An adventurous weekend

024 (1)The passing of our six month milestone here, along with the rapid onset of cooler temperatures and earlier sunsets have really kicked me into gear in terms of getting out and doing the things we want to do around Vienna.  The days are short (and getting shorter), cold (and getting colder) and numbered, so we must get out and see what there is to see.

With Benjamin in school until noon every day, we don’t get home until around 1:00.  Then it’s time for lunch, then a nap.  By the time they’re up and about, it’s typically 3:30 at the earliest.  Even this leaves us a few hours until Dan’s return home and the beginning of the dinner/evening/bedtime routine around here, so I’m going to be making a point to use those precious hours, as well.  But, for longer excursions, it’s got to be the weekends, and we’re going to make the most of them.


This weekend, we definitely worked toward that end.  Our Saturday morning was spent in our usual manner of going to the grocery store, vacuuming, folding laundry and doing 049other small chores around the house.  But, after nap time on Saturday, we were done with chores and tasks.  We set out to do some hiking/walking around (to me, the difference is whether or not the surface is paved, and we did a little of each) and to have dinner up on the side of the mountain overlooking Vienna.  It was chilly when we left home (about 10 degrees Celsius) and it started getting dark (and colder) almost immediately after we started our walk.  We had an excellent time.  We saw some beautiful sights, explored (may have trespassed at) a gorgeous hotel overlooking the city, and had an amazing dinner by candlelight.


Today, we left, first thing, for the zoo.  The plan had been to get out of the house as early as possible (we left around 9:30, which is pretty good) and to be back for nap time 024 (2)(around 1:00/1:30).  In a shocking (for me) display of flexibility and enjoying the moment, we didn’t get home until after 4:30.  Benjamin made a list, last night, of the animals he wanted to see.  We saw them all (he liked the flamingos the best).  We rode the train (twice).  We walked from the back exit of the zoo to the Gloriette of Schonbrunn and looked down on Vienna (Liam walked a significant part of the way, holding Dan’s hand — he did NOT want to ride in the stroller or be carried).  We had an impromptu lunch in the sun on a bench, the boys threw several fits (each) and we all came home worn out, a bit out of sorts and completely off of our normal schedule.

037It was great.  I wouldn’t change anything about it, and I’m already thinking about what we’ll do next weekend.

It’s not easy for me.  I make a list of the chores and tasks to be done around the house every weekend, and it drives me a little crazy if they don’t get done.  I have to let go of that if I want to make the most of our weekend in terms of exploring.  This weekend, we left more than half of our to-do list undone (much of it not even begun).  I’m also making a serious effort to live more in the moment — to enjoy what’s happening around me instead of thinking about what needs to happen next (and when) or obsessing about what’s still to be done at home.  I don’t feel the need to cram every moment full of “experiences” (staying home and cuddling on the couch is an experience, too) but I do want to prioritize having fun over having a clean house, being together and enjoying ourselves over feeling accomplished at checking “something” off of our to do list.


We don’t have an infinite amount of time here.  I want to make the most of the time we have.  I don’t want to leave here with any regrets about things I wanted to see, or do, or experience with the boys.  Realizing this about my time in Vienna makes me realize how true this is of life in general.


The vacuuming can wait.  The flamingos can’t.


Deer crossing

077One of the many things I love about living in Vienna is the food.  One of the many things I love about the food is its seasonality.  When we first arrived, it was Spargl (asparagus) season.  You could hardly order food in a restaurant without somehow getting asparagus involved:  it was on the pizza, in the soups, in the risotto, in the bread, on the side.  It was everywhere.  The same has been true for the other seasons we’ve gone through:  strawberry, chanterelle, blueberry, apple.  It’s great — for a few weeks, every restaurant incorporates whatever is in season, and then, just as you’re getting tired of having asparagus for every meal, the dishes change and you won’t be able to get them again until the next time that season comes around.  I’m really enjoying it — not only is the food fantastic, fresh and flavorful, but it’s making me more aware of the season.

