Yes I've been terrible at keeping up with my posts again. I've always got some excuse. But this time, I have a pretty good one. A couple of months ago, I think I must have been going through one of those mild premature mid-life crises where I was wondering where my life was headed, wondering what more to life there was, and maybe wanted to break from the routine. Don't get me wrong, I actually think I have it pretty good and am so blessed in so many ways, but every so often there is an itch for a little change.
A former roommate who now lives in Vienna, and who has always invited me to stay in her extra room, posted some photos of the city. After seeing them, I thought that was exactly what I needed. I booked a flight to Vienna, and a little more than a month later, I found myself walking through the Hofburg Palace grounds almost in disbelief that I was actually there. Everything was grand and beautiful, and the food... Preparing for the trip, I was looking forward to all the sweets--the strudels, the tortes, the gelato, the chocolate, and on and on. I made it a point to try different pastry shops and cafes to compare apfelstrudels and Sacher Tortes (the verdict: Oberlaa for apfelstrudel, Hotel Sacher for the Sacher Torte), and went to a market where maybe 20% the store was devoted solely to chocolate products (heavenly!). But though I've always thought Viennese food to consist of mainly meat and potatoes I found their food to be quite good.
Each day was full of new discoveries and experiences. Learning to navigate the tram, subway and train systems (within the city and getting out of the city--I visited Salzburg and did a day trip to Prague as well!), sharing a table for two with a complete stranger at an outdoor cafe (a very sweet elderly woman from Germany visiting her daughter and granddaughter in Vienna sat down at my table), forcing myself to remember to relax and enjoy the moment when it would take 30 minutes for my order to arrive (which I learned is typical--the service, I mean, maybe remembering to relax, too), seeing what amazing things we humans are capable of creating as demonstrated by the edifices and artwork (not me personally, but some other humans), and being reminded that there are those who are needy everywhere even in beautiful cities like Vienna (the homeless sleep in the subway stations at night but they seem to disappear during the day).
I'm back home now, and recovering from jet lag. It's beginning to feel as though it'll take the same amount of time as my trip to get readjusted again. I've been looking through all the photos I had taken and it all feels surreal. It felt surreal while I was there, it feels surreal looking at the pictures now. While I loved it there, and while the stark contrast of the concrete and freeways here made me want to get back on that plane and fly back over there, and while going back to work and staring at the walls of my cube made yearn for that freedom of exploration again--in spite of all that, I am also glad to be back. Sometimes, though these experiences are wonderful and exciting, in some ways, they remind me that I have much at home too. There aren't any palaces where I can make-believe I'm a princess, no lovely public gardens where I can idly sit in the shade and watch the water trickle in a fountain, but here, there is comfort in the familiar, and here, there are the people I care about.
So I have no recipe for you today. Snapshots of Vienna will have to suffice. I'm sure I'll be looking for another adventure in the not so distant future, but in the meantime, being here isn't so bad either.