Today, I still feel at home in Vienna.

For those who are lost, there will always be cities that feel like home.
– Simon van Booy

Last weekend, Megan and I met for a semi-spontaneous trip to Vienna! It’s about a 3 hour train ride from BP, and a slightly longer plane ride from Madrid. She doesn’t have class on Fridays or Mondays, and school’s about to start for me again, so it worked out really well!
My memories of the city are tinged by nostalgia and the summer heat: ice cream every day, walks in the park, strangers who took to me, the girl traveling without her parents. I was prepared for the possibility that the city wouldn’t have the charm and luster that lives in my memory, especially in the winter and with the changes that more than a decade inevitably bring to a person and a place.

Stefansdom then ...

Stefansdom then …

... and now.

… and now.

Anna and I arrived on Friday around noon, and took a subway straight to the hotel. One great thing about Vienna is that public transportation there is extremely accessible: every subway stop has an elevator, for example, which makes life there A LOT EASIER when trying to get around in a wheelchair.

Megan arrived shortly after, well-fed by the airline snacks on Air Italia 🙂 We walked around the city center, including a visit to Stefansdom and Peter’s Church. Afterwards, Megan and I saw more of the city by ourselves. We tried to go to one of the cafés that her father recommended, but all of those had a least a step precluding my entrance. Accessibility issues still abound! However, it worked out for the best because we stumbled across a delicious Italian restaurant called Ristorante Sole. The staff there was so considerate, even taking pity on our indecisiveness and portioning our two entrees so that we could each have half. For dessert, we split strawberries with creamy mascarpone.

Well-fed and ready to see the city by night!

Well-fed and ready to see the city by night!

That’s when the excitement really started, though, because as we walked around, we found ourselves on the outskirts of a riot protesting a ball in the Hofburg. Megan and I tend to gravitate towards home before the night owls even take flight. It so happened that the entrance to our hotel was RIGHT in the middle of a crowd of protestors. Fortunately, the policemen deemed us harmless and allowed us to pass through the barriers.

On Saturday, we took a subway to Schönbrunn, the Hapsburg’s summer residence, painted Maria Theresa’s favorite color, ochre yellow.

We toured 40 rooms on the first floor!

We toured 40 rooms on the first floor!

The palace itself is only half the fun of Schönbrunn; its vast grounds include a zoo (with pandas!), rose garden, and paths for meandering.  We walked to the top of a small hill to see this view:

I didn't realize we were so far up until we got there! It was worth the cold ascent.

I didn’t realize we were so far up until we got there! It was worth the cold ascent.

After warming up in our room, Megan and I ventured out again for dinner at Café Landtmann and explorations around the city hall. The city hall is a gorgeous building, reminiscent of the gothic style of Duke Chapel.IMG_0793

There were at least 3 ice skating rinks set up in front of the city hall, and people were out en masse to skate and enjoy mulled wine and hot food.

There were at least 3 ice skating rinks set up in front of the city hall, and people were out en masse to skate and enjoy mulled wine and hot food.

Temperatures were frigid at this point, so we called it an early night again and relaxed in our room.

On Sunday, we went to the Albertina to see the newly acquired collection of Impressionist, Expressionist, and Surrealist art, entitled “Monet to Picasso”.

This Chagall painting was one of my favorites

This Chagall painting was one of my favorites.

Per Anna’s request, we had to to have Wiener Schnitzel (when in Wien …), so that was our mission in the afternoon. That was when the snow started to fall! It was enough to be pretty without becoming an inconvenience like the Snowpocalypse and Polar Vortex of the East Coast.
In the evening, Megan and I went to visit Stephi, an old friend of mine, at her home. It was really nice to see her again and meet her family. I had not spoken to her in quite a while, though she sends me Advent calendars every December! Moreover, Megan and I had just become friends in middle school before I met Stephi, so it was sweetly bizarre to introduce these two people who have been in my life so long.

Stephi suggested we go to Sunday Swing at the Leopold Museum Café, so that was our next destination, since the night was still young, even for us. At this point, there was an inch layer of snow coating the streets, making for a charming winter wonderland as we trudged out. The Sunday Swing was in full … swing… when we got there. I felt transported to the ’20s! The only downside was the thick smoke hanging in the air from all the cigarettes, but perhaps that contributed to the authenticity of the experience.

Monday was our last morning, so we went to see Karl’s church and a peak of Belvedere, but it was too cold and snowy, so we ended up getting hot chocolate and coffee in a bakery underground. 🙂 Warmth and a friend – not a bad way to end the trip, after all.

from a temporary exhibit by the Austrian artist Sonja Gangl. Adieu, Vienna! Auf Wiedersehen!

from a temporary exhibit by the Austrian artist Sonja Gangl at the Albertina. Adieu, Vienna! Auf Wiedersehen!

