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John Doukas Photography Blog Page

Official Blog for John Doukas and John Doukas Photography. Talking about Photography, Life, and Food.

Overnight in Vienna

I still have more photos and stories to share from Jordan and Lebanon, but I wanted to share a bit from the journey back home. When buying the plane ticket, the cheapest ticket, I saw there would be a long (16 hour) layover through Vienna. I was excited to see this as I have long wanted to go there. While sitting at the airport in Jordan, waiting to leave, I went online to see if I could book a room at a hostel. The layover would be overnight, so I figured getting a little sleep would be nice. Well, long story short, I had no money in my checking account (transfers in Jordan didn't exist at ATM's) and all I had was a enough money on me to take the train into town, get something to eat, and take the train back. No worries I figured, thinking God would hook something up in Vienna. Upon arriving to Vienna, to put it simply, I was exhausted. The previous night and day was spent at the Jordan airport, and sleep wasn't really happening. A friend stayed up with me for most of it, via my iPhone, and so I wasn't totally alone. Anyway, in Vienna, it was about 8pm when I found my way to the train into town. I put some Beethoven on (his Mass in C) my headphones for some mood music. Once off the train, oh my, the beauty of the city just struck me. The sun had already gone down, but there was still a slight blue glow low in the sky. Over many of the buildings, I could see a tall, glowing white tower spiking into the sky. I didn't know where to go for anything, so I headed for that.

As I was making my way, it was getting darker faster and despite the beauty of the city, I was thinking about "where am I going to stay tonight?" That took a back seat as I was in sensory overload. The streets became sort of a maze to me, and I didn't want to get lost from the train station. It started to also dawn on me that the city felt a little more upscale than I had expected, and then there was me. I had a trip beard going on which looked rather bum-ish. Then I had baggy pants, a dark hoody, and a backpack. Most of the people there were dressed nice, clean-shaven, no bags, and didn't look like they'd been awake for 2 days (stinky). But that didn't bother or stop me.

After walking down a bunch of streets, I finally found what the large white tower was. It's a huge cathedral at the center of the old town. And when I say huge (i don't think my pictures do it justice) I mean huge. My head had to be tilted all the way back, to see all the way up. It was amazing. I was trying to figure out the name of it, but all the writing on the outside was in German, and was also hard to read if I could see it. After circling it for a little bit, I found the entrance by following someone who looked like they were sneaking in. Long story short, I found a spot in some pews to stop and relax a minute. After a short prayer to Jesus, I stood up just in time for security to tell me the cathedral was closing. Good timing, but I still didn't know where I was or where I was going. So I asked someone, "where am I?" and they said the place is called St. Stephens Cathedral. Then I remembered a Vienna guide book a friend loaned me and I was able to find it on a map, giving me a key to finding my way.

Exiting the cathedral, I found myself in the midst of a bunch of cafes that were bustling and I was hungry. They looked like they would be expensive. Passing by many of them,  I saw a glowing sign of something I could afford...the golden arches of McDonalds (sorry to all you foodies). After eating a burger, which I must admit was mighty good, I went back outside to walk. Fatigue hit me quickly but I tried to push on. I began exploring the city and was just amazed at the architecture.

Some time had passed and I began to feel even more fatigued, to the point of deciding I could walk no more, and it was only 11pm or so. A lot of the bustling street began to quiet down. Cafes were closing, and some of the sites I wanted to see were all dark. Depression started hitting me. I was in an amazing city but I was physically done. The lights were out and I was in the street. So, I figured I could go back to the cathedral and sit on a bench there. If I fell asleep, at least I would be in an open square. Back near the cathedral, I saw a homeless man sleeping on front of a store called Humanic. He was the first I had seen. I found my own bench to sit on and hopefully just fall asleep. A few minutes passed and I began to feel the cool breeze I was previously enjoying. This time however, it just felt cold. I was starting to wonder just how cold it would get. Each way I turned to face, the cold would hit me differently. But, I figured if I could just fall asleep I wouldn't notice the cold. As I began to doze off, a lady came up to me to ask me something, but it was in German. I just shrugged and asked if she spoke english. She chuckled and shrugged at me, and walked off. After that, I couldn't sleep. By this time, it was only 11:30. How was I going to last til sun-up? I figured sun-up would mean better photography. After sitting there a bit, I looked and saw the golden arches of McDonalds again. It was the only place open.

So I went in there for some coffee (and a couple cheap burgers...I admit). It was warm and had a comfortable seat. I noticed one lady in there who sat alone, not eating or drinking. She was in there when I first came through a couple hours before. I was wondering if she too was homeless. As I sat there eating slowly, I think I fell asleep in my seat, since I don't remember anything between looking at her, then feeling a hand push me, finding my face down on the table. I was told I was not allowed to sleep there. Then the place was closing and I had to leave.

I looked at the clock in hopes hours had past, but then it was only 1am. So, I was more sad. It was too cold so sit on a bench, McDonalds was closed, and my legs felt done. I was thinking of just heading back to the airport to sit and sleep, but I felt like I would miss out on Vienna. At my lowest feeling, I felt a spoken encouragement that it's night, but day is coming. That gave me a little energy to just keep walking. It became enough energy to circle most of the city (old Vienna) a few times. About 5 laps of the city took me a few slow hours. It was dark, but I just loved the buildings. I would just stand and look for a while. Time passed without much thought. Then a problem hit me.

Being dehydrated from the day before (100 degrees at the Dead Sea) I felt a need for the WC (bathroom). Problem again...where?! After searching for an hour, I finally found a hotel lobby and did my business. I went outside, and I could see the night sky returning to a faint blue hue. Morning was here. The night was finally over and I had the city to myself. The streets were empty. I could walk and stand anywhere for a photo...and I did. The fatigue had gone and I just felt a new day as the city slowly awoke.

Towards the end, as I made my way back to the train station, I saw a lady sleeping at the backdoor steps of St. Stephens. I wondered if it was the same lady I had seen in the McDonalds. So I walked up to place a couple euros next to her head, but she heard me approach (my silent batman skills were lacking). She barked at me, but I just showed her the coin and said "coffee!" I set it down and just walked away. I kept going and then I saw the real lady. She was sitting in a crowd, but she sat alone. I began to think or understand (i think?) what it must be like to be truly homeless. No where to go? The temperature is what it is. WC? Someone to talk to? For me, I knew it had all been temporary. But for her? I had a plane ticket and a few dollars. I had friends who seek me out and sacrifice for me. Now, she is on my heart to pray for her. When I'm at my lowest, God's voice is there, either in a silent way or through a friend. And He always tells me the same thing...keep walking!

So, thank you (you know who you are) for being there for me. Thank you for showing me God's love!

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