Vienna is Pretty, and Pretty Dull

I stand staring at another Viennese building.  No, wait, this is a palace I think.  Stacked with stone and cement, and carved and shaped intricately, it’s definitely beautiful.  But damn am I bored.

I keep staring at the yellow paint, outlined by white.  I lean onto the tips of my toes and stare harder, squinting my eyes as I do.  On the inside, I imagine myself screaming at the building, and I want nothing more than for this building to scream back.  I want it to grow arms and start throwing stones at me; to pick up some of the many statues that line the Schonbrunn Palace and toss them at me like spears.  I want adventure, but all I have is stone; stationary, immobile unchangeable stone.

Schonbrunn Palace, Vienna

My eyes peer up to the sky and a blanket of gray flickers quickly past, a mobility that only reminds me how stagnant and predictable this place is.  All of Europe is.  My eyes tell me its beautiful, but what is there to inspire when one has been chased by elephants, or slept in villages so rural the children have never seen a person with white skin before?  How am I meant to find anything but boredom when this building won’t move, despite my mind’s Jedi efforts.

Belvedere Palace, Vienna

I’m finding Europe to be depressing in general, and Vienna is just the climax of the grayness.  It’s the short days, its the rain that trickles coolly but never ridding the clouds of water.  It’s the crosswalks that inhibit my freedom to walk when I feel it’s safe.  But most of all it’s the predictability.  There is almost no chance that something will happen in the day that I don’t expect, no matter how poorly I can plan things.

Vienna, Austria

Sure part of it is my fault.  I based my trip through Europe in gloomy November.  I have visited nothing but city after city,  If there’s such thing a “real” Europe, I haven’t pushed myself off the beaten path enough to find it.  Maybe I need to be in the villages.  Maybe I need to be on a scooter exploring the towns and sleeping wherever I can find a pillow.

Vienna Skyline

Africa was one of the best things that ever happened to me.  But as a traveller, it also ruined me in so many ways.  I’m not sure I can go back to simplicity and stability now.  I don’t think that I can live in a world where I don’t see lions peaking at me through the tall grass, or hippos lumbering through the water.  I know I have to leave Africa be for a bit, but I also know I can’t be in Europe any longer, at least not this part of it.

Vienna, Fall

So What’s Next?

In a couple weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane for Asia.  I haven’t been to Asia since I lived in Japan for a summer at age 13.  I had been resistant to going to Asia due to the number of other journalists there, but now that I’ve decided on it, I can’t wait.  I’ll be starting in Indonesia, and working my way all the way up to Mongolia.  I’m sure it will be fun, and I’m really hoping it somehow pulls inspiration from inside me once again.

Author: Brendan van Son

Author: I am a travel writer and photographer from Alberta, Canada. Over my years as a travel photographer, I have visited 6 of the 7 continents and more countries than I have any desire to count. If you want to improve your skills, be sure to check out my travel photography channel on Youtube . Also, check out my profile on . to learn a little bit more about me and my work.

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10 Comments

  1. Well, I can’t blame you for not feeling too inspired by Vienna—when I visited during an epic 7-week backpacking trip through Europe & the UK, I found it similarly dreary and underwhelming (and SO EXPENSIVE) and that was in July…

    However, if adventure and difficulty is what you crave then you could not have picked a better place to start than Indonesia. It’s an insanely diverse country and it doesn’t have that well-trodden tourist path (ok, on Bali it does, but that’s easy to get away from) and even after over a year traveling around Asia Tony & I really had our work cut out for us there. And now that you’re a diver you can check out some of the world’s best diving there is to be had! 😀

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  2. YES! God, Vienna felt dull and boring and soulless. I really didn’t like it.

    I’m never really excited all that much by Europe, though the further east I go the more I love it. I think you’d like Bosnia and Serbia and, well, anywhere east of there. Much cheaper, much more interesting.

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    • It’s ‘soulless’ if you can’t contemplate the overwhelming beauty in front of your eyes?

      Perhaps they need a lot more crime, poverty, drugs, extreme religious groups, war?

      Seriously.

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  3. Why not traversing The Caucuses and Central Asia Brendan?! I think you’d find some semblance of challenge and novelty ’round those parts..

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    • I’m trying to convince Tiffany to go this way back on the way home from Asia… we’ll see how that plays out. haha

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  4. I just moved recently to Vienna. I was saying that may be i didn’t get used to it yet. Then I decided to surf the net and see if it is only me or others share the feeling with me. And here I found it. After living in Sydney for the last 4 years , Vienna. Was shocking to me. I have always wanted to move and live in Europe. But may be I selected the wrong timing (November the depression month) some people told me that. I’ll go back to Australia.

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    • Yup, I was there in November too. But, I think it’s more than that. It’s just a pretty boring city. Nothing all too exciting happening.

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  5. I can understand you completely – i was born and live here in vienna and i think its VERY boring and pretty depressing really nothing is happening here all the people avoid each other everyone just wants to do his job and then go home! There is no live everyone lives for his own and that´s a kind of environment i do not like at all! I want to get in the bus and see everyone talking to each other, i wanna go through the streets and here chattering and laughter and crazy things happening. It is pretty indeed but yeah just green everywhere nothing special also or worth a trip!

    I hope that one day i will have the chance to move in a country like that maybe Argentina or Uruguay or California or New York or something.

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  6. I know this city is boring and i lived here my whole life because my parents came to Vienna long time ago. I think Vienna is only great for traveling but living here is depressing. I don’t recommend foreigners to live here at all but if you come here i would like to show you the city and hang out with you guys.

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  7. Moving there next month, and had exactly the same feelings as you all three times I’ve been there. Not particularly looking forward to living in Vienna at all. Find the entire city dull, and the people you meet on a daily basis really not that friendly, but I’ll give it a go. 🙂 Like you, though, I prefer the wilder places. Lived in Thailand for 14 years. Have a feeling I’ll probably end up back there.

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