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"Wir könnten nach Wien fahren"

A perfect example of how a display of peace can "stomp" out others. 
End of January, I met up with a few Au Pairs from my German class, and we said that we should all go to Vienna since it's only five hours away. We were all only fifteen kilometers from the Austrian, border, though. So we decided to walk over on a bridge ...
On a bridge between Germany and Austria. 
Picture of Germany taken from the Austrian side. 
Sadly, only two of the four of us that made the plans were able to go ... but three others joined! They were also Au Pairs, just living in Munich and friends of the boy. We decided to drive to Vienna. All of our Au Pair parents told us it was stupid to do so. The common means of transportation around here seems to be primarily by bus or train. We were told that the streets would be too narrow and crowded, the interstates clogged, and that there were too many one-way streets in Vienna, not to mention few parking spaces.

Despite all the warnings, we rented a car and drove to Vienna.

(I'll admit I was really worried at first because I know the Germans know their own homeland better than we foreigners do. But ... I reminded myself that many Germans also looked at a two-three hour drive as a weekend trip. And what we were doing was already considered by many to be a week trip. Or at least longer than for the day-and-a-half we were going.)
Oh, we hardly spoke German among ourselves. Everyone else had good English, and the others were all from Mexico or Spain, so there was a lot of Spanish, too.
I love this pedestrian sign. 
We had to buy a sticker for the car for driving on Austrian roads, but once we did that we were all set to go. We only tanked once when the car was half empty. (Oh, the car was diesel, too! Which I think is more common here than it is back in the States).

We left Saturday morning and had good mileage, interesting conversations as I hadn't met any of the girls before being squashed in the car with them, and arrived in Vienna at a decent hour to walk around.

Parking was a little hard, but we found a reasonably priced parking garage, then walked around for the evening. We had only

Pretty church we walked by

So many clothing shops, all with outrageous prices of hundreds of dollars to even thousands for a single article of clothing. 
A cute little boutique shop 
I tell you, every time I see a McDonald's in Europe, it looks out of place.

For lunch/ also my dinner we walked over an hour to a neat looking "market place" full of all sorts of food booths. At first, nothing looked good to me (or everything had pork) despite having had eaten hardly anything all day. And then I saw these most lovely pastries called Mohnzelten. They were a delicious potato pastry filled with a mildly sweet poppy seed filling. Soft and luxurious!

I literally raved out loud as I ate mine. And it was strangely satisfying, too. Afterward, I also bought a container of Asian noodles with chicken. I nearly bought some small banana peppers stuffed with sheep cheese. To be honest, I'm not sure why I didn't. Oh, and there were some delicious looking olives, that I should have probably bought, too. But either way, I did find food that made me happy in every possible way.

Out of all the people walking the streets of Vienna, I'm pretty sure we were the neatest ;) 

After exploring some more (or more accurately, wandering around) we finally returned to our car and drove to our Airbnb we had rented. It was a cute little place, plenty large for the five of us, filled with beds, books, and games.

The first thing I noticed was the shelve of German books. As my German is still elementary, I held up one of the children's books and said,"Oh, good. Books to read."

The others laughed, and went off to explore the place. As I'd already found my treasure, I sat down and started Die Kleine Meerjungfrau, which was delightfully more like the original story than Disney's remake of the Little Mermaid. When I was nearly finished, my friends returned and said, "Oh, you were actually serious about reading the books."

I chuckled, "Why wouldn't I be?"

And then I read more, some of them out loud ;p
Later that night we walked to McDonald's. But as I was exhausted and still full from my earlier purchases, I just went along for the company and more unnecessary exercise. I'm pretty sure the others thought I was crazy for not eating. But also, I didn't want to end a good day on fast food. Back at the Airbnb, as the others ate, I disappeared to do some writing, and I think they thought me especially crazy.

"Too tired to eat, but she's writing? Okay then ... "

I rejoined them shortly after with a deck of cards I'd found, and taught them all how to play American Rummy.
Smoke ... may be toxic for the environment, but sure makes for intoxicating photos ;) 
I just love colorful houses! 
Our first destination on Sunday morning was to visit the hundertwasserhaus. We definitely had more stress parking on Sunday. We'd been heavily warned about parking tickets, and that hardly any place was free to park, especially if it was in a residential area. Every area seemed it might be in a residence. So, we took some risks and parked.

After visiting unique apartment complexes, we grabbed a quick breakfast at a bakery (I bought a spinach sandwich and a pomegranate tea). Then we spent the rest of the day searching for decent parking places and visiting nearly every castle in the vicinity.

Street musicians wearing masks

I'll admit, I like weird photos ;D 
What's a trip without a mirror selfie? Especially when you all are crowded on an elevator? 
I had to take a double look when I saw this UPS. I've grown so accustomed to the DHL yellow trucks, that at first I wasn't for sure why this seemed so odd. "It's American," I realized. And I felt a little homesick and told my friends the joke of Fed-Ex and UPS joining and becoming FedUp. 
Gorgeous necklaces that I did not buy, nor would I ever allow a guy to buy for me. But nice to look at ;) 
For some reason, the small pebbles had my fascination, almost more so than the magnificent castle standing just in front of me. 
Our shadows especially enjoyed visiting Vienna 
A dirty basin of water that I think is popular

After walking and driving and all that good touristy stuff, we went for pizza. I mostly ate what you see on the bottom right half of the pizza. Veggies with corn and black olives and other such goodies.

We then drove about four-five hours home. More conversation interspersed with car junk food, and even a bit of napping on my part. And of course, lots of Spanish music, which I really enjoyed.
I should probably look up the English lyrics. But it's so pretty I don't want to ruin it ;) 
This song gave me chills just listening to the Spanish version and not knowing the words. But when the others told me the story behind it, if how it is about a train that was bombed, the chills really set it.

I was dropped off at my home around ten that night. And I was completely exhausted and went straight to bed (after writing and journaling, first, of course ;p).

It was a very short weekend, packed full of relaxed exploring and fascinating conversations. I love "interviewing" people, and so thoroughly enjoyed hearing of the other's life goals, Au Pair experiences, and stories of how they were brought up in their homes. In some ways, I had been dreading the weekend. I was recovering from pink eye, as exhausted as I ever am, and stressed out about a couple things that I was trying to not let consume me.

If anything, I think this weekend was good because I had to constantly take myself out of my stress and live in my presence. I mean, how sad would it have been to spend a week in Vienna with your mind and heart elsewhere? So, yeah, I managed mostly, and have some great memories because of it.
Do you recognize any of these castles or buildings? If you went to Vienna what would you want to see? Would you ever travel with complete strangers? Have you stayed in an Airbnb?


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