It all begins with a ‘Dear Vienna,’
A few days with you, I’ve gone to experience the sweet aroma of coffee, the bustling bikes, and hear Mozart play in the background along your streets. You were a definite surprise.
From your hotel concierge and overpriced meals, I had initially assumed I wouldn’t like you. That’s as true as the wide grin of a cheshire cat.
Yet, oh dear Vienna, you spoke to me. And I haven’t been the same since.
I write this letter to you while sipping a cup of coffee from Starbucks — one I know you’ll particularly dislike. Would I consider the Philippines my home when I’ve fallen in love with you, more?
You’re so tiny compared to Paris, so quiet when compounded with Rome, and so melancholic when beside Barcelona.
Yet it’s with you I’ve met one of the friendliest locals (the irony) and have been given a thorough introduction to the life filled with sweets. Thank you for bringing the Sacher torte into my life.
It is with you I gawked at the grandeur of palaces and museums-alike. My love of architecture only heightened at your clandestine appeal.
You brought me face to face with the beauty of art alongside wonderful inventions at the Technology Museum. My eyes have never been brighter and my smile never wider.
It was in this museum I changed my mind about my life. It was inside the walls of your national museum, I yawned at the array of replicas and paintings that didn’t catch my fancy. Yet with a jump in my step, I couldn’t imagine ever leaving technology behind.
With your true to life airplanes and futuristic computers, I found I couldn’t live a life without jumping into my love for them. The wheels inside my mind started turning, my head already spinning from this new revelation.
It’s almost been a year since that day, and I’ve yet to shy myself away from the life with technology.
You made me realise it’s okay to not love traditional art as much as you thought. Yet you also introduced me to Klimt, and your renowned love for the classics.
Oh, the irony.
When Rome reminded me too much of my grand parents — you brought me back in time, to centuries I wish I could have lived. To lives I could have witnessed come before me.
In the dusty, creek hallows of Roman alleys, I felt lost and alone. You told me to forget about all of that. Instead, you gave me wide open roads of music and lots and lots of pastries.
After almost a month away from home, you made me laugh by introducing me Chinese food. In Europe. As I recall, I seem to always smile at the memory of biting through tender chicken draped with lemons, and a god-awful yang chao fried rice.
And when I’ve had my allergies due to eating too many salmon-inspired sandwiches in beautiful Paris, you gave me wieners and iced tea with 2 euros instead of 10.
While after the end of winter and I was still freezing, feeling the gust of wind through my face while walking down St. Michel, you brought the sun back into my life (quite literally). With tourists sweating it out on a double-decker bus, awaiting their next stop after too many one-way roads.
There were many instances I hated you. Such as smelling your horse’s poop a mile away. And when you allowed me to get lost in your maze, with people barely flocking the streets.
My mom was scared after that.
Speaking of which, when my mother came back to you after twenty years, you’ve changed.
She says you lost your spark. How you used to have every musician playing in your streets, a good hundred metres away. Despite all of this, when we came to you, you’re still the most musically inclined city I have ever come to adore.
For the first time in my month’s long adventure, I’ve also finally met people who would straight up converse to me in plain-old English. I didn’t think I could take any more French language lessons after University.
Despite it all, I still recall with a triumphant smile when I figured out how to order coffee in German at one of your famous canals. Oh, and I can still vaguely remember one of your people — a middle-aged woman with bright-red, frazzled hair sneering at me from behind the counter, looking every bit entertained at my impending troubles.
But then a young blonde-hair, blue-eyed boy with a dimple and a missing tooth, saves me. He regales how to properly ask for coffee when in Vienna, tugging on his mother’s hand to stop the middle-aged woman from sneering at my pain.
It was when I was with you, I fell in love with bikes and sunsets. From trying to ride one of your rented bikes on my own, to figuring out how to get around the city without worrying my mother.
Oddly, it was in one of the lonely streets at the end of the Danube river where I witnessed one of my favourite sunsets in Europe to date. Unfortunately, there was no camera with me and no one else to witness the beautiful glow of the sun across the river bend.
That was okay though. It was where I felt peace for the first time since landing on your soil.
You brought music and art back into my life. You made me realise I couldn’t love fine arts the way I was in love with design.
I was thrusted into your world by my mother, who wanted to visit you after so many years. You were quite a surprise for both of us, it seems.
From your coffee houses to your Sacher torte, and from the coldest hotel concierge to the bright-eyed little boy, you made me feel different.
I can never quite figure you out just yet.
But maybe because I need to discover you a little more.
A little deeper.
Thank you, Vienna.