the rest of the evening. His name was Jonathan and he was from Luxembourg. The music didn’t get any better but the club did get busier and it turned out to be a fun night.

Leon and Jonathan

SUNDAY
We were slow getting started on Sunday but eventually got out in the early afternoon. We wandered the city and discovered that Vienna is basically deserted and closed on Sundays. We finally found a cool restaurant called Freiraum and had a lovely lunch there. Then we went searching for a place to watch the England v. Germany football game. We passed a group of guys who were speaking English and looked like they might be soccer fans so I ran back and asked them where they were going to watch. They explained that they were taking the subway to this place where there are lots of screens. Leon and I decided to go there too.

It turned out to be this building that had a massive courtyard in the middle (so massive that there was another building within the courtyard and still lots of room in the courtyard. It was like an enclosed beer garden. It was packed with people and there were big screens everywhere as well as an auditorium in the middle building if you wanted to watch indoors. As Leon and I tried to choose our spot, a guy waved at me and said hi. I assumed he thought I was someone else (perhaps the only other black girl in this city. 🙂 ) From the cheers, he and his friends were England supporters like us so with each successive German goal, we’d look at each other and shrug. After England lost horrifically (4-1) he came over to us and started chatting. His name was Raoul and he was really nice, and his friends Christoph and Franz joined us and we all chatted for a while.

The Austrians celebrate a German goal. Except the guy in the foreground. He was rooting for England.

Right to left: Raoul, Christoph, Franz and the friend that disappeared.

They asked what we were doing next and we said we didn’t know. Next thing you know, we were all going to the music festival on the island together. The festival has 12 or 14 stages all over the island. We ended up at a stage with a two-person band playing electro-pop. I was surprised when we got in sight of the stage that the lead singer was a woman in a business suit. She apprently had a French accent when she spoke in German, according to the boys, and they said it was fake because she wasn’t French. It was goofy music and we danced around as people do at a music festival.

Christoph and Raoul do some synchronized dance move.

We had a really good time with the boys, and a really great day in Vienna overall. My pimp Leon has arranged for Raoul and I to go on a date for Tuesday night since he’s going to the opera. I arranged for all of us to exchange emails and facebook info so that Leon has people to hang with here. Plus, Christoph has an apartment in Berlin that he says we can use any time we are interested! Ahhh, strategic friending. 🙂

Another of the stages we passed on our way out.

Me and Raoul (he had stuck his tongue out in the previous picture.)

3 Responses to “Vienna, Football and My New Austrian Boyfriend”

  1. Petra Says:

    OMD that schnitzel looks delicious!!

    Superman Jonathan looks like Yannick Bisson the CIBC guy.

    As usual, I totally misread that last caption … I thought in keeping with the Austrian boyfriend blog title I read the caption as “Raoul stuck his tongue down …” :p

  2. Lianne Says:

    LOL Petra, I agree on the schnitzel. I went to school briefly with Yannick… and he really was a nice guy.
    I misread the title and thought she had an Australian boyfriend who liked schnitzel and tongue.
    ; )

  3. Lisa Says:

    So Jo – it’s Tuesday night here and I suspect you have been on your date already. How did things go? And it seems like a very long time since the last blog…

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