Smooth flat stones, a cobbled alley to our hotel door. The stones are laid tidily underfoot, old and worn, between sunny walls. Neat herbs and flowers line the path.
On the afternoon walk to my room, I stroke leaves as I pass waist-high herb pots. This one’s leaves are long and flat like tarrogon, but the scent on my fingers is rosemary. I pluck another leaf and rub it between my fingers so I can keep smelling it.
Pink geraniums and yellow daisies spill from window boxes, and when the breeze is just right, I smell the almond scent of flowering trees along the nearby Landstrasse. I inhale deeply every perfumed breath.
Along the Landstrasse, on the walk from the underground, I hear the clatter of crockery as I pass the outdoor patios and open doors of cafés. I pass two, three, four gelato shops, each with a patchwork in shades of vanillas, chocolates, nut tones, and deep red berries. The frozen smooth creams glisten, cold and fresh, in the hot afternoon, and I nearly follow the sweet fragrance of freshly baked almond cookies into a pastry shop. Almond cookies are my favorite.
Yesterday, before my talk, I took the morning to myself. I walked the city blocks near our hotel, delighted over and over again by the cascade of greenery and bright flowers spilling from window sills. I drank coffee and ate a croissant at an outdoor café as I watched the Viennese morning go by: moms and dads standing behind their children on foot powered scooters, pushing off and gliding along sidewalks together; four men smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee a couple tables over — they were in no hurry on a Friday morning; the wait staff bustling around the patio, placing cushions on wooden slatted chairs before more guests arrived.
I love the pace of this city. It is relaxed but efficient, like the CAT train that arrived early at the airport, sat still, peaceful, and quiet in the station for several minutes while people boarded at their leisure, then left promptly at its scheduled time: 9 minutes after the hour.
I feel welcome here in Vienna. I feel comfortable. I regret I don’t have more time to explore.