I know everyone has their own preferences, but when it comes to living to a new country, one learns to love or to hate certain things. So, here is my list:
What I ‘love’:
Viennese coffee houses. There is a very specific atmosphere of the Viennese cafés that is not easily describable. It is like a trip back to time where elegance was the only acceptable behavior and free time was not something to seek for. In Viennese cafés, one is able to linger alone for hours, reading the newspapers that the cafés themselves provide. Literature was also frequently composed in these types of cafés since writers and artists in general become easily attached to this unique atmosphere. Since October 2011 the “Viennese Coffee House Culture” is listed as “Intangible Cultural Heritage” in the Austrian inventory of the “National Agency for the Intangible Cultural Heritage”, a part of UNESCO.
The relaxed feeling. There is one specific German word that describes Austrian way of living and attitude; gemütlichkeit that is. The closest translation of gemütlichkeit is coziness, the feeling of belonging, the easygoingness. Despite the cliché that Viennese people are grumpy, it is hardly impossible to feel unsafe in Vienna or come across an uncomfortable social situation. Everyday life is not stressful, something that is almost unachievable in capital cities
Quality of life. Vienna has the best quality of living overall, according to the Mercer 2015 Quality of Living rankings. Vienna has been ranked first for six consecutiv
e years. The longstanding socialist tradition along with the steady economy make this city extremely friendly if not ideal for its residents.
Art. Vienna is the city of museums, the city where art is supported and widely funded.. Baroque buildings, new architecture, cultural institutions and art are united with harmony. Cultural offerings are also very accessible in Vienna, since there are student discounts. A Kulturpass is also to be provided to people with minimum income.
Green and public spaces. Vienna is full of social, accessible and comfortable public spaces to hang out; Stadtpark, Donaukanal, Karlsplatz, Museumsquartier, Donauinsel, are just some of Vienna’s most famous urban public spaces. Drinking alcohol in public is still legal in Vienna, so these places are also a good alternative to drink a beer and gather with friends within Vienna.
What I ‘hate’:
Weather. Born and raised in Greece I may be hard to please as Vienna’s climate is typical for Central Europe; cold winter and sunny summer. Even though Vienna’s winters are not as tough as North Europe’s winters, however wind in Vienna can really be an issue. Föhn Winds, a type of warm and dry winds, are frequent in Vienna and can make someone end up regretting for taking the bicycle out of the cellar.
Opening and closing hours of the Market. I’ve never been to another capital city where you cannot find an open store after 20.00 on an everyday basis and after 18.00 on Saturday. It is honestly a nightmare either to forget or not to schedule it right to buy something from the Supermarkt; one will end up travelling across Vienna to find an open store (mostly by the train stations) and losing average one hour of his life, waiting in the queue that leads to the coveted till (of freedom).
German language. Vienna is supposed to be a multicultural city and for sure it is, however German are everywhere; in the streets, in the Market, in public services, in the airport. German might be a difficult language (“Deutsche Sprache, schwere Sprache“), however, it is one of the major languages of the world. German is the most widely natively spoken language in the European Union and the third most taught foreign language in both the US and the EU. Consequently, everyone expects you to be able to speak or at least to understand German in Austria.
Food. Again coming from Greece makes me difficult to satisfy, but I am sure Vienna must have more to offer than just wurst, wienerschnitzel and kartoffelsalat. I find the quality of austrian meat amazing, but the way most of Austrian restaurants choose to treat and cook that meat is rather disappointing.
The lack of style. I love the fact that Viennese do not really care about their public image and they wear whatever makes them feel comfortable. However, when a coffee house has on its wall pictures of the owner on holidays with his family, a Coca-Cola’s clock and holes from 40 decades ago, then that is something else. At the first it might be interesting and quite amusing, but after a while it feels like costumer’s coziness and aesthetics are worthless. I mean, it is always cool to be different, unique and have a personality but that cannot be achieved with decades of abandonment.
Vienna might be all the above, might be not. Like Adolf Loos wrote “The Potemkin city of which I wish to speak here is none other than our dear Vienna herself.”
A city is always something personal, a part of one’s perception, a part of one’s self.