(I wrote this entry this morning in my room where I don’t have internet, so I’m posting it now, at 3 PM, as I recover from schnitzel-coma…more on that later.)
Grüss Gott, Vienna!
I went to bed at 10:15 last night, which means that I’m now pretty much fully awake at 6:30, after not sleeping especially well because, let’s face it, when was the last time I had a good night’s sleep anywhere but my own bed? So I thought I would start blogging, even though I won’t be able to post it until later (there’s free internet access at the Pension Dr. Geissler, where I’m staying, but I can only get it in the dining room on the 8th floor).
This was my first time flying “local” from Charles de Gaulle (read: within the European Union; indeed, within the Schengen Area), which meant that my experience this time around was much more pleasant than I was expecting. I did end up having to check my suitcase because it was too heavy to carry on…I’ve never had to weigh a carry-on before. Anyway, I let them check it and then realized that my laptop was still inside. Luckily, the folks at the Austrian Air desk were unbelievably kind and helpful, and they got my bag back for me so I could take my laptop out, and then re-checked it. Très gentil, n’est-ce pas?
I was stressed out and sweaty by the time I got to my gate, but I did have a good laugh about the bathroom in my terminal. Apparently they want to make you forget that it smells like a bathroom…
…by making you think it smells like a field of lavender in Provence? Go figure.
Uneventful if slightly queasy plane ride. I liked Austrian Air. I didn’t feel ashamed of speaking English instead of German. Maybe it’s just that I know I can’t possibly speak competent German, so speaking English feels less like taking the easy way out, but the flight attendants were also terribly nice, and spoke great English. It was like they were saying, “Don’t worry about the German, we’ve got you covered!” On Air France they speak English almost begrudgingly, and with the thickest possible accents, so that trying to communicate in English almost feels inconvenient.
Even the snack was good! I mean, how could it not be, with a name like
I wasn’t going to eat it. I had a huge sandwich at home around 12:30, and an orange in the airport, and I had another orange in my purse. My plan was to wait until I got into Vienna and go get something Viennese for dinner…but I just couldn’t make it. And that little cake was surprisingly delicious—moist, not too sweet, but with enough chocolate chips to make me happy.
The Vienna airport is one of the easiest things I have ever experienced. I was handed a free city map about thirty seconds after getting off the plane. There’s a train that gets you from the airport to Innere Stadt (center city) in 16 minutes, called the CAT (though why a Viennese train should be called City-Airport Train is beyond me). Unlike most cities I’ve visited, where public transport from the airport is on another planet from arrivals and baggage claim, in Vienna they actually sell CAT tickets at baggage claim, and provide free metro maps as well. There are only a couple of lines, so it really isn’t too hard to figure out, and about half an hour after picking my baggage up from the carousel (by the way, I found out yesterday that the word for the baggage carousel in French is the same as the word for rug–le tapis. When the guy at the Austrian Air counter told me to go wait at “tapis numéro 12” for my bag to come back, I was expecting some kind of red carpet deal…but it was just a baggage carousel), I was in the heart of Vienna, at Schwedenplatz.
It took a little experimenting to find my hotel. The address I had listed was 14 Postgasse, and while I had no trouble finding the street (I’m finding that in Europe the surest way to find the street you’re looking for is to look at the names of hotels, bars and cafés nearby. I was walking on Fleischmarkt and all of a sudden saw a hotel called “Hotel Post”…), the numbers didn’t seem to ascend or descend in any logical way. Plus the street was absolutely silent and dark—which seemed odd to this temporary Parisian and occasional New Yorker! I felt like I was making a huge racket with my suitcase on the cobblestones. I did finally find the Pension Dr. Geissler, attempted to speak German into the intercom, was greeted with a resounding “Bon soir! Entrez, madame!”, did so and took the elevator up to the reception desk, on the eighth floor.
The Pension Dr. Geissler is utterly charming, I have to say, and exactly what I wanted. It’s very small, only about 34 rooms, I believe, so they really do have your comfort in mind. I got another free map from the man at the reception desk (who was looking at the itinerary that I gave when I made my reservation, so assumed I was French, but English turned out to be easier for both of us!), who then gave me the key to my room and set me up with an hour of internet in the adorable breakfast room.
My own room was a really pleasant surprise. I knew there wasn’t going to be a toilet in the room, but I also assumed there wouldn’t be a shower (too much dorm living!)—and there was. There really was. I was thrilled, and as soon as I finish writing this I’m going to avail myself of that fabulous amenity.
Anyway, I hung up my audition dress (did I mention I’m actually in Vienna for what you might call “work”?), got my act together and went out for a stroll. I remembered that when I came out of the metro at Schwedenplatz, there had been five or six bratwurst stands (and also two kiosks selling Asian-style noodles to order…I may have to give that a try on my way out!), so I found my way back there and attempted to order in German. Apparently even “Ein Bratwurst, bitte” was beyond me, but luckily the bratwurst guy spoke a little English, so I got my sandwich and went on my merry way.
I ended up walking through what I think may be the Old City, judging by the shopping and the old-fashioned lettering on all of the signs. It’s a beautiful area, made up of mostly pedestrian streets that are absolutely wide open. I hit St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Stephanplatz, window-shopped a little, and scoped out restaurants for future meals (I’ve decided that I have to have one “traditional” Viennese meal before I leave).
Have some pictures!
Ahh, too close!
Ever wonder where the wafers in the pink packaging came from? Yeah, me neither.
This made me laugh out loud. I am so immature. Mozart balls!
Today’s plans include retracing my steps to see what it all looks like in the daytime, probably eating some really delicious things, most definitely taking a nap, and trying to get standing room tickets at the Staatsoper tonight for Otello.