An der schönen blauen Donau

Bored on board
Somewhere above Europe, Mon 14. November 2016, 10:00 EET

I have a book. The flight’s not even that long. But I’m bored. Too tired to read, yet too awake to nap. I’m not really even able to nap in airplanes (or trains, or buses, or…) unless Im unearthly exhausted and fall asleep despite myself.

Just had my third cup of coffee, together with a blueberry juice. My diet this morning has been rather liquidy. At home, I had a cappucino and a glass of red grapefruit juice. At the airport a cappucino and a blueberry smoothie. And now, well, you already know now. The snack cart is just about to reach me, but I think I’ll save my hunger for later and eat when I get to Vienna.

So I left the snowy Helsinki for a few days again. Last week I spent a couple days in cold but snowless Iisalmi and another couple of days in semi-snowy Heinola and then the weekend at home, trying to avoid needing to go outside or do too much inside either. I was determined to rest, but I AM the mother of a family and I HAD been away for most of the week, so really, dream on.

I did get to sleep in, though. Usually I do. Even our dogs don’t harrass me out of bed until closer to noon; they have quite efficiently adapted to our late and lazy life rhythm. Around one pm on Saturday I shook my teens awake and left the dogs in their care while I slightly reluctantly accompanied my husband to the stores. It was MY dad coming to visit on Sunday, after all.

Looking back on Saturday, I didn’t really do too much after we came back from the store, just the usual: hanging up laundry, cooking for kids, taking dogs out, warming up sauna, going to sauna, etc. Still, I was struggling to get one lousy movie watched from Netflix. Interruption after interruption even though the teens were mostly glued to the TV with Playstation Minecraft. I know, I can’t do the math here either :D

Sunday was Father’s Day. None of our kids were with their own dads for the day. No cards, no Father’s Day gifts, just text messages or a brief phone call to wish their dads a Happy Father’s Day. I had a card a a gift for mine. One I made myself, for that matter: one of my watercolor paintings photographed and then printed on canvas. I told my husband that he’ll probably get a Father’s Day gift from his daughter again, when SHE’s 41 in turn.

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The things and people you take for granted. Your parents are supposed to be there always and only after they start passing away, do you realise how precious it is to have them. My grandma was supposed to outlive me (you know, supposed to be invincible and immortal) and my mom’s life was cut quite short. The rest of my grandparents have been fertilizing graveyards for a long time already. It’s only my dad and his wife left anymore for me, of the older generation, that is.

I’m so happy my sister and I have been talking regularily lately. Many years passed when we talked only a few times a year, not out of spite or anything, just out of busy lives. Now we have a weekly Skype date and it’s great! This week I probably can’t make that date, though, what with being in Vienna and not knowing if there’s any possibility or even time for it.

An hour to go still, almost. Maybe I’ll try to read some more.

Glühwein, apfelpunsch and the beautiful city of Vienna
On the soft bed in my decadent hotel room, Mon 14. November, 2016, 18:06 CET

The flight came to an end in due time, and I scrambled out of the plane with all those people who seem to have ants in their pants when it comes to getting out of the aircraft (seriously, it would all go so much more smoothly, if everyone would just remain seated until the row in front of them has got their carry-on stuff and is getting out instead of crowding the aisle and pushing forth and whatnot) and made my way to the CAT – the City Airport Train. It took me to the center in 16 minutes exactly, exactly as promised (Helsinki, really, there’s something to learn from here!) and I spent those minutes contemplating between walking and taking the U-bahn.

I was almost heading towards the U at the central station, thinking that I’d probably rather make my detours in the city without my luggage (tiny carry-on roley-poley, but still), get to the hotel as fast as possible to leave the extra baggade behind and actually head to the conference center for this roundtable thing, when my eyes hit the prize. If there is one thing, one single thing that I indulge in on every trip I make outside of Finland, it is allowing myself an approx. 100€ purchase in Desigual. No Desigual in Finland, and I resist the online stores. There was a Desigual there, right there at the central train station, right in front of me.

Luggage or no luggage, I went inside to take a look and immediately saw way too many wonderful things. After some wandering around I selected two dresses for fitting. Right at that moment my phone rang. Call #1 from my youngest teen. There I was, talking on the phone, trying to figure out some school stuff, telling the girl to take care of the school business with her dad or step-dad while I’m away, and holding those dresses in the other hand. The clerk came along to my rescue, taking the dresses to the fitting room for me. I followed soon and tried on the dresses, thinking that they’re both way too nice.

