Donaukanal in Vienna may be called a channel, but it is a river. In hazy, green colour of some magical stone it flows through the heart of the city, not minding the hustle above; waving its way onwards along the trees and both embankments with life on them it carries ancient life; to trees along the stream, fish in the water and birds nesting in the greenery.
River gulls live here as well. Indeed, once it was called a river, it was the main stream of mighty Danube, yet the river lived its own life and slowly, with yearly floodings, it moved its course where it is today, much wider than the channel indeed, yet still, channel is a river, put into its present form only around 1870, not a canal, artificially dug.
You may slowly pace along it, be it on the promenade with benches to sit on, listen to the slow flow of water or birds in the tree nearby, or within the city centre itself, from Rosauer Lände towards Urania, stream along the postmodern urban landscape with numerous graffiti painted on the concrete embankments, separating the level of the river from the streets above. Colourful, vibrant and some of them pieces of art, brought to perfection, they accompany the background of many cafes, clubs or city beaches between them and the water.
Near the “Summer Station”, a place to eat or listen to concerts, you cannot but look at a series of shining aluminium sculptures, continue onwards and stop in front of the legendary electronic music club Flex, another place of neotribal gatherings, where one may dance with others or himself, cross to the other side and pause in one of the numerous cafés or the so-called Tel Aviv beach, cross back, enter one of the ships docked in the water, rise to one of them and then continue until Urania catches your eye, go to the other side of the river Wien and rest on the so-called Herrmann beach. In the weather of sunny skies, the embankments are filled with people, some of them even sunbathing.
The 17 and a bit more kilometres of peaceful green water take you to another place, and the many and various parts along its stream are like chapters you are walking through, maybe even sailing as now you can also take a boat along its course. Evenings on the Kanal, are a chapter in itself. They are filled with people visiting any of the places, enjoying concerts, food, dancing, or even swimming in the famous Badeschiff; perhaps just taking a slow romantic walk under the lights along the water, listening to the music in the background, observing a river gull landing near its mate to dip their feet into this water from the Alps.
Chestnut graffiti, Photo: Klemen Jelincic Boeta