Last week of December 2018.
I loved the serene vibe of the city. The streets were clean, the Prater park where we strolled and where we walked from the apartment to church was spacious and relaxing, and traffic flowed slowly where I stayed. There was no frantic honking of horns nor rowdy speeding cars. The Wiener Riesenrad, a 64.75-meter tall Ferris wheel, which was visible from the window of the place where I was staying remained the constant backdrop to a sky changing its colors from dark to blue to blue suffused with orange, then gray, then black.
Since it’s my first time to visit the place and my first Christmas in Europe since I got posted for my foreign assignment, every day was full of wonder as I went to the church, park, garden, commercial district, mall, train stations, etc. I was so happy to visit the St. Stephen’s Cathedral in central Vienna and attend a mass there because going to church was at the top of my list for my trip.
I was glad to see a thriving small resto named Aleppo sweets although I didn’t have the time to try having snacks there. (Most news articles or pictures that I have seen about Aleppo are sad that’s why seeing that shop actually made me smile.) I saw a carriage driven by white horses and small groups (a family perhaps) in Three Kings costumes while at the park and at the train station. 🙂
Also, the live statues on the street near the Schönbrunn Palace entrance were amazing. I was just worried they might be feeling cold since the temperature in Vienna was colder than in Paris at the same time of the year. For example, when we were walking around the Schönbrunn Palace, we were bundled up but it was still cold.
The best part? Spending time with my friend Tricia and her mom, talking about Bikol, Manila, the foreign service, life in general, career choices, and many more. Also, everyday, Tricia’s mom prepared delicious Filipino dishes—breakfast of rice partnered with sunny side up eggs, sausages, and fried dilis and dinners of rice with tinola, adobo, afritada, corned beef with minced potatoes and even the usual ginisang gulay.
I also read the novel “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon, which my friend Tricia gifted me for Christmas. It’s a marvelous novel that I could not put down. I read the last few pages on the plane on my way back to Paris.
My first Vienna trip was really fun, heartwarming and relaxing that I was sad to leave. But I know I’d return so it was alright.