Exploring what makes Vienna a liveable city
London-born Eugene Quinn is a founding member of culture group space and place, which this year is putting on creative events celebrating Vienna as a city to explore on foot - all part of Vienna’s Year of Walking campaign.
Quinn came to Vienna after meeting and falling in love with his Austrian wife when they were both judging a European radio competition in Berlin.
Initially finding that Vienna wasn’t the easiest place to meet new people, apart from his wife’s friends, he created the Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations, where outsiders and locals sit down together for conversation, as equals.
Now, he’s devised a guided walk which explores why Vienna is the “best city in the world to live in”, taking in Danube-swimming, cheap eats and new green politics.
For Quinn, what makes Vienna an enjoyable city is the fact that it’s “intelligently-run, with an interesting mix of people working at global organisations, mixed up with bright locals who've moved here from all over the country. I find the city easy to live in, with fine architecture, good transport and a colourful media mix.”
But he does admit to still feeling challenged by some aspects of life in Vienna, and thinks with a few tweaks it could be even better: “I'd like to see more food available for sale on Sundays, more people staying in town at the weekends, less complaining, and better service. Plus a smoking ban starting tomorrow!”
Quinn loves to walk, averaging around nine km every day in his travels around the city. “Walking is healthy and free and it’s very good for any community, to have lots of residents out there chatting and shopping locally. Walking can bring sexy street theatre to otherwise dull pavements. Just think of Rome or Paris.”
Many of his walks explore urban Vienna, and one favourite route he recommends begins at the 18th century St Marx Cemetery in the third district, heads out past the Arena arts complex, explores the Gasometer area in the 11th district, goes past the Macondo neighbourhood - a refugee settlement on the outskirts of the city - and ends up at the Alberner Harbour. The walk lasts around three hours, with “plenty of unexpected and dramatic vistas”.
He also runs a monthly guided tour called Vienna Ugly - which aims to show an alternative to the cliches of imperial palaces and horse-drawn carriages - focussing on the more gritty, urban, and humorous examples of architecture the city has to offer.
Eugene Quinn. Photo: space and place
Find out more about Vienna's Year of Walking campaign here: wien.info/en/vienna-for/sports