So…I worry this post will be kind of anticlimactic…I have a problem here…I didn’t research Austria or Vienna much before I came, and I don’t have a guidebook, so while the city is beautiful, I don’t know anything much about what I’m seeing, or the history behind it, or sometimes even where I am…so I’m having a hard time really appreciating what I see. I was going to fix that tonight, online, but I’ve been so exhausted all day that I’m just killing time here at Christa’s hotel, trying to blog, and all I can think about is going home to BED!
So I arrived in Vienna and met Christa on the platform, and we sat outside the station with Turkish pizza and talked till two am…and collapsed into bed, both tired from the long day. In the morning, she went to the grocery store, and by the time I was out of the shower, she had returned and set a breakfast table outside on her balcony, and it was lovely…Viennese breads, Philly cream cheese (she remembered my obsession with cream cheese from the Camino, bless her heart), grapes, coffee, soft-boiled eggs…all in the scent of her cascading petunias draping the balcony and the blue sky and the sunshine. She passed me a cup of coffee and went back to fixing the eggs…so I poured some milk in my cup, and then poured what I thought was coffee from a blue pitcher…nope…water. Tried again, found the coffee…and went outside to the breakfast table, where there was a canister of sugar with an ornate little wooden spoon in it…in the midst of pouring my third spoonful of sugar into my cup, she came outside and cried, “NO…! That is the salt!!”
Epic fail. Hysterical.
So it took me three tries to have a cup of coffee. Lord knows what I would’ve done if she hadn’t seen me and I’d tried it and had to tell her how much I love the Viennese coffee she’s so proud of. So now it’s this colossal joke between us.
While we had breakfast, I was able to use her washing machine (cue angels singing) and we headed out to meet Felix at a coffeehouse (yes, even after two cups at Christa’s)! I was sooooo excited to see him…we found him and his brother Hannes at a fountain in a little square outside the shop and I tackled the boy. And we all went in for coffee and it was as if the Camino had happened last week. So good to see his face, so good to be with the two of them again…I wish it could have been more of us. If Al or Karel or Brad or Flo are reading…or any of our other pilgrim friends…you were in our thoughts (and probably our conversation!) yesterday.
One coffee shop turned into two…Christa told me this is what the Viennese do when they spend time together…go from coffeehouse to coffeehouse…though we actually got strawberry yogurt smoothies in the first place and I got a glass of Riesling in the second. =) Dogs are allowed in coffee shops…even the ritzy second one we went into. There were three tables adjacent to us with dogs on leashes under the table. So strange.
It’s very cool here, weather-wise…and after the blue sky we had breakfast under, the clouds rolled in and we had several periods of drizzly rain both yesterday and today. I panicked a little because I was carrying my beautiful new Italian leather bag, but Christa told me it wouldn’t be a bag if it wasn’t weatherproof…hopefully she’s right. It seems okay today. But I’m so surprised at the difference in temperature between Italy and here. The days have been around 70 or 75, and last night it was around 60 or so…I got cold!! I thought of the likelihood that it’s in the upper 80s at night at home and tried to enjoy the chill. =)
After coffeehouse number two, we went wandering. We didn’t really visit anywhere in particular, just walked by places all afternoon and listened to Christa’s running commentary about what we were seeing, and caught up with what Felix has been doing lately (he’s working in his uncle’s law firm). The only place we went into was the University of Vienna, where Felix and Christa have both studied (though not primarily), but really only to use the bathroom. Ha ha. We found the graduation hall, though, and I got a picture taken at the podium. The halls and the rooms were very ornate…lots of marble and sculptures and such. Very fancy.
Eventually, Felix had to leave us to go to lacrosse practice, and Christa and I got a kebab and sat outside one of the art museums in a little park…and she got a phone call asking her to come in to work the next evening…one of the two days she was supposed to have off while I was here. And there was no way around it. So that was a bummer…she’ll have to work six days of the seven I’m here instead of just five, and we won’t probably get another evening to spend together, because her shift is 3-11pm, but we’ll deal.
