“Deutsch? English? Turkish?” playfully asked the guy in the stand at the market. “English,” I said with a smile. “Ah, okay,” he looked around at his dried fruits and grabbed a hibiscus flower. “Look a beautiful flower for a beautiful flower,” he motioned for me to eat it, and when I did, I was delighted by the sweet flavors of each bite.
Date: May 18th, 2016
Time: 1:45 p.m. – 01:45 EST
Location: Train from Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary
As soon as I exited the train station of Vienna, I could tell it was a beautiful city. The architecture was stunning and intricate, and the people were significantly more lively here than in Prague. When I exchanged my dollars to euros, I felt relieved as the woman behind the register told me German was the common langue, but almost everyone here spoke English.
The Wombats City Hostel, where I was staying, was a short 1.2 miles away, so as I walked around, I took in the city. It seemed like a peaceful place, and I found myself at ease walking alone with my massive backpack. When I arrived, I dropped off my backpack in my locker and crossed the street to explore the Naschmarkt, a huge market full of foreign foods and delicious smells. Samples were thrown at me right and left, and by the time I made it halfway through, the hunger from my long train ride was almost non-existent.
Towards the end of the market, I saw a little hot dog stand. Yes. This is what I had been looking for. The man explained that there were four types of sausages: regular, regular with cheese, spicy, and spicy with cheese. He suggested the spicy one, and when I took a bite into it, I knew I had made the right choice. In that moment I was very thankful that I wasn’t a vegan anymore.
I continued walking around, appreciating all of the beautiful buildings. I took a nice long walk through Stadtpark and found myself wishing I had a special someone to walk along with hand in hand. Vienna seemed like too much of a romantic city to explore alone. I made my way down to the popular amusement park I had heard so much about. On my way, I noticed a lot of cool street art. It seemed that Vienna, much like Berlin, had an interesting art scene.
The amusement park was cute, but mostly empty. It reminded me of the annual Georgia Fair with rickety roller coasters and loud music blaring from each ride. As I walked around, once again I felt a pang of loneliness, this would have been such a fun park to explore with a friend or two. I made it back to my hostel around 8:00 p.m. and hung out in the lounge. I met a few cool travelers, but ultimately ended up falling asleep around 10:30 p.m., hoping that my next day in Vienna would be a little more exciting.
I woke up at 7:45 a.m. and walked over to the train station to buy my ticket to Budapest. I was able to get an open ticket, which was perfect because that meant I could leave Vienna whenever I was ready. I took advantage of the free tour offered at my hostel and met some more interesting travelers; a group of Mexican students who were studying in Germany, but on vacation for the week. I ended up cutting my tour short though because the guide was a little boring to be honest, and there wasn’t much left of Vienna that I was interested in seeing.
It was almost noon, so I decided I’d catch the train for 1:42 p.m. and continue on with my
journey. But before leaving Vienna, I was determined to try the famous apple strudel from Café Museum. When I walked in, I was very impressed by their decadent display case. I took a seat and ordered my pasty plus a cappuccino. “Whipped cream with ze strudel?” my waiter asked, I blushed and said, “Yes please,” excited for my little indulgence. However, maybe it’s because I’ve never actually tried apple strudel before, but it didn’t really live up to the hype for me. The presentation of it all was very pretty, but the taste was meh, and on top of that it was extremely overpriced – 10,40 euros for a half eaten strudel and a lousy cup of coffee. Yes, it was definitely time to leave Vienna.
I decided to walk through the market one last time before grabbing my bag from the hostel and heading to the train station. Smelling all of the delicious food instantly cheered me up, and I laughed a lot with all of the funny vendors in the market. Similarly to Berlin, Vienna has a huge Turkish population and because of my dark features a lot of them would often try to speak to me in Turkish. “Great price for you they would say,” or “Try this beautiful girl!” It didn’t feel like harassment though like it might have in the U.S., it was more of a cultural exchange.
About halfway through the market I saw this little stand for pierogi’s, and although I wasn’t particularly hungry, the smell was too tempting to deny. The beautiful Russian women working the stand suggested the one with ham and potatoes. “Do you want sour cream?” she asked, and I politely said “No thank you,” remembering all of the cream I had already consumed with my strudel, “But it’s best with cream,” she insisted, so I laughed and caved in. She was absolutely right. The pierogi made up for all of the loneliness I felt in Vienna – without a doubt it was the best part of my brief visit. The little pastry was soft and crunch and doughy and meaty and the sour cream was the cherry on top.
As I made my way over to the train station, I realized that it’s natural to feel lonely sometimes. After all, I had been away from all of my friends and family back home for two weeks now. That being said, the pierogi reminded me that my adventure lies in allowing myself to experience new things and allow myself to enjoy each moment. When I was in Berlin, someone asked me “Sofia, I hate to phrase it like this, but what’s your thing?” and without hesitating, I responded “Growth,” and that’s what all of these experiences are about. Right now I’m on a train and its destination is Budapest, but in life I have no final destination because the journey is what matters the most. I hope you’re all enjoying your path right now, and I look forward to sharing my stories from Budapest.