By now, every detail of Austria has kind of merged together into a big, gooey memory. About as fattening as all of the butter-fried food. Kike and I spent four full days in Vienna and Salzburg with a disastrous few hours of snowboarding in Zell-am-See on the side. I have wanted to see Austria since my college friend Jess studied there, and I wasn’t disappointed, not even by the cold.
I don’t really feel like getting into details, so I will provide instead a few vignettes that stuck out in my mind:
On our first morning in Vienna, after a very expensive breakfast of just coffee and a roll with butter and jam, Kike and I hiked to the center of town from our hostel via Mariahilfer SchloB, the main shopping street. We saw all the normal things you might find on Tetuan or Sierpes – tons of clothing and electronics stores, a few scattered historical monuments, chestnut vendors. Then we heard a bleat and saw that a woman had a donkey on a leash and a sign saying, “Help me overcome the winter.” A few blocks later her buddy had her goat on a chain.
Austrian food is full of fat and butter and it made me start to feel nasty by the end of the trip. We did go to a really authentic restaurant where we were some of the only clients. Smutny’s is famous for its Austrian grub, so we chose veal cutlets with potatoes and vegetables, goulash and two huge pints of Otterkring beer (maybe one of my favorites). Not only did we eat until our veins burst, but the atmosphere and the service were incredible. After a long day on the ski slopes, it was wonderful.
Speaking of ski slopes, I was a little disappointed with the grooming at Zell-am-See. I was grumpy because our trip there took forever and the ski rental took even longer. On top of it all, the runs were steep and icy and people in Europe don’t follow American ski rules. You know, the ones on the back of your LIFT TICKET people. I crashed into a little girl, fell into an icy hole and I think Kike may have broken his knee before it magically healed when he stopped snowboarding that day. But the scenery was breathtaking!
I missed cheap Spanish breakfasts. A toast with ham and tomatoes and a coffee is rarely over three euros (unless you’re in the airport). The same breakfast in Vienna costs between five and six euros. Una barbaridad.
We didn’t get to experience most of the nightlife, but we did head out our last night in search of Kaiko. We got lost about thirteen times because the street names were all goofy, but decided to go somewhere more relaxed. The Irish pub we were at was crowded and the waitress was super ditsy. We asked for a jagerbomb and had to explain what it was. Since they had no red bull, we drank it with beer, and she watched, perhaps half in horror, as we downed two of them.
Everyone in Austria speaks English. It puts me to shame for knowing just two languages kind of crappily. But they’re friendly and helpful and impermeable to the cold. Me, not so much!