So after that, we headed home to RUN. I managed to start my marathon training on the right day. =) Tomorrow is the next one…too tired today and my feet are too sore from walking all day…so my plan is to run either early or in the evening, whichever way it works out.
(On the way back to her place, I spied a beautiful long dress in a shop window…the kind I’ve been seeing all over Italy…and tried it on and it was awesome, and ON SALE…so I bought it!)
We were meeting Felix and his lacrosse team at a pub later that night, so we got dressed up and headed out…and tried to keep up with these young 20-something boys drinking their heads off…ended up being lots of fun. I kept staring at Felix’s roommate, Daniel, and then it hit me why. He looked SO MUCH like Joe, it totally shocked me when I realized it. I said so to Christa and Felix, and then it occurred to me to pull out my iPod and show a few pictures, and they all agreed that the likeness was uncanny! I showed the one where Joe is playing air guitar with a black hat on backwards, and they all laughed and said Daniel does air guitar all the time! Daniel isn’t bald like Joe was, but had on a black baseball cap backwards, and his face…well, they could’ve been almost twins. In a funny way, for the rest of the evening, I felt like I’d just gotten to hang out with Joe again.
So that was yesterday. And because I was up till 3am writing the blog, it was all I could do to drag myself out of bed at 10am! Christa was sacked out on the red sofa. We had a lazy breakfast…no coffee mishaps…and just chatted a while and tried to wake up…and didn’t leave the house till after 1pm. And she had to be at work at 2:40. So we bagged our earlier idea of going to Schonbrunn and instead went through the huge international food market, where I saw things being sold that I couldn’t even identify. We had Chinese for lunch and got a few gourmet chocolates each, and took lots of pictures of all the strange fruits and vegetables and whatever you classify these strange things as. Some things she could identify to me in English, but some she couldn’t. LOTS of weird stuff.
We went to her hotel, which is beautiful…the Best Western Kaiserhof…go say hi to her there if you are in Vienna. She booked a few tours for me for the rest of my week, and I’m really excited! Tomorrow I’ll spend in Vienna again…she wants us to run in the Schonbrunn Gardens…sounds perfect…and see a few art exhibits. I’m hoping to take a one-hour tour of the Spanish Riding School (where the Lipizzaner Stallions perform). Thursday I have an all-day excursion to Salzburg, with a guided tour…she says the coach goes through lots of picturesque towns and stops for pictures…so I’m expecting beautiful things. Friday I’ll watch a two-hour practice session of the Stallions…THRILLED about that…and take a 4-hour tour of the Vienna Woods, mostly by boat…and then attend a Mozart concert at the Golden Hall. Saturday is an all-day cruise down the Danube to Durnstein and a few other destinations…my folks did this with her a year and a half ago when they were in Vienna, in the winter. I can’t wait to compare notes with a summer trip. Sunday is still free…and Monday is home. The best part is that Christa was able to book all these tours for me at a great discount…and got me comp tickets to the Mozart concert. She really is wonderful.
So after she went to work, I met up with the Australian boys from the bus/train rides on Sunday! They’d made it to Vienna and we were able to tool around together, trying to decipher our maps and figure out where to go, and ultimately just heading off down whatever street looked most interesting from where we were standing at that moment. We went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Hofburg Palace and walked along the Danube (where I HAVE to do a run before I leave) and ended up in an Australian pub and then (angels singing again) A STARBUCKS! The Grande Raspberry Mocha is exactly right. =)
When we finally parted ways (they had to go find their accomodations and are leaving the city tomorrow), I headed back to the hotel to find Christa, and decided to just blog here…and now, after my Starbucks, I’m a bit revived, and I don’t have to find my way back to Christa’s in the dark alone. And hallelujah, she’s off in ten minutes!!
And now you’re all caught up!
I think this entry would have been more interesting if I knew more about what I’d seen…but I think tomorrow will be better, and the rest of the week will DEFINITELY be so. So stay tuned…there’s more to come.