[Vienna photos] Vienna wouldn’t necessarily be high on my list of places to visit personally, but I was attending the third annual International Sociological Association (July 10-14) and rented an airbnb near the tourist attractions and the university for a two week visit, enough time to soak up the feel of the city. Randomly, the cheap ticket I booked had a layover in Amsterdam, which was a coincidence that overlapped nicely with my current research into marijuana legalization, the topic I would be presenting upon at the conference. So I took advantage of the short time I had to explore the city center, making note of the various coffeeshops and walking through the Red Light District, visiting the Erotic Museum while crowds gathered in the background to cheer on the soccer game viewed on bar televisions. [Amsterdam photos]
Vienna is a ghost town on Sundays, the day I arrived. After checking into my apartment and taking another nap, I wandered the streets for hours, hoping for a grocery story. I came upon some Chinese take-out, surprisingly vegan friendly, served by a young woman who spoke at least German, Chinese and English. The town embraced the vegan marketing fad, as most restaurants advertise their vegan holdings, even if just one thing on the menu. Of course, I was just off my raw vegan diet, but I was going to allow myself to eat whatever I wanted, in case there was some kind of special Viennese dish that I didn’t want to deny myself. But thankfully, within a few blocks of my apartment, there was both a raw vegan restaurant, Dancing Shiva, beautifully decorated in hippie Buddhist style, and a vegan gelato place one block away.
Another benefit for my trip was that a colleague had connected me to her friend Michelle, who lives in NYC, but would also be in Vienna during my same exact dates, and remarkably, was staying at the apartment complex right next door to me. It was so great to have a buddy to tour the town with, and especially one who knew the town from her repeated visits, as well as the culture some of the language. We visited the Schonbrunn Palace, MAK museum, Mumok (modern art), Freud museum, Stephansplatz, and walked around soaking up the sights, streets, and food of Vienna.
The International Sociological Association was held at the large and historic University Wien, a banner welcoming the 5,000 sociologists from 126 countries. Endless panels overviewed the usual sociological topics with an international dimension, in a handful of languages, but primarily English. Daily plenary panels discussed the various social crises in Europe, overviewing information we all know, but providing few solutions. Overall, while I definitely appreciate the international context and meeting my colleagues from other countries, paper presentations can be tedious and boring the world over. Luckily, I made a strong connection with a fellow panelist, John, with whom I share significant research interests in deviance, and we both expressed interest in working together. We also had a good time exploring additional sites of the city together, including the Albertina museum with their collection of classic paintings, Schonbrunn Palace, as well as the 21st Century Museum, which featured an opening exhibit for Ai Weiwei. Overall, I had a great two weeks in Vienna, and the best part was getting a chance to share the city experience with new friends, Michelle and John. [Vienna photos]