Tag Archives: Vienna

Impossible Thoughts

29 Mar

I began my day today with a brief stroll to a nearby hotel in Vienna.  A package was left for me and friends via a connection traveling to Vienna from New Orleans.  It’s a grey dismal morning.  As I walked through the drizzle to get my package, my thoughts began to wander.11088093_10206605264910259_504198258_n

I thought back to a conversation I had last night with friend and Reiki teacher, Elizabeth, and had to chuckle in remembering.  Her advice to me was “remember what the queen said to Alice.”  “What?” I asked.  She reminded me, in Alice in Wonderland, that Alice said “There’s no use trying, one can’t believe impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

As I exited the U-Bahn in search of my destination, I couldn’t help but consider these words… and take note of my own tendency towards fixed thinking. Although I have thought many impossible thoughts that have led me on journeys that seemed impossible indeed, I still have to be careful not to get lost in fixed thinking.  That is, when I come to what seems like a dead end and feel stuck there… to be careful not to allow myself to indeed believe that is true. Enter… impossible thoughts.

So today I am going to lighten the load of my heavy thinking and allow for some impossible thoughts to come in.  Experience tells me, that doesn’t mean they will happen.  But indeed it doesn’t mean that they won’t.  Impossible thinking can create a window for action that allows things that seem impossible… to indeed come to be.

Earlier this week I took a brief escape to the near-bye Stadtpark.  I have found recently with the lingering cold and demands on my time that I haven’t taken the time to just be in nature.  While I love the city of Vienna, without time in nature I feel starved for something and indeed disconnected from myself.  So I took a little break in my day and just wandered around the trees and communed with the pigeons.  It was a relief to me just to have some time to be, taking it in and snapping photos.

How about you, any impossible thoughts or ideas brimming in your world?  It’s always great to hear from you!

It is a quiet Sunday morning here.  There seems to be a hush in the city as if it has not yet woken up.  A solitary bird sings outside despite the gloomy skies. Good-bye for now from Vienna!

Vienna Winter

23 Feb

It’s a grey Monday in Vienna.  The common sentiment I seem to hear lately is, “Is winter over yet?”  In truth, winter here has not been that cold…. but still winter, nonetheless.  Recently the cold has diminished enough to rain instead of snow.  But the sentiment and mood of a long grey winter remains. The early birds are starting to arrive which gives me hope that perhaps spring is not far around the corner.

I took my German test today.  If was our first of two tests in the trimester.  This past weekend I did my best to fill my brain with the words and grammatic understanding from the course so far.  I tried to polish up some very rusty studying skills and diligently wrote note cards trying to understand and remember everything.  And the test?  Well, in truth I found it hard. It began with a listening and reading test which were both quite easy.  But when it came time for the grammer I was unsure about many of my answers.  After the test I was glad to learn I wasn’t alone as other classmates left the room wiping the sweat off their brow.  The good news is, it’s over.

After class I needed some post-test unwind time… to shake off some of my nervous and studying energy.  I took a walk around not far from where I live, near the Rathaus or City Hall.

Even though winter is grey and long, Vienna does it pretty well.  For the most part, people embrace winter here as well as the many possible winter activities. This is a bit contradictory to my nature as when it is cold I like to hibernate and stay warm. But I can’t deny my slight enchantment with winter Vienna.Skating at Eintraum, Vienna

Today on my post-test stroll I wandered by the Eistraum (translation is ice dream) an impressive skating and winter play area in front of the Rathaus.  It’s a maze of ice skating paths and arenas for young and old alike.  I stopped and caught a glimpse of some of the afternoon skaters, some whizzing by and others relying on the wall for stability.


While it was fun to watch, I can’t say that I wanted to grab my skates and glide along. Perhaps too many memories of adolescent Friday nights and bad 80s music.

So for now, I am warm and cumfy back at home.  Life has been somewhat quiet lately as I’ve settled into my modest caretaking role while my hostess is away in the US.  And the grey winter continues.

How is life for you wherever you may be?  It’s always good to hear from you!

Valentine’s Diversion

15 Feb

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  A day in truth I typically forget and don’t pay much attention to.  When I exited the underground into the heart of the city, I was greeted by the always impressive Saint Stephen’s Cathedral and a feisty (in a laid back Viennese sort of way) assortment of costumed workers selling tours in a wide selection of languages.  I turned the corner and noticed a few men selling brightly colored roses.  I paid them no mind and continued on my way, enjoying the sunshine and focused on navigating to my tourist destination for the day.

