Twenty years ago I spent almost six months living in Vienna. I had just come back from the UK speaking English fluently and the plan was for me to be able to do the same in German… Well, this did not quite work out, when I came back I spoke the Teutonic language decently and the smart thing would have been to go and live in the German speaking part of Switzerland. But no, I went back to the French one and not using my newly acquired skill I promptly forgot everything. Turned out that it was not gone forever and it did help me when I first arrived here in Germany.
At the time, my father was working for a company in Vienna and I got a dream deal… Work in the morning in the office, language school in the afternoon and my own, relatively spacious flat! Now if I tell you that at night and at the weekend the building was empty – apart from that one flat the office and the factory occupied the rest – you can guess what the outcome was, right? Yes, parties always happened at my place as all my friends were staying with families. I was an amazingly popular girl…
We had pasta parties, end of evening parties after going to the opera, “who the hell are all these people” parties, guitar playing and singing parties, you name it we had it. Often visiting friends would be present and it was lovely to see all of my friends having a blast. The downside of this for me was that I was the one getting rid of the empty bottles the following day which did make me look like the local drunk!
We also went out a lot together to favourite haunts such as Quell or Schwarzenberg, the opera as mentioned – not sure about now but at the time you could get very decent seats for the equivalent of 10 Swiss Francs, a fact that made my jaw drop every time – we did of course a lot of sightseeing and also ended up once in a chalet at the top of a mountain to try out the new wine. Let’s just say that walking back down that mountain in the dark was a quite perilous exercise…
Sadly I lost touch with my friends there as most of them came from ex-Yugoslavia, having been sent to Vienna by their parents because of the war. I sometimes wonder what became of them. I did keep in touch with one special friend for quite a while and then we drifted apart but recently started emailing again. This makes me happy as we have fantastic memories together. I am sure you will know who you are!
I went back to this charming city twice a couple of years after leaving it but had not been again since, until April this year. A friend a mine had moved there with her partner three years ago and I had promised to go and visit her. She came to see me in Germany last summer, pregnant with her first baby. I really wanted to see her and meet her baby boy – came back a bit broody he is that gorgeous and a charmer already – so when she told me they were moving back to Switzerland in the summer I made an executive decision and booked my plane ticket.
I arrived alone on Tuesday night as my friend and her family had missed their plane coming back from Italy but since they managed to organise everything beautifully for my arrival – car to pick me up at the airport and key available – this was not a problem. We had a happy and relaxed few days together wandering around the city and enjoying the numerous cafés, bars and restaurants Vienna has to offer and needless to say I came back with the obligatory Sachertorte! To my great surprise I found that not much had changed and it really did feel like being transported back in time, down to spotting a poster for a music festival featuring The Pogues!
I realised once again what a beautiful place it is and told Sexy Hubby that we will definitely have to go back there together. Should we need a reason, I would say that having a drink in that amazing top floor bar in the new Sofitel hotel designed by Jean Nouvel and boasting a wonderful ceiling artwork by Pipilotti Rist, a funky Swiss artist, is mandatory!
More flashbacks here: Cafe Bebe.