The countdown begins

It is a lovely, cool morning in Wels. Hans, Anita and I went for a walk and Anita was collecting wild elderberry flowers to dry for tea. They also have a lot of hawthorn growing in the area and the use of herbal remedies is expanding.

I am now heading by train to Vienna in preparation for my flight back tomorrow and will stay overnight with my second cousin, Pia. Just one more train trip to the airport tomorrow and I am done with train travel for a while. I’m feeling great relief about that.

Pia met me at the Vienna Hauptbahnhof (train station). It is a huge place and miraculously we nearly bumped into each other within 5 minutes of arrival. We took the subway to her apartment, dropped off luggage and went to an Indian restaurant, Nirvana, for a really good meal. We walked around St. Stefan church built in 1147 (no typo here!), then went to an ice cream parlor where I relished an eis cafe (cold espresso coffee with ice cream and whipped cream) as a trip finale. It will have to last me a few years! On the return to her flat we were seeing security police that are now trolling the public transit system to ensure people are wearing masks as protection against covid. In many countries it is not yet over.

Today I enjoyed viewing the agricultural landscapes from the train, the dynamic, fluffy clouds which later developed into a thunderstorm, the convenience and immediacy of catching the subway, and the many varieties of restaurants. The architecture in Vienna is also superb and I am grateful when accompanied by someone who knows their way around. I am also grateful for the many people who helped me during those (many) times I felt bewildered trying to navigate to a regional bus, metro, train or place of interest without knowing in which direction to start. I’m thinking of Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz when she is at a crossroads wondering which way to go, and that is when she meets the Scarecrow. I often received help when attempting to buy a bus ticket when the instructions were in German, Italian, French or Spanish. Even the occasional bus driver would guide me with verbal directions that were helpful. I have become much less hesitant about asking for help, even if it was just: “Does anyone here speak English?” Most people would say “A little” or “yes” and then I could share my dilemma and they would assist as best they could. I hope as I resettle into my normal routine that I can recall more of the moments of humanity shining through as I traveled. As they arise, I will share them. 

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