The co-sponsored United-Austrian Air flight to Vienna plays classical music before taking off, once the flight reaches a cruising altitude, and upon landing. Against my better judgement (who am I kidding, I have no better judgement) I have enrolled in two online courses for this winter term, during which I have also planned to visit ten countries, mostly on the Balkan Peninsula. Austria, though not in the Balkans, will count as the final country because I have secured an extended layover in Vienna, though I also have a 4 hour layover in the same airport en route to Tirana. Oh, and this is a trip I am taking with my father, recently retired, who wishes to join me on "as many trips as possible," because he "does not have any dreams, so he would like to borrow mine. I supposed I can share for now.
In the air, I am fed chips, an in-flight meal of barbecue chicken, and several plastic cups of Almdudler, an Austrian ginger ale, while the unidentifiably (yet undeniably) Slavic family next to me watches The Notebook. I have no such luxury, for this 8-hour flight, the layover in Vienna, and likely the short jaunt from Vienna to our destination in the Balkans is to be allocated to finish my Linguistics 101 chapter summaries. To my surprise, I accomplish my goal, binging eight flight-hours of Chomsky’s greatest hits and completing my set task while reclining in the Vienna airport tapping at my keyboard in a sleepless somnambulance. (This I know now is “syntactically nonsensical.” You may now sleep furiously knowing that I wasted your time with that tidbit). As I stroll, having accomplished a large part of my necessary homework for the more difficult of my two classes, I am liberated, yet exhausted. On the hour-and-change flight from Vienna to my destination, I am unconscious for more than half, despite previously being unable to sleep on planes. As we descend my eyes cannot return to 'crash position,' and I watch as the beautiful, stark mountains surrounding Tirana, Albania come into view. It is Tuesday, January 1st at 3 PM in Tirana. With the New Year, we enter a New Nation.
Victor Bernabei is just another millenial travel blogger. But here's the twist: He isn't a millenial! His goal is to see as many countries as he can, and spread the message that the world is not as scary as the news wants you to believe, and that there is beauty in all people, places and things.