Our weekend in Vienna was… interesting. That’s the word my mom always told me to use if I didn’t really like someone or something. Of course there were a lot of fun moments and beautiful sites and some delicious bratwursts; it is Europe, after all.
But our trip was a little rocky. First the overcrowded train from the airport into the city, with about a million loud teenagers and no place to sit or air to breathe. Then one of the guides at Schonbrunn berated me (the memory still makes me cringe and I can’t really talk about it– there are a lot of pictures of me wearing sunglasses to hide my puffy eyes), and the train ride back to the airport where we discovered if you don’t validate your ticket before boarding the train, you get a not-so-nice lecture and a not-so-little fine.
So it wasn’t our favorite trip and we were so happy to get back to our sweet and safe Zurich where we knew the rules and the brats were just as good. But pictures are worth much more than a thousand words and I got hundreds of them in Vienna. We got some fun souvenirs, including these really sweet traditional dresses for Ella.
And there were enough Marie Antoinette references (see my well documented obsession here) to touch my heart and inspire some France nostalgia. It wasn’t an easy trip but it wasn’t meaningless either. And now I have what everyone gets after some separation and time to reflect: perspective. Our time in Vienna taught us we still had a lot to learn as tourists, visitors passing through. I think we had taken for granted that since we’d been abroad for a few months, we could confidently cross borders with less thought, paying less attention to the details. The ticket validation thing– I don’t think that would have gotten past us in our early days as ex-pats because we were more careful and considerate in our actions. Traveling should get easier but never lazier. Because if you close your eyes to the small things, who knows what you’ll miss? Some of my favorite memories traveling are the secret spots of beauty hiding in all these countries that maybe aren’t on the map or the official tour. But they’re there.