After another night of insomnia, I woke up for the fourth and final time at around 3:30 in the morning. I lay there for the next few hours, trying to get back to sleep, but to no avail. Eventually, 6am rolled around and, after deciding there’d be no hope at sleep, I crawled out of bed.
After checking out of the hostel, I headed for the train station, arriving just in time for the express to Vienna. I climbed aboard and, moments later, the train started rolling. The trip seemed to take longer than it really did, and with the fog and snow outside I was prompted to dig through my backpack, exchanging my leather jacket for something warmer.
Walking out of the station, my first impression of Austria’s capital city was that of an older New York. The bottom floor of nearly each building was that of a chain store. I followed the directions to my new hostel, ones I had printed off earlier, but arrived 4 hours before their check-in time. The receptionist, Vreni, was kind enough to let me store some of my bags while I headed out to tour the city.
Vienna is a huge city. Walking down the main street towards an area that looked interesting on the map, I soon realized it was much further away than I thought. After 45 minutes, I stopped for lunch at a McDonald’s.
My hunger satisfied, I eventually made it to the Museum Quarter and the beginning of my photographic day. Step after step, and photo after photo, I made my way around the town, passing large palaces and ornate statues, one after another.
Finally noting the time, I decided to head back towards the hostel. Somewhere along the way, I ended up getting turned around, and with each attempt to find my way, I only ended up more lost. Two hours later, I managed to reorient myself and begin the long trek back.
Back at the hostel, I showered and changed and chose to spend the evening by taking in an opera I had seen a flyer for earlier. I headed out, making my way towards the subway, which would cut the commute to minutes.
Walking towards the Wiener Staatsoper, I was approached by someone who had two tickets and could no longer attend. Despite thinking it was a trick by a scalper, I purchased one, and headed inside to find my seat. Since Austria primarily speaks German, I was surprised to find the opera sung in French. I tried to follow along as best I could, but my understanding of French is better when it’s written. Luckily each seat had a small translation screen, allowing me to read along in English.
Taking the subway back to the hostel, I changed again and went down to the hostel’s bar for the free wine they were offering their guests. While there, I found myself talking to a fellow North Carolinian, although he was from Raleigh and I from Charlotte. During our talk, he provided a bit of worldly insight:
“All people are the same: they just want a good time, and to get drunk.”
While waiting for another drink to be poured, I noticed the two girls from the reception desk playing a game of pool. One of them scratched, the cue ball not hitting anything on its way to the pocket, and I chuckled. She noticed and walked over to scold me, inviting me to play against them.