We ended up doing a lot of touring in the city, so I'll try and keep my writing short and sweet here, but heavy on the photos. It was incredibly hot and humid this week, so I got a bit pink walking around, but we squeezed in a lot of things anyway! Including an excellent tour of the crypt of St. Michael's, which included some mummified bodies from a couple centuries ago. The use of wood shavings and the cool temperatures in the crypt caused natural mummification in the cheaper coffins, whereas those of wealthy people are completely unpreserved; the rich were encased in metal coffins that did not allow any ventilation, so the bodies within are basically destroyed by their own decomposition.
Not sure why that is the one piece of information I'm sharing in this post, but here we are.
I'll also add a bit about the St. Stephen's cathedral. At the end of WWII, the roof of St. Stephen's caught fire and collapsed due to the wind picking up embers from fires on the ground. German forces were ordered to blast the entire cathedral to the ground as part of a campaign to eliminate significant cultural landmarks as they retreated, but the German artillery captain who received the orders refused. Because of that decision, the building still stands and only the roof was damaged unintentionally. It was fully repaired within 10 years of the war ending. You can see some photos of the exquisite tiling below.
On our last night in Vienna, we got stuck in the rain on the way to dinner, which cooled things down a bit; I included a shot of the puddles during the downpour.
I'm sad to be leaving tomorrow, but excited to get back to my routine a bit. And to see Chris and the guinea pigs. My parents will continue onto Salzburg, with 4 more weeks spent in Austria and Germany. I can't imagine!
Catching up at this point because the wedding really took it out of me! It was a perfect storm of jet lag, Schnapps, Austrian beer and wine, and staying up chatting with wedding guests until 5:00am. I passed out as it was getting light, briefly woke up at 10am to eat something and drink some water, and then didn’t fully get dressed until well after 2:00, basically resetting to American time. I haven’t stayed up that late or drank more than a couple glasses of wine probably since college, so I feel like I'm still recovering two days later.
That said, it was such a fun wedding! The ceremony took place under a long line of linden trees in the front lawn, looking over the valley. I tried to covertly take some photos while also staying out of the way of the actual photographers and not ruining any photos with my camera being out. They did a nice job of pairing English and German, and the ceremony was completed with the bride and groom signing their names on a marriage certificate, as well as the Maid of Honor and Best Man. After they walked back down the aisle, they took part in an Austrian tradition of cutting a heart shape out of a large sheet, each racing to cut out their half. Lukas won, but Katie was a good sport.
We had drinks on the lawn, took some photos, and then headed into the hotel for the reception, which included speeches, slideshows, messages from family and friends near and far who couldn’t make it, and a couple of hilarious newlywed games. Before dinner, the server, my cousin Tina, and even the bride checked in on me to make sure my vegetarian needs were covered. So sweet! And the resulting veggie-friendly dish was absolutely delicious.
After dinner, I spent a lot of time chatting with my parents and family I hadn’t met before. I was feeling a bit socially anxious so didn’t really join the dance floor that much, but it was still nice to do a lot of visiting. Once my parents went to bed, I hung out with my cousins, did a bit of dancing, spent some time at the bar in the lobby, and even made some new friends of Austrian descent.
Like I said, I’m catching up now because I didn’t end up doing much of anything post-wedding aside from sleeping and taking a leisurely dip in the pool. Then today, we left the hotel and headed into Vienna. We’re staying at the Hotel de France, which is pretty conveniently located close to a lot of the sites we want to visit. More on what we’ve been up to later, but here are some photos from the wedding! I’ll add them to the wedding photo tab once I’m back in the States.
Drawing of Katie and Lukas from the wedding.
The vegetarian dish, and one of the most amazing desserts I've every had. Also the crème brulée served at the restaurant, which I had multiple times during our stay.
The pool, and sunset on our last night at the hotel.
