Emergency on Planet Wien

March 30, 2011

The German spelling of Vienna never ceases to be hilarious. Funny orthographic conventions, however, are not the topic of this blog post, so let’s move on.

This weekend (by weekend I mean Sunday through Wednesday) I was in Vienna for the Jamiroquai concert. If I had to choose one phrase to capture the essence of this weekend it would be “punctuated by excessive drink.” My dad once said something to me which I have since adopted as my modus operandi both for its simplicity and for its open-endedness (I won’t find myself painted into any corners by using it, that is): “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” So yeah, this was one of those weekends.

The story starts with me waking up on Sunday morning thinking that I had ample time to comfortably pack my things and head to the airport, but as it turns out, my phone did not automatically adjust its time for daylight savings, so I had in fact woken up about the time I should have been leaving, and I still hadn’t started packing. I ended up throwing some stuff into my bag and running out the door, I later realized I left my camera sitting on my desk. Fortunately, my friend Zsuzsi who I was meeting in Vienna is a photographer, so with her superior eye for that sort of thing in addition to superior equipment I think the trip is well-enough documented.

Zsuzsi and I walked around Vienna for a bit after I got in, although it was Sunday, so we essentially made a series of mental notes regarding where to come back the next day for shopping and stuff like that. We went to a brewery for a late lunch, because apparently those are the only things open on Sundays. It was quite Viennese, Zsuzsi had the schnitzel and I had a delicious concoction of cheese sauce, dumplings, bacon, and fried onions. Liters of beer were drank on the side as well. That night, Zsuzsi and I went hunting for a place to get dinner (as if our million calorie lunch wasn’t enough). We found a pizzeria whose waiter was standing out front having a cigarette, he ushered us in and seated us. After some rudimentary hand signals he went to fetch us some beers. Upon his return, I noticed he was wearing brojanica (Orthodox prayer beads) around his wrist, like me. I asked him, in Serbian, where he was from and it turns out the entire staff of the Pizzeria was Serbian (apparently I just can’t get away!). After that, the rakija flowed freely and we conversed for a long time about what I was doing there and why I lived in Belgrade and stuff like that. It was a great night and certainly welcome to have some good old Slavic hospitality in the otherwise callous Austria.

The day of the concert we went walking around more of the city and went to pick up the tickets. We stopped into a few shops around town and I ended up buying a couple cans of hominy in this one Mexican import store (amazing!), so I’m going to make pozole one of these days, it’s going to be momentous. Mark met up with us later in the evening and we all went out for some Vietnamese food (epic!) before the concert.

Tickets in hand, of which there were four and only three of us, we strode up to the front of the arena. I lifted a ticket high in the air and shouted something about having an extra ticket. Within seconds I had several people come up to me interested in it, I ended up selling it off to somebody who was undoubtedly just going to turn around and sell it for more, but meh. The concert itself was a lot of fun, but decidedly lacking in Virtual Insanity as well as Runaway, both of which I desperately wanted to see and hear live. The crowd was a bit more subdued than I would have like as well, but all-in-all it was a fun time. It turns out they’re coming to EXIT in July as well, so we’ll see if they are able to make up for past wrongs.

Mark and Zsuzsi left the day after the concert, so I had another day on my own to check out a bit more of the city. I spent most of it wandering the streets and visiting the Kunsthaus museum. Half the fun of the museum in my opinion was the building itself, surely designed with that in mind. Hundertwasser is known for his wacky designs with regards to architecture, but the museum is definitely worth checking out. Later that day I visited a friend of mine, Christine, who lives in Vienna, she had a few friends over and we just sat around drinking wine and some rakija that I brought for her (she used to live in Belgrade as well).

Anyhow, it was a great weekend to follow up my birthday and it was certainly a time to remember.

Birthday Festivities

March 20, 2011

Some of you may know that it’s my birthday on Tuesday, the 22nd. And damnit, I plan to celebrate! However, by celebrate I mean go hiking by myself. I’ve been really wanting to get out of Belgrade and find some solitude recently and I figured this would be the perfect time.

It’s just going to be a little overnight thing down to Rtanj. There are several buses per day that go to Boljevac, near Rtanj, I plan on taking the 0800 departure. I’ll be getting to Lukovo at about 1100 and starting from around there. It’s about a 1000 meter ascent from Lukovo up to Šiljak (the highest peak of Rtanj). I plan on ascending the east face of Šiljak on Monday, finding somewhere to camp near the top or on the ridge that extends west, then going down the south face on Tuesday, wrapping around into the village of Rtanj and following the road back up to E761 where I can catch the bus back to Belgrade for some birthday night partying.

The weekend after my birthday, however, will be the party weekend. Jamiroquai is playing in Vienna and I’ve got four tickets to the show as well as in and out plane tickets to Vienna. It lines up perfectly with my weekend, which is great, so I’ll have a few days in Vienna to check it out (last time I was there I was kinda bed-ridden with some sort of nasty sickness) and go to the concert. I’m meeting some friends from Budapest there as well, so it’s slated to be an amazing time. I’ve wanted to see Jamiroquai live for a long time, and plus, in Vienna? Yes please.

Anyhow, if I don’t return from hiking by Tuesday, you know where to look for me. 🙂

A blog-worthy event indeed.

I found a woman who teaches Serbian the other day and had my first lesson yesterday. It was definitely the most conversational Serbian I’ve ever spoken in one sitting. Rather than reciting from a pre-written script in class or barking several-syllable responses to paprika-seller at Kalenić, it was a fairly fluent and dynamic two hours of just talking, discussion of random topics and questions back and forth. Like I’ve said before, being comfortable is a key element in such conversations, the only reason I was able to speak as I did was because of her teacherly and helping disposition.

There will be three two-hour classes per week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I have a feeling this will end up helping a lot. While I have some Serbian friends who obviously speak the language, it’s beneficial to have a slightly more professional relationship with a teacher. In the (metaphorical) classroom, Serbian is expected rather than simply accepted. My friends, however, will certainly be able to help me practice; an environment where I must speak Serbian is one hell of an ice-breaker though. Big things are coming!

On a lighter (or perhaps more ominous, you choose) note, winter appears to be clinging to dear life quite proficiently. Every time it snows I’m thinking it will be the last, but then it just keeps snowing. The following picture was taken from my apartment today, it’s hard to tell how hard it is snowing in the shot, but I swear, it looked like one of those blizzards from Donkey Kong Country on Super Nintendo.