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O Fim duma Viagem

The Metro Doesn't have Pigeons

AUSTRIA | Monday, 30 November 2015 | Views [456]

Sunday, on Ashley's recommendation, we headed to a nearby mountain to get good views of the city and stop at a cafe he recommended. It is possible to climb the mountain, but it's also possible to take a bus. Guess which of the ways we took? (Hint: it was the easier route.)

First, we had to take the underground. If you're used to the Paris metro, the Vienna underground can be a bit… underwhelming. For one thing, there are only five lines. (Paris has 14.) For another, there are no turnstiles. Whether you have a pass, a single ticket, or nothing whatsoever, you can walk in and take a train. The catch is that if you're in a check and don't have a validated ticket, you need to pay €150 on the spot. According to Delaney's program director, they don't take any excuses. According to Delaney, she's never been in a random check, and only one of her classmates this semester has been. And that classmate, who had a monthly pass, had put it in the wrong pocket and couldn't find it. While she was panicking and looking for it, the inspector moved on. I decided to try my luck and got through the weekend with an unvalidated ticket and Delaney's willingness to disown me if I was caught. (Also, I think it's worth noting that I've been in a random check in Paris, when I was exiting one of the stations and there were people scanning cards and checking tickets. Paris, where getting on a metro without a valid ticket requires hopping a turnstile, possibly in front of an attendant's eyes.) Finally, whether you're actually underground or waiting for a former tram, you're probably waiting with pigeons.

Pigeons and I don't exactly get along. Some might say I hate or fear them. This is not quite true. Certainly in Paris, I've learned to make my peace with them. In part because Paris pigeons are prettier than normal pigeons, (the first week, I saw one that was pretending to be a crow. Completely black, with only size, beak, and feet to give it away) and are also pretty clever. Paris pigeons know how to look pathetic and beg for food, and then tell where that food came from and go straight for the source. Once you make that mistake once and find yourself legitimately wondering if you can ever return to the park, or if pigeons are like crows and can remember faces, you gain a certain respect for them. Provided they stay where they belong. Which is outside, and not in my metro stations.

Basically, the Paris metro is amazing, which is something I would have already known if I'd believed a friend of mine.

The bus went up to the top of the mountain, with two stops between the start of the mountain and the top. We got our at each stop, only to be stranded on the second when we could find neither a schedule nor a bus going up. So we decided to walk the last leg. Now I can claim I've climbed a mountain in Austria.

Along the way, we saw a ropes course (closed, obviously) and a swing set (open). And, even though Maram wasn't here,

Of course we had to go on it.

Swingset

The top continued to have nice views, and there was a monastery, and a bus back down. No cafe, though. Turned out we'd missed the one Ashley had recommended.

Lovely views

We got back to the apartment, and Delaney was going to prepare pasta for us when her host mother offered us some of the spinach tarte once she was done making it. Despite having just hosted a house concert, she was already starting cooking for the next one. It was a decent wait, and we were both hungry, but it was soooo worth it. Apparently her tirimasu is even better.

Delaney also explained that one of the previous tenants had started the tradition that people who lived in the house did not wear shoes to the concerts. This was mainly to stop the neverending questions from rich Viennese of “are you a promising young musician?” It also served as a subtle and unnoticed dig against his high school classmates. The high school he'd attended was on the street that all the wealthy kids lived, and they tended to come to school with their shoes untied to show “I could just roll out of bed and come here.” It worked, in any case.

In the evening, we went to more Christkindlmarkts and then to a board game cafe. So many games…

Board game cafe

Delaney and I played several rounds of Set, though the deck was weird. The diamonds were rectangles, the shading was streakier, the colors were more faded, and it was missing a card. After that we played most of a game of scoreless Scrabble using German tiles and English words. The game ended when I talked Delaney into using Urban Dictionary a valid source and she talked me into letting her put “Jesus” in the corner without connecting it to anything.

We are dinner back at the apartment with Kei, a Japanese pianist, and Ashley. I tried to talk with Kei in Japanese and was forced to come to grips with how much my Japanese had deteriorated. I could not remember how to say “a is like b” until I was coming back from the airport and it suddenly popped into my mind. So that was helpful.

Kei is from Tokyo, and, like most non-Japanese-teacher Japanese I've talked to, is super skeptical of the idea of going to Osaka to study Japanese. (I'd previously had it explained up me that it's like going to Australia to study English by someone who had done just that.) But Kei is also dismissive of dialects in general, which made both Delaney and Ashley sad. (They love Viennese German.)

I did manage to talk a bit about my language classes and how I knew more people from Carthage currently studying in Japan than in France. He was very surprised until I mentioned manga and anime.

A common conversation for Kei:

Austrian: do you know (semi-popular anime)?

Kei: umm… no

Austrian: but it's such a good anime!

Kei: I don't really watch anime...

Austrian: how can you not know it? It's your culture!

Kei: how many symphonies did Beethoven compose?

Austrian: I have no idea.

Kei: but it's your culture!

Well played.

 

Tags: board games, christkindlmarkt, mountains, swings, tourism, vienna

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