Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Vienna ♥

My whole life I've been the planner and organizer in my group of everyone.  My friends and family all know me for being meticulous in my everyday life; spontaneous and unplanned are not words used to describe any action I carry out.  It's both a blessing and a curse.  This trip wasn't my brainchild, but I figured (for a change) that I'd roll with it.  I was given an idea of a place to go, and after securing a little apartment on the outskirts of town on, I looked up some fun stuff to do, but made no other definitive plans.  It wasn't "unplanned," but it was a first step towards spontaneous.  I decided to go with the flow...
...and it turned out to be quite fabulous.

Vienna, Austria.  Home to 1.74 million people.  Feels like your best friend's house, perhaps a smidge dirtier.  It was one of the chillest big cities I have ever visited.  People were friendly, unhurried, laid back, and sophisticated, all wrapped up into one.

Before this locale was suggested to me, I had never really investigated what Vienna had to offer.  The only relation I had with this place was it's in the same country where the Sound of Music was filmed (the city was Salzburg, in case you wondered).  So when I googled what to do, I was pleasantly surprised, even for it being during the "down" season.  Most of the big stuff is definitely history-oriented, which is one of my favorite things about new places.  But there was so much fun stuff to do as well, though we didn't get to do everything in the two days/one night we were there!

Our first stop was a little outside of the city center: the beautiful Schönbrunn palace, gardens, and zoo (though we didn't go into the zoo, it is right beside the palace)!  While fighting the insane winds that day, we manged to see the winter-kissed grounds and gardens, enjoy sun on our face while looking at centuries old architecture and art, and see some fabulous pieces of history inside the mostly golden-papered walls.

The gorgeous Schönbrunn Palace!!!!

After we spent a considerable amount of time touring the palace grounds (and the inside, which was fabulousssssss), we went and checked into our apartment. GO HERE for a photo gallery of the pics of the apartment!

Located at Gellertgasse 5, 10. Favoriten, 1100 Vienna, Austria. It is certainly off the beaten path, reflected in it's affordable (and fantastic) price! Paid €90 a night! Within walking distance of the train station and seems to be an up-and-coming location based on the construction everywhere! It was young and modern, fresh and clean, and had a great view and plenty of space, with a huge bedroom that would've slept three, a sleeper sofa in the living room, a small kitchenette and table seating for four, one half bath and two full baths, one of which is inside the master. It has a great little patio with a cool view and free wifi to go with it all! The only cons I could think were parking was disastrous and we were on the 5th floor (although there was a lift, it was teeny tiny and smelly). And there's nothing really to do in the surrounding area. Other than that, I'd stay there again!

After settling in, taking a tinkle, hooking up to wifi to inform our loved ones we arrived safely, we then ventured to the other side of the outskirts of the city: Prater Park!  Let me note here that using their metro/train system is easy as pie!  Although there weren't many attractions active in the park because it was wintertime, we still got to ride the really cool Ferris Wheel and get an AH-mazing view of the city at night in a way most people don't get to see!

Vienna, ya'll.

We spent the evening walking around and eventually found a nice, albeit expensive, little steakhouse where I had a dinner fondue for the first time (mannnn was it tasty) located very closely to the cathedral!  Then the next day, our first stop was a Starbucks!  Living in Italy, where there aren't any at all, getting a little treat from one of my favorite drink places is always a good time.  We had an early breakfast and people-watched, and for a Monday morning, it was confirmed even further how relaxed the city of Vienna really is.  Then we walked.  We saw beautiful, towering, marble edifices containing museums and art galleries, stables and government buildings.  We discovered another palace squished and hidden around corners and amongst everyday structures.  Eventually, we made our way to St. Stephan's Cathedral and Stephansplatz (the main square in Vienna)!

St. Stephan's Cathedral is breathtaking.  The Gothic style is amazing, and heartbreaking, and solemn, and impactful.  The most memorable part for me was a statue of a nailed man, staked to the higher walls of the church.  I just sort of turned my head while on the upper deck investigating the organ and saw it.  I stopped and gave it my full attention, the sun streaming in through the stained glass windows, illuminating it; unbelievable sadness and appreciation filled me, and I took a little moment to say a prayer.  No fakeness here, or attempt at exploiting a religion.  I took every square inch of that place in.  Churches tend to do that to me, especially the "darker" ones (don't read too much into that people).

 After the church, we really only had time left in the day for one more stop, and we decided to make our way to "Mozart's House."  There's quite a story to our last adventure and it involves a tree and the woman beside it.  Mozart's House was right in front of us, so I'd gotten down into the street to try and get the entire building in a picture when a little lady walked by.

The front of Mozart's House (no pictures were
allowed inside).
She stopped, looked at me and my group and started talking to us in Slovenian.  The gentleman in our group asked her if she spoke English, which she quickly switched to and mumbled something to him that I didn't quite catch.  I sort of ignored her, keeping my focus on getting the shot I wanted, and in the meantime, they continued talking.  The next thing I know, he's saying, "Hey... we're gonna follow this lady."  Of course the first thing that comes to my mind is - NO!  HUMAN TRAFFICKER!!!  But I didn't even get a chance to say anything because off he goes, and drags along the other girl with us.  I decided to follow along and be the lookout, because clearly this dude was convinced this little ole lady was harmless (that's how they getcha kids!!!).  We walked through alleys and doorways and down tight, little, winding staircases, and just as my heart rate really started to pick up, we walked down three steps into this apartment "garden."

She spread her arms wide, turned to face us with a huge smile on her face and said, "Here we are!"  I was pleasantly surprised.  She said it was much prettier in the spring, when the tree was in full bloom, and she always went out of her way during her afternoon walks to see the beauty in it.  Even in the dead of winter, there's still beauty here.

This whole trip showed me not to fear the spontaneity that does live deep down in inside me.  Although it certainly isn't on the level of what most would consider "spur-of-the-moment," it was for me and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to see this place and all the wonders that reside here.

Until next time...


Friday, February 13, 2015

I've lost a 9-12 year old child...

Technically, my weigh-in occurs on the 14th of the month, but let's be COMPLETELY honest here - the best time to weigh oneself is after a really healthy poo, and during the afternoon hours, so I took advantage of that today :D  After one year and two months, almost to the day, I have lost 51 pounds, which explains the title of this post:

Thank you, thank you, thank you... please hold the applause!

Seriously though, people do this alllll the time... I'm just glad I'm at this point, and truly need no special treatment or recognition for doing something that I should've done long ago.  Now, I still have 9 pounds until I've hit my goal weight, but I'm not stressing hitting the end goal like I was about hitting the 50 pounds mark.  I'll get there, and I don't really care how much longer it'll take me.  I've not been as crazy about the working out life since I returned to Italy in January; before leaving the states I was at a 6-days per week workout schedule.  Now I'm doing 3-4 days a week, and am interested in adding a yoga morning once a week.  We're finishing out our final five months here, and if I haven't hit the goal by then, I'll just work my ass off when I get back stateside and begin the maintaining process (I seriously miss the kickboxing class they have at the gym in my hometown and am uber excited about joining in once again!!).  I still adhere to my daily 1200-calorie regimen and am looking forward to maintaining so I can increase that a little bit.  But if I'm totally leveling with ya'll, I may just keep losing until I feel like I don't need to anymore.  150 pounds, which is my goal weight, is still on the "higher" side of the BMI index for my height.  I picked 150 because it seemed like a "healthy" sounding number, and because it seemed attainable when I started this whole thing.  Now that I've almost reached it, I may lower that number a little more, maybe aim for 130.  Although I've hated pretty much everyday of this lifestyle change, I'm used to it now and figure, "why not," since I seem to be in a forward progress situation.  Regardless of what I choose to do - I've gotten this far and I am incredibly happy with myself.  I still look at myself and think, "Wow, you're a fatty," but I know I need to put more time into toning and STRENGTHENING my core, which of course I haven't really focused on at all.  BUT when I see that I'm easily sliding into a size 10, and squeezing my belt just one more notch tighter, imagining that it's conceivable for me to surpass my goal of size 10 and go down to an 8 even (something I never even thought possible!!!), it seems a little intriguing to me... I'll let ya know when I make up my mind.

In the meantime... I'll continue my loose workout schedule, keep up my calorie counting, and hopefully get over my agitation with learning to ski (cause you burn SERIOUS calories with that - take advantage while I can)!

I'm going to Vienna this weekend with some friends (unfortunately the hubby has to work) and I'm looking forward to it.  There seems to be lots of fun things to do, I just hope we have enough time, since it's just an over-nighter!!!  AND the hubs and I just saw a little ad for an "Express" Trip to Paris for only $180 per person!!  Basically you drive 16 hours there, get the whole day to do whatever you want, and drive 16 hours back.  No room, no flight, just cheap, quick, and seemingly painless.  The only issue is, the buses are typically pretty cramped and of course, riding for 16 hours one way!?  I want to do it, because there's no guarantee we'll get to be back in Europe again after this, but he seems weary - I guess I'll just have a few weeks to talk him into it since the deadline to sign up is March 20th (keep your fingers crossed for me?!?!)  We still are hoping to squeeze a Pompeii trip in, even if it's just the two of us on a whim.  We both really want to see Mount Vesuvius, although being so close to Naples terrifies us (if you don't already know, it's very dangerous there, especially if driving through the main part which is run entirely by the mob)!  But what is it they say - YOLO???

Anywho... I'll keep you all posted of the goings on.  The next few months will be fairly stressful, more so on the hubby since he'll be taking care of the specifics behind our move. 

Until next time...