Travel for me is about more than seeing beautiful places, it’s also about the beautiful people you meet and experiences you share. Connecting with people I hardly know has never been as easy as it was in Vienna.
I decided to go to Vienna on a whim. My sister and I were in Budapest and when she had to go back to work I decided to stay and travel on my own. I looked at a map and thought “Ah Vienna is close, and I’ve never been there…”, so off I went. My stay in Vienna started with a stranger from Couchsurfing who gave me a key to his apartment and also gave up his room for me while he slept on the couch. The kindness of those I met in Vienna melts my heart, and it just kept getting better. He welcomed me to join him and his friends at a local veg pub where we drank microbrews with the owner, ate vegan schnitzel, and talked about his work in immigration rights, veganiam, and about life. We laughed a lot, as all those I met in Vienna seem to do!
My second day in Vienna I met with Carina, another stranger who immediately felt like a best friend. She educated me on the growing vegan scene in Vienna, with new restaurants, availability of vegan options, activism, growing public awareness. I could write for days about the vegan scene here but I’ll try to give you a quick brief…there are multiple animal rights groups, a vegan clothing store, 2 vegan grocers, 2 vegan ice cream shops, a vegan wine bar, a vegan hotel, and a big vegan dumpster diving scene. There is even a restaurant that started in the 1700’s with traditional Austrian food that transitioned to becoming vegan and is opening their second location next week! What more could I ask for. Oh yea, as I mentioned the vegans there know how to have fun! I got the celebrate New Years at an all vegan parted hosted by Felix, the President of the Vegan Society. The Viennese were a great reminder of the need to love more, laugh more, and embrace the positive energy that life can have.
As much as I travel I still sometimes over plan to try and avoid missing out, but the truth is I usually miss out when I plan to much. I planned too much this trip. I was meant to leave my Couchsurfer’s home after 2 nights and travel back to Budapest where I had a flight back to Frankfurt. Good news is it’s never too late to change your path, in travel or life! I decided I couldn’t leave, the amazing people (and food) compelled me to stay. I filled time with my new friends by ice skating, visiting castles, playing games, fun conversation and of course lots of eating! On January 3rd I finally left to meet my sister in Garmish, a ski town in the German Alps.
I’m not sure what sparks everyone I met in Vienna to be so nice, considerate, giving, fun, and amazing. Maybe it’s the free education that creates smarter well thought out population. Maybe it’s the more equal culture, where people don’t need to fight to get ahead and have their basic needs like healthcare met. Or maybe that it’s just contagious nature of those you surround yourself with. Whatever the case, I’m heard over heals for you Vienna. Thanks for the laughter, kindness, nougat dumplings, nougat cake, and nougat chocolates galore!