Vienna: Thanksgiving away from home
After taking a night train to Vienna, I came to the home of a long-time friend from my New York days, with whom I'm staying until Friday morning. It was nice to have a quieter day yesterday - picking her son up from school, then making them a simple pasta sauce and sauteed kale for dinner.
Today, Thanksgiving in the U.S., I allowed myself a slower start before setting out. I hadn't made major plans for Vienna, aside from as excellent jazz concert last night, by one of my favorite singers: Gregory Porter.
This afternoon I had probably the best meal so far this trip at an excellent Israeli restaurant I first visited last time. The restaurant is part of a large and popular open air market called Nashmarkt (photos here taken on a 2012 visit). They may well have about 100 stalls (or more?), selling produce, sausages, spices, kebabs, clothing, flowers and the ever-popular seasonal hot drink: gluhwein.
From there, I went to an area called Rathaus, home of the larger but more touristy Christmas markets (also pictured in 2012).
My main destination was not the market but a nearby photo exhibit I saw advertised last night. The piece looked at photography in times of conflict, from the World Trade Tower attacks to present. It ended with a moving set of pictures documenting the German response to refugees in 2015.
Because today's not a holiday in Austria, our Thanksgiving was an evening meal. Along with my friend and her family, I joined two other former Brooklynites and their kids (who hosted), plus a gay couple the hosts knew. Partway through the evening, the children (3 boys, six and under) entertained us with a musical performance they'd prepared to a recording.
When I thanked the hosts at night's end, for welcoming a stranger, the wife said I no longer seemed like one. As I've been reminded multiple times this trip, traveling alone sometimes opens you up to community in surprising ways. In a way, it's more meaningful than connection with people you know, because the welcome boasts no prior obligation or commitment - such community stems solely from people's willingness to heed and attend to the people right in front of them, known or not.
Pictures: shot from the concert last night and a spread of newspaper front posts around the world, reporting the tower attacks.