Monday, January 14, 2019

Everything But the Sea

Last Sunday as I was ice-skating with a friend, we agreed that Vienna is pretty much the best place to live when it comes to recreational options. Outdoor swimming and other water sports in summer and ice-skating in winter right in the city centre and slopes just an hour away. Brief tangent: I am SO happy about all this snow right now (not that I want people to be snowed in or die in avalanches, of course) as it makes me think nostalgically of the winters of my childhood that I remember as white, mainly. This is most likely a gross exaggeration of my faulty memory, but never mind.
In a lot of other countries, people can only dream about such luxuries that I, personally, really appreciate and would not want to change for the world. I also love that several other European capitals are only a short drive or train ride away, depending which part of Austria you live in. It only occurred to me that this was not in fact the norm when I was on an Erasmus year in Dublin and hardly anyone in my History of Art class raised their hands when the lecturer asked who had ever been to Italy and seen some of the art we were discussing in the original. Admittedly, this was more than 20 years ago, pre-Celtic Tiger and before Ryanair got really big and affordable, but even so, it made me realise that having grown up in a town where driving to Italy for lunch and shopping was a pretty standard Saturday occupation made me stand out like a unicorn from my Irish classmates. It is all a matter of perspective. The Irish of my generation all have (more or less fond) memories of school trips to Bulgaria for skiing, which for Austrians of course is a very odd and eccentric idea what with all those mountains right at our doorstep. Similarly one of my ex-managers at the Firm would tell me about day-trips to Denmark which is not that far away from Hamburg, where he lives. Denmark is about as "exotic" to Austrians as Italy is to the Irish. 
The only thing I wish we (still) had is access to the sea. Other than that: no complaints.


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