Ever the bad navigator, I walked in the wrong direction.  But perhaps not wrong after all.  I passed by an impressive building, doors open with a red carpet welcoming a steady collection of people.  I paused and looked hesitatantly, curious what was happening.  A kind man offered me a red envelope and then said something to me in German (which mostly I still don’t understand…)  “Ich spreche Englisch…” I offered.  Like many Viennese, he easily flipped the switch and changed his conversation to English.  “I have a Valentine letter for you from God” he said as he offered the red envelope in a friendly and gentle manner.  The building as it turns out is the home of the Archbishop and once a year he opens the doors… on Valentine’s day.  I was invited in for a spell to have some tea and rest a bit in the chapel if I like.  “Sure” I said.  Who am I to turn down a Valentine’s invitation from God.  So, gratefully, I accepted the letter and made my way inside.

I followed the red carpet elegantly escorting me into the courtyard with friendly yet reserved folks there to welcome me and others guests.  There were lit torches along the pathway that eventually led to the chapel.  At the entrance I was offered a sheet of paper to write down my prayers or intentions as well as some candles to light.  I made my way into the intimate space filled with gentle music being played and sung live from the first few rows.  I took a moment to pray and made and effort to hold back the tears and sobs that often want to come rolling out when I enter a place of prayer.  I did my best to lay down my burdens for the day and took a moment to reflect surrounded by the quiet energy of the other visitors who seemed somewhat like me, a bit unsure but also enchanted by this unexpected diversion.

I brought my written intentions to the front of the chapel and dropped them into the bowl collecting them, lit my candles and selected a bible verse printed on strips of paper in a bowl to the right.  I took a glimpse at the verse thinking perhaps my A-2 level German had prepared me to understand just a bit…. but that was not the case.  Shortly after, I left with my bible verse and Valentine’s letter from God, both in German to be understood or translated at a later time I suppose.  But still, a gift nonetheless.

After that, I continued on my way.  I reworked my navigation, became clear I went (sort of) in the wrong direction, and shortly after arrived at my planned destination.  But still, appreciative of my unexpected Valentine’s diversion and grateful for the gentle reminder of love and the simple but generous act of a small collection of volunteers in the heart of Vienna.

Featured image, a burst of light through a narrow corridor in the heart of Vienna.

German Learnin’ and Gross National Happiness

25 Jan

It’s a sleepy Sunday morning in Vienna.  I woke up to the early morning sound of snow shoveling.  I peeked out my window and there it was.  A fresh blanket of snow.  It is a rare sight this winter in Vienna. It is funny how a little snow still evokes a child-like happiness in me.  While is it a quiet, gray day…the snow covered streets brought a bit of brightness into the morning.

I have been tucked in bed sorting through some of my German lessons for the week.  Our new trimester started a few weeks ago.  Beginning the new term, it was as if our German course went through a metamorphosis over the Christmas holiday.  The course, content and speed of learning has all increased.  With the new term comes a fresh new array of faces. Students from Italy, Vietnam, South Korea among other places.  All of us swimming together in the often foggy waters of learning German.


As part of my New Years enthusiasm, I joined a few expat groups to get my year started.  The AWA (American Women’s Organization), Inter Nations, as well as a group on meet-up.com called Internationals in Wien.  These groups have given a jump-start to my new year with a fresh array of faces and activities.

Earlier this week I joined the AWA on a tour of Webster University, an American University with a satellite campus in Vienna, among other locations. As a native of St. Louis, MO, I knew Webster University well. It’s main campus is based in a tree-lined neighborhood of St. Louis called Webster Groves. I went to high school just down the street. Months ago when I discovered Webster had a campus here it peaked my interest.  So when the opportunity to take a tour came about, I jumped at the chance.

WebsterCourtyardIt was great to be at the tour, see the beautiful building and reconnect a bit with the lively energy and intellect of Universities and all that comes with that.  Also great was to meet many of the women who attended.  I had the pleasure of connecting with American women who’s travels were rich and unexpected.  One lived four years in Cambodia.  Another was moving to Tokyo in a few weeks.  While in some ways I do long for a life and place that feels more like “home”, I can’t deny the stories of life in foreign lands still inspires me to the core.

