"Is it like this in Germany?" I asked Maria, the Greek-German woman on our Vienna tour as our boat travelled down the Danube (definitely more grey-brown than blue), tall buildings flashing past us framed by the willow trees lining the shoreline.
I was in the process of realising that I had subconsciously stereotyped Germany to be - architecturally - exactly what I was seeing in Vienna: symmetrical lines, rectangular shapes and cooly clean, neutral streets (something something Volkswagon). Maria shook her head and laughed. She had been expecting something different too.
There is a stateliness to Vienna, a sense of self-possessed authority and dignity that seems at odds with Vienna, where movie stereotypes of 'culture' and classical music come to roost in the nooks of its ostentatious golden Baroque building edges, its flourished coat of arms, Roman columns, and the odd castle-church or two, further down the river. Spoilt by the romantic eclecticism of Budapest, my parents commented at how the buildings in Vienna seemed cold and 'boring' by comparison. I, on the other hand, basically gawked my way from Karlsplatz to Schwedenplatz, sternly reminding myself to not photograph every single street I walked past. If cities could be introverted, I think Vienna is one of them; one that will reward someone willing to slowly and carefully explore its offerings of museums, galleries, hidden gardens and stores. Unfortunately, a handful of days (half an evening spent on a bus) was not nearly enough.
A few years of living in the city, I might have seen it enough to call it 'repetitive', but with tourist-coloured lenses on, I could not stop marvelling at the shadows cast by traffic light cables (cables!) and 5 o'clock shadows on endless lines of identical windows. They don't make 'em like this in Sydney.
And at sunset golden hour? I'm a goner.
Addendum: I'm going to write about the Hofburg Palace in another post, but it was me gawking at the teal domes of the Hofburg Palace that led me to my second, literal public fall in a space of less than 4 days. In true photographer form, I was trying to get the perfect walking pan of the Hofburg Palace facade and walked straight into a low concrete pole, and proceeded to essentially seesaw against the pole and fall forward, then sideways to actually lie on the ground next to said pole. It definitely felt like I did that head-over-heels (which would be fitting), but apparently I sort of did this instead.
On the downside, I ended up with a gigantic purple bruise on my right thigh and my brother started a nefarious campaign to get me to fall in Prague and Croatia too, to complete the set. On the plus side, I now know exactly what 'the world flashing by in a whirl of colour' and 'having the wind knocked out of you' feels like. And I didn't break my lens, against all odds. Hence why there are many more posts to come.