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Report 1988: Yes, Zig Has Written About our Bavaria Trip!

By Zig and Georgia from Kentucky, Spring 2010

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Page 15 of 30: Tuesday May 25th (continued) - On the Train to Vienna

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In Vienna

On the train to Vienna we shared a coach booth with a nine-year old girl, her mother, and a university student named Wolfgang, studying statistics. I embarrassed the little girl mightily by asking if she was studying English in school. She admitted that she was. I asked if there was anything she wanted to ask me in English? She was mortified. I asked if she knew any American songs. She did but wouldn’t sing any for me. “How about ‘Happy Birthday?’” I asked. Even little Melina knew that one. Her mother said it was her 10th birthday in a month so I sang happy birthday to her. She wondered what planet I’d come from.

To give her a break I asked Wolfgang what he was reading. It was a graphic novel called “Manga.” They come in a set of 20 or 30 books. He couldn’t wait to get them all. We talked a little about fantasy literature in general and science fiction as well. He liked the movies made about the Lord of the Rings, but didn’t like the books.

I asked if Manga had a story line. He said it didn’t. It was just a series of battles. I told him I found it hard to believe that 20 or 30 books could be sustained without some sort of unifying “story.” Perhaps the battles presented a very long “Quest” narrative? Maybe like a 21st century Japanese Canterbury Tales, or Sir Gawain and the Green Knight? He didn’t think so, but said that the characters we’d seen in the train station were dressed in Manga costumes. I told him it looked like they were having a great time. He said it’s common. In fact, the public acting out of Manga themes is called “Cosplay,” for Costume Play. Oh to be young again.

When we arrived in Vienna we promptly got on the wrong tram, or rode the right tram in the wrong direction, or the right tram too far, or something. Anyway we ended up way out too far, and had to walk back toward our convent guesthouse: “Stephen Haus.” It looked like an old 1950s style apartment building but just a couple of blocks from the city center. We had to wait in the lobby for the office to open at 5pm. The nun who appeared was dressed in old-order Amish clothing. She looked very severe and humorless. I’m pretty sure their cosmetics budget would have starved a church mouse. But boy, the room was great! It was clean and sunny, with a balcony overlooking a parking lot. We washed clothes and hung them out to dry.

After that we went walking toward the center of town. As we walked through small alleys and along broad streets I was amazed at the number of pedestrians. The city was truly bustling, but as we approached the main plaza it looked like there had been some sort of accident. There were dozens of people sprawled on the sidewalk beside this enormous building. But the people weren’t just sprawled. They were sitting or reclining on carpet squares and staring up at this gigantic screen. It looked like some sort of a pedestrian “drive-in movie.” And glorious music was playing.

(to be continued)

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