While visiting Webster I learned they had a guest speaker that night.  It was Dr. Tho Ha Vinh, Program Director at the Center for Gross National Happiness in the small Asian country of Bhutan.  It turns out the Dr. Vinh grew up in part in Vienna and has ties with Austria.  His topic caught my attention, a theme in general of interest to me, and nicely in line with the book I am reading, What Happy People Know.  This was an opportunity not to be missed, so I returned later that evening to attend.

vinh_thoI first heard of Bhutan and their Gross National Happiness project while watching a documentary called Happy. It explores
human happiness through interviews with people from all walks of life in 14 different countries, weaving in the newest findings of positive psychology.  Bhutan and their GNH initiative was featured and it peaked my interest.

The general idea of Gross National Happiness is to take into consideration a wider, yet still specific and measurable, range of values and use this as a guide and tool for decision-making for the country. Bhutan is indeed a tiny little country with a total population of about 750,000 people.  As mentioned by Dr. Vinh, up until the 1970s they still had primarily a bartering economy. And while since then it has developed in more modern ways, the aim and priority is still to serve the people in a more balanced and complete way rather than being completely driven by financial gain and the GNP or GDP.

Dr. Vinh shared there are specific and measurable way that they define happiness.  Here are their qualifications:

  • Happiness cannot exist while others suffer.
  • It can come only from serving others, living in harmony with nature, and realization of our own inner wisdom.

Not the typical driving forces of a country!  He went on to describe their Four Guiding Pillars.

  1. Good Governance
  2. Preservation of the Environment
  3. Preservation of Culture
  4. Fair and Sustainable Socio-economic Development

It was a breath of fresh air to hear Dr. Vinh share Bhutan’s exploration.  Admittedly, he acknowledged this country is not without challenges.  He shared that as Bhutan continues to develop in modern ways, their challenges grow and increase.  But as a nation they are committed to decision-making based on a different set of values. Listening to his talk was a good reminder to consider a wider set of guiding pillars in my own life and decision making.

And so now my snowy Vienna morning continues.  My fabulous host family busily prepares today for their impending departure. The whole family will have an adventure together for a few weeks in the fine city of New Orleans, my former home. I will remain here and enjoy the progression of my life and German Learning in Vienna.

Bye for now from wintry Vienna!

Prosit Neujahr!

3 Jan

Happy New Year!  2015 has slipped into our lives.  I find I am responding in typical New Years fashion, reassessing some things in my life, setting new priorities and taking action.  My New Year’s celebration here in Vienna was a great introduction to some of the traditions here in Austria.

mushroomcupAustria brings an element of sophistication and elegance to the New Year.  It was a cold New Years eve in Vienna, but still we spent a bit of time in the center of town, the heart of the celebration. We were surrounded by booths selling spiced wine and Austria’s favorite symbols of good luck for the New Year, including the mushroom and the pig. I was enchanted by the stage teaching people to waltz, watching the pairs glide around the dance floor bundled up in the cold winter air.

Back at the home front we shared a good meal and partook in the New Year’s tradition called Bleigießen, or pouring lead. It’s quite simple.  Each person gets a lead trinket shaped maybe like a bell or a heart, almost like a monopoly piece. This is put in a spoon, held over a candle and melted.  When it is completely melted, you dump it into cold water and watch what happens.  The melted lead instantly hardens into a new shape.  Here is the trick… you next look at the shape and see what it looks like to you and whatever it is, is your message for the new year.  As we were playing, we checked out websites to learn the meanings of the many different shapes and symbols.  Here are mine.  What do you think they look like?

Bleigießen, a led pouring New Years Eve tradition.


At midnight my Austrian hosts were sure to dance the traditional waltz at midnight.  The Pummerin bell at St. Stephens Cathedral rang.  It only rings only once annually, at midnight to bring in the New Year.  Neighbors were shooting off fireworks.  And it was the New Year!

Welcome GyspyWomanCafe.com!gwc

I have been ringing in the New Year with a few changes here.  You may notice that I have a new URL and with it a  slightly new title for my blog – www.GypsyWomanCafe.com.  With this change has come some blog updates, a little redecorating and rearranging the furniture.  Here are a few of the highlights!

