Vienna and Paris


Dec 17th, 2001, 10:03 PM
Bob Brown
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Vienna and Paris

I would like to solicit a few comments that will serve to help me evaluate my own reactions to Paris and Vienna.
I have visited both cities more than once.
I saw Paris first when I was 22 and have returned several times. Vienna has been a travel objective for each of the last two visits to Europe. In total, I have spent more time in Paris than in Vienna.
I read German, and speak it enough to get around, although I do not claim fluency.
My knowledge of French is much more limited.

After my visits to both cities, I find that my reactions are these:
Paris exudes a vibrancy that Vienna does not.
Vienna, while a great capital city, seems somewhat reserved by comparison. I found Versailles to be glitzy, glittery, opulent beyond belief. Schönbrunn by comparison seemed rich and lavish, but also it seemed to be a place where real people lived and worked. I could almost see Franz Joseph at work at his desk, or the tragic Sissy roaming the corriders in search of a life that was not there.
The streets and walkways of Paris seem more lively and hectic. Vienna seems more orderly, even placid by comparison.
The hotels of Vienna seemed more spacious and content with what they are. Parisian hotels seemed cramped, and not really comfortable in their own skin. This has nothing to do with the friendliness of the staff or their efficiency.
Taking public transportation in Paris always seems to be an adventure, a hectic push. In Vienna, I never seemed to feel edgy while riding nor about getting off at the right place. The riders in Vienna seemed more sedate, and more granting of interpersonal space regardless of how crowded the car might be.
I could go on and on with this, but I would like to hear other people's opinion on the difference of "feel" between the two cities.
Note that I am not expressing perference of one over the other, but if push came to shove, my vote is for Paris, despite the dog poop, the trash, and the hectic pace that I have perceived to be the norm.
Perhaps it is my exposure, perhaps it is the nature of the two cities. Give my your comments and lets see if I can gain some more perspective before my next visits.
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Dec 18th, 2001, 05:34 AM
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Why do we have to compare the two cities? Would you do this with Barcelona and Rome?
Why can't you accept each city for what it is? You have tried to stir this pot before.
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Dec 18th, 2001, 06:36 AM
Bob Brown
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Comparisons stir the pot? They are not invidious or denegrating comparisons, but a perception of a different pace; a different life style, and the manifestations of different cultures. What is wrong with having different perceptions of different cities? I find the contrasts and similarities to be different.
I particularly find my perception of the granting of more interpersonal space on public transportation in Vienna to be a very interesting perception of mine.
I was wondering if anyone else had experienced the same reaction to the situation.
I have no choice but to accept what is there because I cannot change it. In fact, experiencing the differences between cities is what makes the visit even more interesting.
I have also formed the reaction that the Austrians are much more willing to speak English with Americans. My wife even got a stone-faced Viennese policeman to speak English with her when she asked him a question, very politely.
One friend of mine asked a Parisian cop something and he got half of the peace sign -- the middle half.
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Dec 18th, 2001, 06:47 AM
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Bob: The feel of a city varies as much as the feelings of the individual. Your observing two different cultures and nationalities. I just can't see why you would go on a vacation and "pigeon hole" countries by observant. Granted each country has its own feeling to an individual but I think it is truly personal.
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Dec 18th, 2001, 11:00 AM
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It's like saying Texans are different from New Yorkers! Of course, they are. I have visited Paris several times and lived in Vienna for 2 years. I will always take Vienna over Paris. Why? I don't really know. I feel more comfortable in Vienna. Maybe it's the friendliness of the people or the fact that it isn't as frantic as some other big European cities. I always feel safe in Vienna. Paris is beautiful but I certainly wouldn't feel as safe in Paris. Maybe the language barrier has something to do with it. I do speak a little German but no French and I know the Parisians don't like speaking English and don't particularly like Americans (my perception). Maybe if I had spent as much time in Paris, my feelings would be different, but I don't think that will ever happen so...I'll take Vienna!
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