Click on any photo for the full version! Happy end of year!!
I journal daily (sometimes almost hourly) when I travel abroad.
And reviewing my travel journals is a delightful way to recall experiences, feelings, observations from my travels over the last 24+ years to four different continents.
Here are some observations . . . .
My flat in Vienna has no garbage disposal. I’m having to recall what to do with dinner dandruff!
A very kind Swedish kid was watching videos all the way from Newark to Stockholm. He draped his hoodie across the side of his seat to that his video screen would not interfere with my fitful attempts at sleep.
How easily people switch between languages in Europe! So many people are multi-lingual!
In Stockholm, whilst watching FIFA World Cup soccer in the executive lounge at the Hilton: the lounge attendant keeps walking into the room, watching a minute of the game, throwing up his hands in disgust at failed goal approaches, and walking out with a sigh.
My schoolboy German is coming along, and apparently people think I’m local at times, so successful is the accent. But I’m finding English to be more prevalent than I remember from ten years ago.
The EU is fraying. Voices of illiberalism are gaining strength. Flames of fear are being fanned by right-wing demagogues who then propose they are the solution to the problem they maintain is present, even though emperical evidence does not support their claims. Even the young Austrian chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, is calling for hardening of the open borders that have been a key element of the European experiment.
Policies of mistrust — panic, even — are replacing what has always been a rational, consensus-driven, lead-from-the-middle governing philosophy.
Angela Merkel almost lost her government this month. The Italians can’t pull anything together. Hungary is under the thumb of a right-wing heavy. Poland is verging on civil war. And America? My god . . . .
Cold cucumber soup is a delight!
Americans can be real shits when traveling abroad. (I suppose people from other countries can be as well.) Witness, in Florence last weekend:
“Is there a ladies nearby.” New Jersey accent. Repeated three times, at louder decibels. Met with a blank look from the Italian. Finally, “Oh god, I just need a toilet.” And there was the word that made sense.
Why don’t people learn to try different words? When I talk to people for whom English is not the first language, and I get a blank look, I always try to find another way of expressing the idea. This seems so basic!
And American and Japanese teenagers and college students: stop tapping on your damn smartphones, and start looking up while you walk! By the way, children, I learned years ago to look up above street level. In many cities, some of the greatest glories abound on the façades of the buildings!
My impression is that Italians are not as considerate as their northern neighbors. Not once did I see anyone at all –and certainly not the oblivious youngsters — give up a seat for a person with a cane, or an older person. Even tram seats marked as for the elderly or handicapped were taken instead by able-bodied folks, usually youngsters. In Vienna, half the tram jumps up to offer their seat. Even in NYC! But not in Italy, or at least not in Florence.
School email never ends.
I guess I just don’t get conceptual art. The Klimt Beethovenfries was glorious, but the current contemporary installation was lost on me as I visited the Secession on Saturday.
Wednesday evening, Independence Day.
The sun sets, but twilight never leaves the sky for a month or more in Stockholm each summer. So it was that I awoke at 1 a.m. to the view of an orange ring on the northern horizon, and at 3:30 a.m. opened my curtains to this:
By 4 a.m. the city was in bright sunlight, and from my taxi window I noticed a mob of youngsters and dozens of taxis at a street corner. The cab driver: “It’s a nightclub.”
How do these people function after partying the night away? My body was upended just by travel and the too-early sunlight!
This morning’s flight brought me south from Stockholm, over the Baltic Sea and Poland and thence to Vienna, where I took the City-Airport Train to Wien Mitte and then a taxi to my flat. I have long weekend excursions the next two weeks, more of which to come. The map in the airline magazine was helpful as I oriented myself today, since I always forget that Vienna is so far east!
After finding my lovely flat, I set out at lunchtime on a brief walk to a nearby Tex-Mex place, and celebrated Independence Day with chicken enchiladas and fizzy water with lemon juice.
I walked the neighborhood for a long while, even in the heat, and apparently have logged just under 15K steps today. Nearby is a Viennese version of Global Foods, this time focusing on mostly American and British products. I stopped in, but did not buy.
The flat is perfect, including a grand piano! The views are Vienna-urban:
Work begins in earnest on Thursday.
And I walked more than 15K steps on Wednesday!
P.S. — I bought paprika chips today. All is well. All is well indeed.
I arrived Stockholm this morning at about 8 a.m. local time.
My intention was to be a tourist today, but age and weariness caught up with me, and at 2 p.m. I decided to take a 2-hour nap.
In all of my years of world traveling, I have avoided first-day naps, wishing instead to power through to 9 p.m. or so, and then wake up ready to go the next day.
But I’ll be 57 soon, and I don’t have the bounce-back and the go-for-it that I had 24 years ago when this world traveling started.
So I napped.
And missed a chunk of my tourist time. Everything here closes at 5 p.m.!
My lunch was traditional Swedish meatballs, eaten al fresco on a historic square in Gamla Stan (Old Town). And I bought three chocolates as well.
Now at 7.40 p.m. local time, the sun has come out, and I’m going to stay in to watch the England-Colombia match, then go out at the 10 p.m. dusk to take more photos!
Travel plans for the next year are shaping up.
March 2018 — Moscow, Vienna, London
May 2018 — Kansas City, Boston
June 2018 — NYC
July 2018 — Vienna, with a one-day stop in Stockholm
August 2018 — Helena, Montana
November 2018 — Washington DC
January 2019 — Hong Kong, Bangkok, Saigon
I’ll have a few more short trips in there too, but these are the big ones!