New Blog Topics

With the introduction of Gypsy Woman Cafe comes a refined and expanded list of blog topics.  Included are the familiar Travel Stories and Travel Tips.  I am introducing a new topic called A Sip of Wisdom, where I will continue to share experiences and stories related to some of my favorite topics including spirituality, health and well-being.  The Blog Topics menu can be easily accessed on the right sidebar of my blog. If you’d like to learn more, please visit my new START PAGE to get the full details.

Graphic Design and Reiki

Graphic Design and Reiki

I have expanded my menu to include a more detailed presentation of the services I offer, Graphic Design and Reiki.  With my combined thirty years of experience in Graphic Design and Reiki, I am grateful to offer these services no matter where I am in the world.  Please let me know if I can be of service!

Facebook Fan Page

I have updated my Facebook Fan Page to reflect my new title and URL with new graphics as well.  Visit facebook.com/gyspywomancafe to take a look!  And if you haven’t already, I’d love it if you’d “like” my page!

And so my changes for 2015 have begun.  I look forward to keeping my momentum with a few new changes in other areas of my world.  Top of my list of “new beginnings” for 2015 is to FINALLY find a yoga class I like and attend regularly during my time here.

How about you?  Any new changes for 2015?  Let me know!  It’s always good to hear from you!

Life Without Sugar

14 Nov

It’s a gray Thursday afternoon in Vienna.  Today I have few plans or responsibilities and I have treated myself to a day of leisure spending most of the day in my pajamas. I appreciate having a day to myself to tend to the quieter indoor things that I truly love and need from time to time.

As many of you know, a big part of my life, traveling and living in foreign lands, includes negotiating a way to eat healthy.  For me this means eating plenty of vegetables and fruits, healthy protein and carbs, as much as possible no glutten, and absolutely… no sugar.  This is not always an easy pursuit within the larger adventure of living in new places around the globe.  But the benefit for me far outweighs the complications.

Considering the health benefits that life with no sugar has brought to my life, it seems worth mentioning here from time to time.

The truth is, life without sugar and eating healthy has become sort of my… hobby. When traveling, I actually enjoy diving in to new “bio” or organic shops, finding new and healthy foods to eat.  I have become a bit of a health food nerd.  In Vienna there are plenty of options which is a big change from the more limited selections in South Korea.  But still, it is an adventure…  Learning to read labels in German.  Asking strangers for help translating when I don’t understand something. Over the years I have learned, paying attention to what is in my food is of the utmost importance for myself and my well-being. So, regardless of the discomfort or inconvenience, I take the time to find out what is in my food.

Ten Years of No Sugar

I first quit sugar about ten years ago.  I was going through a terrible health crisis and was willing to do simply anything to feel better.  A friend at the time had read the book Sugar Blues and was trying out life with no sugar.  “What the heck!” I thought and bought the book too.  Bottom line, the message of this book is sugar is poison… and we shouldn’t eat it.  End of Story.

After reading the book, I went “cold turkey” and stopped eating sugar.  I immediately noticed some difference in my health and well-being.  What was most interesting, however, was how I felt, after quitting sugar, when I accidentally (or on purpose!) ate some sugar.  It was off the charts.  I was 100% clear that sugar made me feel terrible, emotionally and physically.  I had eaten sugar all my life and until I quit it, I had no idea what it actually did to my body.

My body has a negative physiological reaction to sugar, but the most notable reaction for me is my mood.  When I eat sugar my moods are dramatically more erratic.  My anger is easily lit like a fuse. So after years of experience, I do my best to stay away.


It is not always easy to live in other countries, be with new people and maintain this diet that is healthy for me.  When I lived in Korea I had a friend write a note in Korean saying that I did not eat sugar and please recommend something on the menu without it.  I took a picture of it with my phone and had it available for when needed.  My experience is often in other countries they just don’t GET why someone would not want to eat sugar… when it is such a wonderful treat. When I was in Germany I was told that people actually think that sugar is good for their kids and give them a spoonful of sugar for their health. In Korea, sugar is added to MOST of their foods. In restaurants it is often considered rude to ask for food a special way or ask what is in it.

In the United States, more and more people are considering that sugar is worth taking out of their diet.  When I was back in the States recently, it was  a relief to discover a restaurant or two that didn’t scowl at me when I asked what the ingredients were and even happily provided a meal for me with no sugar, guaranteed.

