Thursday, January 29, 2009


I often think cities tend to have character, much like a dear old friend. Some are open and inviting due to the way the streets are layed out and the buildings are constructed, while others are slightly more difficult to see the beauty in. Sometimes they aren't so easy to navigate or leave me thinking 'if I was the urban planner I would have...', but I tend to leave a new city with the same impressions I get from meeting new people. The first impressions aren't always right, but it's easy to trust your instincts before letting your guard down and really getting to know a place.

There are a few that I have instantly fallen in love with. The hustle and bustle of New York City is amazing. I appreciate the diversity and how it really seems like a place where, despite differences, people keep striving on and seem to understand that getting along with each other is a part of getting ahead.

In Barcelona, I fell in love with the Gaudi architecture, the proximity to the ocean, and the winding back alleys of the Barri Gòtic. The laid back attitudes of the people that lived there reassured me that it wasn't an overly complicated or fast paced place to live.

And then there is Vienna. As of now I would probably say it was the least exciting city I've visited thus far. It reminds me of a stuffy great aunt with a lot of great art and an incredible menagerie of animals, but is very insular and narrow minded. The city is distinctly more contained than any other large city that I've visited in Europe.

I have issues with how acceptable it is be far right politically in Austria, which for some reason Vienna felt more this way than Salzburg does. This Turkish Hurriyet Daily News opinion article sums things up pretty well. However, I'm trying to see the good in things.

There is definitely a regal feeling within the innenstadt, but I couldn't quite figure out what the hype was about. As soon as you left the grandiose buildings in the middle of the city it turned gray and ramshackled really fast. I also was really sorry to waste my time at the Prater, which is a stationary carney exhibit.

Sometimes I feel like I should give Vienna a second chance. Part of that new found optimism for the city is that I just read about an Austrian business man who has decided to save Polaroid film. They also have an exclusively polariod museum called Polanoir.

Not only that, there is also a first of it's kind lomography store in Vienna, which I was able to visit when we were there.

There were a few things that I undeniably loved about Vienna - Hundertwasser Haus, the zoo (probably the best I've ever been to!), and our hotel, The Levante Parliament.

Now, in the words of Semih İdiz, "We hope, for the sake of truly civilized Austrians, that their country elects a black man or a Turk as chancellor as soon as possible."

Hopefully they'll also find some beauty in diversity through art.


Holly said...

I'm so happy to hear Polaroid film will be saved. My Dad worked for the company for over 33 years- the film was a staple in our house. He'll be so excited to hear it may not die out after all.

JoernandAllison said...

There is something so wonderful and classic about a Polaroid photo. I love how your photos are set up to look like Polaroids, it adds something special to your blog.
As for your feelings on Vienna, I congratulate you on the idea of giving it a second chance. Not that I've been there, nor have any emotional attachment, but sometimes people give up on a place rather quickly. I hope that you are able to give it a second chance someday, and that you'll be rewarded for it :)

Emily said...

That is so fun! I can't imagine it dying out I think of the artists, plastic surgeons, and other professions that rely on quick photos.

I love polaroids as well, which I am sure you can tell. We don't have any immediate plans to go to Vienna, but I'll keep you posted.

Emily Flechtner said...

really? vienna is my FAVORITE european city. It just needs some digging. For me it's got the beauty and coziness of Munich with a bit of a grittier, city edge. There are amazing design shops, crazy museums, funky restaurants and old war relics everywhere. It's the home to the BEST flea market in Europe, hands down (Naschmarkt on Saturdays) and jungstil art on every corner. It is actually the most eastern city in west europe-- 45 minutes from Bratislava!

Give it another try :) I go there at least once a year.