Adventure at the Belvedere


We went out and had a lovely dinner this evening in honor of Dan’s birthday at his favorite Viennese restaurant.  (Turns out it’s also now my mom’s favorite restaurant in Vienna so far.)  Good food and good company.

037Afterwards, we decided to go (literally) next door to walk around the grounds of the Belvedere Palace for a few minutes before it closed.  It was a beautiful evening.  There’s something about summer evenings at dusk — the warm, moist air, with just a hint of the coolness of the coming fall — it really gets to me.  There’s something . . . exciting, expectant, about it.  Tonight was one of those evenings.  The moon was up, the sun had set, but it wasn’t quite dark yet.  We walked around a bit, showed my mom the gardens and the fountains, let Benjamin run around a bit, and then started to head out.

On our way in, we had noticed that we only had about 15 minutes until the posted closing time of 9:00.  We’d been in longer than 15 minutes, although not by a whole lot.  As we finished our mildly long walk back to the gate, though, we noticed that the gate up ahead looked like it might be closed, and we watched the couple who had been walking ahead of us to see if they were able to exit.  They weren’t.  (Another example of Austrian thinking — I could just imagine the groundskeeper saying, “Well, what did you expect?  The sign said 9:00!”)

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Luckily, we’ve been to the Belvedere twice before and knew there was another gate . . . on the entirely opposite end of the grounds.  We encountered a man (who may actually have been the groundskeeper — not sure, but he had a bike and more information than we did) who told us the other gate was the only way out.  So, we set off.


It was a lovely walk on a lovely night in a lovely place.  It was truly dark now, and I was glad we were in such a safe place (as Vienna is).  But we enjoyed a pleasant evening walk together.  It was a little longer than we’d intended to be out (we asked Benjamin if he was having fun, and he told us “no”, and Liam got fed up with the stroller and needed to be carried most of the way) and uphill, but really, very nice.  We made it out of the far away gate, eventually found the right bus, then the right tram, and made it home.

It was a long evening, with an unexpected, but beautiful, adventure.  Neither of the boys got a bath before bed.  We are all tired.  But, it was certainly an adventure, and not one we could have had anywhere else.

Finding our way

I have a phenomenally good sense of direction.  Some people are visual learners, some are auditory learners . . . I’m a spatial learner (there are other options, too).  If I write something down, my best bet if I’m trying to recall it is to try to remember where on the page I wrote it down, or the shape of the words.  I can pack the back of a car (or a closet, or a refrigerator) with a minimum of both effort and wasted space.  This means, too, that I typically know exactly where I am — I have a rough sense of how far I’ve travelled (by foot or vehicle) and generally which direction.  I can tell you, almost anytime, which direction is north and in which direction any other landmark is to where I am.

But Vienna messes with me.  It’s partly because there was a map outside of our first apartment here that wasn’t oriented north/south (who does that?) so my initial explorations here were all “off” in terms of cardinal directions, and I often find myself snapping back into this odd (and false) coordinate system.  It’s also because I swear there isn’t a true right angle in this city (that’s also true in our house, which really takes some getting used to).  I’m accustomed to knowing where I am, and naturally knowing which direction to go, but I find that nearly half the time here, my instincts are off (not usually totally wrong, just tweaked a little).  It’s unnerving and it’s messing with my head.

It happened again this evening:  we went out for pizza and ice cream, very near where we first lived when we came to Vienna.  We took the train to get there, but since the evening was pleasant, we decided to walk home.  I got us there, but we came out somewhere completely different than I expected.  I’m just not used to it.

I’ve been discovering, however, that Benjamin seems to have inherited my sense of direction and space.  We were walking down the street where we lived when we moved here.  The building itself is not particularly noteworthy, but a block after we passed it, we crossed the Donaukanal, which is pretty hard to miss.  Benjamin wanted to stop and look at the water, and the boats and all the people down by the water, so we did, and then we continued across the bridge.  About 3/4 of the way across, he stopped, turned and looked over his shoulder and said, “Oh, that’s where we used to live” and pointed back down the street towards our old building.

I’m glad to see that one of us seems to know where we’re going.