Finally I made my decision with the help of the clerk, bought the dress and a scarf and stepped out of the store and out of the station. Somehow the Desigual had given me such a euphoria that walking seemed like the only reasonable option. I typed the hotel address in googlemaps on my phone and set to walking. I knew my hotel was pretty much in the center, a rock’s throw (couple km) from the central station, but I did not realize my walk would take me through all those nice shopping streets and Weinachtsmarkts and by beautiful churches and all that jazz.

For a while, I was lost in Vienna. Not lost lost, I mean I knew where I was and all, but I was lost in the beauty and the atmosphere and the stores :D Although, I visited only H&M for a shirt (how stupid of me to not have packed a long sleeve other than a hoodie) and “tuliaiset” – gifts – for my teens, and I only stopped once for some apfelpunsch at Stephanplatz (the jul-boot-mug was so cute I had to take it with me!), but I felt like the city was drawing me in and I could just lose myself there.

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Finally I wound my way to my hotel, a little past noon. I hadn’t really taken so much time walking there, it just felt to me like time had stopped or something. My room was not ready yet, as I had anticipated, so I left my bag in the luggage room and set off to find my way back to Stephanplatz to take the U to the conference center from there. I thought I had my compass calibrated, but when I checked googlemaps, I was way off. A little detour it was then, but a pretty one. Anyhow, I was at the conference center sometime around 1pm. I registered, got my pass and asked about that roundtable thing but nobody knew anything about it. We looked for it for a while, until I thought to check my emails and, duh, it was canceled.

My whole day plan was kinda cancelled with that and for a while I felt lost in a different way, wondering what to do next. Sightseeing? Back to the hotel to see about my room? Walking a bit? For lack of a better plan, I started walking towards the shores of Donau. The bridge that showed in the map was not there, so I walked to the one where the U1 stops in the middle of the bridge. Donauinsel. Sun was shining sweetly and I already planned to walk all the way back to the hotel. Only three km or so. However, on the other side of Donau, my backpack started to feel a bit heavy on my shoulders and my feet started to feel a bit tired in the boots. I had already walked several kilometers with the extra weight of my backpack. So I hopped on the U again.

Back on Stephansplatz and I was hungry. It’s all kind of fancy there, design stores and modern looking restaurants and bakeries with extravagant chocolate masterpieces on display. I wanted a nice small restaurant, not expensive, no white tablecloths, no pretense and preferably a meal that would keep me happy until tomorrow, or at least late evening. I walked in circles, scanning the shops and restaurants and cafés and finally settled on a simple enough looking place that offered simple Austrian cuisine. I had some schweinkoteletts with fries and a coke (water was expensive there, and I have this principal about how much I’m willing to pay for water) and left happy.

Stopped by the Starbuck’s for a Grande Cappucino (ah, the warm feeling of safety in an international chain when it comes to coffee), visited a couple stores for a little bit of something for the kids and myself too before heading back towards my hotel again. On the way, though, I got lured to another Weinachtsmarkt for some glühwein, and then there was the call #2 from youngest teen.

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When I finally made it to the hotel, I was handed my room key along with a “the wifi and minibar are free of charge for the superior room” and the bellhop brought my luggage all the way to the room for me and asked if there was anything else he could do for me before he left me in my room. I had barely settled when the phone rang, the room phone, and in my confusion I lifted the receiver to my deaf ear and wondered for a split second why the sound was so muffled. Switching ears, I heard the lady from reception asking me if everything was good and whether I was lacking anything. Slightly bewildered, I told her everything was just dandy. And it was, still is!

Here I am, feeling like a princess, or something. I mean, it’s not out of this world luxury or anything, but way finer than the Sokos hotel in Iisalmi, let alone that Seurahuone dump I stayed in the first time there. Here I am, exhausted but thrilled to be here, missing my family, but feeling as good about this kind of a trip as one can possibly be. I’m just so happy I’m not staying in any of those colossal hotels closer to the conference center. This here, perfect!

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P.S. To my husband, who is probably worried: no, I have not spent hundreds of euros here. Just some very moderate shopping. And Desigual.