We had an amazing wine tasting last night!! Reunited with the cousins, and finally met Lukas (Katie’s fiancé). The founder of the hotel directed the tasting, and even gave us a sample of a wine from 1914! Note his spectacular mustache. After the tasting, we had dinner at the restaurant again, and had some family time.
This morning, I slept in extremely late, and then had some pastry with mom and dad. Afterward we walked along the grounds and took some photos, then I went out for a run and boy am I out of shape. Although in my defense, it’s all hills and it’s also almost 90 degrees out. I ventured onto a trail in the woods, and then got a bit spooked and turned around. I only did a couple miles, and then joined the folks at the pool. I’ll have to get some photos of that tomorrow.
Next up is the wedding! Everyone is getting their makeup and hair done now, so I’ll probably get changed shortly.
We made it to Austria!!
Despite my best planning (neck pillow, eye mask, and only relaxing nature videos as stimulation), I had a rough time sleeping and am extremely jet-lagged. I was in the back middle row, right next to the bathroom, so even when it was quiet, the high-power suction of the toilet woke me up every few minutes. I was also in an aisle seat so was able to stretch my legs out a bit, but had nothing to lean my head against aside from my neck pillow. I wish I had packed Benadryl; historically that has knocked me out.
I arrived a bit before my parents and Aunt Bobbie, who were flying out from JFK. I collected my bag and then sat and waited in a jet lagged stupor, catching my first earfuls of rapid German conversation. I found their baggage pickup area once it showed up on the arrival board, staked out the area, and we were happily reunited before heading out to find our ride The wedding is out in the countryside surrounding Vienna, so we had a scenic drive through the city and then out into the foot of the mountains.
The hotel is absolutely beautiful. It’s called Berghotel Tulbingerkogel, and faces a valley with a long stream of mountaintops far beyond. I’ve never seen so many layers of mountains. It almost looks unreal, like a theater set painting. Our rooms look out on the view, and I have the door wide open to draw in the mountain air and sunshine.
In other news: during check-in, I met a dog named Anke. She is adorable.
After we got setup, we were starving, so my parents and I checked out the award-winning restaurant downstairs. Please expect lots of food pictures on this trip.
I do prefer to stick out the first day of international travel without napping, but am worried that I will crash during a wine tasting this evening, so I’m going to shut my eyes for a few hours. More news to come.
So sweet! Spent the weekend with Juliette in New Haven, and got some practice with feeding and clothes changing. Surprisingly no poopy diapers while in our care, but a lot of false alarms. We also did a lot of rhythmic bouncing up and down the hallway when our girl got restless. It puts her right out though!
I can’t explain how much it means to me to be part of my niece’s life. When I was a kid, most of my extended family lived out of state, so I only every saw them for a couple weeks at a time each year. I know from working four years at a neighborhood toy store that kids grow up alarmingly fast, so I hope to be there regularly to spend time with my niece and be part of her life month to month.
It also just blows my mind that my brother has a kid?! In my eyes, he’s still the troublemaker who goofed off during after school programs and played pranks and constantly played Nintendo 64 on the weekends, but now I see him so confidently caring for his daughter and letting her snooze on his chest. I still feel like a bit of a kid myself, so it’s weird to think of the cycle of childhood/parenthood resetting before I’ve had a chance to really digest being an adult. But I suppose I'm kind of digesting this experience through the filter of aunthood, so it's a nice way to dip my feet in.
Another busy weekend ahead! I’m taking off tomorrow to head to New Haven to babysit Juliette. Yay baby time! Today I was really behind on a bunch of work, but we were also having an annual summer work outing/celebration, so I somehow still dropped everything and did that. I imagine my inbox on Monday will retaliate, but I think it was worth it otherwise. We all went kayaking (it was a bright, warm day for it) and then had food at a rooftop garden in Kendall Square. Also, I won a souvenir blanket form a raffle, so that was pretty great.
Hannah Dunscombe is a painter and portrait artist based out of Brookline, MA.