The new apartment has a bath. This detail initially shrugged off, has become a luxury. And I am grateful for the simple pleasure of a steaming tub.
Perched in the attic of a red-toned apartment building, my white windows stick their noses to the street. The sill- wide enough to hold my body- does, as my eyes roam the modest skyline.
Orange talons, filed by my idle hands, pull my shoulders up and out the slanted window and over the street.
Lion-headed guards flank the building to my left, their jaws clenched tight around marble rings. Behind their carved heads, the building’s stone is veiled in an Olympic sea color, softly fading with weather’s attention. To the right, the clouds consume the horizon’s view.
After the breeze had adequately nibbled my shoulders, the bath was ready: steam wafting from soapy waters, illusioned fingers curling to circle my rain-chilled figure.
Here I am recounting my activities inside an AirBnB while free to roam a foreign city. But listen, the days here are slow. Breaks don’t break your schedule; you drift through quiet corners and cobblestone corridors unbothered and unfazed.
I am fast.
I make the most of each pound on the pavement, marching through an urgent mission toward whatever color in my vision can slow my gaze. The local lull doesn’t slow me down; they linger along the side of the street in quiet clusters, shoes pressed in a deliberately ambling procession.
Even so, sometimes, one catches my eye.
Girl Crossing the Street Vienna, Austria. 08/21/22.
Pink is her favorite color,
So she wears it in a flash below darkness.
A quick zip up the other side of her sole,
Pointing teeth up to scarlet head.
I wonder if her step walks along Wien or Vienna.
Tongue purring along different letters for the same sound,
Curling around their last letter.
Distinction stamped and pressed
In the darting color
across her shoe.
I feel like I am on 2x speed as even the river seems content to spin lazily towards its spill. I sound bitter, but I promise I appreciate the change of pace. With ease, I can wind through the thin crowds and find my way to my next objective in a snap.
Contrasting their leisurely steps, mine gift me more time for my own kind of leisure. Hence, my bath.
As I soak, I think about the constant veil of rain, how it peppers the river in its rush, drops joining the current as it drips along the graffiti-colored channel.
Green. No, more aqua and turquoise in color. Unlike the crystal waters of Munich, Vienna’s add to the city’s color palette. Salmon pink, grey stone, touch-of-blue sky, and gold, darkened by the turn of time.
Squinting your eyes and tilting your head, turns back the clock. The gold is bright and polished, the apartment buildings freshly painted and carved. These bones are still there.
Venders are now burrowed in the lower levels of each building, window-display eyes opening ancient brick. Construction does cluster around street corners, but with the object of maintaining, not reimagining. Restaurants take an opening and spill out onto the street, littering the ground with tables and chairs and spritzers under light rain.
At these restaurants, you are brought water without asking—a miraculous gift for my dry American tongue.
I have grown accustomed to Germany’s (as the rest of Europe’s) gatekeep of water. The simple drink is guarded by prices higher than beer. Perhaps the Austrian glass is enough to compensate for Vienna’s lack of Summer sun.
When I arrived at the Munich train station to make my departure, I realized I had assumed it would take me much longer to trek my two suitcases and hefty backpack from apartment to train and now had an extra half hour to burn at the central station.
A make-shift chair formed by an overturned suitcase separated me from the grisly ground, and I began people-watching to pass the time.
Cigarette Vending Machine
Chubby fingers stick to the plastic pressed buttons
Toddler eyes wide, hands spread in plump starfish- reaching
Her father turns his attention to his burning cigarette
Tiny legs dance in pools of day-old rain
Anger comes with discarded drops but
At the center, he loves her
The curled-haired nymph
as pink and pouting as all innocence
But golden chains hang his ego like soft silk
Legs dangling over their own reflection
Empty cigarette boxes litter this floor
Cardboard universes for all
She inhales tobacco breath as she looks inside
Stars shine through worn corners
Thick is the smell, the smoke, the ghost
Burned out and discarded, he can’t find her
His hard hands can’t hold on to both
Pocketing his cigarette box
He only finds it empty when pressed flat
A wet galaxy, crumpled with grief
Leaving Munich was not without difficulty. Not only did I imagine myself indifferent to having an actual seat on the train, but the railed road was taking me away from new friends and now-familiar street corners.
A backrest bolstered my departure as we pulled away from the second stop. I had found a backbone in the cascading steps at the crossroads of the train car’s exit doors. Resting back on backpack, my eyes were graced by a few fifteen-minute almost-naps before the final stop.
Emerging from the stationed train, my feet touched Viennese soil. Now the German language doesn’t mean German lips, but I am finding my rest tucked in the rainy streets of Wien.
1 thought on “Austrian First Impressions”
I am so enjoying your writing and blog about your adventures in Europe.
Well done! Have a wonderful and exciting adventure!
Love from your grandpa Karl’s cousin, Zona