Vienna wasn’t quite as I remembered it, but that ended up being okay. After all, I’ve changed a lot, too. Time has worn down parts of us, circumstances have enriched us, but we are still recognizable.

Today, I am flying to Guatemala!

I am going to Guatemala!!!!!!!!! I got to this airport incredibly early. Dark o’clock, to be exact. I’m sitting here charging my phone right now with nothing to do but to peer out the windows into the dark abyss. So, I decided to download the wordpress app and at least engage in a productive activity 🙂

Yes, one of my best friends is getting married this weekend, and the wedding will be held in Guatemala! I can’t express my feels right now. A friend getting married, reuniting with friends, finally satisfying the traveler in me… So many things! But for now here I am in this cold and scary airport. I feel like this would make the perfect setting for a zombie movie. Maybe dearest Markie can help us with that 🙂

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Today, I’m leaving on a jet plane

… not sure when I’ll be back again, but I hope it will be soon. All my bags are not packed and I’m not ready to go either, but there we have it.

I’ve prepared some music and reading to distract me from the cramped quarters and stale cabin air.  What do you like to do during flights? Sometimes, I watch the in-flight shows and movies provided, but I prefer to come with entertainment of my own. Here’s what I have ready for today:


Garrison Starr’s appropriately titled album, The Girl That Killed September (2007) from Noisetrade, a site with music from tons of great independent artists. Starr’s 2012 album Amateur was one of my favorites from last year. Check her out if you like Brandi Carlile with a little more pop.

 

 

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This classic detective mystery only came to my attention when Robert Galbraith was revealed to be a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling.  Obviously, you’ve all read the Harry Potter series, otherwise we wouldn’t be friends (kidding, mostly).  The Casual Vacancy was great, too. I wish I could have stumbled upon it with less bias to have been part of the experiment.

If you’re in the U.S., have a happy Labor Day!

Today, I bring you breathtaking view that President Abe Lincoln sees…

Hai! Quick reminder that our SomethingNavy and Jewelmint Dress Giveaway is ending tonight! If you haven’t entered yet, you have about 11 more hours to do so ! 🙂

Now I promised you the breathtaking view that President Abe sees every night… so here it is ~

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I mentioned that I took a trip to see the memorials/monuments of Washington, DC after my dining experience at Jaleo DC in my previous post.  I have visited the city landmarks multiple times during family vacations as a kid. However, I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of these places at night. What a difference it makes! And how lovely it is! I also didn’t realize that so many people come out at night to see these famous memorials/monuments. Enjoy ~

We started out at the US National World War II Memorial. This is one of my favorite ones to visit with the 56 pillars surrounding the plaza and fountain.  This is also a great place to view the Washington Monument

From the World War II Memorial plaza, you can see the Lincoln Memorial from afar. When you’re actually standing there, the memorial seems like a short walk, but it’s actually quite far (well, I guess it’s not that far… hehe).

After a quick-ish walk, we have arrived at the front of the memorial. We spy Abe.

Whew! What a climb… let’s take a break and look up at the aesthetics of it all!

And there he sits as he gazes out at the lovely city of Washington, DC.

 

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Today, I write about a legenDAIRY experience

For dinner, I fulfilled my #1 mission in HK, according to Jarkie: Going to Australia Dairy Company. From the moment I told her I would be visiting the city, she has urged, reminded, and implored me to go to this place! As all the reviews say, the place was packed, but the service was very prompt. We ordered the food to go because we were in a hurry, and it was handed to us freshly cooked and packaged in less than 10 minutes!

For dinner on Wednesday, I fulfilled my #1 mission in HK, according to Jarkie: Going to Australia Dairy Company. Beginning from the moment I told her I would be here, she has urged, reminded, and implored me to go to this place! As the reviews warned, it was packed, but the service was very prompt. We ordered the food to go because we were in a hurry, and it was handed to us freshly cooked and packaged in less than 10 minutes!

The menu was in Chinese, so my aunt ordered for us. This sandwich had a mishmash of things (egg, ham, cucumber, dressing) that sound normal, but were very tasty in combination. The cold egg custard was my favorite! Perfect consistency and sweetness. You were right, Jarkie!

The menu was in Chinese, so my aunt ordered for us. This sandwich had a mishmash of things (egg, ham, cucumber, dressing) that sound normal, but were very tasty in combination. The cold egg custard was my favorite! Perfect consistency and sweetness. You were right, Jarkie!