The week-long escape from reality culminates to this final day in Vienna. After a lazy start, I went for a run along the rainy Danube Canal and through the Hapsburg hunting grounds.
Strolling through palaces of the rich and royal in Austria, our next destination is actually a restaurant (a very food-y trip indeed).
This place is super interesting though: an all-you-can-eat Pakistani cuisine place with a pay-as-you-wish system. I know – it’s hard to believe that combination of words existing in any context let alone in the middle of Vienna. But it is what it says. Greeted with a buffet of food and a plate, I ate way too much. It was super authentic too – the flavours and spices… none of the British “curries” made of double cream. Topped it all off with some suji ka halwa (a Pakistani dessert made of semolina).
Feeling well-fed, we headed into town again and this time actually entered one of the museums we’d seen yesterday – the Natural History Museum, one of the most important ones in the world! And it’s design and architecture, it is more like a palace than a museum.
One of the most important pieces exhibited was the statue Venus of Willendorf, one of the earliest figurine of a female from almost 30,000 years ago. Trying to imagine that really puts our lives into perspective! Past alligators, pre-historic fish skeletons and even a model mammoth, we turned into the dinosaur display to a roaring tyrannosaurus rex.
We walked out of the museum into the beautiful spattering of rain. With the stones of the cobbled street still warm, the steamy air was filled with one of my favourite smells – petrichor.
Just around the corner, was Café Central, a location frequented by one of the most (in)famous and intellectual people in the world including Hitler, Stalin, Trotsky, Tito, Freud, Franz Ferdinand and Lenin. It is rumoured that Hitler gave a speech to the Austrians after occupation from that very balcony. Crazy!
Not exactly sure what to do next (but maybe subconsciously thinking about coffee) we walked into Demel, a pastry shop established in 1786 with the title Purveyor to the Imperial and Royal Court i.e. they used to supply their pastries to the royal court. With so much history, it was also a tourist hotspot and there was a long queue to get a table there. We were about to turn around until one of the craziest coincidences happened – I spotted my first year flatmate in the queue ahead! Having no idea we were in the same country let alone city and haven’t spoken to each other in months – how!? I leapt forward and hugged him from behind – I’m surprised he didn’t attack me as a first instinct. Ah it was just absolutely amazing! Jumping the queue a bit, we waited till we were sat and ordered coffee. As if we can’t get more decadent, the Viennese also have special ways of preparing coffees. None of those massive Starbucks sizes, each coffee is built with a delicate espresso and always served with a glass of water. I ordered a Franziskaner, an espresso with a bit of warm milk topped with a dollop of whipped cream.
Rain still going strong, we ducked back home for a short break. Please don’t judge the number of times I am eating/drinking but next up, we went to the grocery store to buy some stuff for dinner. After so many meals outside, I decided to cook a good ole stir fry with mushrooms and aubergines. Dinner was a success and we spent the rest of the night in, my flatmate popping in for a bit too.
Around midnight, I had yet another coffee (more coffee in a week than I’ve had in months). Caffeinated and feeling wistful of leaving this city soon, I decided to clock in next day’s run here too. So, at 12:30am I went out for another loop around the canal.
Delay as I try, the time finally came to pack and get to the airport before the sun had even risen to catch my 7am flight back to London … and reality.
Run of the Day
and technically run of the next day: