On the way to the movie tonight, a nice, breezy walk up the street, past the Strassenbahns clattering along and the French Institut with its giant lawn that we want to camp out on, across the street from the two-spired church that's never open, a jaunt away from the U-Bahn hub where you can get cheap, tasty pizza, and a flew blocks up from the Danube, I said to Annie, "This is what's required of our study abroad program--Riding roller coasters. Walking in woods. Lying in parks. Drinking coffee. Drinking beer. Petting mules." And she said, "And never doing any work." And I said, "It's pretty great."
Because that's true. It's May, and if you'd told me two months ago that it would ever even be May, I might not have believed you. Being abroad for six months has its obvious draws and obvious downfalls--it's six months, but then again, that's six solid months--but one of the things I'm grateful for, and I think we're all grateful for, is the springtime. A lot of other programs are finishing up now, kids shuttling back to the U.S., maybe road-tripping to Hamilton for Senior Week, already "seniors," but I'm here until July, and while that means I have yet to do a stitch of actual work and herd of finals wait for me when most every one else I know will be sleeping in and working shitty summer jobs, it also means I have two glorious months of sunshine and warm weather, when simply Being Outside is activity enough.
And yes, it took me four months to find some sort of contentedness, some semblance of balance, stability, adjustment, whatever you want to call it, but it's finally here and I hope it sticks around.
I don't know where I left off, because it feels like a decade since I updated this, but Annie and I have undertaken a quest to visit every Aida in Vienna. This means trekking to the far districts, ones we don't even know about, and drinking a lot of quality coffee served by some middle-aged waitress in pink and brown. Out of the 26, we've accomplished 7 already, and, at this rate, I'll be done by mid-June, just when BRMC comes to town and I rock my face off. We also went on a mission to find the Prater--not the fantastically terrible amusement park side of it, but the giganto park on the other side, which we discovered and which was amazing and where we lay on the grass for a long time sending ESP messages to all the leashless dogs running around to come be our friends (AND IT WORKED). Think Woodward Park times maybe a million, and if Bell's were tacked onto the side, and then you have the idea. We went back to the Prater last night for the big May Day festival (as for the Hamilton event of the same name - don't get me started. Eve 6? Really? Everyone's just going to wait until that stupid "Blender" song and then leave to go get drunk - plus it's inside, again. Wtf?), which involved a lot of people, a lot of people drinking beer, and a lot of people who had just drank a lot of beer getting on rides. We rode the smaller Ferris Wheel and were midway in the air when the fireworks started going off - and that was something. I was almost glad that my camera was dead, because it's a sight I don't think I could reproduce, and I had to watch it with my own eyes - fireworks erupting over an amusement park in Vienna. Pretty phenomenal.
PLUS we rode a roller coaster called Boomerang, and while I may or may not have received a bruise from being thrown upside down, backwards, and straight down, it was completely worth it. There's something really cathartic about screaming for dear life for about a minute and a half - all your problems and issues pale in comparison to looking directly at the ground from several stories up right before you plunge. Beer was necessary afterwards.
Today, we actually made it out to the Wienerwald, that huge stretch of woods surrounding Vienna, where the vineyards are plenty, the tourists are easily avoided, the views are stunning, and you'll probably get to pet a mule. I mean, I did. It was a bit like the cherry on the sundae, though, after all those gigantic trees, the sheer niceness of the weather - Rob kept describing it like he was Bob Ross painting some landscape on PBS - "Those crickets. And then a crow. Perfect." And that's one thing I really want to do when I get back - walk around more. After going on a long, city-wide amble with Annie on Thursday, I can safely say there are few more satisfying endeavors than just walking around - except maybe driving around. That's pretty awesome, too.