Could you define ‘boring’? Please, define the concept of ‘boring’, give me a clear definition of what ‘boring’ means to you. Let us go even further: tell me what a ‘boring city’ is. Give me an example of a ‘boring city’. Where can it be? What can it look like? How come a place becomes boring? Is this quality inborn or acquired? Is it a flaw, an advantage or just one of those famous labels we use to make life seem less complicated than it actually is?
Now I think that ‘boring’ does not really exist. It is as ephemeral as ‘funny’, both of them possible only in their complimentary binary opposition. Two concepts crossing our paths hand in hand, closer to each other than we think they are.
I learnt this very subjective truth six years ago, when I went to Vienna in November. The city I thought would be one of the most boring travel experiences in my life. The place that revealed itself an awesome surprise, that undermined my whole concept of bore and fun and changed it whatsoever, the city that proved me wrong and made me change my mind.
What a bore I was to call Vienna boring!
And as far as this blog has already started its transformation into a perfect place for my self-shaming and voluntary public self-punishments, I will keep on going along this intellectual repentance road giving you some more details on how Vienna became one of my most wonderful and fun travel experiences ever.
Every time autumn comes, Vienna returns to me.
Vienna is a synonym of autumn.
I’m pretty sure that one of the best periods to visit Vienna is between the end of November and the beginning of December, the moment in which autumn is at its best filling the city’s canvas with the most outstanding palette of fading colours. The brand-new melody of hues is getting possession of the quite urban parks and gardens unveiling their true and surprising potential, a charming border that separates with blurred lines the iron background on the sky swollen with the tears of autumn rains and the quite of the first snow yet to come.
The autumn nostalgia is still reigning over the city illuminated by the occasional sparkles of the clear blue sky, the pale luminescent light of evening lanterns and the first bizarre lights of the Christmas markets to be opened soon. Vienna seems a bride in its magnificent wedding dress ready to marry the approaching winter, but still bearing the blush of its autumn adolescence.
One of my most special recalls of Vienna takes me back to the Schönbrunner Schlosspark which remains for me the most charming autumn image I’ve ever seen: endless alleys covered with fallen leaves, the waves of colours arriving ever more intense, the smell of rain in the air. A perfect place for a stroll, for an escape and for a return. A perfect place to have a generous piece of Sachertorte accompanied by a cup of Wiener Melange at the Kaiserpavillion of the Tiergarten, the most antique zoological garden of Europe.
Vienna is all about the magnificence of art.
Art is everywhere here in Vienna. Art is in the air: the sweet dictatorship of the classical music, infinite museums and galleries, architecture never ordinary or predictable. It is the heartbeat of culture, its emotional order and messy inspiration. Vienna breathes art in and out in its every incarnation, possibility and form. There’s no better place for a thinker, a poet, a beautiful mind.
It may seem a perfect commonplace, but for the first time in our travel experience we purchased concert tickets from some promoters by the Stephansdom Cathedral to attend one of the numerous classical music concerts that are held every night in Vienna. The music was great and we appreciated the overall casual atmosphere of the gathering a lot. It was a nice way to get in touch with the world of the serious music in quite an informal way, everyone was and felt welcome, there was no unpleasant caste aftertaste in the whole thing which made it unique and enjoyable. If the renowned Wiener Staatsoper experience is off-limits for you, do not underestimate this modest alternative: music if worth being listened to any time and everywhere, for example, at a tiny music hall in Beethovenplatz.
Vienna is no more the heart of the empire but the empire of its own.
Even one rapid glance at this city is enough to tell you all about its past, its present and its future. Once a king, always a king, Vienna bears un inerasable imprint of the imperial grandeur that dominates both its architecture and spirit, but does not crush over one’s personality. No, it is there, standing gracefully by your side, with its head held high with unquestionable dignity and pride and inborn elegance and sophisticated manners. It is divine but also so human: well-arranged, well-handled, polite, punctual, attentive, hospitable. A place to admire and to enjoy simultaneously. It feels as if you were guided in a waltz by its firm hand to the flawless sounds of music, you and the city alone on the dance floor, in the centre of everyone’s attention. And even if you are not much of a dancer, you are somehow sure that Vienna will guide you in the best waltz of your life, so unforgettable, so touching. So predictable and at the same time so surprising.
Every day we took the underground to make our way through the city. It often happened we had to change the line at the Spittelau station. It was there that I first saw Vienna not only as a capital of the-no-longer-existing-empire, but also a modern city walking at the pace with the future. From the windows of the station it was possible to admire the District Heating Plant Spittelau which external aspect had been redesigned by the famous architect and ecologist Friedensreich Hundertwasser after the building was hit by the fire in 1987. After the renovation, the spot became one of the most curious examples of Vienna’s modern architectural solutions.
While writing this piece I had to admit to myself to be totally overwhelmed by my memories, so excited to find it difficult to fetch all my thoughts and emotions logically into the shape I initially decided to give to this article. In any case, I hope I managed to inspire you for a trip more than give any practical information or suggestions. So, if after the last full stop of the text and last picture by Machs Gut’s camera you will feel the desire to see Vienna with your own eyes and enjoy the magic of its autumn yourselves, my task can be considered fully accomplished.
So, I’d love to wish you buon November Wien!
Photos credit: Machs Gut (c).