Note: this post is the second part of my trip to Vienna and Hungary.
Full story: Part 1
4. Airbnb flat check-in
Second day in Vienna. Anett decided to stay for another night, so she checked in with me at a shared Airbnb flat I rented in Central Vienna. Earlier in the morning I was a bit disappointed that nothing was open nor were people on the streets in Spittelberg where we stayed. By the time our taxi drove into the crowded streets in Vienna, a rush of excitement came through my head. The smell of human! The smell of coffee! Bread! Wool! Umbrellas! Anett asked the taxi driver in German whether we were approaching our flat yet. It started drizzling, but I didn’t mind it. I just wanted to get off as soon as possible and explore the city.
Our flat was in an apartment block on a busy street. We sat at the cafe nearby facing the door till our Airbnb host came to pick us up. What I can remember about the cafe now was the depressing, dark, abandoned atmosphere. The smell of aging. The beggar who came in again and again to ask cafe customers for money. Anett was counting how many minutes our host was late for. 4, 5, 6 … Finally a big smile came to the door and melt Anett’s impatience. There was our host, Tan.
Tan politely welcomed us and led us to her flat in the attic. In the lift Tan emphasised that we had to press D, D for dachboden (attic in German). I said I won’t forget and all of us laughed in the slow, tiny lift that only had a capacity of 3 persons. Tan just rushed back from work. She was still panting and a bit nervous I guessed.
Growing up in a Chinese household which, a sense of good energy is regarded to be the most important thing for everyday living, I can be quite sensitive to places that don’t have good energy flow and sunlight. The entrance to Tan’s place was quite dark. Tan struggled to find her keys. Inside her place everything was clean and tidy. From her books and magazines one can tell she is an intelligent business woman. Well-read, curious, worldly. But also, she didn’t seem to spend much time at home.
After handing me her keys, Tan told us to make ourselves home. ‘You will have my room. I will be sleeping on the sofa tonight. Anett can stay as long as she likes because I am going to visit my family for a few days outside of Austria’, she said. Anett looked at the dusty mattress under Tan’s single bed, shook her head and said no, that wasn’t the plan. I laughed nervously and joked, yay, the whole place is going to be mine. Tan agreed, said goodbye to us as she had to go back to work.
5. Mysterious toilet
I looked around, trying to convince myself I would be fine staying in the flat alone once Anett left. Outside the tiny window on the triangle ceiling, it was overcast. Some light came through to the living room. At least there is a window, I thought. I walked to the entrance of the flat. There were two doors, one to the outside, the other unlocked. I had strange feelings about what was behind the unlocked door. I felt some sort of dark, mysterious force as I held onto the door handle. I prayed, better not be something scary. I opened it.
It was the toilet. Light off. Of course it is the toilet! I have to pee. I thought to myself. As I turned on the light and closed the door, I felt I was somewhere else in this enclosed, skinny, rectangle space. The small chandelier in the ceiling lit up the whole space in warm light. In front of me was a wooden cabinet, slightly lower than my height. On top of it were some scent sticks in a vase and a ceramic angel. Everything looked pleasant and welcoming, but I felt something was tickling my nerve. I couldn’t wait to get out and tell Anett the toilet was strange.
When I came out, Anett was still inspecting everything. I didn’t feel the ease in her either, so I suggested us go out for a walk. Even though it started raining heavily outside, I couldn’t wait to get out of the flat. I said nothing to Anett as I didn’t want my negative thoughts to influence her.
6. Lost in Central Vienna
We enjoyed this walk a lot as we didn’t know where we were, nor did we have a destination. It was still raining. I told Anett how spoiled we were to have sunny days almost all year long in Sydney. We walked through some backstreets, to Graben, to Goldschmiedgasse, reached St. Stephen’s Cathedral, turned a big circle and came back to the cathedral again. I thought we were walking further and further away, but all those streets we walked pass seemed to pull us back to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. My shoes were soaked in rain, so I suggested to go back to our flat. As we thought, only within a few steps, there were a stairway hiding in a backstreet right in front of us. We walked up without any hesitation. Somehow we had a feeling that it was the shortcut. So it was. Only within a few minutes’ walk, we were in front of our building, ready to press D, dry my feet and have a rest. Oh D. D is for dim, D is for dark.
