We arrived safe and sound in Vienna on late Sunday evening and got settled in our apartment by 1 am Monday morning. A quick sleep for John and then off to work on the subway. He is very adventurous and had a great first day. He arrived home with stories of awh!, as the OSCE office is situated in an old palace with numerous statues and ancient wares.
Our apartment is a studio suite, with all the modern conveniences and very, very clean. The building is well lit at night time and I do not have to worry about rats and cockroaches, unlike some of our other travels. We are located on the edge of the downtown core in the artists District so we are surrounded by beautiful buildings, beautiful landscapes and beautiful people. (Very artsy!) Our apartment is right across from an open air market (called the Naschtmarkt) that is two full blocks, so we have our choice daily of fresh bread, fresh fruit, cheeses, wine, beer, spirits and meat that is recognizable. I was happy.
The streets are active and alive well into the night. One night we were awakened by a serenade of German drinking songs choired by a group of young men on their way home at 4 am. They actually were very good and I went back to sleep with a snappy tune in my head.
I have taken time in the afternoons to go for my camera walks but I must admit a video camera would be a better choice. The museums, architecture and statues are so abundant; I am visually exhausted by the end of my walk. Carvings and statues on the buildings, covered in gold guild are the norm. The parks are huge, with beautiful trees and plants, ponds, benches, statues and little spots to rest and have a glass of wine. People bring their beer and wine and walk around the parks. The parks are policed by surveillance and the “Polizei”. The park I was in today was next to a university so it was full of young people, with coloured hair, body piercing and riding their bikes.
Everyone travels by bike and I have to be alert so I do not get run over by a bicyclist. I haven’t quite figured out the German word for “idiot” but I know from the tone and the looks I have been called such a word, as I was unaware that the sidewalk is divided in two, one for pedestrians and one for the bikes.
Last night after a supper of fresh bread, cheese and tomatoes with the smoothest red wine I’ve tasted, John and I went for an evening walk and came across a runner’s event (Vienna Night Run) comprised of lots of people, runners and entertainment. The streets are busy with outdoor cafe’s, the horse drawn carriages and happy German speaking people. We have only run into a few of the merchants that do not speak English, but we seem to manage to make our purchases known. We had our first Vienna ice cream and it would not take much to become addicted to an evening walk with an ice cream cone. The night was beautiful and the treat was lip smacking delicious.
Yesterday, I took my camera and my book for a stroll in the downtown centre for the tourists; it was very busy and exciting. Around every corner is another surprise as the streets all interconnect by passageways and side streets. Cafe’s everywhere and even a Starbucks, which I refused to go to, after all I am in Vienna. I settled for a little café for my afternoon coffee and a treat of apple strudel. ( I must confess, it was the only thing on the menu I could pronounce, so that is what determined my choice) and a good choice it was for the strudel was delicious. I sat in the sun and read my book, relaxing in the warm autumn air listening to the din of a very busy city.
After, I decided to window shop in the very expensive part of town and actually saw a pair of runners priced at $519 (Euros). The store windows are full of long evening gowns for a night out at the opera, jewellery so lavish I dare not even look at the price and fashions new to the shopping world. I did however notice the shoes are very sensible.
The streets in the shopping area are closed to traffic so there are lots of people dressed in costume (old century Mozart era) selling tickets to the museums, the operas, the music theatres etc. The art museums alone would keep you busy for a week. I got tired of fighting the crowd, so sought a more peaceful setting and ended up in a large park with beautiful trees, blooming flowers, water fountains and numerous statutes. I found a seat so I could people watch and nearby, two older gentlemen were playing waltz music; one on a violin, the other on an accordion. It was a perfect spot to self reflect as I listened to beautiful music, children laughing and the chime of a church bell every fifteen minutes on the hour. I wrote in my diary, read my book and spent a quiet couple of hours being grateful for my good fortune.
The evening weather has been very warm and we are walking in just our shirt sleeves and have the windows open all night while we sleep. Very unlike the -8 degree weather you are having back home. Well enough prattle for this week’s adventure. We are off to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan tomorrow at 8 am and have been told the adventure is quite something to see. The cultural influence is Asian and quite different from Vienna. So until next week, we send our love and prayers.
Deb and John