The tricky thing about not eating sugar is that is is everywhere.  In the States (and other countries as well) it is hidden in the spaghetti sauce, kidney beans, corn, salsa, turkey… just to name a few.  I feel like I have to be a super-food-detective because if not, likely some sugar (or other terrible things!) will sneak in to what I eat.  The other challenge here is there are foods that can react in your body like sugar. Some of these are obvious, such as alcohol.  Additionally, simple carbohydrates like white rice, white bread and pasta break down in our bodies more rapidly and turn to sugar quickly.  Other foods for me that trigger my body like sugar are potatoes and corn.

Is Quitting Sugar for You?

I can really get that people don’t want to give up their sweets!  But if you are struggling with physical or emotional challenges, it is worth taking a look at quitting sugar.  The truth is, you don’t really know what it is doing to your body until you stop eating it. If you would like to explore a bit more, here are a couple of good resources:

Hungry for Change
This popular video on health and nutrition is a good introduction to changing our eating habits.  Their discussion includes the topic of sugar.

Sugar Blues by William Dufty
This is the book that I read ten years ago that first opened my eyes to the hazards of sugar.

Radiant Recovery
This program is based on the research of Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D. who introduces a concept called sugar sensitivity.  She offers a simple and balanced approach to eating a healthy diet that supports emotional health and well-being without the need for refined sugars and other overly sweet foods.  The foundation of this diet is, every meal, eat healthy carbs and protein.  Her approach is simple and clean and when taken one step at a time, a great way to easily get sugar out of your life.  She also features a child-friendly site called Little Sugar Addicts.

Sugar Free Recipes

I am a steadfast collector of no sugar added recipes on Pinterest.  Most recipes featured include simple, healthy ingredients and no sugar added.  When cooking sugar-free I never add artificial sweeteners and also do my best to stay away from or minimize even natural sweeteners like agave nectar and honey.  Here are some links below if you’d like to check them out:

Healthy Soups and Sides

Crockpot Recipes

Rice Cooker Recipes

Breakfast and Desserts
(I have learned it is best for me to mostly stay away from sweet things of any type.  It just feeds the need for sweets.  But still, here are some healthier sweet recipes options…)

The bottom line when exploring a no sugar and healthier diet is to pay attention to your body and see what does… and doesn’t work for you!

Here is wishing you happy eating adventures!  If you have any no-sugar or healthy eating adventures to share, wherever you are in the world, I would love to hear from you!  And feel free to ask any questions you may have.  I am happy to respond.

Good night for now after a quiet day in Vienna!

Featured photo, a sweet day in Vienna at Stadtpark with my Austrian hosts.

Parting with Familiarity

22 Oct

A friend of mine recently submitted the new featured quote for this Gypsy Woman blog.  Her chosen theme couldn’t have been more timely… or appropriate.  It’s message is, simply, that if we want to grow we will have to part with some things we are attached to… including, and at its base, habits and ways of life that are familiar to us.

While I admit there is nothing wrong with a gentle dose of familiarity… sometimes our cherished habits and ways of being can set limits on our dreams, goals, wishes and desires.  After nearly four years of international travel, parting with familiarity has in its own way become familiar to me. But still, it seems that each new destination requires that I strip off a layer of familiarity in the name of my own growth and development.

The larger truth of this gypsy escapade is that growth has become a lifeline for me, a required text for this course in my life.  And while for me there are elements that are UNCOMFORTABLE as I face each new experience and circumstance, it is undoubtedly true that without this discomfort… I would not grow…

I write this presently with an equal doses of pleasure in the foreignness of my new surroundings coupled with the inevitable sense of loss that comes with departing more familiar scenery.  Each day in Vienna offers somethings new and inviting, but simultaneously are daily entanglements with my losses of familiarity. After living in South Korea for nearly two years, Vienna comes with certain comforts for this American bent mind. Most notably, it offers an alphabet I can recognize and a culture that is more at ease with speaking English. But oddly enough, in many ways Korea too became familiar to me… and so that is swimming in my pool of loss, change and growth.

New to me on this journey is studying a language. I am taking a German course!  So far on this international road I have found it quite possible to travel many places speaking only English.  More and more, it seems English is a global language.  However, when the opportunity to take a German class while in Vienna was presented, I thought it was a no-brainer to finally take a leap and explore a new level in my travel.  The idea of speaking another language has always appealed to me… it is the practicality of it, the sea of new words and rules and my adult English-formed neural pathways, that always seemed to get in my way…

After five ultra beginner German classes, I am already knocking loudly on the door of unfamiliarity.  My instructor shared just the other day that to speak German we will slowly have to let go of our own language… and not try to translate every word from German to English as often… you can’t. When first she said this I felt a little panic like being asked to give up a favorite childhood toy or blanket.  But as I relax more with the German sounds and phrases we learn in class, I can see this makes good sense.

