Zeitreisen in die Vergangenheit: Gustav and the Vienna nights

Vorwort: Andere Zeit, anderer Ort, andere Sprache. Wie sagte mein Chef doch neulich so schön: „Those were the days“.

So, it was decided: I will come and meet you. “1 day, 2 nights, 3 meals a day and coffee breaks in-between” we put in the “contract”. And with that the story starts:

About 7 days to go and I’m already so nervous, that I have a hard time to concentrate and fall asleep. By the time I’ll arrive in Vienna I’ll be so sleep deprived that you probably can try/do everything and I won’t object. Come to think of it, I need to find out about the “sleeping arrangements”. My mind says, I should definitely get my own room. Just in case, if something goes wrong. I mean, I don’t know you. I have no idea about your true intentions and if you are, who you are.

About 5 days to go and my friends all have their good intentions and advice to offer – asked for it or not: “Just be careful.” “Don’t fall in love.” “Have a good time.” “Enjoy yourself.” “Just don’t come back all sad and unhappy.” “If you don’t call me by Friday morning, I’ll call the hotel/police.” That just did it: They have a point, actually more than one. In reality I have no clue, who you really are. Maybe you have some very sick, wooly thoughts and I’ll end up as a missing person case. I must be clearly out of my mind to have agreed to this meeting on neutral ground.

About 2 days to go: Oh dear, you really want to share a room, meaning a bed. Ok, let’s not get all head-over-heels. This doesn’t imply anything. I just need to remember to look for an “emergency exit” and any “weapons” hidden under the bed.

D-Day. D, like in date or disaster or decision or destiny. Do I really want to challenge my destiny and find out, if my guardian angel has a working permit for Austria? I think I’ll just stay in the train and hide under my seat. Maybe you’re not even there. What, if I don’t recognize you? And then I just walk past you? This is ridiculous. Of course, I will know who you are. And anyway, how many people/men can there be waiting for someone arriving with a train close to 10pm?

Gosh, this is quite a long way down the platform. Can’t see, if someone is waiting at the end. So, maybe you got cold feet. Or you’ll wait until everybody is gone and then just jump out from behind a pillar and kidnap me and then that was it. Ok, I better get my act together, this is not a b-class movie. And then I see you. There you are. Standing at the end of the platform. Waiting. Waiting for me. And you smile. Yes, that’s you. Your smile. You’re clutching your hands together, holding on to your gloves and hat. Lucky me, I have a suitcase and a handbag I can hold on to. And what now? But then you just take me in your arms and embrace me.

Neither of us has a clear plan about what happens next or what to do. And as always, when I’m nervous or excited or scared or had too much caffeine I talk. I talk a lot. The entire time. Without taking a breath. I’m sure you notice. Already you look kind of funny at me. We decide to try to get to see the Dome, then walk towards the river Danube. The Dome, of course, is closed. So, I follow you along all the streets you guide me to. Like a little, overly trustful lamb. And I talk and talk and talk and I’m not even sure, if you can follow my endless senseless jabbering.

At one point we’re standing at the canal, looking at the river Danube. Oh, this is nice. And I talk and talk and talk – afraid to really look at you. I’m afraid, whenever I stop talking, you’ll try to kiss me. Then we get to a park. A really deserted park. And of course, we make fun about it. We make all kinds of silly remarks about friends walking by and checking in on me to see, if I’m safe.

Back at the hotel, we sit at the bar. You keep playing with my hair, touching my neck. Eventually you suggest to go upstairs. How are we going to do this? This is awkward, us sharing a room, a bath, a bed. The bed! Oh my, the bed already screams with anticipation. Ok, no need to get all worked up right now. This is just us.

7.04 AM: As soon as you’re gone, it’s getting cold in bed. And not only that: Instantly my mind is up and running. But I’ll try to shut it down and go back to sleep. So, I drift in and out for a little while. No use. Besides, thinking about the evening and night, I’m afraid you might have forgotten to put the DND-sign on the door and the maid will march into the room. And being a maid, she’ll know, that I’m not the one I should be. Where is the key anyway? Don’t tell me, you forgot to leave the key? I’ll never be able to walk to the front desk. What in the world am I going to say? “Hi, I’m staying with Mr. X. in room 453 and he didn’t give me a key.” And then the lady behind the counter will check and there’s only one registered person and then she’ll look at me and ask me, who I am, already enjoying this moment and thinking about the story she’ll tell her co-workers. No, can’t go to the front desk. So, what am I going to do?

