The hills are alive…

I’m guessing that you want to hear all about my trip to Austria. If not, that’s too bad, because that’s what you’re getting.

It turns out that there really aren’t any hills in Vienna, although The Sound of Music is the first thing anyone asks me about. That took place in Salzburg, people.

The trip is too vast to try and put into a tiny blog, so I’ll have to just hit the highlights:

  1. Ice cream is good.
    It turns out that the Viennese eat a lot of ice cream, especially when the weather is nice, as it was the first two days I was there. Funnier to me is the fact that even when the weather turned 40° and raining, people were still walking around with ice cream. Out of habit, I guess. (And it’s really good ice cream. I’ve been trying to recreate the experience with Baskin Robbins now that I’m home, but it’s really not happening.)
  2. I went lots of places.
    I can’t describe them all, so I’ll instead just give you a list of them: Schönbrunn castle; the Hofbrau; the Schatzkammer (treasure chamber) of the Hapsburgs; a Kandinsky exhibit; Parliament; Vienna’s Rathaus (city hall); lots of platzes. There were probably 15-20 UBahn trips, several bus trips, and a ride on the Schnellbahn.
  3. Catacombs are cool.
    That’s a little double entendre, actually. Catacombs are both spooky and neat and really chilly. St. Stephan’s catacombs were exactly what I expected them to be and the best €5 that I spent.
  4. It’s easy to feel European in a café.
    We spent part of nearly every afternoon sitting in a café, drinking hot chocolate and reading books. And dog-watching, which was great. I love that the Viennese take their dogs on the trains, into cafés, etc. The dogs are all very well-behaved (the people are alright, for the most part, too).
  5. The downside is smoke.
    Everything I owned was drenched in smoke from the incessant smoking of the people around me. And yet, interestingly, when we asked the kids in one class at Erin’s school how many of them smoked, the answer was only 3 out of about 11 or 12.
  6. I now have an amusing “going through international security” story.
    Everyone needs one of those! It went like this:
    (leaving Amsterdam)

    <SEC> Has anyone given you anything to carry?
    <me> No. Oh…wait. Books!
    <SEC> (quizzical look)
    <me> Yeah, I got some books from my friend that I was staying with.
    <SEC> You “got” books from her? You just took them from her? Or they were like a gift?
    <me> No, no, she gave them to me.
    <SEC> Like a gift.
    <me> No, they’re for someone else. She asked me to take them back to the States for her.
    <SEC> What kind of books?
    <me> Um … paperbacks.
    <SEC> And you’ve flipped through them?
    <me> Uh, no. I mean, I’ve flipped through one of them; I’m reading it.
    <SEC> How long have you known this person?
    <me> … nine months …
    <SEC> And you haven’t flipped through them? … But they’re just books?
    <me> Right.
    <SEC> I have to go speak to my supervisor.
    And then I was cleared. <whew>

All in all, it’s good to be home. I had such a good time, though, which is mostly due to Erin who very kindly dragged my sore limbs to all the sights in Vienna. I hosteled without incident. I ate Austrian food without incident. I escaped terrible seatmates for my 11-hour flights. It was a very good trip…

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