The soul of a city (and other such ponderings)

It’s a shame to have to pass so quickly through a city as supposedly fine as Vienna. And maybe the rush is partly to blame, but my impressions weren’t great. I found it to be a little snooty. Lots of older people, with women wearing fur coats and men sporting the artsy (long hair), wealthy look. The younger people hid inside crowded cafes holding cigarettes high and appearing to talk about important things. I walked around the city center and found far too many jewelry stores and antique shops, and illuminated statues boasting the city’s most impressive historical artists and thinkers.

I guess I just felt under-dressed. Or out of my element. Much of this, I think, is attributable to the contrast with Ljubljana, which I absolutely loved. There was no pretense about it whatsoever, and I found it to be a far more beautiful city in every way.

So this has been my first primarily negative impression of any stop in Europe. All the other places I’ve visited have had their individual charm that I’ve latched onto. But again, I suspect that I haven’t been fair to Vienna; I just came here to pass through on my way to Bratislava, where I’m headed in about an hour from now. I probably didn’t give it the chance it deserves.

I can’t quite get Slovenia out of my head, to be honest. I loved it immediately, but I also gave it time to sink in. Its history is impressive, its landscape is stunning, and I felt a real connection to the place. Dragons, castles, the river at night, the energy — even the graffiti, which somehow managed to keep it all real and remind me that this is a young country, albeit one with an ancient past.

I wish I had time to give some thoughts on their independence movement in 1991. What a great story, and one that made me think a lot about the current state of war in the world. They did it right, and this is why I fear for the future of America, a country that has lost its understanding of what war means.

Maybe I’ll come back to that, but I’m on to other things, so I doubt it.

Onward…

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One Response to “The soul of a city (and other such ponderings)”

  1. […] 17, 2008 After my bashing of Vienna — a sentiment, incidentally, echoed by several people I’ve met on this trip — I was […]

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