9.31 AM: Found the key. Phew, right next to the door. So, no embarrassing encounter with the front desk lady. But for sure there’s no DND-sign on the door. Upon walking along the hallway, the maid greets me. Yes, I know, I’m not the one I should be. Don’t look at me like that. So, where is the breakfast room? A staff member directs me in the right direction, looking me up and down. Oh, come on I could be a regular guest. The receptionist asks for the room number. Yes, I know, I’m not the one I should be. But she tries to look normal. Nothing, she hasn’t seen before. I grab a newspaper and take a seat. Carefully I survey the restaurant: Why can’t I shake of the feeling, that everybody is looking at me? Is there something wrong with my hair, clothes, make up? I mean, I know, I probably look tired, but surely, they can’t all sense my guilty feelings.

Gosh, I’m so tired. Not sure, if I can eat anything. After forcing down an omelet, lots of juice and tea, I start to feel a little bit better. I’m actually feeling also comfortable, sitting there, drinking tea, reading the paper and in no hurry to go somewhere. Very glamorous. It’s a pity you’re not here, having breakfast with me and feeling all grant.

11.21 AM: I walk through the revolving door and instantly I’m thrown into the cruel daylight with all its noises and hectic. Instantly the cold starts to creep into my body. The blowing wind is almost freezing. But the sun is shining and that gives me hope that it’ll get warmer and I make my way to the “Naschmarkt”, which isn’t far from the hotel. The daily market is like a little island in the middle of the ocean – left and right, there are busy streets. But once I enter the area of the “Naschmarkt” I feel like stepping into another world and the noises from the streets around are tuned out. All those little shops, stalls and stands. They offer different kinds of spices, vegetables, fruits, meat, poultry, fish, tea, coffee, sweets, bread and all kinds of everything from all around the world. The vendors want me to try olives, Turkish sweets, Asian snacks and some dishes I have no clue about. But I just want to see the variety, imagine the ways they’ve travelled and take in the smell.

11.57 AM: I decide to retrace the steps from last night – some of them at least. The streets, the city looks so different in daylight. This time the Dome is open and it’s crowded. So, I choose a little altar to the side. I light a candle and sit there, listening to all the voices around me. I close my eyes, feeling almost peace wrapping itself around me.

12.47 PM: Need a coffee, otherwise I’ll never be able to stay awake any longer. I feel like an alien walking through the streets. I’m that tired. Ah, this smells good. Fresh coffee. Around me people from everywhere, talking in different languages and accents. I love big cities. The whole world in one single coffee shop, mixed and tied together.

1.29 PM: Still no message from you. What now? I guess, I have to visit the Belvedere museum by myself. Luckily, I enter the park from the back. In front of me stands the castle, majestic and impressive, overlooking the city, nestled into a beautiful park. The sky in the back of the white palace is amazing: All shades of blue and grey. The sun is still trying to fight the clouds, the wind is pushing towards the city. All reflecting in the fountain and windows. Small flakes of snow are already falling to the ground. And the wind is like ice. This is like a good painting too.

img_1435I head straight for the paintings I came for: Gustav Klimt. And just like that I’m blown away. Never imagined there would have such a glow to them. The colors are overwhelming and the compositions so intense and the emotions they trigger breathtaking. I use every opportunity to sit down and look at them, taking them in, getting absorbed by their beauty. Some are small, others simply huge, some remain unfinished, but each creating a feeling of fulfilment and completion.

3.52 PM: Finally, I’m back at the hotel. That was quite a long walk. Back in the room I feel even more exhausted. Maybe I’ll try to sleep. Shouldn’t be a problem after missing a complete night. While listening to some music, I try to relax and rest. Although way beyond tired and exhausted, I can’t fall asleep. Finally, I give up, turning up the volume and dancing around the room.

5.43 PM: You’re back. And you’re talking just like me the evening before: Without taking a breath. Slow down, I want to kiss you. So happy, you’re back. You’re back and for this evening and the following night you belong to me…