Vienna, Austria | IMMERSION – Essays about existing in places

I. The hallway

Grand wooden doors heavier than a very large man graced the entrance to the hallway of our building. Everything in Vienna felt grand and pristine, but the hallway of our building was a story in and of itself. High ceilings, concrete walls, a large spiral stairway. Tucked away in the back was the sweetest little garden that nobody properly tended to. In the middle of the cold concrete room, a tiny wooden elevator with a stool in it. Comical is the only way I can describe such a funny and flimsy elevator. We often took the stairs.

II. The neighborhood (summer)

A long street winding down from our building all the way to Karlskirche, a stunning church with its own gigantic fountain. As I’d make my way there, I would pass a small Italian restaurant, a wine shop that never seemed to have any customers, and a busy convenience store. I often wondered how the wine shop stayed in business, as the bottles in the store front were covered in a thick layer of dust. At the end of the street was a constant swarm of people sitting around the very large (yet extremely shallow) fountain in front of the church. If the sun was shining down on us, you would find hundreds of toes dipped in the cool water. My dog Lola never hesitated to join the crowd and dip a paw or two in. Cooling down was essential on a hot Austrian day.

At night, an oversized cinema screen was set up right by the fountain, under the shadows of the thick and dark trees. Rows of fold-up chairs quickly filled up with tourists and locals. It was almost impossible to tell them apart, but the store-bought beer cans is what gave the locals away every time. Jazzy tunes filled the night air as choppy black and white films from the 50’s graced the cinema screen. A tiny cocktail van was parked alongside the fountain. Tourists sipped on icy cold Prosecco and frilly drinks in plastic cups accompanied by colorful cocktail umbrellas.  Romance was constantly swirled through the hot summer breeze.

III. Winter

Winter in Vienna feels like you jumped into the most magical winter wonderland you could ever dream up. You know those old cookie tins with joyful children wearing cozy hats and ice skating on a large river? That’s the type of joy I would often feel when walking through a Viennese Christmas market. The spicy cinnamon and nutmeg from the brewing mulled wine tickled my nose as I walked past each wooden stall. We would often munch of sausages filled with gooey cheese and wrapped in soft baguettes, as we made our way downtown.
I get very nostalgic for winter. Winter in Vienna was never too cold, although sometimes a little too rainy. I remember waking up early in the morning to a cold apartment and a still sleepy puppy. I would often make nespresso with extra milk, and curl up on the ugly leather sofa under a cozy orange blanket. As ugly as that navy blue sofa was, it was the most comfortable place to lounge and read a book as the raindrops slammed on the ceiling windows overhead.


This essay includes a video segment:

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