Difficulty: Could be done by a 90 year old pensioner who also has a severe case of polio … and one leg.
Directions: Follow the little red line … on the map here.
Vienna seen from the speed of a bike
One leg pushes, the other leg lifts. Riding against the canal’s flow. Disappear and re-emerge as I pass under the bridge. Bridge flies backward as I pedal forward. I feel superior and puff out my chest to those little pretty people slunk in beach chairs in beach bars along the canal. But only for a moment, before I want to sip on their beer.
The metro rattles on past and I imagine colliding with it. It comes off second best. A few men fish for something to do. Tattooed models are photographed by the filthy shanty, the Flex. Rebel in frame. Out of frame graffiti is everywhere. Like make-up it hides the grey, lends personality. Uncountable personalities. Lines, expressions, images overlapping themselves until the paint is one inch thick. ‘Liberation,’ one says. Liberation from what? The walls are growing. This city has a lot to say; the paint thickens.
The trees close in overhead. Nature muscles in on the city. As if somebody hasn’t trimmed the area amidst their underpants in a while. I can smell it. The nature, not the underpants. People are running; nowhere in particular, however they run past me smiling.
People alight at the Rochusgasse metro station while below men sweat and do push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups. Their pectorals are bulging so much that a baby would latch on if given the chance. All to look good naked. They are half-naked. Almost crash into an on-coming bicycle as my eyes get stuck on the buttocks of a ponytailed man. Why can’t I look away? Am I gay? My eyes have always lingered too long on those Greek statues. No matter. No time to question my sexuality.
Pass under Friedensbrücke. Freedom indeed I feel as I go faster and the traffic increases. The bike track narrows. A whistle comes from behind. Inspired by the phenomenal muscularity of my calves? No. Inspired by some guy’s need to pass me. I flip him the finger with a smile. I can hear the vacuum of cars but can’t see them. Golden ball overhead. The city is giving way to nature. Bursting at the seams. Highways entangle overhead.
Turn right, dodge a small child, pass over bridge and leave the canal behind for bigger waters … the Danube. Up the narrow alleyway, following twists and bends of the path before my ass leaves the seat as my right leg pushes down with gusto, riding on to the yellow bridge like a conquistador. Stop for a moment to admire view of the river, listen to the breeze, and wonder how locking a padlock to a bridge become to symbolise love. Must google keywords – ‘bridge’ and ‘lock’. One lock has engraved on it – ‘me’.
Turn right at the Donau insel (Danube island). The island floats on the Danube, like a stubborn overweight snake. The grass is hairy and long here. Turkish families gather round grills, a group of Pakistani looking children are playing cricket on the vast cement field of Donauinselplatz. The Danube tower sticks up like a toothpick in the background. I lie on the grass and look up to hundreds of colorful kites floating and carving up the wind. Children and adults are attached to them by string. It truly is an island here.
United Nation’s city looks lonely on the other side of the river. Forced to play outside of the elderly city, poking its head up over the orange rooftops of the old Vienna skyline. One building amongst them has the surface of waves running down it; calming to look at.
Over the Reichsbrücke (Empire Bridge) back towards town. Up Lassallestrasse, past the old Trafiks, Greisslers (delis) and Mexikoplatz where a plaque will tell you how the Mexican’s were the only ones in the world who tried to keep the Nazi’s out. Known as the dodgy end of the 2nd district. I find it all charming like a second-hand shop.
Creeping up on to the Prater fairground. It laughs and the old wheel keeps on turning and creaking. I taste fairy floss. Slip into the boulevard of the Prater Hauptallee. The sun plays with the trees and a musician plays on a clarinet with a suitcase at his feet.
Old men reading newspapers, hands are held on walks, rollerbladers, children learning how to ride bikes, the sound of sunshine rings in their laughter and screams, runners bounce. It swarms with fresh life.
Turn right at the Wiener Parkclub.
One Radler please.
Ride on. Follow the number one tram until I’m over the bridge. Return to the canal and continue riding in the opposite direction of it’s flow.
Focus zooms in on the white dome of Urania perched on the canal. Bikes thrown on the grass while young people sit next to them drinking beer out of cans. Tickets sold out to lazy Viennese sunset with park benches at full capacity.
Finally, to finish at the beginning … with an ice cream.
One cone with a scoop of pumpkin seed oil, please.