First Impressions of Vienna

Food, art and opera- all in one day. That is Vienna, where I landed a couple of days ago. After 3 days in Milan, the Austrian capital, and the country’s largest city, has been a welcome change. Better weather. Check. Cheaper food. Check. Things I want to see and do. Check. Good metro. Check . And trams? Check.

My first impression of Austrians, or at least the Viennese, is that they seem to be quite a disciplined bunch. Pedestrians actually stand at the zebra line waiting for the little green man to appear no matter that no car is in sight anywhere. And, very much unlike Italy, drivers here happily stop to allow pedestrians to cross. Overall, most folks seem friendly enough; service comes with a smile and – on one particular occasion, in the art gallery – even with a little bow (what was that about, I wondered).

To be honest, I was a worried about Austrian attitudes before I landed here. On the plane from Milan I suddenly remembered that this country had recently shifted to the right. Will I blend in or will I stand out? What do these locals think of, say, Asians?

Walking around the Westbahnhof (Vienna Western Station) found the answer to my first question. Vienna is a multicultural place. There are people from many other parts of the world. Kebab shops, for instance, are aplenty everywhere; the sushi joint I dined in – after finally surrendering my vow to never have anything I can enjoy, and in high quality, back home – is actually owned by a Chinese family. On the other hand, as the pretty blonde bartender told me last night, I should be fine because I’m a tourist. A reason for her country’s swing to the right, she said, are the immigrants. Therein, it seems to me, lies the rub.


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