Well, seeing as I had a whole day where there was practically nothing I had to do, I decided to check out a couple of Viennese thrift stores.
Last weekend, I talked to someone who recommended the Caritas stores. Since she also loves Unique in Falls Church, I knew we spoke the same language! So, I headed over to Caritas first.
The store, which is run by a Catholic charity, is across the city from me, but my annual transit pass just became valid today and so I can now ride anywhere I want to free. Hop and hop off anytime, anywhere–it’s wonderful! The funny thing is, though, I realized today that I do not have much of a geographical idea of where things are. At some point I just quit obsessing about that and started focusing entirely on the tram, bus, and U-Bahn connections.
Caritas is FUN. It’s a big, airy warehouse, nice and clean with clean restrooms and even a water fountain. Free drinking water! In Vienna! I had some just on principle.
The clientele is a total mix of immigrants, middle class ladies and some people I think may be antique dealers. Prices are sort of the reverse of what they are in the States: clothing is priced pretty high, and housewares are quite low. Works for me, since I am not nuts about the clothes here, anyway. While there is a lot of stuff in my size, which is a relief after Prague, the styles generally range from conservative to stuffy. Italy, this ain’t.
There were quite a few items that I would call “collectible” if not actually antique. For example, there was this very pretty stack of table linens. Most were traditional Central European cutwork and embroidery, and they ranged in price from under one Euro to about 15 Euros for a really nice tablecloth.
There was also quite a bit of china and interesting kitchen ware. I couldn’t resist this cute tea set. I know, I know, I need another teapot like a hole in the head, but it is Wedgewood and it goes with my new blue kitchen color scheme…
I also found an item that the Viennese apparently don’t value very highly, but which I love! This heavy-duty Austrian-made enamel ware. There were a bunch of pots for just a couple of Euros each! Some have German Gothic-style writing on them, which I think is very cool. I immediately decided to collect the stuff. For one thing, once my drill gets here, I can put holes in the bottom and they will make excellent pots for my terrace kitchen garden project.
After leaving Caritas, I stopped at a café and had a traditional Austrian pastry called marillenknodeln. That means apricot dumplings, and they are seriously good. Like apricot shortcake, and not as sweet as you might think. Very fruity. But you really get a plateful when you order it. I don’t think it’s really meant to be a dessert. It’s more of a meal.
I am not in the habit of putting away that many carbs at a sitting. Quite frankly I felt a little ill afterwards and wanted to take a nap! But it was worth it, and anyway, when in Rome, you have to at least try what the Romans are eating. I will probably split this particular dish the next time I order it, though 🙂
Afterward, I went over to the Humana store. This was kind of fun because it is in a Turkish neighborhood, with lots of interesting stores selling gaudy housewares and carpets of every description. The website said that this particular outlet sold housewares, but in fact, it was all clothing. Very nice and clean, with respectable changing rooms, but not anything I particularly needed. I might check back later when they get sweaters in for winter.
There was, however, a whole section of “trachten” or traditional Tyrolean clothing. Some of this is extremely expensive new, so I could tell that these clothes were a great deal. There was everything from dirndl dresses, to fancy Red Riding Hood capes, to lederhosen (leather shorts) and hunting jackets. If I ever wanted to dress like a beer hall waitress–and I must emphasize that there would, at the very least, be a very expensive dinner involved if I were to consent to such a thing–then I could easily find a quality dirndl in my size at this store for around $60.
There are more second hand stores to check out, including another Caritas store in the northern part of the city that is supposed to be even bigger, but the metal pots were getting kind of heavy, so I decided to call it a day. Lots of fun, though, and once my car comes, I’m definitely checking that other store out. I have a corner in my breakfast room that is just calling out for a funky old European cabinet and some cool enamelware!
I’ll split that next plate of marillen knoedel with you…
YAY for transit passes! Make the most of them and enjoy!
I was very confused by the free drinking water comment, because it’s not actually difficult to come by?
In the U.S., free drinking fountains are everywhere. In Vienna they are very rare.