I’m sitting in the nicest hostel I’ve ever been to, actually watching the news on a television for the first time in a month and enjoying my 3 euro breakfast (on my second delicious cappucino- yes, this may be heaven). Outside, snow is falling on the streets of Vienna.
The weather just flashed on. Instead of the usual NY-NJ-PA triad it’s showing me France and Tripoli and the UK.
I know you’re probably all sick of various “ooh I’m in Europe!” posts, but I’m not writing this for you. I’m writing it for me- because for a little while there, as I got so caught up in the stress of finishing my course and trying to find work, I lost sight of why I was doing this. Yes, I’m discovering that I love teaching, and that’s great, and I love the area I’m living in, and the people I’m living with; but this- sitting in a hostel in Vienna, watching it snow, and wondering what else I’ll get to see today- this is why I packed up my life into one suitcase and made the move to Prague. This is the life fantastic. And good god, is it fantastic.
And you know, you just can’t take weekend trips to Austria when you’re living in New Jersey.
We got to Vienna around 2:30, settled into the hostel, and took off for Stephensplatz, the metro stop by the famously huge St. Stephen’s church. After that, we ended up wandering around the city. Along the way we found two absolutely beautiful churches tucked into the street between Hermes, Gucci, and a variety of other high-end consumer spots. And inside the second church – The church of St. Augustine, I think- we saw an actual, real-life, habit wearing monk. He was distributing bibles and he looked a little overworked, poor guy. Meanwhile, Vanessa and I were pretending to look at an altar to Mary and sneaking peeks out of the corner of our eyes. There may have been comparisons to Friar Tuck, except I think Friar Tuck had more hair.
Then we went to St. Stephen’s, and man was that impressive. The church was HUGE. Outside about 30 different guys in a variety of silly outfits tried to get tourists to take their tours. We navigated our way through this minefield, fending off cape wearers and people offering carriage rides. Inside, the church was as impressive as the exterior.
There was also a great deal of wandering. Neither of us had a particular agenda we were trying to fulfill while we’re here. Instead, we kept our eyes open for cool looking buildings and walked towards those. On the way, we stumbled across a number of neat things, including this clock:
There was also creepy pinnochio. I wanted to take a picture with him, but the shopkeeper came out and glared at us. Apparently, giant wooden dolls are not to be touched.
We also ate. A lot. It turns out that the coffee shop we stumbled upon, Cafe Leopold Hawelka, is actually quite famous. Off the main drag, and tucked between a few other shops, Cafe Hawelka doesn’t really look like much. But inside everything is made of dark wood. The chairs are a mish-mosh of benches, stools, and hard backed wood. The waiters wore an eclectic mix of tuxedos from different eras, and the strudel was absolutely delicious.
For dinner, we ended up at Figlmüller, where we had their famous plate-sized schnitzel. I say plate-sized, but in reality the schnitzel fell off the edges of the plate. It was incredibly delicious. We also had a glass of the Figlmüller red wine, which is made in-house and is also freaking amazing. Good god. I was stuffed when we left- sadly, we couldn’t finish the schnitzel- but I was also really, really happy. We took the rest of our schnitzel home with us, but instead of giving us the usual styrofoam boxes the waiter came out with a square of parchment paper and a rubber band. It was all very classy.
We’re going to go wandering again today- though we may keep the wandering to the inside of museums, since it is snowing a lot. And I’m pretty content right now. But y’know what? After writing this big blog about Vienna and how happy I am that I went away for the weekend, I’m actually starting to miss Prague a little bit. Which is ridiculous- it’s only been one day, for Christ’s sake. Still, I miss it- the castle, and the river, and hanging around in our little kitchen, drinking beer with my flatmates while we bitch about lesson planning. Maybe it’s Stockholm syndrome. Maybe it’s a side-effect of having walked the Most Legii bridge every morning for a month. A sight like that doesn’t leave you easily.