Monday, June 22, 2009

A General Update

I am tempted to say that the squirrels in Europe are more charming than the squirrels in the United States, but I think this impression only exists because they are similar to, but still different, than the squirrels I am accustomed to (and I think this condition likely explains many of Europe's subtle charms so far). Swimming in a different gene pool seems endlessly fun, making nature one of the most exciting parts of my adventure so far.
German/Austrian food is in a lot of ways analogous tothat in the states: very meat-and-potatoes-centric with lots of fat and cream. Substantial, but poor for health and also bland (the beer however is quite good (I am enjoying some now as I type in the internet cafe)). Alternately, it is rarely difficult to find Turkish food stands, offering cheap and spicier options that are likewise hearty, but more interesting and vegetarian friendly (I have heard the Turkish situation here likened to that of Mexicans in America, both in culinary offerings and otherwise - they have been immigrating in large numbers, affecting a very old culture and making many natives uneasy).
Veganism had to be put on hold for the sake of my health and bank account (two things I have stated I would never compromise for this ideal), so I have been eating plenty of cheese and eggs. It has been easier to absorb culinary culture this way, but I have not yet tasted anything that would make me feel like I am missing out as a vegan. Guilt has never been a motivation for me - even still I have none - but if there is anything on my emotional spectrum that can be classified as homesickness, it is the void caused by the loss of my ability to be vegan without challenge. I feel deprived. Anyway, I am not losing any sleep so the main point is: I am not homesick.
There are bicycles everywhere here and I LOVE it. Hippies, poor people, and athletes are not alone on the road, they are joined with priests, business people, and old ladies. Bikes are so ubiquitous here they don't even bother locking them to posts, and there are dedicated bicycle lanes everywhere. The commitment to efficient consumption is impressive. There are sorted recycle bins in most busy areas, grocery stores don't give bags away, and windmills fill the fields as abundantly as cows do.
I spent nearly two weeks in Vienna and have had naught to say about it, which is stupid because it is utterly beautiful (if at first difficult to navigate). It's heart beats at the center it's old town full of statues and cathedrals, a world class opera house, excellent exhibits in a palace showing of the excesses of the Hapsburg empire, and the kind of shops and restaurants (and women) that make being a playboy millionaire seem like a really good idea. Vienna manages to be an immensely cultured and industrious capital without compromising its greenery - it is encompassed by woods and the Danude river, so it is never hard to retreat to a more natural setting. My favorite evening had to be that of the Sommernacht-Fesitval Koncert, a yearly event that has the Vienna philharmonic performing classical arrangements in the royal gardens behind the Shönbrunn Palace. The event is free to the public and it ended with fireworks and a night of drinking at a local Wiener's flat.
Today is day one of the solo leg of my journey. Within two hours of being by myself everything was going wrong and I was nearly having a panic attack. After collecting myself and a helpful online chat with Jessica Deahl (thank you), I was able to man up and get to Berlin, which is awesome. As are hostels. And beer. Now I am having fun and look forward to the enjoying the duration of my quest.
And to sign off...


Alan said...

To paraphrase Senator Palpatine in Episode I, I am following your adventures with great interest.

Good luck on your own and see you in about a month.

Matteo Feo said...

Oh my God, Alan, you are amazing.

When I was at a book for leaving notes in, in a cathedral in Vienna, I was very tempted to write, 'I love fishes 'cause they're so delicious,' and it took me a while to figure out why.

Sean said...

Dodos lived flightless and predator-less for thousands of generations before man set foot on their remote home, the island of Mauritius. Needless to say, they were quite tame. They weren't good for eating, so Dutch explorers bludgeoned them to death for sport.

Point being: Don't bludgeon the squirrels to death for sport, they might go extinct.

Brian Michael Evans said...

Sounds like you are having a great time. :) Turkish food is freaking awesome. So delicious. I have now added your blog and look forward to hearing more of your adventures. You should totally work on that millionaire playboy thing, that could pay off in the end.

Nathaniel Alexander Wehe said...


Alan said...

Re: fishes -- Excellent.