Our first few days in Vienna have been spent as tourists. We have been reacquainting ourselves with the city, revisiting favorite spots, and investigating neighborhoods we had scouted online for apartments.
The last time we were in Vienna it was the dead of a bitterly cold winter; the trees barren with no snow to cover their nakedness. Even then the city was beautiful. Now however, in the midst of a bright summer, the trees are in full leafy glory and the gardens in resplendent bloom.
Vienna, we are finding, is always in the midst of some sort of festival. As soon as one festival is taken down, the next goes up in it's place, complete with a small village worth of beer, wine, and food. Our friends and current hosts, Ben and Elizabeth, live in a prime location of Vienna, directly behind the Rathaus (Parliament building), in front of which a large amount of these events are held. Currently we are in the midst of a film festival, with operas and music performances being projected on a large open air screen every evening. For Jacob and I, (never really ones to go far out of our way for nightlife) having a festival a two-minute walk away from our house couldn't be more convenient (or fun).
So far we've had curry and calamari, good Viennese beer, and wine. By the way - as expensive as Europe reportedly is, there are some ways in which it is actually far cheaper than America. A small glass of wine in America? Easily $8.00. A large glass of wine here? $2.50.
We set up our phones today with new Austrian phone numbers and checked out the internet services. Want to have 14 GB of Wifi streaming through your phone each month? No problem, that's only $30. Granted, there are higher expenses in other things, but so far...well, I'll have another glass of wine, please.
Yesterday we revisited Belvedere Palace, one of our favorite spots in the city (so far). Jacob discovered a bike system tucked throughout the city that allows you to pick up a bike, ride it for an hour for free, then drop it off at the nearest station. It's so convenient in fact, some Viennese use it for free commuting to work.
We picked up our bikes and rode over to Belvedere for a quick look at what the grounds look like in summer time. Need I say it was beautiful?
From there we stopped by Karlskirche and Karlsplatz, another lovely spot that, most importantly, has a big ice-cold public water fountain (and an ice cream truck).
On our way home we stopped for "Frankfurter Hotdogs" from a street vendor for lunch. This apparently, is the way the Austrians do hotdogs:
A long roll of bread has one end chopped off, then hollowed out and filled with an incredible amount of mustard and ketchup. Finally a sausage is stuffed inside the bread and capped with the cut-off end of bread.
We ate for a bit before hopping back on our bikes to ride home and finishing our lunch on the road. Not having ridden a bicycle in a while, I didn't trust my coordination to eat and ride simultaneously. I gingerly held on to my bread with two fingers, by this time just filled with mustard. Two minutes from home I took a large bump over the curb, the bread flew up in my hand, and I stopped abruptly.
Suffice to say that I was finding missed spots of dried mustard for the remainder of the day. Never again will I bike and carry mustard filled bread.