My Travel to Vienna, Austria: Back When I Wasn’t the Mayor

The year 2012 has been a big year for me. I just turned four while traveling in Curacao and I was treated very well. Plus, I went to Japan earlier this year and I am soon going to full-day Pre-kindergarten.  Apparently, this year is also when I was appointed “the Mayor.”

My mommy and daddy call me “The Mayor” and they tell everyone the story of how the hotel staff called our room to talk to me; little four-year old me.  My mommy tries to avoid interacting with too many people so I take it upon myself to introduce her to people; she does this weird body movement that may be referred to as cringing but at the end of the day she hugs and kisses me and laughs it off saying she will love my no matter what.  Before Curacao reinforced my mayor’s status, I came to realize my super powers in Japan.  It was the experience of all experiences so far in my little four year old life. So, I wanted to reflect a little on some of my past trips. I’ve been to Puerto Rico, Austria, Canada, Curacao, Japan and already 12 states in the United States (actually slept in or spent major amount of time). My mommy is putting together a map in my room to remind of where I have been. She says she wants me to be well-rounded (which I assume has something to do with eating a lot), well-traveled and open to new ideas and cultures; Seems to be an obsession for her, so I suppose I should indulge her.  Mommy’s can be so easy to please.  Although, she keeps trying to get me to eat something called curry that has an unmentionable look, and is just a bit too spicy for me. I mean, I’ve only been using the potty for a year or so, for God’s sake.  I think I will stick with chicken nuggets and pancakes for now.

Today I wanted to reflect on my travels in Vienna, Austria which was completely different from my Japan experience.  Let me start by saying, the palaces we visited in Austria were phenomenal – just beautiful and expansive. I got to run like a crazy boy all over the grounds.  For a while, I thought I was a prince in search of my own fairy tale.  I didn’t have to take my shoes off the way I did in Japan and there were a ton of gardens to run around. The streets weren’t as packed as they were in Japan and there were weird lines on the sidewalks that seemed to tell people where to walk and ride their bicycles.  The seemed a bit fussy about that actually. At one point a woman tapped my mom’s shoulder because she was “walking me on the wrong side of the line.” Clearly, she never learned that toddlers always have the right of way.  I thought it was cross-cultural.  Clearly, I was misinformed.

Back then I was small enough to eat in a high chair, but many of the restaurants we went to looked at us strangely when (1) we came in, and (2) when we asked for a high chair. We would look around and just not see that many kids eating out. We definitely stood out for being American, inter-racial and traveling as a family with a two-year old.  Japan, which is an aging society (or so I was told) and thus there just are not that many kids milling about, showered me with candy confetti everywhere I went. In Austria, however, there was no showering of candy upon me.  It seemed that instead they were more than willing to shower me with scowls and act annoyed that I dared be seen in public with mommy and daddy.  I just didn’t get that. The buildings were just so princely yet there was no warmth directed my way and I am cute and charming. Who are these Austrians who can resist my charms?  I must investigate.

We booked a “family suite” at the hotel and my mom was apparently aghast that we had a room with two floors and long sets of stairs. I thought it was a cool way for me to start learning to fly. See at home, at the time, there were these gates on the staircases and I just didn’t get that. Definitely putting a damper on my daredevil-stylings.  So, I guess these Austrians were cool in that respect. They love their staircases over there.  The palaces had grand staircases and although they had bike lanes everywhere (I thought I should have been pushed in that lane for I did have wheels on my stroller, but the Austrians had other ideas on that) handicapped accessible venues were a little harder to come by.

One day we did take a field trip to a town called Eisenstadt and we rode a train. It wasn’t the bullet train we rode in Japan but it was very clean, high chairs and orderly. We went to Eisenstadt because my mommy really loves white wines and they have great wine cellars in that town. Mommy said we were doing a pilgrimage.  It took us a while to get to the wine cellars as no cab would stop for us. I’m not too sure what that was about. So different from NYC cabs for sure (or maybe not). We eventually got served tons and tons of sausages. They didn’t have my mac and cheese anywhere- so I was a bit fussy. Speaking of Italian food (in my 4-year old brain that counts as such),  we bumped into one of my mommy’s colleagues who took her seven year old son there-it was actually his birthday. See we were all there really for the 2010 International AIDS Conference.  My mommy and other mommys thought –when else would we take the family to Austria. Anyway, this other family went to a restaurant to celebrate the boy’s birthday and he wanted his favorite dish: something pasta. The waitress told him with a sneer that they didn’t serve that there and if they wanted that type of food they should go to McDonald’s.  Really, they serve pasta at McDonald’s? I missed that? I only get the happy meals so maybe pasta isn’t considered happy?

Anyway, my time in Austria was cool. I was a baby, what did know that I was really a Mayor and should expect such attention when I travel. I know better now.  So watch out world, here I come to shake your hand and be overwhelmingly friendly regardless of your disposition.

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