Howdy! Since I touched down yesterday and have had the chance to explore one city already, I thought it may be a good time as any to write my first city post! After taking the CAT from the airport straight to the city, the first thing that struck me about Vienna was the beautiful dichotomy of the quaint-ness & touristy -- there's a great blend of parks and busy streets, birds trilling and cars honking.
This happened to be one of the hottest days in Vienna, reaching 90 degrees, but luckily, a wonderful stranger-now-friend, Fabian, came to my refuge by taking me around the city in his dope stick-shift car.
This is Fabian and schnitzel (which we had for an early dinner)!
Fabian and I met through Summer Playbook, an online platform used to connect students during the summer to meet up and hangout with people who will be in the same place as them. Fabian happened to be in Vienna, his hometown, during the time I was there, and we ended spending 9 hours together checking out the city, talking about politics and everything under the sun, and joking about each other's catchphrases (basically the extent of his is "boom", "burn", and swearing). It was an amazing introduction to the city, and honestly, the architecture took my breath away!
Johann Strauss, a famous composer, in Stadtpark!
Some church that we walked by--look at that contrast lighting!
View of Vienna from the top that was actually insane--thank you Fabian for driving me up!
The Rathausplatz at night!
After looking at traversing around the city, we ended up walking around District 1, a pretty touristy area filled with many shops around. We got froyo at a particular place (because according to Fabian, the other 5 places we passed were not the real deal), and continued to share life thoughts with each other. At the end of the day before heading to the hostel, we stopped for some coffee & cake. In fact, an interesting observation Fabian pointed out was that the US does not seem to have any bakeries that solely serve bread, and I wonder why that is-- Bring back the bakeries, America! Anyway, while we were eating, suddenly it started raining, drizzling and then crescendo-ing into a pour and back down until it stopped, which lasted all of 10 minutes. It was very interesting, but through the rain, a beautiful amalgamation of colors shone through the city!
I stayed in a hostel in District 7, a very busy and young area. After Fabian & I said our goodbyes close to midnight, I headed to my hostel in District 7, another very busy and young area. And of course, what would a first day traveling be without some random mishap? For me, this was locking myself inside the bathroom after I finished showering. After turning the key every which way and ramming all my weight against the door, I was rescued by a guy from Wisconsin, who I threw the key to over this open ledge and he helped me open the door. What a #klassic cat move, and God bless this wonderful human.
The next day, was my day to prove to myself, yes I can walk around a city by myself with this 40 L pack and be independent! I exchanged some money, walked around 7 miles through parks and streets (which is less than half of what I will be walking everyday on the EPW, but definitely built confidence!), and saw a guy in a horse mask playing an accordion! What a time to be alive!
A thought from today on moderation: As I walked around looking for a public fountain to fill up my water bottles and quench my thirst, it wasn't until around 90 minutes later when I finally found one. When I did find it though, I was so freaking happy I did a little jig, and I realized that this was simply because I found water, something I can have anytime, all the time back home. I had the same feeling of elation when I found an amazing döner kebab stand in the middle of the street that sold a döner with Pepsi for 2.5 euros! It got me thinking about how we appreciate things more when we don't get it as much. When I thought about how saturated my life is with so many different things, it prevented me from appreciating such life-giving miracles like water and food! Especially in an era of consumerism, it's nice to slow down, carry your entire life on your back, and be grateful for what is now taken for granted.
On another note, I think I had sunscreen all over my face today and I didn't notice until I decided I went to the bathroom in the train station (which you also had to pay 0.5 euros to get in--blasphemy! Bathroom rights for all!). But ah, such is life. I am now on the train to Budapest, and will be staying here for 3 nights to hopefully take in as much of the city as possible! Until then :)