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on solitude, and the road
It's been quite a good week. I haven't really found the time to write, despite only seeing dad in the evenings after he is done with work. I love spending time with my dad, but it is exhausting. A part of me was hoping that spending time here would be real downtime, a space where i could decompress from the constant need to be "on" while i was working, but it turns out having to be "on" for just a few hours a day is still too much.

Friday i was "on" a little longer. We met up with M and S - a colleague of dad's and his wife - after work. We had a great chat at a local bar, and spent a rather large amount of time complaining about Brexit and how alienated and betrayed we feel as British ex-pats living in Europe. M and S are both active in the British pro-Europe movement, something that i probably should have made more of an effort to be part of instead of running away with my tail between my legs.

Then again, i wonder if is not just Brexit i am running from? I am really looking forward to the solitude. S understood that - she has looked into container ship travel in the past, and in summer they are both going to travel the Northwest Passage on one of those icebreaker cruises. It looks like quite a trip, though i would need one of those top-shelf Vienna ex-pat jobs to not balk at the cost.

Sunday dad took me out to one of his favorite places - the Wachau valley. It's a beautiful and picturesque little bend in the Danube about an hour's train ride out of the city. There are ruins and churches and vineyards and B&Bs and charm out the wazoo. Wandering about and soaking up the spring sun didn't cost us a cent. I only ended up taking one or two photos, even though if i had been alone i probably would have taken plenty.

There is definitely something different about traveling with a companion vs traveling alone. I enjoy the company and the discussion, but i am much less inclined to follow a whim or just sit quietly for hours like i normally do.

I had a little wander with hobbits_friend on Tuesday. We met up for a coffee and then she took me on a tour around the Vienna ring road and pointed out some lovely buildings i hadn't really noticed before. The walk - like the ones on the weekend - reminded me that sometimes i need to get over my bloody-minded search for solitude. Sometimes you need other people around to point out the things you miss when you potter about without a care.

Because, you know, Monday was more my usual pace. I headed out to try to find the Chinese restaurant i remembered from the last time i stayed in Vienna back in 2013. I kinda-sorta remembered the street it was on and what the entrance of the building looked like, so i just ambled through the city hoping i would find it again. Sure enough, there it was - the mystery Chinese restaurant with no name (unless its name is just "Dim Sum Restarant"). I ordered a pot of tea, some dumplings and a vege/tofu dish and it was grand.

I ended up spending a couple more hours wandering, turning into a new street any time i saw more than a handful of people. It led me to a quiet little square in front of an old church, where i sat at a round table under a tree and ordered a coffee, whiling away the afternoon with "fellow" retirees.

As i sat there in this piazza with a Catholic church on one side and an Italian restaurant on the other, drinking a café longo made by an Italian who could barely speak German, i resolved to go to Italy. Everyone (including dad) has been hammering on me to go there. My plan between Easter and May 9th when my ship leaves has always been open, but i was mostly debating between inland Eastern Europe (Orient Express route), the Adriatic coast, or giving up on my "no planes" rule and enjoying Andalucía - my favoritest favorite part of Europe - one more time. But i don't have any particular interest in Eastern Europe other than it happens to be on the way, and i have already spent a couple of (amazing) days in Croatia, so why not try something new? The main hurdle to clear is i fucking hate Italian food. But i love coffee, so worst case i just survive on espresso and bread and olives.

I almost had a heart attack when i saw how expensive Venice is, but going to Italy from the east and not going to Venice would be stupid. So i will suck it up and spend a couple days there and it will no doubt be gorgeous. Ljubljana (Slovenia) will be my first stop and likely where i will spend Easter. Then, after Venice, Florence and the Accona Desert. After that? Who knows? The parts of Italy i would most like to see are in the far south, where i can sit on a rock in the sun and fantasize about Phoenician ships carrying pomegranates and capers across the horizon. At some point i shall jump on a ship to the Peloponnese and head for Athens. But that is weeks away and i don't want to worry about it just yet.

What i do know is that my feet are itchy, and - although dad is leaving for New Zealand tomorrow so i would have the place to myself - sitting here has not quite been the break i needed. Having high-speed internet at home and a city i have already spent several weeks in on my doorstep is not inspiring me to break out of the funk. Or, perhaps being "on" for dad and all the other fine people i have met here has left me too exhausted to break out anyways. It's definitely time to get on the road for real.

In the mean time, here is a just-woken-up selfie taken as i sipped coffee on the balcony.

I mean, who am i kidding? This is the life.

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Venice. I have a promise to keep to an old school teacher to visit there.

She made me promise to have a drink at the Florenza cafe on the Piazza San Marco, visit the Bridge of Sighs, and stay at a specific hotel, whose name I don't remember. The Florenza is the oldest continuously running Cafe in Europe, if I remember right.

It's on my bucket list. Maybe you can go in my place. ;)

I had a look up at that café you mentioned and it looks very chic! Check it out: http://www.caffeflorian.com/en/ I will see if i can get in looking like my typical hobo self.

Slightly jealous question from my wife looking at me reading this on my phone. "Who is she?" Haha.

The youth hostel in Venice was a cheap as chips when I went there. Though that was....shit, 24 years ago.

I didn't even see any hostels available to book, though i know they must be hidden in there somewhere. I suspect Venice over Easter is just ridiculous no matter where you go. On my dad's advice, i ended up booking a hotel on the Lido. Seeing as i do like to be in a quiet spot away from the chaos normally, this might be a good choice. But first, Slovenia!

Regarding the selfie, i am shocked how well it came out. I literally never wear my hair down in everyday life - it's always in a ponytail with sunglasses on my head, so this was a really different look for me. Maybe i should wear it out sometimes.

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