Unfamiliarity and foreignness do have an allure and charm of their own. There is the innocence in exploring a new language and land.  The child-like pleasure of learning to count to ten again and communicate the simplest of things in a new way.  The simple pleasure of doing ordinary things, like going to the grocery store and finding new foods or spending new money.

In my present circumstances, I am living with and assisting a family with the care of their child and family life. This too in many ways is unfamiliar. In my past years of wandering, I have taught the youngest of students and at times lived in community with a wide array of “others”.  As most of my adult life has been independent living and the past four years a gypsy, family life lives in the realm of unfamiliar. It is new to me to sit next to my new young German-speaking friend and let her head rest on my lap as she trickles tears and wipes her nose after her mom and dad leave her alone with me for the first time.  And still new to me to find my place, be of service, and meet my own needs within the life and patterns of an established family, generous and giving as they are.

So this new beginning, as the others have been, is met with the push and pull of growth and loss… joy and challenge.  And for now, for this moment, I am content with the balance of the two.  After a lovely morning attending my german class, and now some quiet time in the afternoon to write, do yoga, drink tea… I am delighting in the balance.

How about you?  Any stories of growth to share?  Any new explorations being met with resistance?  If you’d like to share, it’s always great to hear from you!

I was told yesterday would be the last warm day until April.  Yikes!  I woke up today to grey skies and chilly temperatures.   Good-bye for now from the newly fall weather and historic streets of Vienna.


15 Oct

It is early afternoon and I have recently returned from my second German class.  This class is a pleasant experience, but humbling nonetheless as I gently wade into the pool of speaking German.  Intended for the very beginners, instruction is delivered all in German with students from around the globe including Turkey, Mexico, Spain and South Korea… and me, from the USA.  It seems it will be a while before I can converse in German. But after two classes, I can ask your name and sort of… count to twenty.

This past week has been a gentle introduction into the world and life of Vienna and Austria.  In truth, much to my natural pace, I have been exploring little bits at a time.  I have just begun to see the sights of my neighborhood, the 7th district in Vienna, and appreciate simple finds like snacks at a local bio (organic) store suitable for this health-conscious traveler.Outdoor break

My hosts have been generous with their weekend, taking time to show me around.  Twice we hopped in their car, not their standard mode of transportation in public-transit-friendly Vienna, and set out beyond the city limits.  Saturday we had a lovely dinner with friends of theirs and also took a quick look at the Klosterneuburg Monastery on the way.

On Sunday we headed out to Gumpoldskirchen (say that three times fast…) and took a little stroll among the vineyards and countryside.  We couldn’t have been luckier with blue skies and a sunny summerish day.  After aAmong the vineyards modest hike we took a brief respite in a perfect outdoor spot featuring local wines, grape juice and light snacks.  We sat with others amongst the tables and haystacks for chairs and just let the beautiful weather sink in.  Next we went to a near-by restaurant called a Heuriger featuring the local wines of the year and simple local foods.  We found a sunny spot on the deck on the second floor and finished the day with a leisurely meal and some good company.

On my own I have found my way to a few local places including the Belvedere Palace and most recently a long stroll down the Donaukanal (“Danube Canal“) that runs through the heart of the city.  I have found folks in Vienna so far to be friendly and helpful.  Many are willing to speak English and offer a kind word or… directions when needed….Belvedere Palace

I have taken note of a few unexpected things so far in Vienna.  I learned that Vienna has the best drinking water right out of the tap!  In fact there is a pipeline that brings water direct from the alps! Amazing!  I was also surprised to see a taxi that was a Mercedes-Benz.  A far cry for the modest models of taxis in the States. I asked, “Is it typical for taxi’s to be such nice cars?”  “Yes,” they said.  In fact, they shared that all taxis are mostly Mercedes or Toyota hybrid cars.

