Vienna: Day 3

10 May 2017

So fun fact: I had to bring work with me during my Journey to 30 holiday because my PhD supervisor scheduled a Skype sesh for this morning. However, after a really productive meeting, I headed straight to Schönbrunn Palace!


I purchased my ticket online so I just had to scan the barcode on my phone to gain entrance. Beforehand, I had a quick lunch at the Residenz Café Restaurant. Delicious coffee and even more delicious pastries! I had a spinach and goat cheese strudel, which was perfectly flaky. Yummy! The café also offers private Strudel shows in the Imperial Bakery.

After my lunch I headed inside the Palace where, unfortunately, photography is not allowed even if you’re not using flash. *Sad Face* …. So I switched from my Canon to Phone again for a clandestine operation. Shhh, don’t tell them. #SnitchesGetStitches.

Then I headed to the absolutely beautiful gardens. If I was part of the Imperial family I’d be in the gardens all the time, chillin’ and drinking champagne while playing human chess à la Mel Brooks’ History of the World. Obviously joking, but I would definitely love to lounge in the gardens with a good book.

I then made my way to Gloriette, a lovely belvedere with a vantage point of the Palace and the surrounding neighbourhood.

CIG_IMG382

After my Schönbrunn Palace visit, I made my way to Naschmarkt, basically the Borough Market of Vienna. I was overwhelmed by the shops and stalls available and the amount of food to choose from. I decided to eat at Neni and basked in the sunlight with a glass of white wine.

CIG_IMG421

I headed back to my Airbnb to get ready for my night out at Porgy & Bess, Vienna’s popular jazz club where I snagged a front row table to watch Enrico Rava and Geri Allen. This place is cash-only so make sure to bring those Euros if you book a table here. After my jazz and wine I was definitely feeling the need for sleep. This was also my last night in Vienna and I had a fabulous three days! I definitely need to go back to Austria though to visit Salzburg. Until next time, Austria!

Vienna: Day 2

9 May 2017

Another full day of adventure. I left my Airbnb early and headed to Café Neko, a cat cafe — these seem to be trending. Don’t get me wrong, I love cute kitties, but where are the puppy cafes? I’d like to see a puppy or doggo cafe before I die. If one does exist, please let me know so I can book a trip immediately.

Unfortunately the food menu was not really existent, but cats and coffee were plenty! I had a cafe latte and took a few pictures of cats observing the “If I fits, I sits” rule, and generally just lounging around. There was really cute artwork too.

CIG_IMG055

CIG_IMG052
If I fits I sits.

 

Afterward I walked over to the National Library of Vienna and saw the State Hall. It. Was. Stunning. I seem to be ranting a lot in this post but just once, I wish there was a working library with medieval and modern texts. Can’t I just lounge and look at digital copies of these books or their later editions? I wanted so badly to explore upstairs and pretend to be Belle but alas, I was only able to admire from afar and take a few pictures. One day I want a library just like this one! … a bit ostentatious, but a girl can dream!

IMG_1204

 

I explored the city some more, took a few wrong turns, and headed to the Vienna State Opera for a 3pm tour. Again, I used a student discount – 3.50 y’all! That’s a steal! Our tour guide was great and she mentioned that the Tea Room can be rented for 15 minutes for the low price of €800. She also mentioned people actually book this room to fit in a 15-minute wedding ceremony! I wonder how much the library would be though …

IMG_1334

After the tour, I headed to the MuseumsQuartier (MQ) which has modern artwork and museums.

 

I had a late lunch/early dinner (linner?) at Halle (English and German menus available)…
CIG_IMG244

… Then I took the metro to see the infamous Hundertwasser Village created by artist and architect, Hundertwasser. It was funky and colourful, and these are working apartments, so unfortunately tourists cannot enter unless you happen to know a resident. A shame since I really wanted to see the rooftop garden/forest, but understandable of course. I wouldn’t want a bunch of randos walking through my flat either.

IMG_1388

 

IMG_1412
“I am opposed to destruction and favour a constant evolution in harmony with nature and individual creativity.” – Hundertwasser

Before I went back to my Airbnb I stopped for some delicious ramen at Karma Ramen. I had the yasai ramen (vegetarian) that had sweet potato, which I was wary of but it was surprisingly delicious and paired really well with the miso broth. Yum!!!! Once again, I ate everything. I imagine I looked like an anime character if anyone happened to watch me eat. Ya’know, bowl to my face as I slurp and shove noodles in my mouth with chopsticks. Luckily no one was sitting next to me so I didn’t have to give any warnings about the splash zone. After a full day of walking, and with a full belly, I was ready to unwind and get ready for the next day.

