I present to you “Lost in Vienna: the true story of a Tuesday night dinner”. Enjoy.
For dinner that night I had written down the address and name of a restaurant someone had recommended on a travel site for Vienna. It supposedly served great traditional Viennese food – at a reasonable price, of course! Now you can verify this with anyone I traveled with in the last few weeks, including my parents, that I have a good sense of direction and a handle on maps. Well this night I realized the way in which a map of Vienna can be misleading. So first we walked the wrong way for a few blocks until realizing our error and correcting it. Anyway, that part doesn’t count. I mean, Amanda and I got us there ok; there were just two problems.
One was that it was a much further walk than what I had anticipated by looking at the map. There are many blocks in between the blocks on the map because the map pretty much just showed the through streets, not the ones that only split off to just the right or the left. Ok, so we ended up walking a lot after being on our feet all day even before that. No big deal, right? Well now we get to problem #2. There was no restaurant. Readers, we looked down that street, down the perpendicular street, and where number 19 Florianigasse should have been, there was none. Well number 19 was probably there, but it was no longer a restaurant. And the date of this post about the restaurant had been from only a year ago! I was feeling particularly miserable for having dragged the three of us out there to be disappointed.
Tired and hungry we just started back down the street and stopped at the first place the three of us could agree on. It turned out to be fine, and a busy place to boot! It was a pub type of place, and while we were there it filled up with locals very quickly. We were lamenting over the the sites and smells of the dishes being served around us when our waitress came for our order. There were no English menus so Amanda and I asked our very kind waitress with limited English what the two most popular dishes were, and each ordered one of the two to split (and not a clue as to what they were). I also had my first drink here, also recommended by the waitress when she saw my hesitancy on what to order, not knowing what I would like. It was a tasy, light, carbonated beer that is only found in Vienna (or was it Austria?). I’m not a huge fan of beer, but it was good! I only wish I could remember the name of it, doh!
Our dishes both came with some lettuce and the same type of white sauce, which tasted similar to a Greek sauce, though thinner. One was a baked couscous dish with cheese and meat on top, which was really good. The other was a rice dish with a goulash type of sauce on top. I was glad to have Amanda there who was willing to share so much food with me over the trip! We were able to try twice as many traditional dishes that way. As our meal arrived, we surmised that they were indeed the two most popular dishes there as many of the ones we had eyed around us were one of the two. The only issue during dinner was a misunderstanding between us and the waitress when we took our order, and wasn’t too big of a deal. We waited for my dish until finally giving in and splitting Amanda’s first, Betsey eating hers as well. When no second dish arrived by then, we asked about it. Turns out she thought we meant split the first dish, but 5 minutes later or so, the couscous dish was brought up. And all was well.
Readers, do you remember problem #1 on this night and how it took us farther from the hostel than intended? Well it came back into play after paying for dinner and exiting the restaurant. None of us had been paying close enough attention when wandering to find this place (oops), and so we got very turned around. As I said, I’m normally good with directions but having not noticed how we got to there specifically, I couldn’t just retrace our steps. We pulled out the map, made one small circle when the street we took wasn’t a through street, and finally made our way to one of the larger streets (worry not, readers, we were being smart and walking down only well lit streets).
And then it came down to: which way do we go on this large street? We picked a direction and started walking. And walking. And walking. We felt somewhat safe behind this one older lady and so didn’t pull out the map as often as we should have. Finally, when the lady turned down a different street and we all thought we should have been somewhere recognizable by now, I looked at the map again…and I’m sure the look on my face clearly stated “where the heck are we?”. We asked a few girls walking by. One spoke some English and showed us where we were on the map…which was 8 blocks in the wrong direction along that road! Oh boy. Though calm and collected, I admit that until we made it safely back to the hostel my nerves were on edge and I was stressed feeling somewhat responsible for taking us so far away from the hostel in the first place.
Well that night we got to ride one of the trams – for free! (on accident) – that go around the city on tracks and cable wires. We got off at the train station as we know exactly how to get back from there on Neubaugasse, a very large and well-lit road. So we made it back safely and promptly went to bed, exhausted from the day and our night excursion. You know what they say, nothing lets you learn more about a city than getting lost in it. I’m going to have to add that while that is true to an extent, I think it must be much more enriching in the daylight!
So that was our exciting night on the streets of Vienna. It’s funny how moments like these turn out to be some of the most memorable; this is certainly something I’m not going to forget anytime soon! Just don’t mention “Florianigasse” – it’s still a bit of a sore word for the three of us. At any rate, thanks for reading, cheers! Until then…