My first week in Vienna, I stayed at a friend’s apartment really close to the city center and fairly close to the Vienna International Center (where The Vienna Review is located). The apartment belongs to Justin, who happens to be the Executive Editor at the paper (he’s in the States for a month or so right now; thus, the free apartment). Justin’s also a fellow graduate of the International School of Stuttgart. Great, great guy.
I LOVED staying at his place for the week, especially as soon as I saw the view of this picturesque Viennese street on a summer evening:
And then I struck gold. Justin has one huge wall covered with shelves and shelves of books and DVDs, which I took the liberty of perusing as soon as I dropped my suitcase on the floor. He’s got some really good stuff! It’s a funny thing, living in someone’s lived-in apartment when they’re not there. Sitting around having a drink with a few of Justin’s friends my first night in Vienna, I told them I was considering telling my editor I was going to be coming a week late from Stuttgart so that I could hide away, hole up, and read every book Justin owns (tons of classics, tons of books on politics, history, religion) in seven days. I settled, though, for borrowing a select few books (A Farewell to Arms, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The English Patient) and a few DVDs (The African Queen, Casablanca). Justin, if you’re reading this, I promise you won’t even know they were gone when you come back!
On the weekend, though, I moved into an apartment on the other side of town that I’m renting for the remainder of my time in Vienna. I found it on Craig’s List about a month ago, and, having never rented an apartment before, I must say, I was pretty proud I managed the whole process.
And, again, as much as I love my internship and the bit of city exploration I’ve been able to do so far, it’s hard to resist disconnecting from the world and holing up in my cute little place for a while. I haven’t had too much time to enjoy my new place for hours on end, but I have managed to curl up on the couch a few times, feet tucked underneath me, to read and write while listening to the sounds of the street outside my window. Oh, and the best thing in this fully-furnished apartment (not including the life saver that is a small fan) is a little green tree in the corner that, when plugged in, shines with twinkling lights. The cutest.
Why do I love having my own apartment, if only for a short while?
1. I can leave half-empty water glasses on the bedside table. And on the desk. And in the kitchen.
2. I get to spread out everywhere. If you know me well, you know I love unpacking, spreading my things out – in a word, nesting! I’m a good sharer, but I don’t have to share any counter space while in Vienna, thank you very much :)
3. There is something very satisfying in hand washing all my own dishes.
4. Cooking for one (not that I typically ever cook, for one or for many) means a meal can be tuna fish, peanut butter, and a glass of red wine (as I had my first night) or delicious pasta and salad (night number two).
5. I can leave all the doors open, all the time!
I don’t really have a routine here, and I kind of love that. I shed the concepts of routines while leaving Ghana and I think, in many ways, I’m better for it. Example: two evenings ago, on my way home from work, I stopped by the supermarket to buy a few things to make dinner with, came home, showered, cooked, watched a movie, and went to bed. (All the while, that commercial for diapers was stuck in my head: “I’m a big girl now!”) But then yesterday after work, I stayed downtown to shop for a little bit, then sat on a bench in the sun in Schwedenplatz eating a falafel and gelato. I then met up with some new friends to watch the Germany/Spain game (GRRRRRRRRRRR), and we ended up going out afterward and dancing until 4 a.m. Luckily, my work day today began in the early afternoon with a private tour of the very famous Heldenplatz (best known for being the place Hitler gave his Anschluss speech in 1938), which is going to be the focus of a story for the September issue of the paper. And with my parents visiting last weekend and my good friend Kiersten visiting this weekend, there’s really no time, rhyme, or reason for a routine of any sort! Life is best lived by the seat of one’s pants, anyway.
(Short funny story about Heldenplatz. I was just talking to my friend Kwame from Ghana online and he was asking me to write things in German to him because he just discovered Google’s Translator tool. So, I told him what I did today, and after having Google translate what I wrote to him into English, he wrote back, “You said something about sleeping late and going to space hero. I think.” I laughed out loud, because Heldenplatz literally means “Square of the Hereos,” or “Heroes’ Square.” Lustig!!)
But really, I’m beginning to understand why so many famous writers (and artists in general) wanted and needed to escape to a city they’d never explored before in order to write. New places, new sights and smells and sounds (and possibly even new paradigms of thinking in some ways) allow for the breaking of old routines and the breaking in of new ones (or not, in some cases), until you find what fits and what makes you wake up in the morning reaching for a pen. Inspiration may be found everywhere, but as with so many beginnings and fresh starts, it’s the new that is the most invigorating. And I love all the new I am finding and experiencing in this old city.