If I learned to eat carbs in Italy, I learned to walk in Vienna & Budapest.
Reading that it sounds odd, ‘learned to walk’…like a small child taking there first steps. But I guess in some ways it’s true. There is a newness to ‘travel walking’, a feeling of excitement, like you just caught onto something unfamiliar and somehow intoxicating. Suddenly, the experience of moving you feet up and down, propelling yourself forward, and looking around…this experience is to be (light-bulb) enjoyed, savored, and fruitful on it’s very own. How is it that you have lived your entire life and never known what is it to really walk? Or is it that you once knew and forgot…forgot as your 16th birthday loomed in the future and you hungered for the freedom you thought a drivers license would provide?
In my late twenties, 12 years after the liberty of a car became a known and necessary element to my life, I learned that walking could be give me an even greater sense of freedom. Walking could actually be fun… Walking could be an incredible form of exercise…could force me to slow down and look…and eventually actual see. As a traveler, I’m sure this experience isn’t farfetched, the transformation from looking at your surroundings to actually seeing then and thus existing within them. It took falling in love with walking to make me a true traveler.
And “Oh, the places you’ll go!” It’s often that in my normal life I drive places, places I had need to go to..the grocery, the park, the beach..and to me that was freedom. The ability to do what I needed to do when I needed to do it. But when you’re walking around while traveling the freedom becomes, where do I want to go? does this look fun? should I go that way? This street looks cool I’m going to walk this way. The world opens up and shows you new places, things, and people. The world doesn’t work by needs anymore, it works by ‘wants’. You’ll wonder by a museum and take a gander. You happen onto a park filled with flowers & people. You’ll see the facade of a beautiful church and enter to hear a choir singing in a language you don’t know and be memorized.
On one of my favorite days walking around Vienna we bumped into two festivals. While trotting around looking for a museum and getting quite lost we saw people in droves dressed in lederhosen. Wondering, ” Where are they all going?” we followed to some sort of German beer, wine, and food festival. There were people cooking sausages & potatoes outdoors with these giant skillets, local vendors talking about their homemade beers or wines, men building canoes, candy makers offering samples of their massive block of homemade caramel, local cheese makers, and bands playing traditional music. Without knowing it we wandered into something magical and instead of forcing ourselves on to see the museum we had set out to enjoy, we stop, reevaluated, and enjoyed our discovery.
And oh the food. Another magical element to the walking traveler is the ability to eat. You’re walking anywhere from 9-17 miles a day mainly eating along the way, stopping here and there to try something that entices you. You are also almost always walking after every meal; thus burning calories none-stop. That to me, a foodie, is an incredible way to travel…eat your way through a city.
One must foodie visit in Vienna is The Demel. A pastry shop in the heart of downtown Vienna. This place has old world class and character. You walk in through the downstairs chocolate shop, pass the pasty counter where you can watch chefs make life-sized-cake-statues of U.S. Presidents, up the stairs into the main seating and dinning area. Order coffee and go pick out your pastry. You’ll receive a number for your pastry and within 5 minutes you’ll be gorging yourself on a delicate pasty in a setting that is pure elegance.
I have since, come back to my real life, as one has to…and I have lost the connection to walking. On an occasional Saturday I’ll walk to the farmers market, buy veggies & fruit, get a coffee and just sit and look. And yet, I can feel myself looking verses seeing…I can feel a disconnect from the freedom I felt while traveling…and I am saddened…I long to travel again and feel the intoxication of exploration, adventure, and joy. I guess this is a common feeling; the ‘travel bug’, an illness that takes over your body, heart, and mind. What is the medicine for this type of sickness? Simple…plan another trip and get walking.
Without a moment of hesitation: Go Here.