8 Seeing Vienna

We arrived in Vienna in the day-light hours of Friday. But after we got to our hostel room, dumped some clothes, made our bed and discussed how tired we were, night-time had descended. And I wasn’t just tired, I was hungry. I am not good when I am hungry. So we went to Naschmarkt (a market street on our front door step). It was amazing: all the stalls were well maintained and decorated semi-permanent structures; the food for sale was sun-dried, stone-oven baked, feta-stuffed delicacies with a drizzle of olive oil and rosemary. I had a falafel sandwich, with humus and feta and a yogurt dressing and some chili for €3. It was the cheapest dinner I’ve had since I was in Thailand, and it was as big as my head! I can get used to this.

Vienna is cold, by the way. I may have mentioned that Eisenstadt is cold and that there were mounds of snow that simply never melted despite being gritted and salted. Well, compared to Vienna, Eisenstadt is positively tropical. And compared to Eisenstadt, Vienna is Siberian. Or “fresh” as my slightly insane but loveable new friend would say. We donned our crazy hats, most of us (i.e. all but me) also used gloves, and we wandered the streets.

I have never been one for architecture and culture; I just never really got it. To an extent I understood that buildings could be interesting and pretty, but I never understood why someone would take a week of their life and spend a great deal of money to look at pretty buildings. But here, in Vienna, I am reminded of a long conversation my brother and I once had:

People don’t say “happy” enough. And that’s true, happy is an underused word. We tend to rely on insincere sounding words like “fine” or exaggerated language like “fantastic”. My brother and I lamented the possibility that people underuse the word “happy” because they under-feel the emotion happiness. But here, in Vienna, I am just happy. It is difficult to explain how good it feels to feel just happy. But that’s a discussion I will steal from Sam Harris at another time.

On Friday, after the night had chilled us through our coats and to our bones we decided to take refuge in a cinema. Originally we were going to see Django Unchained which I am still excited to see at some point. But when we got the cinema we noticed something that my cultured friend assured me was amazing: The Third Man was showing. The Third Man is a British film from 1949, but it was made in Vienna and it is about a man who is investigating the death of his friend. My cultured friend insisted that we waited around until the 10.55pm showing. So we did. We waited around in a café, and drank warming drinks and talked humorous things and then we braved the cold for a little more window shopping; I have never seen a €5000 coat before. I prefer my coat.

We then lost the cinema. It simply wasn’t where it used to be, and we ran around Vienna until we could find it again. I was dressed in a way that the average British person might refer to as ‘smart casual’. In Vienna that look looks positively homeless! And we were running. We whizzed past people in full ball-gowns, giggling and panting. I think we scared a few of the locals.

Eventually we made it to the film, and despite the fact we were 10 minutes late, it hadn’t started. We sat down in the most comfortable chairs ever to have found their way into a cinema and we watched the film. You have to see The Third Man.

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