Vienna, Austria

When I arrived in Vienna, I checked into the Hostel Ruthensteiner, which was really great. It was spotlessly clean, had a friendly bar (often kept by a British guy, who was living in Austria and learning German) where people often started their nights. The hostel had a couple of really nice courtyards where you could enjoy your dinner – that you cooked up in the decent kitchen, or picked up from one of the many shops and restaurants close by. The hostel was also in a great location, especially that I visited the city in the middle of Euro Cup 2008. The Fan Zone was a short walk away from the hostel, so it was quick to get there to see the rabid football fans.

Like Stockholm, Vienna is gorgeous. Walking around the old town and along the river evokes elaborate Sunday lunches in the park and notes of Brahms wafting over the Danube. It was a really lovely city for walking and, in spite of the football, didn’t feel especially crowded.

At the hostel, of all people, I met a guy who just graduated and in August will be starting with the ERS group of Deloitte & Touche in San Francisco. Since I recently resigned from Deloitte Consulting, he was asking me about the firm and – like many others – how to get a 1 (the highest year-end rating). I think when I talked about the hours you need to devote to your career in professional services, his girlfriend was getting a bit nervous. Anyway, the guy graduated in December, so he’s been travelling for a few months and gave me some tips on things to do in New Zealand.

I also bumped into a couple of Japanese women, who I would continue to meet around the city during the next few days. Continually seeing the same travellers stops being surprising after the first few times it happens, but it’s still fun. And, speaking of running into people, orally anyway, let’s talk about kissing. While sitting at the bar, a women next to me pushed her beer aside, rose from her stool and left for the evening. Before taking her beer away, the bar tender asked, “Do you want the rest of it?”

I looked at him a bit perplexed (really, who drinks bottoms when he’s sober?) and said I was pretty comfortable sticking with my own beer.

He countered, “Well, if she’d have asked you for a kiss, would you have obliged?”

“Oh, I suppose so.”

“Well, if you’re ok with her tongue in your mouth, why not drink the rest of her beer?”

An interesting question…but I maintained that I was satisfied with my beer and that he should dump hers if he didn’t want it.