One of the newest things about life in Vienna for my family was the transition from driving everywhere we went in our car to relying solely on public transportation and our own two feet to get us where we needed to go. The first few days we didn’t venture far from our temporary apartment. We walked a bit and found the grocery, an Italian restaurant, a market. We laughed when we saw a sign reading, “Papa Joe’s Cafe.” That is what we call my husband’s grandfather. It made us think of home. My husband started work 2 days after our arrival, so he was the first to ride the U-Bahn. Our first Saturday here we rode all together to Stephansplatz to have our first look at Stephansdom, to see the horses and carriages, and to visit a shop that sold Mozart’s chocolate which we had heard about before coming to Vienna and which my boys were eager to try.
It was cold when we first arrived and we had not brought winter coats. With 5 children and 2 grown-ups needing coats I decided to venture out to the Christ Church Shop which sells second-hand clothes and household things. It was my first time to manage public transportation on my own. I got on the bus, asked directions for the S-Bahn which I somehow managed to miss. I got on a street car that I thought would take me to my destination only to have it come to a stop and be told I had to get off. I asked directions again. I did eventually make it to the shop, 2 1/2 hours later and 10 minutes before they closed. I managed to buy 1 winter coat and some hats and gloves. The trip home was much smoother and only took about 25 minutes.
I have learned a few buses that I have used on more than one occasion and a few street cars, but to be honest I tend to walk rather than get on these more confusing modes of transportation. Google maps has been very helpful, though I am glad to say that now I can get most places without having to have my eyes glued to my cell phone screen. There was a time that I wouldn’t dream of leaving our flat without my phone fully charged. Now I know I can get home if my phone dies while I’m out. I know which end of the U-Bahn to walk to to be close to my exit when I get off. I no longer have to read the signs every time to make sure I’m getting on the right train. And I love not having a car and not buying gas and not having car repairs and insurance and not buckling children into car seats and booster seats. In fact, the only time I miss having one is after I’ve gone to IKEA and my arms feel like they are going to fall off before I get home. But even that is a good thing–it keeps me from spending too much at one time! My youngest likes it too.