Vienna was exhausting and beautiful. I woke up around 7am to construction outside my open window, along with a gaggle of pigeons that sounded like they would fly in at any moment. I used this as my wake-up call so I could see as much of the city as possible.
I left my Airbnb to figure out the very confusing bus situation. Vienna is said to have one of the best public transportation systems in Europe, but for the life of me I couldn't find any app or trip planner that told you to take which buses in which direction. This left me looking even more touristy than I envisioned, having to ask random people on the street first if they spoke English and second for directions. I made it to all of the things I wanted to see (thanks in part to a walking tour), minus one palace that was situated further from every other point of interest. I guess I will have to use that as an excuse to come back and see it one day...
I went to a museum while waiting for my walking tour to start. Although it was €25, it was well worth it because it included a hop on/off bus that went around the entire city. It definitely helped being in a group with a guide who not only knew where he was going but could tell us all about the history of the area. I'm reading a book right now on the origin of the terms "genocide" and "crimes against humanity" (and how they were first used in the Nuremberg trials) where much of the story deals with Germany and Austria. I thought it was apt timing to be reading this book while passing through Vienna. To be standing on the streets where so many Jewish people were once rounded up from their homes to be deported and taken to concentration camps left with me an eerie feeling - one that is hard to even conceptualize.
I have these fleeting feelings of both fear and exhilaration as I travel alone through countries to which I have never been, with languages of which I don't understand, and who are filled with people - none of whom I know. When I take a trip alone, I usually don't fully process it until I'm back in the comfort of my own habits. Until then, I'm too concerned with making sure I get to where I need to be on time. However, I keep remembering how thankful I am to be over here where travel to other European countries is far cheaper than taking individual trips from the United States. I am living my dream experience, and I am working at my dream job. I hope I never forget the experiences I have gained since first coming to The Hague.