A Dehydrated Nation

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Austria  ,
Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Vienna is incredible. I'll begin with that strong and true statement, and please keep it in mind as you read along. Today was a day of true sightseeing – from the Belvedere art museum, where Klimt’s work is as beautiful in person as it is on postcards, to a lunch of Grogger beer and a slice of thin-crust feta cheese pizza in the city’s core. The camera now holds some 200 photos from this afternoon alone, many of them definitely frame-worthy, and our feet are that happy sore which only comes from a jam-packed day of awe-inspiring on-foot touring.

But down to business – Vienna is dry.

Not in its culture or beauty (because that is abundant in this amazing city), but in the literal sense. I’m not sure whether it’s because of shrunken adjusted bladders due to tedious pay-toilets, or the cheap price of alcohol in comparison to all other beverages, but water is scarcely seen in the hands of Viennese locals. In fact – James and I began differentiating tourist from Austrian by Nalgene bottles and eco-friendly canteens. The point is – no one seems thirsty. When sitting down at the nearest cafe for breakfast, we were each served a miniature verre d’eau (the standard Viennese size we later notice) which quenched our thirst ever so slightly. But our taste buds were teased and two short subway rides and three blocks later, we purchased two bottled waters at the corner grocer. Our first bottle was bubbly, and we noticed that this was a trend. The majority of European water is in fact carbonated (a tactic, perhaps, to mask its true taste). As we continued our walk through the picturesque Belvedere gardens we looked around – not a water-guzzler in sight. No one seems to need the stuff.

Is it because North Americans are saltier by nature? Or maybe the Viennese opt for beer and wine over water? Whatever the reason, they don’t order it during meals, they aren’t carrying it on walks and runs, and the bicycles don’t have those convenient bottle-sized slots attached.

Back in our hotel room now, I’m sitting next to a giant North American-sized water bottle filled from the tap. As I gulp down cold massive sips that really hit the spot, I wonder if that’s the Viennese mentality – the euphoric long-awaited quench is worth the thirsty wait.



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zakpet on

Watching the travelers
I love the fact that we can follow your travels via a blog. You both write so well its a pleasure to read. Perhaps I'll make it a morning ritual whereby the first thing I do every morning is grab a cup of coffee, find a nice comfortable spot to sit, and lose myself in your storytelling.

But you're right about the salt! There is way too much sodium in the North American diet. This story just got updated and featured on CBC:


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