For those looking to undergo the “hostel experience” on an upcoming vacation, note there are three types. Most common are the “I can’t go back to my home country, so now I work here six hours a week in exchange for a bed” type of hostels. In other words they are college dorms but their inhabitants have actually done laundry before. Next are the “your room comes with a free shot” hostels. These are what college dorms wish they could be. They host nightly pub crawls and--more often than not--small flakes of weed can be found under couch cushions like nickels. The final type of hostel is the “my family summers in Greece” hostels. We stayed in all three types this trip, but thankfully made it until Vienna before we came across the last type.
This final class of hostel, which I took great pains in avoiding, is a faceless corporate machine. ‘How could communal living thrive on such a capitalist model?’ ‘Who wants to sleep in the same rooms as nine other people and still be nickeled and dimed for all the practicalities one would simple have included in hotel or hostel alike?’ you may ask. Beats me, but all I know is that when I found out we had to pay three Euro for sheets, and another two for a towel on top of a 15-Euro cost for the bed, I was disappointed after our charming Eastern bloc accommodations where amenities were meant to be *shared*.
Otherwise, our eighteen-hour Vienna stopover met all the expectations I had. While the 24-hour roundtrip train ticket from the airport to the downtown was a touch pricy, I was happy to have a full dinner of sausages and schnitzel after a half-day’s trek from Tirana to the airport to downtown Vienna. We went out almost immediately and had to walk roughly a mile and a half to get to the Naschmarkt, where we assumed we could get an assortment of Austrian street food to fulfill my gustatory country requirement. Of the three Austrian restaurants in the otherwise Asian and steakhouse-filled bazaar, we chose the one with the cheapest schnitzel. When we walked in, and my dad asked for a table in his hyper-subtle New Jersey accent, the waiter inquired in his much less subtle Queens accent where the fuck we were from. After exchanging everything short of coordinates, including but not limited to the town, state, and street comparisons of the New York Metropolites, the waiter shared his Rocky Balboa impression (which I imagine was more impressive to the two German women at the table next to us) and gave us a tip as to where we should actually go for dinner. Up the street and across from the Opera House, our paisano informed us, was a tiny stall for knockwurst, bratwurst and so on. We happily still split a schnitzel and drank a couple of beers, but felt as though we needed to save room for our eighteen-years amiss American friend’s recommendation.
When we arrived, we came to a line of people five or six deep, which quickly came down to nothing before we could decide what we wanted. I eagerly ordered a currywurst (a food that I have become obsessed with since my evening in Dusseldorf), a cheese-filled knockwurst, and a bratwurst. On the stoop of a nearby building, we gorged ourselves on these Austrian delicacies before shivering our way from the Opera House, to the Karlskirche, and back to our hostel. Despite a belly full of pork, I expected to sleep soundly in my 3-Euro rented linens, but alas the hostel gods played a cruel joke, and I spent most of the night without sleep.
In the morning, we hopped on the train to the airport, attempting to only get to the airport the standard (or as standard as can be) 2 hours prior to our flight. However Austrian trains are swift, and within 20 minutes of arriving at the station we were stepping into the departures portion of our terminal. I was hungry, and since airports are notorious for being expensive we found a market within the airport that was somewhat cheaper than the restaurants around. For 15 Euro, we got rolls, brie, and salami and sat in the McDonald’s eating before our flight. Where else in the world, I wonder, can a person buy a breakfast of French cheese and meat for less than a Big Mac. We pass through immigration and eventually board our flight.
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.