With Fall still somewhat at bay, I continue to slowly sink into my new chapter in Vienna.  Reaching out to a few new connections and possibilities.  Knocking on a few doors for freelance work opportunities.  My hosts’ daughter and I are gently getting acquainted.  As I only speak English (for now…) and she speaks German, we have a funny little dance of getting to know each other…. a common word here and there, a few German words on my part, translation from mom and dad. In less than two weeks, her mom and my host will be off an adventure of her own.  While she is away, things will change here for me as I take a larger role in childcare, cooking and the like.  After nearly two years of living on my own in Korea, that too is an adventure in its own way.

Early evening is setting in.  Tonight I cook my first simple meal for the family.  And tomorrow, well, more exploration.  Good-bye for now from the historic streets of Vienna.

 Featured photo at top taken along the Donaukanal in the heart of Vienna.

Hello Vienna!

7 Oct

I am at home on a cool Fall afternoon eating delicious leftover goulash.  But this home is none that I have known before.  I have left the midwest and my business in DC is complete.  After a three-hour layover in Istanbul courtesy of Turkish Airlines, I now find myself… newly at home in… Vienna.

How one gets from South Korea to the US and then to Vienna is no common road.  I did not simply wake up one day and think… hmmm, perhaps I will go to Vienna.  It seems, somehow that it was Vienna that wanted me to come to her… with of course, some mutual agreement.

It began simply with an introduction.  A friend noticed on Facebook that I have the exact same birthdate (day, month and year) as a friend of his in Austria.  “Perhaps it would be fun to connect you?” he shared.  Whole heartedly I agreed and we began exchanging stories of ourselves and lives, comparing notes from where our personalities and preferences were similar.  She soon shared that she would be traveling twice to the US this year to work on an e-book project.  When she mentioned her need to create a way to support her husband and child while she was gone, it didn’t take long for both of us to have the thought… that I could come to Vienna!

A little anxiety, some well-organized planning, and an unexpected Visa trip to DC later… and before I knew it I was leaving Dulles airport on my way to Vienna.

Over my past 3 1/2 years of travels, it has been purely by accident that each major destination is separated by a time of respite in the States.  And so just as my mind and body start to sink back in my American ways, it is time to leave again.  This transition is frequently met with at least a little distress but overshadowed by the excitement of what is to come.  I find as I transition from one “life” to the next, it is easiest for me to stay in the present moment, take it one step at time, and allow the change to unfold in my reality as it happens rather than in the fortress of my mind and imagination.

I was greeted at the airport in Vienna by an exuberant friendly face. I felt a rush of emotion as I saw face to face the woman I had been writing to and came to think of as friend.  Her home was a pleasant taxi ride away from the airport and just minutes after my landing, I entered into the world of Vienna.

My first experience of Vienna was unlike any city that I had ever lived in before.  Beauty and history gently surrounding me.  When we arrived at her home, I was shocked and delighted to enter into a lovely courtyard in the heart of the city decorated in Viennese historical stature.  “This is your home?”  I thought in delight.  And for now, for a little while, it is also mine.

I slowly began to move through my jet lag, spending much of my first day on my own in my pajamas.  Today, however, I ventured out into the neighborhood a bit.  I can’t help but be giddy and perhaps a little intimidated by the beauty, culture and architecture that surrounds me. Never before have I taken a walk around my local block only to easily stumble upon historical empires, museums and theaters.

I left armed with a simple map and no real plan except to turn left when I exited the small corridor where their apartment is located.  After being in Korea for nearly two years, it is a noticeable difference to begin to negotiate a city that, while still foreign to me, at least has an alphabet I can recognize.  I couldn’t help but take note of how comfortable and at ease I felt wandering around.  My friend and host shared that Vienna is a safe city.  And while you may still have your pickpockets from time to time, there is not much to be concerned about.  That was apparent in my little outing today.  Even when I had ended up in an area where I was “not quite sure where I was”… I felt in my bones that all was well.

And now here I am, content to have successfully negotiated my way home.  And more content to feel the warmth of inside and enjoy more of my hosts delicious cooking.

I begin to delve into the German language on Monday with a beginners German class that will meet three times a week.  It is a great treat for me to be entering a new country with the opportunity to study the language in a more formal way.  My hosts are quite generous giving me time and space to first settle in and adjust to my new environment.

Good-bye for now from my new place in the world.  I am grateful for some quiet time as I ease into a new chapter of life and adventure in Vienna.


Featured photo:  A sneak peak of the courtyard from my cumfy room here in Vienna, Austria.

%d bloggers like this: