After a brief dash to Poland, we arrived to our destination. Greeted by frigid air and a bitter wind, I was pumped to finally be in Österreich. Patrick and I got all of our luggage. Huge relief. Because we were about 15 km south of our hostel, we had to take a bus from the airport to the subway station. First in line and anxious to step into the heated bus, the driver opened the door and I darted back to find a seat. I took off my backpack and let out a sigh. “We’ve made it,” I think to myself. Suddenly, the bus driver starts yelling in German. It’s directed towards me. I leave my seat and walk towards the front of the bus. “Shit,” I mutter under my breath. Though he speaks in German jargon, I need no translation. I had forgotten to pay. While the driver continued to multi-task yelping at me and angrily reassuring the anxious people waiting to get on the bus, I fumbled through my purse and found 7 euro. Once I paid, he continued to bark. About what I have no idea. Confused, I continue to stand there. He’s looks at me like I’m a felon. Finally, a kind woman in line says, “You can take your seat.” And the story gets better………the couple in front of Patrick and I make out the entire ride. Not just a peck on the cheek. A full-on jaw-dropping scene of kissing, laughter, touching–the whole lot of it. Yuck. (That’s normal in Europe, apparently…)
After a rather horrifying first few steps on Austrian soil, Patrick and I are greeted by Julia and her boyfriend Danny. Basically, a friend of a friend put me in touch with Julia who currently lives and is studying in Wien. At first sight, it looked as though Julia had a dog in her purse. She sure did. His name is Whiskey. In Austria, if you want to bring your dog with you (literally anywhere), go ahead. Without asking questions, Julia and Danny kindly accompanied us to our hostel.
We arrived in Wien on Friday (2/10/12) night. Because we couldn’t move into our university housing until Monday morning, we bunked up here for the weekend. It was nothing like what I had imagined in my head. In my mind, I pictured a dirty, spider-ridden, leaky-faucet, dark shack. It was the complete opposite! It was warm, cozy, and full of international travelers. There was a bar (ladies night special every night :), guitars and a piano, a kitchen, chess boards, and cheap breakfast with a surprisingly descent cup of coffee.
Patrick and I stayed in a room with 2 Australian girls, 1 Australian guy, and 1 Swedish girl.
We got into Wien at 7:30. By 8:45, we were kickin’ it back in a bar. Oh yeah, and I ordered my own drinks because the drinking age is 18! Yay for being 21 (kind of)! The name of the bar was the “Travel Shack.” After a round of pancake shots, I had my first Austrian beer called “Zipfer.” Suddenly, I felt like I was back in Madison. If PBR has a twin, Zipfer is it. It went down too smooth. Perhaps going to a bar is not the best solution for jet-lag.
Patrick and I made friends too. Ironically, it turns out they were the 2 Australian girls we ended up sharing a room with.
Then we got a special treat. Our Austrian friends, Julia and Danny, treated us to a round of “Hammer.” It’s simple. There is a stump in the corner of the bar. You then go up to the bartender and ask for nails. Gather up a group of people and get at it. Each person takes a nail and pounds it in just enough so that it is stable. Then each person takes a turn to hit their nail with the hammer. Whoever hammers their nail into the stump first, WINS! Riveting, right? It was fun 😀 As the picture shows, it is a game which requires a great deal of concentration.
Oh, and Whiskey plays foosball. (Fun fact: The concept of foosball was conceived after Harold Searles Thornton had been to a Tottenham Hotspur F.C. football match in 1921. He wanted to provide a game that replicated football that could be played at home. The inspiration came from a box of matches: by laying the matches across the box he had formed the basis of his game.)
We spent our second day bumming around Wien with our friends Danny and Rick. After a brief run in with a Kim Kardashian look-alike, we sat down for lunch and I had my first wiener schnitzel! Fun fact: (Although the traditional Wiener schnitzel is made of veal, it is now often made of pork. It was gooooood!
Hesitant to bring my favorite pairs of shoes with me because they are “not fashionable” according to many, it just so happened that we walked past this store:
On our way back to our hostel, we stumbled along this big guy. Here, churches are everywhere, and the architecture is insanely beautiful.
Later on that night, we met up with Julia, Danny and their friends. They were having a UW-Madison reunite party because 3 of them studied as Badgers for one semester. We played flip-cup! Those familiar with flip-cup know that it is played with red SOLO cups. Unfortunately, there are no red SOLO cups in Wien. Alas, Julia created her own! Though the cup was smaller, lighter and not red, I still managed to perform like a champion.
Did I mention that you can drink in public here?
I arrived to my apartment for the semester. Currently, I have one roommate. Her name is Lena, and she is from Greece. (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, anybody??!) We haven’t spent too much time together thus far, but we did spend one night swapping stories of American politics and Greek finances over a cup of tea.
My room is way too nice. The view isn’t all that great, but it is equipped with just about everything. It is definitely a nicer living space, a place that is too expensive for my liking, but this is where I’ve been placed. I have a tv, but all of the channels are in German. Ha! Check out my pad:
And the kitchen:
And the toilet room:
There is yet a different room where I shower:
DAY 5: Happy Valentine’s Day! As I was checking out for lunch, the woman behind the counter gave me a pretty flower. All the girls who went through the line got one. Made my day 😀
I am currently in an intensive German course. It’s 4 hours each day. It fries my brain, but I’m really enjoying it. Plus, my teacher looks like John Locke:
………and he wore a Green Day t-shirt to class. Oh, and his wife’s ring tone on his phone is a barking dog….When asked why, he said, “I look at the more humorous side of it.” Whatever you say, doc. Haha, it’s been a good time and I’ve made a few new friends along the way. I haven’t had much time to sight-see and explore as my nights have been filled with German homework, registering for classes, trying to find grocery stores, and navigating the public transportation system. I’m particularly looking forward to this Friday night when our German class will be going out for a beer with John, oh I mean Paul.