Guest Blogger: Tiona; #TandJLeaveUSA: Vienna

Hey all, I kidnapped Janna's blog, so, you've been warned.

Much like Prague, Janna and I arrived in Vienna, not knowing much about its history or what to expect.

I personally wanted to run through the grass singing, "the hills are alive with the sound of music" but that didn't happen. And the movie was actually taped in the neighboring town of Salzburg so I'll have to check that off my bucket list on our next trip.

Our first stop in Vienna was a little pub for some wifi and a beer, naturally. We ended up splitting a sandwich and Janna got some fresh squeezed orange juice. She figures if she starts putting healthy things in her body, then maybe it will stop turning against her.

As we finished, the gentlemen a few tables away sparked up a conversation with us. The usual, what are your names, where are you from. When they heard the U.S. they asked us why everyone was so racist. Great question. Again, we found ourselves defending our country and not wholeheartedly believing it deserved to be defended. They said in Vienna everyone is equal which was good for me to hear because I felt like everyone in Germany was giving me the side eye and had either never seen a black person or didn't care to. We exchanged Facebook information and told them they could take us to a club later that night....right. Before leaving, one of the men stopped me and said, "I want to shake your mothers hand" with a wink. (Shout out to Momma Bland, you did good) Creepy, but there's a compliment in there I think.

We packed up and headed to our host's house. After ringing the wrong flat for about ten minutes and having a stranger stop us in the street to offer us his internet, we finally made it to Kathy's place! A mysterious, dark stairwell led us to her flat, thankfully. I thought for a minute this might have been the end for us. My mind tends to go to dark places. BUT Kathy opened her door and I was immediately at ease. Her place was huge and each room compelled me to create. Due to my lack of creative supplies, I settled for staring at myself in any mirror I passed, and dancing. Her walls were filled with her own art, newspaper cut outs of musicians, and maps of places she wanted to visit! She'll be in California soon and I can't wait to see her again. 

As Janna's health continued to be questionable, we decided to stay in and were serenaded by Kathy on the saxophone and her boyfriend, Amon on the guitar. Janna and I were both in awe. SN: I've decided to learn the piano. And the guitar. And probably saxophone as well. I can never know too much, right? After our private viewing, we talked about Kathy's work with refugee children, played with her sassy cat, Alex, whom she rescued from an alley in Israel, and headed to bed.

Our first full day in Austria and Janna is at a 7.5. I'll take it. Kathy served us fresh bread with jam, butter, and cheese and I knew then that I loved her. No lie, I thought about the bread the entire day. Feeling super disconnected from the world, we rushed to a nice cafe Kathy recommended for some wifi and to see what else they offered. We caught up on blog work, talked to the families, and updated the boyfriend (singular). Now that we had business out of the way, on to the good stuff. Kathy equipped us with a map of Vienna, highlighted some great places to go and put us on the tram that would land us in the city center. It did and we immediately noticed the beauty of the city's architecture. Janna snapped some pictures and we kept moving. Rows and rows of grandiose buildings lined the streets of Vienna. Janna said it seemed as if Amsterdam, Berlin, and Prague had a baby. I'm not sure about the logistics, but that was a perfect way to describe this charming, yet bustling place. Our plan was to meet up with my friend, Bradford, who now plays basketball a town over, in Gussing, Austria. Of course we needed wifi so what better place than a bar? Two birds. We grabbed two large beers from the man behind the bar and noticed a book on display, "111 Places In Vienna That You Shouldn't Miss". Seemed like a lot, but as we were flipping through, we noticed we had stumbled into #30 and the man behind the bar laughed with us as we realized it was him posing in the article. Well, one down, 110 to go. We set off to meet up with my friend and were determined to have an authentic Austrian experience. In true American fashion, we headed to The Hard Rock Cafe, Vienna. Everything about this place screamed tourist, but he loved it because it gave him a taste of home. Understandable. Here we learned that tequila in Vienna goes down the same. Woof. Janna was finally able to get the margarita she'd been dreaming of. And we met some of Bradford's teammates. After hours at the bar, Janna and I convinced everyone to come with us to a Jazz Bar where our host Kathy would be performing some live music.

Her night didn't go as planned as there weren't many other musicians willing to play. So, what do you do when your lovely host wants to make music? Well, you make music, of course. Janna became a pro on the keyboard and even gave us a beat on the drums when Kathy switched from saxophone to keyboard. I, my friends, sang the blues. It wasn't the night we expected but when you're standing center stage, blinded by a spotlight, singing the blues, with your best friend behind you on the drums, a new friend behind you on the keyboard and the owner of the club on the bass, I'd say the night was a success. We wrapped up around 3am, grabbed some street food, walked home, and face planted.

Our last day in Austria consisted of the heavenly bread and jam again for breakfast, a visit to our new favorite cafe for some tea with Kathy, and a goodbye that was way harder than any of us expected. For some reason, I was able to bond the most with the people of Vienna. Whether on the train or interacting with our bartenders, I felt the people here were open and willing to connect if only for a minute. I came here not knowing what to expect, but left with a sense of the heart of Austrians, kind and genuine.

Two short days, a whirlwind of events, and a new friendship that I think will last for many years to come. So long Austria, hellooooooo Venice.

See you soon blog people :)



Tiona: I immediately fell in love with Kathy. Her smile made me all warm and cozy :). I'm not sure when I'll be singing the blues again in Austria so that was pretty special. 
Janna: Not only will our host Kathy be a friend for many years to come, but her flat was so big and cozy and felt like home. Also, I'm proud to say that we were busy having so much fun that we kinda forgot to take pictures. :)


Tiona: Time is flying!! I need our trip to slow down. 
Janna: I'm. Still. Sick. Our first night in Vienna I actually thought I had the flu, with chills and body aches and the whole nine. After 12 hours of sleep and plenty of water, I went up to a 7.5 from a 2, so that's slow progress. Also, I was too sick (drunk?) to eat my sausage on the way home from the jazz club, saying it was "too spicy" so I gave it to Tiona. Me? Turn down food? Spicy food? Clearly I was ill. I still miss that sausage.

Our incredible host/new friend Kathy :) And our very sleepy eyes

Kathy and her boyfriend, Amon, giving us a show
Breakfast at our cafe 
Drying our clothes the Austrian way
Homemade jam - Fresh bread - Gouda Cheese 
So much nature in Kathy's apartment!

Kathy made this! Took her, "many many hours"
Guitars on guitars on guitars
Pretty pretty church
Espresso Hobby was #30 on this list! Pleasant surprise.

Old friends meet new countries.
Herbs Kathy added to Janna's tea in hopes of saving her life
Saying goodbye to the house! 

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