photos in the wild
Vienna is renowned for its green spaces, its rich musical heritage and its abundant coffee houses. Another advantage of living in this beautiful city is the excellent public transport system. Ludwig Van Beethoven may have made his regular trips to Baden Bei Wien by horse and carriage back in the day, but nowadays it is possible to make this delightful town a perfect destination for a daytrip. From the famous Ringstrasse it takes about 45 minutes to travel there and, with trams running at regular intervals throughout the day on this busy route, you are at liberty to make your own schedule and even be back in time for the evening opera performance!
Travelling with a dachshund in Vienna always invites conversation. The lady who sold us the tram tickets was excited to tell me all about her own “dackel” who had been her childhood companion. She then reminded me that my dog required a tram ticket of her own in order to make the journey. (Yes, the ticket was marked “hund”, and cost as much as mine).
This summer Baden is hosting one of the largest photo exhibitions in Europe, with large scale prints from a wide array of photo artists on display all over town. Some 2,000 images are displayed; a number hang on the cast iron fences that surround certain public buildings, some are fastened to exterior walls and a significant amount are tastefully organized among Baden’s green spaces, including Gutenbrunner Park. There is a strong African connection to the event, with a complementary free public concert upcoming on July 18, in celebration of the centenary of the birth of Nelson Mandela.
Thirty five of the world’s best photographers are represented and the town has undergone a huge transformation in order to accommodate a show of this scale. Originating as a yearly exhibition in La Gacilly, France, the event is now expected to be shared between the two towns/countries, with the French display from 2018 arriving in Baden next year, and so on. It was the brainchild of Jacques Rocher (son of cosmetics businessman Yves Rocher) who aspired to highlight the interactions between man and the environment in the 2004 debut of the festival. One of the highlights of this Fotofestival is the beautiful setting of the floating exhibits on the pond close to the famous Rosengarten.
Summertime has the potential to awaken the spirit of childhood in all of us, doesn’t it? Whether it’s the extended daylight hours, the radiance of a bright blue sky or the sensory input provided by nature’s explosion into color, we can experience a renewal of positivity at this time of year that surely relates to the seasonal changes. The outdoors become a natural destination; city dwellers often make a more extended sojourn away from the urban heat and, in the case of the Viennese, a most obvious increase in the tourist population.
Wherever you are spending your summer days, however, there can be opportunities to explore the arts without giving up the freedom to feel the grass between your toes. Our Connecticut summers of the past often brought about the chance to enjoy music at locations such as Norfolk (summer school of the Yale School Of Music) or Music Mountain in Falls Village, as well as many town greens or bandstands. Europe offers a similar experience for families who like to celebrate the fact that music and art do not have to be contained indoors, but can be explored informally amid rose gardens, next to a leafy playground or under the shade of tall trees where running and playing are permitted.
Amber and I passed by so many young children that reminded me of my daughters in their early childhood. The girl who sat under a display of wild African cats in order to shake the mulch out of her sandal could have been one of mine; her hair was dishevelled from rolling in the grass and she clutched a collection of pinecones under her chin as she adjusted her footwear.
Formality was not necessary here. The spirit of childhood was alive and well, and thriving in the beautiful outdoors.
As a family-friendly destination, this is a sure winner for a day trip until September 30 for those who will be in the vicinity of Vienna.
Admission is free!
Fresh air is abundant!
The opportunities for reflection on humans and our environment are limitless!