IMG_1425
*Drools gracefully*

Vienna: Day 1

8 May 2017

The second location I visited during my Journey to 30 was Vienna, Austria! Mostly because the train ticket from Prague to Vienna was under 25. #Bargain

I walked to my Airbnb from the train station and met with one of my hosts (Shout out to Ivan and Neva!). Ivan was really helpful and provided me with a map, and info about public transport and cool places to visit. He even suggested I visit a nearby tobacco shop to purchase a public transport ticket – which I did. I’ve noticed several tourist-y websites that suggest purchasing a “Vienna Card,” which will provide discounts around the city, and can be used as your transport ticket, but I overheard another tourist who said it sucked. His words, not mine. Having said that, I got by just fine purchasing a €16 week pass for all transport (bus, tram, metro), and using my uni discount everywhere. Worth it!

And with my public transport ticket in hand, I ventured off to experience the city. I first looked up vegetarian places to eat and Google suggested Wrenkh, which I’m glad it did because the food was delicious. Wrenkh did have meat options on the menu but it was predominantly vegetarian/vegan.

I ordered an olive tapenade, mushroom ragu, and the house white wine. Of course, I ate it all because I was starving.

CIG_IMG009

 

After that I snapped a few pictures of St. Stephen’s Cathedral before I headed down to the metro.

CIG_IMG010

I specifically took the metro to Prater so I could go on the Wiener Riesenrad (ferris wheel), and overlook the city. It was unfortunately raining at this point but it was still beautiful. Afterwards it was getting late and cold, so I grabbed some takeaway and I headed back to my Airbnb to get an early start the next day.

IMG_1133

CIG_IMG044CIG_IMG035

Journey to 30

IMG_0988
Near John Lennon Wall in Prague

I never actually liked the term “dirty thirty.” I felt it put a negative spin on people turning 30 when it should be a positive thing. I mean, what’s dirty about turning thirty? Waking up with a hangover maybe? Recently, I turned thirty and called it my “Journey to 30” which was much more fitting since I planned a solo trip to visit three new countries. I finally looked up the origins of “dirty thirty” and I’m now soooo happy I didn’t use it. Urban Dictionary’s definition is the following:

“The age at which single women without children realise that their biological clock is ticking. As a consequence they may lower their standards and increase their willingness to perform sexual acts as a matter of desperation in order to find a mate/sexual partner.”

So, yeah, I’m glad I didn’t use it. But it does point to a common convention across multiple societies: the pressure of being married and/or having children at a certain age. I don’t want to point fingers, but certain genders may feel this pressure more than others. Of course, there are other milestones people may feel pressured to achieve: the pressure of owning a home, the pressure having a degree, the pressure of having a well-paid job, etc. However, the reality is our own journeys may not necessarily lead us to these milestones in a cookie-cutter way, if at all. We all have our own journeys and struggles that lead us to new experiences – some good, some bad. I know I’ve come a long way. I think part of the freedom and contentedness I feel stems from the fact that I do not feel any of these pressures or competitiveness to be at a certain place in my life. I am happy with who I am and with where I am today. I am single. I am childless. I am a Ph.D. student living in the U.K. I am a 30-year-old who’s had a rich life thus far.

IMG_1915
Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik

Even as my Facebook feed increasingly becomes flooded with wedding and baby photos, I don’t feel that itch to go out and find a partner and have a baby. I feel that so many of us sometimes give in to those pressures and limit our own journeys to paths we are comfortable with. But you know what, it’s exciting, fun, and even a little scary to set out on new journeys. I wanted to move to a new country while having the chance to help others so I joined the Peace Corps and ended up living in a village in South Africa for 2 years. What?! I applied to grad school in the U.K. while finishing my Peace Corps service and actually got accepted! What the whaaaa?!?! And yes, I even got a corporate job working in HR for 2 years before I decided to quit and yet again go back to school to get a Ph.D. And here I am now. I didn’t place limits on myself and neither should anyone else.

wp-image-827933708
City Walls, Dubrovnik

I recently celebrated turning 30 by exploring new parts of the world and new cultures. I went to Prague, where I also completed my sixth marathon, then I headed to Vienna, and finally Dubrovnik. These cities were amazing, each with their own beautiful histories and cultures. I find peace in throwing myself into the unknown. I found peace dipping my toes in the Adriatic. I found peace eating an ice cream out of a chimney cake in Prague, I found peace feeling like a local as I used public transport in Vienna with ease, and I found peace meeting new people in all three of these gorgeous cities. My next few posts will be exactly about my Journey to 30, and this has been the most amazing birthday ever. Where will your journey lead you?

IMG_1453
Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna