“This year’s holiday was a sweet time of friendship, fun times in Vienna, a spa excursion, and some good food!”
Thanksgiving Day 2015 began softly. I awoke to the sleeping sounds of ‘Chelle, my friend (of 25 years!) who had come to visit me in Bavaria, Germany over the holiday. She was passed out on the couch, accusing my snores of keeping her awake half the night. We were happy to be reunited after a year and a half, and quickly caught up over dinner ordered in the first night she arrived.
Now we were planning to have our Thanksgiving meal with the large American community nearby, where a huge spread was anticipated. After finally getting up and out, we stood in line until we finally laid lips on a feast of fried duck, turkey, ham, veggies of all sorts, salad bar, egg nog and sparkling cider, all kinds of pies and cookies, and icecream. Holding onto our stomachs, we stumbled back to the car, picked up another friend, Jean, and headed to a German spa to relax the evening away.
The Obernsees Therme was out in the middle of nowhere, but it was no secret to our fellow Deutsch friends. We made our way inside and headed to the swimming pools, which had areas of waterfalls, bubbles and a heated outdoor pool. We swam amidst the steam and under the stars, commenting on how these Europeans had the right idea about their spas.
Next day we caught a train to Vienna, then cabbed to our Airbnb apartment, complete with fresh welcoming red roses. Our driver was funny, telling us he was single but if anyone wanted to marry him and live in the mansion he had left behind in Eastern Europe, he was game. I slept in a Hochbett or loft bed, and I loved its cozy warmth. We found a cute restaurant within walking distance. This restaurant had a tree in the middle of it, which the people working there told us was real, though it appeared painted, and was decorated with large ornaments. We loved it, and sat down to a meal of ribs and fish—in Europe!
One waiter opened his shirt to show us his chest hair at one point, and the other gave us our bill and said in clear English while walking off quickly, “Tip isn’t included…” He obviously wanted to fully enjoy serving Americans, known for tipping above what is customary in Europe, where wait staff are usually paid a full wage. We laughed and made sure we tipped him well for his playful audacity. The next day we caught the hop on/hop off bus into town, and started shopping. I saw colored cabbages styled as flowers, and stopped to admire masks for the mythical Christmas monster, Krampus.
The guy selling those called us his sisters and let me take a picture with him. We found ourselves in a mall with lots of lights, and right outside were stands of good Austrian street food like brats and chocolate breads. In the midst of that was a woman selling African health oils and powders. We talked to her and her partner for some time, and made away with several of her items, feeling hopeful that our hormones would balance and our skin would clear and our hair would grow.
Later, we made our way to a Christmas market, which was a whirl of interesting tree décor, bright colors, sweet and savory smells, interesting foods, and hot drinks, with lots and lots of people.
A great weekend!