Exploring On Foot

Colin Baumgartner
March 14, 2013

The small side streets of Vienna are what make it so enticing

Though I’ve made full use of public transport for exploring Wien, this sort of exploration will only get one so far.  The public transport is great for getting to new places, but the most rewarding type of exploration is only possible on foot.  For this reason, whenever I have a free hour (or ideally two… or three…) I like to simply wander around the streets wherever I happen to be.  There is something wonderful about the way that European are so entirely different from American cities.  In the States, buildings are so often organized so neatly into lines and blocks––there is no deviation in this arrangement.  The streets are level, the buildings often more uniform, and there is a very distinct sense of the buildings having been built with very detailed, preconceived plan.

The fascinating Flohmarkt that is set up behind the Naschmarkt every Saturday

The wonderful thing about many European cities is that this is often not the case.  The cities are so much older and therefore are more organic in that they have had much longer to grow and the buildings have had to adapt and to shape themselves to the spaces available.  There are wonderful little alleys, tiny walled gardens tucked into the narrow spaces between ancient stone houses, churches beyond count, tiny cobbled streets that couldn’t possibly fit a car, &c. &c.  All of this adds a wonderful charm to the streets.

The Brunnenmarkt is a less touristy market in Vienna where great food and produce are offered

The Brezel Gwölb offers great ambience and history––some of the walls are original Roman walls from the Roman settlement of Vindobona.

It is on explorations of the streets that one stumbles upon little markets, little cafés, galleries, and various oddities.  A friend stumbled upon a little bar in the cellar of an ancient building and we decided to go there for drinks.  There is simply something so special about knowing that you are sitting beside ancient Roman walls as you eat.  Other nice locations I’ve explored include the Fasslmuseum in the Ottakringer Barauerei, many of the markets, and the hauntingly beautiful Zentralfriedhof.  Though exploration of Vienna is great, it is important to not lose track of the time.  When I visited the cemetery I lost track of the time and found myself locked in the darkening grounds.  When I managed to get out of the Friedhof an elderly man who had observed me from across the street approached me; “So you got locked in the cemetery eh?  Thought you’d sleep in the cemetery tonight? “ he said chuckling.  “You have to be dead to sleep in the cemetery!” he said chuckling at his own cleverness.  I boarded a Strassenbahn heading back toward my flat grateful to get out of the cold and not altogether unhappy about leaving the man’s company.

The eerie promenade in the Zentralfriedhof––which luckily did not serve as my room for the evening

After this very close call I suppose I’ve amended my views on exploration; while it is great to lose oneself in exploring a place, it is equally important to be able to get back home…

More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs

Colin Baumgartner

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Colin Baumgartner is a Junior studying to be a secondary English education teacher. Colin grew up as a second generation Austrian and has always had a distinct sense of being split between two cultures&ndash;&ndash;Austrian and American. Studying abroad in Vienna, Colin will have an opportunity to really explore the Austrian side of his heritage. When not buried in literature or writing, Colin enjoys blogging, hiking, cooking, working out, and traveling. Colin is an unabashed aesthete and gourmand, so the beautiful foods, sights, and people of Europe will not go unnoticed or unrelished. Dum vivimus, vivamus!</span></p>

2013 Spring
Home University:
Penn State University
Explore Blogs