Ch-ch-ch-changes!

Here’s some David Bowie, because it’s summer, I’m happy, and we all love to sing about ch-ch-ch-changes…

Hi friends! My apologies for being remiss in rambling on about my recent life adventures for the past month or so. I spent four weeks in Strasbourg, France because of some family stuff, and although all’s well now, it was rather surreal to return to Vienna on May 6th and feel like I’d suddenly fast-forwarded through a month of my short time left in this city. It was a bit shocking to come to that realization, but it reminded me that I have to make the most of this last 2 ½ months!

We haven’t been on any traveling adventures recently because while I was in France, Mink was in Hong Kong visiting her parents for two of those weeks as well. It’s been nice to just chill at our apartment since coming back – especially since we live in a top floor apartment and have the roof terrace to ourselves on sunny afternoons. We do have a couple of trips and music festivals planned for June and July though, and I hope to see a few more cities in Europe before flying back to Canada in August.

Mink and I have also been busy entertaining a couple of guests, as they were the first of several visits that will turn our apartment into a hostel of sorts. Julien, an old friend from Mount A., came to see Vienna for the first leg of his epic two-month Euro-adventure, and he came when it was just turning summery at the beginning of May (I will forever be confused about the intentions of whoever first lived in Canada and actually experienced that six-month winter and was like, “Yep, think this is the place for me and my descendants!” Summer should always start in April.). Julien wandered about the city and took photos while we were at work, and pretty much did his own thing. And he bought us wine and occasionally cleaned the kitchen, so that’s good hostel-guest material in my books. He left yesterday at 5:00 a.m. for a long train ride to Geneva. I can’t pretend I’m not a little jealous!

My lovely friend Laura, a McGill friend/fellow grad school sufferer, came last Saturday for her birthday weekend and stayed until Wednesday. I picked her up at the S-Bahn station after she got in from the airport and when we got back to the apartment, Mink and Julien had made a fresh batch of Bucket Punch, which was very popular at Mink’s own birthday party. This punch was also a resounding success, and we eventually ended up going to Charlie P’s for some dancing that night. (Laura forgot to take her sparkly birthday wand though.) Unfortunately, the best DJ wasn’t there, and instead we were treated to a rather eclectic mix from the vampirish DJ with a long, greasy ponytail. The night was fun, but nowhere near as epic as Laura’s birthday last year, so we were kind of disappointed.

On Sunday, we gave Laura and Julien our specially-engineered wandering around Vienna tour, and they got to see Museumsquartier and Heldenplatz and Mariahilferstrasse and that whole area of the city. We decided to stop in for a drink at one of Mink’s old high school bars before calling it a night, since it was still Laura’s birthday, even though we’d been celebrating it since the afternoon before. There were only about seven other people in there, watching football and having a quiet drink like us – or so we thought. As luck would have it, we sauntered into the place with the drunkest bartender in Vienna that night, and since it was Laura’s birthday, after all, the night was quickly improved with more beer and other shenanigans. Early in the morning, we decided we should find our way back to the tenth district, since Mink and I have real-person jobs for a while and would need to be going to said jobs in a few hours.

Excellent birthday hijinks on a Sunday — it just proves once again that it’s the unplanned, random nights that turn out to be the craziest.

Monday night, we decided to go to Grinzing to see one of Mink’s childhood homes and to get some Viennese food – this, naturally, involved a lot of potatoes and different types of meat. The highlight, one would assume, was the charming duo that began playing the accordion and violin soon after we sat down. However, the quaintness of the situation wore off rather quickly, as the restaurant was almost empty and the small-statured violinist was grinning incessantly at us like a malevolent puppet. Needless to say, we clapped very politely at the end of each song and tried our best to avoid eye contact. We made it out of Grinzing without being dismembered by the disconcerting puppet-man, so I count it as a successful outing.

For Laura’s last night, we had sushi for dinner and then met Peter and Julien by Stephansdom. We walked to Paddy’s Park – so named for its proximity to Paddy’s bar, one of the grossest places it is possible to drink, but in an endearing way – in the twilight, and invaded the play structure. It was rather cramped, it being designed with the purpose of accommodating 7-year-olds rather than five supposed adults, but we nonetheless enjoyed (fake) champagne in white plastic cups and bright pink “punschkuchen” (a very sweet, and potentially rum-filled, dessert that they seem to have everywhere here) up there. We also took a turn on the zipline in the park, which was both terrifying and awesome. I think I may have flipped completely upside down at one point! After that, we ventured into Paddy’s for some beer and smoky ambiance, and played a couple of games of foozball before calling it a night.

I said a sad goodbye to Lauraloo before going to work, but we’re planning on meeting up in Amsterdam in June so we don’t have too long to wait before a reunion! At night Julien and I took the 6 tram to the Zentralfriedhof, the giant cemetery in Simmering that I raved about the first time I went there. While it was spooky and ominously grey and raven-filled when I went there by myself in November, on Wednesday it was bathed in crepuscular light and beautiful in a completely different way. It’s a magnificent place, and this trip reaffirmed that it is one of my favourite places in Vienna.

And so, last night as I was sitting with a martini glass full of wine, my apartment windows wide open to the balmy night air, and listening to a combination of Pantha du Prince and Mink singing songs from Glee, I had to get a little reflective. April was probably the strangest month of my life, and amongst the more emotionally exhausting experiences I’ve ever had. (Sorry if that’s cryptic; I’ll tell that story another day.) It’s also been an intense couple of weeks back in Wien, but it’s been amazing to be around people I love in a place that I love. It’s going to be incredibly difficult to leave this place in August, but that’s still far enough away that I don’t have to think about it. And I have so many places and festivals and people’s visits to look forward to in the coming months – perhaps I’ll write more about those in my next post.

And, in case you’re wondering:

Recipe for Bucket Punch

Ingredients:
– one large bucket, preferably with a sign you’ve lovingly handcrafted that says “Bucket Punch” so your guests recognize this elixir of life in all its glory
– 1L ginger ale
– 1L fruit juice (we used cranberry)
– a bunch of fruit, chopped (oranges, apples, and strawberries, or whatever you’ve got lying around)
– a crapload of ice
– a crapload of vodka or other type of alcohol (be honest, you’re not picky)

Steps:
1. Get out the bucket.
2. Dump the other ingredients into the bucket.
3. Minkus has to stir it, or it doesn’t work.
4. Enjoy!

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