Visiting Vienna is like returning to some place you never visited. I know it does sound weird, but it is so nonetheless, because every time I come here I see a different face of the city and I feel humbled by the magnitude of its past and present. Vienna is a city that does not let you forget for a single moment that it stood as the imperial capital of one of the most important empires of our Europe’s late medieval period. The Habsburgs may have left the scene, but they have never left this city. Vienna is very much their legacy, among many other legacies. And every time I come here I have this feeling like I see the city for the first time. Given the multiple facets of it, it’s almost natural to feel so.
The following 4 photographs series is one that I composed with this city in mind. I felt they do deserve a few words, so for what is worth, here they are.
Camera employed this time was an Olympus OM1 MD with Zuiko 50/1.8, loaded with Tri-X 400, shot and processed (D76) at 250. Word to the wise: whatever camera you take with you, ensure you have a wide lens too. Mine was left at the hotel and much chagrin was caused by the lack of a wide glass. Next time I’ll take my Nikon F4 as well and have the AF Nikkor 35-105/3.5 D with me, as it would seem that this is a good lens to cover both the streets and architecture.
The posh ride option. Advisable, if you’re not in a hurry and decide to have a go around the place. Mind, not a long one, but pleasant and to be honest, it gives you the feeling of what was like to belong to a long gone class. The vehicle is a modern one, of course, but it is designed after those carriages of old. And if you love horses, like I do, it’s a bonus in this sort of travel choice.
Oh, btw: I do believe the driver in the main photograph is the spitting image of the Emperor Franz Josef. Check it out; I did, and the resemblance is uncanny.
The green ride. Most popular choice of going everywhere in the city, be you a tourist or a local. Plenty of bike tracks, with plenty of places where you are accepted to ride the bike (I mean places such as inner court yards of museums, palaces and whatnot). It is said (no idea if this is true) that there are at least 3 bikes for every resident of Vienna. By the number I’ve seen, that may be very close to the truth.
The bike is particularly useful if you use the narrower streets. Those are present almost everywhere, and to drive a car through the pipeline of a street is not fun. I should know, I did this and I ended up parking the blasted thing in the hotel’s lot and rented a bike. Very easy, you do it actually instant using your card to pay. What I have not seen in great numbers though are the ubiquitous electric bikes which strikes fear in tourists and locals alike, elsewhere in Europe. It would appear people here are more of a bike person, I guess.
The futuristic ride. Well, a futuristic bike of sorts, if I think about it. By far, the best of both worlds: ride a bike but not pedalling yourself. Some sort of a rickshaw with pedals, if you like. Really great option for transportation from A to B, provided A is not off 5 miles from B. Because if it is, well then, you better be patient in the Vienna traffic. Where you could go with a “normal” bike, this contraption is not going to get through. And I am talking here getting through between the vehicles in close lanes, very narrow streets, and so forth. This thing here will act like a side mirror collector, if going in tight places, if you know what I mean by that.
But it is fun; so much fun that I rented it like twice in a day, in order to take in the feeling of all sorts of wonderfulness near the Hof and other places I enjoyed visiting that day. However, when I asked the driver (for a better word) to take me on Kohlmarkt street, right in the centre of the city, he politely declined. I asked him why, and he told me that they are banned to enter with this type of vehicle in such busy places. Good to know.
The jail ride. Although in this time and age our old Europe is really worried about possible nasty surprises, I have not seen a lot of police or security in the city. OK, I wasn’t present or visited every place, but I would have thought that of all places, the inner city would be filled to the brim with the long arm of the law. Well, it wasn’t, apart from the easy going, leisurely strolling couple of police agents.
I especially noticed a real eye catcher, a female agent (the patrol consisted of a man and a woman); she looked like a model from Cosmopolitan: blonde, really nice, and smiling. And in the same time looking very professional, imagine that. I was on the move to have a photograph taken with her, but I was stopped in my track by my beloved better half. What can you do, our girls are ever so protective of their beloved partners 🙂 …
Later on that day, I realized why no visible police was to be seen on the streets: they were all having a reunion. As for the reason of it, this remains unclear, but by the looks of it, everyone was in high spirits, and no tension was visible. Which was all right, nobody needed that sort of scare. I’m joking, obviously.
Summing up, a truly good experience in Vienna, as with each past visits. Every time I am here there’s always something else to see, other places to visit, and most of times I’m like “was this here the last time?”.
Vienna, a city that one could fell in love with, without even knowing it.
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