It is an ordinary day, yet I feel happy and satisfied. A great thing about Vienna, is the diversity of the people within the city. Within my daily Straßenbahn ride and walk to classes I may hear a dozen different languages including Italian, English, Mandarin, Spanish and Arabic. Vienna and Germany both have large populations of Turkish immigrants, which plays a role in Austrian daily culture. There are fast-food restaurants on nearly every corner, which sell “Döner Kebaps”, a pita sandwich that is filled with seasoned chicken (or kalb), lettuce, tomatoes, onions and sauce. Most of these restaurants also have falafel as a vegetarian option. These restaurants are relatively inexpensive and taste far better than the McDonalds and Burger Kings that can also be found on many street corners.
Today, I went to a market that was a few blocks from my apartment. The most interesting aspect was people watching, both stand workers and customers. A majority of the booths were worked by immigrants from middle eastern countries. The market had nearly anything a person needed: from produce, to cookware, clothing, flowers, wallets and children’s toys. (There was a dancing Elsa toy that kept playing the first two line of “Let It Go” on repeat while you walked past). Items at the market were cheaper than identical items that one could find at a grocery store. I bought a bundle of bananas there for 1 euro/kg while the Spar or Billa (the two nearby grocery stores) typically charge 2 euro/kg. The clothing was also rather reasonably priced. There were sweaters that were being sold for only 5 euro, while one would be lucky to find a sweater at H&M for 40 euro. Many of the stands sold similar items and if the store worker saw that others were drawing away and going to other stands, they would verbally try to lure customers back to their store, by announcing their products and persuading that their items are on sale. I decided to buy two pears from a store owner, mostly because it has been a long time since I have eaten pears. Although I had given the worker two pears to weigh, which would have cost 60 cents, he asked if he could sell me three pears for 1 euro. It was definitely a pushy marketing technique in order to make a bit more money, but I don’t care, I want to support immigrant families and like pears.
After spending too much time contemplating my sales decisions, I decided to go home and stop at the grocery store on the way, in order to pick up the remaining ingredients for the Palatschinken I am making in the morning. “Palatschinken” is the word for pancake in German, although, to my understanding, Palatschinken is more like a crepe. A week or so ago, I bought a small cookbook of recipes for Viennese delicacies. Palatschinken are a very traditional dessert in Vienna, next to Kaiserschwarrm and Apfelstrudel, that are typically filled with cream filling, raisins and fruit compote. Edit: The Palatschinken were good, but I forgot to buy Cottage Cheese which is important for the filling. I basically ended up eating them with peanut butter and bananas. As well, when reading a language different than your native one, it is easy to not understand the full instructions. When it said "eier getrennt", I thought it meant separate the eggs so that one would go in the filling and two would go in the batter. Little did I know I needed to separate the whites from the yolks. "You live and you learn".
After putting my groceries away, I decided to go to Praterdome, a giant amusement park. This weekend is Fascing weekend, also known as Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent (an even better reason to make Palatschinken). There were many performances and a giant parade that circled around the amusement park. Many adults and children were dressed up in costumes for the event. Although the amusement park isn’t fully open for the season, half of the ride and food venues were open. A friend and I decided to race around the small go-kart track. The moment was three minutes of nostalgia. I remembered back to when I was a child and rode around the go-kart track at the “Incredible Pizza Company”. I felt a sense of pleasure from people watching and spending time with my friend. I highly recommend the chocolate-covered marzipan or the lebkuchen (gingerbread) that they sell at Prater.
Lastly, I went to an artist’s sale. Although this gathering was small, it gave me another idea of things to add to my bucket list. One of the artists is hosting a class in April about Street art. In the class, the participants will not only get to learn about the style, but create a work of their own. After the meet and greet, I went home and drank a glass from, what I have to say, is the best 4 euro bottle wine I’ve tasted.
At the market, I bought a small potted plant for 2 euro. Just the thought of having some color and something nice to look at brightens my day. It is sitting on my table in a bowl, reminding me of the many beauties of Vienna and also the beauties of my life back home, including the garden that my boyfriend and I built last year. These memories of a wonderful day and colorful flowers, are enough to keep a person going throughout the week.
Stay tuned to hear about my trip to Prague, Paris, Amsterdam, the street art class and a possibly hopeful attempt at swing dancing.
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<p>I am Bridget Gervais and I am a Junior studying Music Education at Drake University. When I am not studying or practicing my French Horn, I enjoy reading, going on runs, cooking/trying new recipes, exploring and, of course, playing Christmas music on the Piano.</p>