26 Jul

It was mid-August, I had been in Europe for about two and a half months. When I was in Bern (Switzerland) a week or so earlier staying with the family of a girl I had just met, I mentioned I was going to go to Vienna. She told me she had a friend in Vienna.

So I sent a facebook message to a complete stranger, saying that I was a friend of Rahel’s, from Seattle, and would she be willing to show me around? It was a message that I think most of us have been raised to think is inherently super creepy. What if I was a serial killer? What if she was a serial killer? OH GOD EVERYONE IS SERIAL KILLERS.

Well, no.

And she said she would be happy to! We made plans to meet at a subway station downtown at 2:00. Her other friend would be visiting, so I was invited to join them for the day. I facebook stalked her so I would have an idea of what she looked like. I was quite nervous, because I’d never just met up with a complete stranger in a foreign city before.

That morning, I walked around Vienna. Went to H&M. Because I went to H&M in just about every single city I visited.

2:00 rolled around and I went to the subway station and stood on the platform in the middle of the two tracks, scanning faces for one that looked like the girl from the computer screen. Was that? No. Maybe? No. Oh – “umm…are you Laura?”

She was! Her friend from another town was there too, and after we introduced ourselves (they, like pretty much everyone else in Europe, conveniently spoke fluent English), the three of us went for lunch. Just like that, I had Austrian friends. Life is weird.

We ate in the courthouse cafeteria, a recommendation from Laura’s mom. It’s meant for employees, so it’s not too terribly expensive, and it’s on the roof, overlooking the city. The view was beautiful, but it was made even better because Laura and Klaus were able to tell me what things were.

We walked through the city, and I got a history lesson and a modern culture lesson and two awesome friends all at the same time.

We visited Laura’s university, where I got to see the inside of a real European university and drink free coffee from the student lounge. It’s not much different from over here.

She had been taking a dance class, and the day I was there happened to be the day of her performance. It was low-key, so it was supposed to be open only to participants in the program, but Klaus and I walked in anyways. I just had to be careful not to speak too much. All the explanations and such were in German, but music and dance cross over language barriers quite easily, so it was no problem. Definitely a “am I really here?” moment.

After the program ended, Laura wanted to talk to her friend. Klaus wanted to smoke, so we went outside and just chatted for probably 45 minutes. When you’re alone for days on end, conversation is what you miss. That was awesome.

We went to Laura’s apartment. We sat on her floor, I seem to remember there were floor cushions but maybe it was just a low futon. We drank – something. I don’t remember. We talked about Vienna and Seattle and college and Austria and things that are different and things that are the same. We pulled out a world map and explained where things are. Did you know people on opposite sides of Austria can have accents that are so different they can’t understand each other, even though they’re speaking the same language? I gave poor examples of accents from different parts of America.

Klaus invited me to come visit Graz with him, but I was too set on seeing Prague. One of my few regrets from the trip. Prague is pretty, but people make travel better.

I left around one a.m. to go to my hostel. I got an invitation the next day to join them for brunch, but by the time I got it I was already in the Czech Republic. Maybe I’ll never see either of them again. I hope I do. But if I don’t, it was still one really awesome day.


One Response to “2-MINUTE MEMOIR: VIENNA”

  1. ianmulligan08 August 3, 2013 at 4:02 am #

    The people you meet abroad always provide great stories and memories to share. Those who we meet and enjoy our time with we always hope to see again one day.

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