A delayed flight from Charles de Gaulle deposited me in the Austrian capital of Vienna at midnight. From the airport to the central city, a well organized bus system existed and I got on to the one that took me closest to my friend's house.
My first human encounter in Vienna was pretty cool; I got chatting with the gentleman sat across me in the bus who had a fascinating job - a light engineer. His company builds lighting systems for historical buildings in Vienna and across Europe like the Wiener Staatsoper (Vienna State Opera). On recounting this to my friend, apparently this kind of friendly behaviour was not very Austrian - I guess I got lucky!
After talking late into the night about culture and fatal insomnia (I know... weird), I slept in and woke up late in the afternoon. First off, a run! I was staying in the 1st District which is literally the centre of the city so dodging tourists, I got to the Danube canal for a hot but pretty run.
Next up, we went for a long walk winding through the city, looking at the major historical buildings while discussing the politics and history of Austria and World War 2. It's surreal when the places and events you've studied and discussed for so long are in front of you in real life.
I truly fell in love with the architecture of this city - beautiful white buildings with their arches and columns, and an understated yet tasteful nod to wealth and opulence in their golden finishes and delicate statues. Just look at the Imperial Palace!
Another really cool thing were the twin museums. They are the two major museums of Vienna, one for fine art and the other for natural history, and they look exactly the same from the distance but for tiny details. For example, the statue of the lady ontop of the fine art museum, the Kunsthistorisches, is clothed while she isn't on top of the natural history one, Naturhistorisches. (I promise the pictures aren't simply flipped!)
With Vienna being the capital of classical music, the statue of Mozart presides over a garden of flowers in the shape of a treble clef.
We took a break after walking quite a while and ducked into a gorgeous coffee house called Sluka to indulge in a pastry and cool off.
I have to say, this was one of the most delicious, light and airy, and just perfectly sweetened pastry I've had in my life.
Looping back through the city, we headed back home to rest to get ready for our evening endeavours. It started again, with food... Ready for dinner, we went to a restaurant called the Museum of Goulash and as the name might hint, it had a huge variety of goulash. I went for one with cod and I gotta say, these guys know how to spice and season their food well. For dessert (yes another one!), we had Kaiserschmarrn, which translates into English as the Emperor's mess. It's essentially fluffy shredded pancakes dusted in powdered sugar and drizzled in cold plum sauce. It truly is an emperor's dish as it is named after the emperor (Kaiser) Franz Joseph I, who was very fond of it.
With stuffed bellies, we headed back to the now cooler Danube canal that transforms into a hotspot for young people as bars pop-up along the waterside. Sitting on a (fake) beach and watching the sunset turn the surface of the water into a incandescent work of art, a dream-like day comes to an end.