The Vienna Nackmarkt outside my hostel expanded this morning with hundreds more vendors arriving for the weekend. Tiny fingers tossed over old buttons, pins, wristwatches and cufflinks as shop owners spoke highly of the rarity of their items and the slimness of their prices. Women of all ages rummaged through stacked piles of unsized garments strewn over tables, toppling over to the floor. It reminded me of the train station in Anastasia that I watched as a child, with large men seated smoking wooden pipes, in market stalls full of yellowing antiques and fur coats and hats. Rows of Turkish tapestries flapped in the breeze against a backdrop of Otto Wagner secession style buildings painted with lily pads, golden palm fronds and pink petunias; with scrolling blacksmithed balconies reminiscent of dancing notes on a musical staff.
People walked around eating foot-long Wiener Würstl out of long thin buns made specifically to act as a handle for the hot sausage and sauces. I’ve been actually questioning becoming a vegetarian on this trip, but the smell of those juicy Frankfurters entranced my tastebuds and lured me in. Women in red aprons squirted ketchup and mustard down into the long buns and a man smoked a cigarette while flipping the Würstl. People peered into my purse and begged for my change as I paid for the hotdog. An aproned woman shooed them away from her market cart with the wave of a red napkin and a clicking sort of noise.
The September winds have swept in and you can feel the air is just starting to cool off after the hot summer months. Noticeably, within a single day, people were all of a sudden wearing long pants and sweaters as the skies had taken on a deeper shade of grey. Within the fresh produce market, hundreds of workers with smiling eyes and unshaven faces, were holding up candies and falafel and yelling, “Lady, come here! Come try! You will love!” Fresh cut flowers whisked inside their buckets with the cool winds. The yellow wasps had forgotten about the flowers as they warbled in and out of bags of candied fruit and chocolates. I sipped a coffee downwind from a sunflower stall while sweet fragrances filled my nose and warm liquids filled my soul.
I boarded a bus for Prague after thoroughly combing the antique market. Windmill pillars were painted with fading stripes, from dark earthy green to faded blue, to mimic the fields and the sky that they stood by. Sunflowers stood bowing their large browning heads to the earth before harvest. I’ve never before seen plumper looking clouds than the ones that hung above the fields, with white wispy tops and full blue bottoms. There must have been construction on the main road because we took the tiniest backroads through little farm towns where the streets were so thin, the terra-cotta roofs almost touched the bus as we passed by. Green grapes clung to the decks and colorful still-lifes were frescoed on the sides of the tall white buildings. We were definitely in Austria’s wine country, as I peered out over the rolling fields through rows of grapes, corn and sunflowers. Several red and white villages with small church steeples popped up in valley-ways across the countryside and the heavy-hanging clouds purpled the earth in the distance. The countryside was absolutely incredible!
We passed over a bridge that cut through a lake’s marsh; to my left kite surfers flitted back and forth on a calm pond and on my right a cathedral was poised on a small island out in the middle of the water. When we finally pulled into Prague, I was full of excitement as I stared down the long historic streets. Buildings here are all painted a rainbow of pastel colors, giving Miami’s art-deco a run for their money. I got off the bus and decided to walk 40 minutes to the hostel rather than taking the tram. I have this thing where when I’m new to a big city, I like getting out and walking right away rather than taking a metro, just to orientate myself. I’m usually quite instinctually good with direction if I immediately become accustomed to my surroundings.
Prague seems to be a funny little city, and even though the locals seem quite unfriendly when asking for directions and change, I like the vibe. I giggled as I passed “Schnitzel King” (which looked peculiarity like Burger King, but swap the double decker patty for a slab of deep fried schnitzel). Immediately after arriving at the hostel, a crew of guests and staff members recruited me into a power-hour to pregame the bars. Be bought dollar tall-boys from the market across the street (everything is SO cheap here!) and commenced taking a shot of beer on every minute within the hour. The crew’s excitement here is super cool, a bunch of young 20-year-olds trying to find themselves and have a good time. I’ve been only booking one day in each hostel to start off, feel the place out, extend my stay if I “feel it,” or check out and change places the next day if I don’t. This place and people seem dope, so I’ll definitely be extending my stay!
Alena Horowitz | Miss Potato