For me, the third time around, Vienna didn’t really seem that foreign. I mean of course, there are the obvious differences between a truly European developed city capital and a medium sized city such as Cluj-Napoca that slowly takes its steps towards being more like Vienna, for example, being more organized and good looking, cleaner, more entertaining and cultural. But even though I visited some new parts of the city, it didn’t feel like such a cultural shock. I can say that I kind of felt like home. Everything felt normal and into the right place.
This time of the year, parts of Vienna are very dreamy as the city is set for Christmas with fairy lights and multiple markets where temptations, especially in terms of desserts, are at every step. At night it can suddenly become very magical, more so if you try to detach from the crowd of people visiting and enjoy the warmth and strong flavour of mulled wine with some seasonal spiced biscuits while also listening to Christmas music.
It’s nice to be in a city where every walk is a pleasurable one, because of the surroundings, even though at the end, among other things, you are also left tired and with a pair of sore legs. What I mostly enjoyed this time around visiting Vienna, was going to two art museums. A few years ago I was more interested in seeing how crowned heads lived. But this time it gotten in my head that I wanted to see art. So it was only natural that I went to visit The Art History Museum and The Albertina Museum. Both are great places to see, places where you can easily get “lost” for at least two hours and where you can witness great art because you have the opportunity to see paintings by great artists such as Velásquez, Picasso, Monet, Rembrandt, Dürer, Modigliani and many more.
Standing in line to buy a ticket at the Albertina Museum, a young woman came to ask me (and many more) if I would like to fill in a questionnaire for a study she was doing. Knowing how I struggled with research for my master’s degree I figured I would help her in her quest because the help would be much appreciated and it wouldn’t take so much time to do that. The funny thing is I am almost convinced she must have been studying psychology because the form of the questionnaire and the way the statements sounded were too familiar. So I began to fill it in and it made me very aware of some feelings that I don’t think I gave to much thought to, until then. And those were related to the way art made you feel.
At the moment I am writing this for you it is very late and that is probably why I can’t really tell you if there actually is something else that feels similar to how it is seeing, in real life, a famous painting that you previously knew about and liked, for the first time. It is a feeling a bit hard to describe, but it was a moment in which I couldn’t really articulate many words, just a “wow”. I was amazed. But amazed in truly the sense from the dictionary. I just stood there in front of it, not being able to say much for several seconds, only “I did not think it was this big.” Silly thing, right? (And I also know it sounds like a “that’s what she said” thing. So let’s get past the innuendo and move on further.)
The painting I am talking about is one that was on the cover of one of my Spanish textbooks from high school that, since then, it kind of stuck with me, I don’t know why. I am not that art educated so it was not things like technique or lighting or use of colour that attracted me specifically to it. It just got stuck in my head then and there. The painting is “Las Meninas” by Velásquez. It was a feeling I won’t forget easily, even if by that point, when I arrived at the painting, my legs where already sore from walking through galleries and my back also hurt because I stood so much up. In those first seconds of seeing the painting there was only awe and no pain. Art can do that to you.
So yes, even though I saw Vienna for a third time it was a great experience once again. That city has greatness, culture to last you for weeks, sweets to indulge from, walks to assure a good night sleep and also magic to make you dream, to inspire you and also to get that Christmas spirit flowing through you as the holiday season is just around the corner.
In the hope I did not bore you with the many words above, here I have for you a few pictures I took at the Christmas market from the City Hall.
you visited Vienna? Do you plan to? Tell me in the comments.