For the first time since 2018, I actually went on holiday that wasn’t California and wasn’t in the UK! I’ve been trying to get away since Nov 2021, but lockdowns and Covid mean having to be flexible. Instead of a Thanksgiving holiday, I snuck away to celebrate my last week of being 34.
I’ve been really struggling since 2018. The end of the PhD, the horrible viva and rewrites, and then the pandemic have really done a lot to corrode my already tenuous mental health. That coupled with isolation, no travel and a stressful work environment have left me pretty burnt out. I haven’t been writing for fun, haven’t been writing for work, and haven’t done a whole lot to help myself become an adult.
To sort myself out, I decided to head to Vienna for a week. I’ve never been to Austria, and there are a lot of great places to visit that are only an hour by train or bus….and I just needed out of the UK.
I booked a stay at the Student House Vienna. This is a hotel/student dorm. It was fantastic. The people were friendly, I couldn’t hear the people living above me or next to me, and it was right next to the metro, so it was easy to get to city centre.
The first thing I did was buy a week’s pass for the U-Bahn so that I did not have to walk if I did not want to. My first stop was the Museum of Modern Art. According to the museum’s website:
With its collections based on Pop Art and Photorealism, Fluxus and Nouveau Réalisme as well as Viennese Actionism, the mumok combines highlights of societal and reality-related art as well as performance art of the 20th century. The collection comprises around 9,000 works: paintings, sculptures, installations, drawings, graphics, photos, videos, films, architectural models and furniture.https://www.wien.info/en/sightseeing/museums-exhibitions/top/mq/museum-modern-art-352902
The museum did not disappoint. Pop art is the type of art I enjoy the most, and the gallery had so many floors to wander about. I actually wandered the museum without a murder podcast playing in my ears and it was nice to have a bit of silence.
The next place that I went was the Natural History Museum. According to their website:
The Natural History Museum preserves, expands, researches and presents its extensive biological, geological, anthropological and archaeological collections in a building designed as a total work of art. It conveys the diversity of nature, the evolution of planet earth and life as well as the associated cultural development of humans and offers an inspiring meeting place where dialogue and exchange between science and society take place.https://www.nhm-wien.ac.at/museum/leitbild_mission
It is a stunning museum, the building is amazing and everything is presented so well. It is also like a maze. There are so many rooms and corridors that at one point, I was glad that I had a granola bar in my purse.
There was something really nice about wandering the city, not being sat on my couch all day, and not emotionally eating because I am sad and feeling stuck. Even the GPS gods smiled on me and kept me right the entire time. Vienna is really easy to navigate and I have the directional sense of a bee in a paper bag, so being outside, walking, and not once getting lost made me really happy. I even navigated the metro like I knew what I was doing, and I love any time that I can feel a bit less like a tourist. I ended the day with my favourite thing: cake. There was a market in the metro station, so I was able to get nibbles and eat in the dorm at the end of the day. I was not 100% keen on eating out alone, so being able to get a salad and water and amazing bread. It was a great start to the vacation.