7. Knock, knock, who’s there?
Sitting on the couch I was looking for things to do while Anett was watching a crime tv show. We were both munching her mum’s delicious homemade goose liver on toast. The TV was loud too. As I suggested to her that we should go to the opera and get a cheap standing ticket at the door, we heard a knocking sound from the toilet. I looked at Anett and asked if she heard it too. She answered casually, just some noises from upstairs.
UPSTAIRS! You are kidding me. This is the attic! D! There is no more upstairs! I laughed, but continued my research of Vienna. After a while it knocked again, and again. As I started to laugh loudly and nervously, the knocking stopped. It was quite obvious that the sounds were from the toilet. I thought perhaps the neighbour was doing some handiwork, so I ignored it. Phew, luckily I didn’t associate it with the ‘ghost’ I saw in my dream.
Wherever I go, I am normally curious about everything. But this time I felt quite unsettled and uninterested in almost everything. I sensed the urge of getting out of Vienna so I started to look for another city to visit. Looking at the map, I told Anett how amazing it felt to have Europe in your hand and you can just go anywhere you want anytime! Anett smiled at me and said, what about if you go back to Zalaegerszeg with me, now?
You won’t believe how nervously I laughed in this trip. I said to her but we just came from Zalaegerszeg a day ago. If I am leaving I’d rather go to Milan! Prague! Berlin! The world is in my hand and you must be kidding to ask me to go back with you! I said. I looked at her in her eyes. They are as beautiful as usual, but this time, there was also expectation and fear.
8. Heading back to Zala
In Anett’s eyes there was confidence too. She knew me too well! Firstly I am stingy. I would never pay extra money for any last minute booking. Secondly, she knew I would rather spend the days with her than being alone possibly in another ‘haunted’ place again. I hesitated, but as soon as I spoke out the ‘yes’, she was over the moon. Let’s go now! Let’s leave here! Train is coming at 5.15pm! She said.
I looked at the time, it was 4.45pm. Although it was a short trip to the station, there would be traffic jam on the way. If we missed this train, the next one came at 7.15pm, which meant we would be changing trains three times in some unknown train stations later during the night to get to Zalaegerszeg at 11.15pm. We quickly packed and caught a taxi.
It was pouring out there. The old taxi driver refused to get out of the taxi to help with my luggage. I threw it into the trunk and hopped onto the taxi. As soon as I sat in, we both looked at each other and breathed a sigh of relief! Anett started telling how bad she felt at that place and how worried she was leaving me alone there. She said she didn’t want to tell me all these before because she didn’t want her negative thoughts to influence me. I said I felt exactly the same to her. I asked if she remembered my ghostly dream. She said yes, maybe that was a sign for us to be more aware of our feelings and surroundings.
I felt relieved to flee and excited about the train trip to Hungary. But we arrived at the station at 5.30pm, 15 minutes late. Now we were talking about self-awareness and protection. That was exactly what we needed in the next seven hours on earth. Anyway, we missed the train. I was leaving Vienna without seeing much of it. I had never been to an Austrian opera. I was going to find some interesting fruits at Naschmarkt. I wanted to go to Sigmund Freud Museum. Anyway, I was deflated so I suggested us at least eat different kinds of sausages and Austrian dessert. Anett, as usual tried to boost my energy (if I compare myself to the animation ‘Inside Out‘, Anett would be Joy in my brain) and told me we could still do a lot of travelling in Zala. You will enjoy it with my company, she said with a smile. I repetitively, coarsely dipped my sausages in mustard sauce. When I am sad, I do things excessively.
Coming up next:
Jumping to the mysterious trains back to Hungary.
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