For about two hours today I really, really wanted to come home.
We’ve stayed in six different places so far on our tour: all booked through AirBnB (which should really be called just AirB, as there’s no breakfast involved, but I guess it doesn’t roll off the tongue so well.) There’s been a complete range, from the young couple in Cologne who sleep on their sofa so they can put up guests in their bedroom to the Salzberg apartment we left this morning, where we basically had our own Alpine cottage.
Without exception, we’ve been made to feel very welcome. When the owner lives in the rest of the house, they’ve greeted us warmly, chatted about the city and their jobs, recommended places to go and restaurants and then left us alone unless we asked for help. In the couple of cases where the owners have not been at home, they’ve arranged for some one to let us in and there have been notes waiting for us. We’ve been left maps, guide-books, useful information. In the case of our lovely Alpine cottage, Beate had also left two small bottles of prosecco in the fridge and chocolates on our pillows! Every new place has felt like a treat.
Vienna is by far the biggest place on our Grand Tour and perhaps people are by nature not so friendly. We have an apartment booked for three nights. The owner had sent a message to say she’d be at work when we arrived and she’d arranged for someone to let us in and give us the key. She gave us directions from the station and we found the place easily enough: no tethered goats or triumphal arches to confuse us.
The apartment is in a functional gated block. We rang the intercom and Aforesaid Friend came down to let us in. Perhaps he’s always a low-key kind of cove; perhaps he was having a bad day. We trailed behind him to the flat – well, basically a bedsit room. He vaguely showed us around then, as he left, said that if any of the neighbours spoke to us, not to mention AirBnB.
So, either the owner is not supposed to sublet, or there have been issues in the past with tenants or – well, who knows? But the effect was to make us feel unwanted, uneasy, uncomfortable. There are no welcoming notes, helpful hints or personal touches. Perhaps we’ve just been spoilt up to now.
The apartment is clean enough but felt musty and stale. And then I really, really wanted to go home. Who needs Vienna? It means nothing to me.
Anyway, we walked around the neighbourhood a while, bought some flowers and a scented candle to make the room feel more cheerful.
We discovered a wool shop and a book shop: not that I need either but good to know they are there in an emergency. And there are some rather dashing buildings round the corner.
We came back to the room, had a cup of tea and watched Bake Off. All well and tomorrow we explore Vienna. Now going to practise some waltzes.