I came to Vienna, admittedly, without thought. Emerged from the darkness of feverish Reunions, blinded, emerged from the Währinger Straße station, a stiff 100 degrees.
It took Mariam and I at least 40 minutes to get from the U-Bahn to the hotel. Crossing and recrossing the street. 43 44 D? What’s a tram anyway? Not an indication that Hotel Boltzmann was anywhere nearby. Tired eyes laid on nothing at all familiar. Turn corners, turn over suitcases in the middle of the road. These damn tram lines on the road cut into my suitcase. Turn corner.
Turn around. Two weeks later, on a Hofer-dinner night, we took Währinger Straße in the opposite direction. Cobblestone and Freyung, Ferstel Passage to the right. To the left? Stephansdom and Haas Haus…are near Hoher Market which is near Bar Blue, our Viennese staple. Figlmuller is on Lugeck which is but also near the canal, and the canal slips by Flex, graffiti-ridden nightclub.
We lost sight of the “Ring” for one hot 98.6 degree second. Normal, Vienna had become home. Stadiongasse is really at Volksgarten which is National Library’s yard which is the “back” of Burggarten which hugs Palmenhaus which turns its back to Albertina which looks over Opera.
On the other side, I am accosted by Mozart-wig-donning ticket salesmen when I was just trying to go to Kunsthistoriches. Museumsquartier is better if you roll through with a “squad” but during the day you can sit alone and think about all the Austrian art in the Leopold collection that you would not have seen otherwise. Or don’t think at all. There’s nothing at all required of you.
On the way home, there is the opal-lit Votivkirche. These blessed tram lines cut into Schottentor. 12 lines run through it; cheaper by the dozen, it’s family. Jonas Reindl to my right – loyalty card in my back pocket; Charlie Ps is somehow still lit, but it’s a Monday. 10:45 pm. Rathaus will continue to be lit until 1 am, and its film festival goes until September.
What were corners turned are now steps blindfolded. We have become part of everyday life here. We are spoken to now mostly in German, although albeit we cannot always respond. The Viennese are beginning to see that we see what they see.
In a few days we will remove ourselves from the equation almost seamlessly. The trams will continue to circle around the ring. Karsplatz will continue to be the last stop on the U2 U-Bahn line. There will continue to be shortcuts that circumvent the genius of trams, and will lead the Viennese and those who are not the Viennese to see the beauty of cobblestones, alleyways, backs of buildings.