We’re in the best food season so far right now.  It’s fall and harvest time, and several great things are in season at the same time:  pumpkins, chestnuts and game.  We went out to dinner tonight and shared a dinner that included venison, wild boar, glazed chestnuts and baked sweet potato (the first time I’ve even seen that particular vegetable on any menu here).  This particular restaurant gets extra points for advertising their “wild game” specials by erecting actual “deer crossing” road signs on the sidewalk by the front door.

Our dinner was excellent.  But, beyond that, I am quite enjoying the celebration of the autumn and the feel of the season.  I love this time of year, and there is so much to appreciate about it.  All I have to do is find a place that sells hot cider and I’ll be all set.

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire

It was cold and rainy this morning in Vienna.  I quite liked it.  My weekly Sunday trip to Starbucks was ill-effected, though, because since it was rainy and cold, everyone wanted to drink hot coffee, everyone wanted to sit inside and drink their hot coffee, and (literally) I think a tour bus dropped off an entire load of people while I was there.  Which is all fine, but made for a rather loud and crowded Starbucks visit (I got the last seat at a table when I arrived, and then people started cramming into small, odd spaces — I had one woman standing over me for a significant portion of my white mocha).

It still served my purposes — an hour out, on my own, not worrying about the kids — but I decided to leave a bit early and go on a stroll.

On my way back home, I came upon a chestnut vendor.  Chestnuts roasting on an open fire — for real — served in a little paper cup.  So, I got some (12, to be exact).  Oh, so yummy.  And warm.  And happy in my tummy.  Just the thing for a cold, rainy, autumn day.

I brought them home to share with Dan and the boys.  Benjamin did not care for them.  Liam thinks they’re fantastic (or so I interpret his persistent toddling up to me, pointing at the paper cup and shouting, “Da!”).

Score another point for Vienna:  chestnuts roasting on an open fire.  There are things I really love about this place.

Fall is in the air

Appropriately enough, given that autumn arrives this week, fall is definitely in the air here in Vienna.  It’s still warm during the day, but the cool air descends quickly once the sun goes down . . . which is happening earlier every day.  The air is crisp, the breezes are cool, the nights are chilly.

The residential heating in Vienna is controlled in a central location, and it hasn’t been turned on yet for the fall (reminds me of my college days).  I don’t mind, though — after a summer of being too hot a lot of the time, I’m rather enjoying bundling up in warm clothes on the few cold days we’ve had so far.

I love the feeling of cool autumn air.  I get absolutely giddy about it.  I went out to get a cup of tea at Starbucks this evening after Dan got home, and walking down the street, I was nearly skipping.  I can’t help it — I get excited about the coming fall.  I love everything about it — the cooler temperatures, the early evenings, the sunlight in the autumn, the pumpkins, the celebration of harvest, Halloween, warm apple cider and warmer clothes.  I love it all.  I am excited that fall is coming, and I’m curious to see how it’s different here.  I know there will be things from home that I miss, but I also suspect that the Austrian tendency to truly celebrate the season will make for quite an experience.

Autumn in August

I love the fall — it is, without question, my favorite season, and always has been.  But, I wasn’t really prepared to greet it in August.  Waking up this morning, there was a definite change in the weather.  We’ve had cool, even chilly, days throughout the summer, but this feels less transient — this feels like fall.  Our other cool days have been gray and rainy.  Today was bright and sunny, but crisp and cool.  At the warmest part of the day, it was a little warm in the sunshine and perfect in the shade, but by this evening, it was chilly even in the sun.  Feels like October to me.

Maybe we’ll have a really long fall that fades gently into a snowy winter (because that would be GREAT).  Or maybe it will feel like January here by the time we get to mid-October.  The light is changing, the weather is changing, the wind is changing — I think summer in Vienna is winding down.