Thomas (my co-worker) had a stressful time doing support at work while I was away. I was in the same position for three weeks when my old project leader Maik did his military service. I feel his pain, and yet I gotta have time off sometime. I stayed in touch and popped in a couple of times to help with techy stuff. Stopped in again today to have coffee with the guys. Maybe I'm a workaholic..? Naah, I don't think so.
Went to Vienna last weekend. Jürgen and I took the night train Friday night from Zürich. We slept overnight in a tiny four-bunk compartment of a sleeper carriage. It was pretty cramped. One guy boarded at around midnight, and someone got up and left at 5am. I woke up both times. The carriage shook and rumbled and I had some trouble sleeping, but for all its inconveniences we went to bed on Friday night in Zürich and awoke Saturday morning in Vienna. That in itself is somewhat of a novelty. Breakfast was unsensational, falling short of even airplane standards, but I drank my tea without milk and enjoyed it.
It had snowed in Vienna and the countryside was completely white. In fact, it had snowed a few centimeters in Fulenbach too (left), but oddly not in Zürich, 100km away.
Jürgen's old student friend and host for the weekend Manu met us at the train station. We grabbed a coffee in a nearby cafe, headed back to her apartment briefly to drop our stuff off, and began to explore Vienna. We checked out the Danube Tower and visited the revolving cafe at the top, drinking coffee at 160m altitude while the Vienna cityscape slowly scrolls past. Nice.
Stefan, another old uni-buddy, joined us and we ate lunch at an Asian buffet restaurant. We hit the streets and over the weekend explored several attractions: museums, Christmas festivals, statues, old buildings, cafes, restaurants, and the old city centre itself with cobblestones horse-drawn coaches.
Saturday night was spent getting hammered on Glühwein, and hammered we got. We consumed eight bottles of red wine, emptying bottle-after-bottle into a pot, adding juice, cinnamon, a special tea, and sugar to offset the dryness of the wine, then heating it and serving it in mugs. Two of Manu's friends visited and partook in our merriment but departed before the merriment contorted into drunkenness like it did to the rest of us. For me it was reminiscent of old uni-student parties in Christchurch with all the foreigners. Just getting plastered on cheap alcohol with good friends. Man, those were the days. We have 'social evenings' with work guys in Zürich too, but somehow the atmosphere's not the same. Perhaps it's too... I don't know, professional? Could it be the absence of cheap beer, the moderation of drinking, or maybe I just don't connect with them as well as I do with students. I still can't figure it.
Next morning we groaned and got up, weary but not hungover. We checked out the natural history museum and with full heads and empty stomachs, had lunch at a typically Austrian restaurant. They specialised in various pancakes, crepes and such. It was great, particularly the desert which was a quark-filled crepe with chocolate sauce, cream and fruit.
We checked out the war museum and eventually, jaded and tired, returned to the flat. We farewelled Stefan and while Manu brought him to the train station we packed our stuff and prepared the final bottle of glühwein.
The trip back was great. Jürgen and I had a two-bunk room, and I was fatigued. I dropped into a heavy slumber and awoke on Monday morning awake and alive. Jürgen posted the full set of pics here.
In general terms, things are okay. Next week I'll be back at work and back to a normal routine. I need to go back to training. The next few months will be eventful. I'm looking forward to it. And of course March is my big homecoming holiday. I've been making plans and sending emails and booking tickets and getting all worked up about it. It'll have been almost two years since I've seen everyone. Including my parents. It'll be a blast.
I just cleaned out the photos from my cellphone. Every so often I snap something. It's nice to put them together.
Until next time,
|Sunflower Fields Blooming (outside my house)|
|Clouds through the Corn||In der Ewigkeit|