On Thursday night I called my boss to tell him that the American Embassy was being burned down. Several hours later, after midnight for me, he called to tell me that they felt it would be better were I elsewhere for the weekend and to please check my email in the morning to find out where I was going. I am now a refugee in Vienna. As refugeeing goes I could be in a worse place.
I’ve been to Vienna, once, seven years ago, but at least I have a better chance of communicating here once I dust off my rusty German. Provided that is, I can get around the funky Austrian accent. I got here Friday evening and actually think I saw more on the taxi ride from the airport than I did the few days I was here in 2000. I arrived on a one-way ticket with all of my luggage (for which there was a €70 overage fee) and no idea when or even if I would be returning to Belgrade. I was left with only enough time on Friday to eat, be shocked at the outrageous €3,80 I was being charged for a small bottle of San Pellegrino, notice that my hotel was around the corner from Saint Stephan’s, and go to bed.
It is now 11:00 AM (or at least it was when I wrote this long hand) and I am standing in front of the Rathaus drinking a Glühwein (hot spiced wine). I got an early start today and have been wandering around the city with my Stadtplan taking pictures of everything. I must say that I’m not really paying attention to what I’m doing with my camera…I’m pretty much relying on point and click today. I’m also not turning everything black and white. I have the tendency to black and white the bejeesus out of my photographs but, personally I think that a great deal of the charm of some cities, Vienna included, is the array of color in the buildings and roofs and ornamentations. Anyway I’m off topic; I was talking about how it’s 11 AM and I’m already drinking…but I actually have to rewind a bit first.
I started my wanderings at the opera house. I would love to see an opera here but I’m sure the tickets are even more outrageously priced than they are in DC. Until I manage to marry that really wealthy man I’m looking for or I get a raise (both of which are equally unlikely) I’m out of luck and will simply admire its façade.
I them moved onto the Hofburg Palace which I am sure is lovely in the spring when the park is in bloom. I seem to not have had the patience to get any really good shots today.
Part of the Hofburg Palace is the famous Spanish Riding School where the Lipizzaner horses are trained. I have seen this place on television many times and when I was a horse-mad 13 year old (because aren’t all girls horse-mad at that age?) my mom took me to a show. I think when I saw that was when I truly started to enjoy myself. I realized that despite being February the weather was sunny and in the 50s and I was back in western Europe. Hurrah.
A lot more walking finally got me to the Rathaus where I discovered the Wiener Eistraum. I have no idea if this is an annual event or if the city was just disgusted by the unseasonably warm weather but they constructed a myriad of skating rinks in front of the Rathaus!
Included in all this were a variety of refreshment stands which I noticed all sold Glühwein. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have Glühwein in a Germanic country, plus I knew Lauren would be disappointed if I didn’t so, despite the early hour, I had myself a nice mug of the warm spicy wine. It was then that I noticed the stands also sold Absinthepunsch. Warm punch made out of absinthe and God knows what else. I was tempted, but the combination of the wine on a stomach that had seen breakfast over three hours earlier and my arch nemesis cobblestone streets made me decide to save that treat for tomorrow.
I actually did a heck of a lot more than this, but I've only just now finished typing this and it's already almost midnight my time and I'm tired. More tomorrow!