I just sent in my passport for renewal. I can’t believe it’s been ten years.
I got a new passport photo taken, of course. My contact lenses are long gone, replaced by my sassy hipster frames or my sparkly dress-up glasses. My hair’s still brown, albeit a little redder and a lot shorter because it’s easier to care for. I’m working on getting my weight down, but let’s just say my sturdy German girl frame fit right in among the Austrians — and I had a lot of layers on under that coat because it was March and it was cold in Austria.
We visited a family friend who was studying in Vienna while we were there.
The world was a lot different in 2003.
The United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland had joined with the United States to invade Iraq just before we were scheduled to visit in March 2003 during my spring break. The rest of the world was not as supportive and we were warned not to take any clothing displaying American flags or blatant patriotic sayings. We were supposed to blend in. Apparently the Viennese were not happy with our choice, as we found out with this display on a museum plaza. I think we were successful at blending in, as we were sometimes asked for directions by other tourists…
Both of my children had been to Europe three times by the time I actually got there myself.
For a woman who had visited almost every state in the Union, as well as Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Canada, I was woefully under-traveled when it came to Europe. As a small-town girl from Ohio with a modest upbringing by my educator parents, I didn’t get to take the school trip with the band. There wasn’t one. I didn’t do junior year abroad, although some people at Miami University were able to study abroad at the University Center in Luxembourg. Not me. I needed to get my degree finished so that I could get on with life and my parents could not have afforded it anyway.
That first trip through Heathrow was a revelation. The center lounge with rows and rows of armchairs where travelers of every persuasion melded together in a huge melting pot was amazing to me. Going from shop to shop, comparing magazines, books, travel items, and even candy, took the sting out of our long layover. I was actually waiting to change planes in London, England!
Our visit to Vienna was the beginning of a travel odyssey that I hope we will continue for many years.
As I walked up to the post office today, I was thinking that in another ten years, I’ll be ten years older, too. We’ll still be traveling, unless something dreadful happens to us, but we will be different travelers by then. We probably won’t stride into the Vienna train station, confident that we can drag our own bags onto public transportation and get to the airport. We’ll probably take more cruises and do less driving.
But we’ll still be traveling.
A Viking River Cruise will someday take us back to Vienna; there are five cruises for us to choose from. We could even go during the Christmas markets in December.
The charming Hotel Beethoven is still alive and well and helping tourists to learn about Vienna. They still offer a comprehensive breakfast buffet and small-hotel ambiance and service.
Some things change and some things don’t.
I’m sure Vienna isn’t the city that we visited ten years ago; most likely, it is a better city. Globalization has changed the way we eat — I’m sure there are even more interesting restaurants to try. The fabulous museums are probably even more fabulous, as curatorial processes and styles have grown along with the advancement of digital imaging and modern historical preservation techniques.
Yet, I imagine that much about Vienna is the same. I’m sure that people still honor crosswalks and are polite. The Viennese probably still speak enough English to be helpful to tourists (unlike us who only know how to use cognates to read signs). The vitality of this centuries-old city is most likely still there, waiting to be discovered by another visitor.
When are you going to Vienna?
Contact me at jennie@gotmyreservations dot com if you would like me to help you plan a trip to this marvelous city!