What happens when in Vienna

Grab your bicycle and join us on a night cycle tour of the streets of Vienna. It’s an ode to a city through the lens of a camera with that vibe from Linklater’s ‘Before Sunrise’ flick, but with more play on lights, colours and life.

Words and photos: Milly Arsic

Start with a Schwedenplatz sunset, so you catch a close-up of the sun kissing the city goodnight.

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It’s a Sunday. Cue ghost-town vibe.

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All the more space for me, my friends, our bikes, and this spellbinding fairy-floss sky.

Gazing across the river, I stumble upon what happens when. 

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A fairy tale of possibility.

We ride on through Donaukanal, an urban jungle.

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I live for the detail.

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And the signs of our humanity.

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(“kein mensch ist illegal”: no person is illegal).

Past the squiggles and swear words, minions wave to us and we learn about a new art form called GROP.

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The canal’s walls bloom with new creations.

Fresh paint dripping from “Girl with a Dragon Tattoo” featuring Alanis Morissette.

I call it the Mona Lisa of Vienna. Can you keep her secret?

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Whizzing past horse chestnut trees, we find ourselves at the old wheel of Prater.

Some kids on standby gaze up at the falling sky in a trance.

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Trapped in time, we enter the twilight zone.

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We ride on past Taborstrasse.

Homeless men under a bridge are singing “Atemlos durch die Nacht” by Helene Fischer. We decide to keep the music spirit alive by singing “99 Luftballons” by Nena, as we cycle (much to the dismay of passersby).

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Suddenly, we see it. Is it a giant disco ball? Is it a city lighthouse?

No, it’s Hunderwasser living on through his legacy at Spitellau. Who knew a waste incinerator could look so dazzling?

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Pedal, pause, pedal, pause.

Our shadows are a blur of laughter and madness and art.

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Back into the swing of things at Schottentor.

Students skate past. Lonely subways ride along. A fancy hotel carves light through its windows – a patchwork pumpkin.

And we resist the urge to stop at Charly P’s.

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We do a half-moon of the Ringstrasse. Even buildings dream.

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But Vienna is more than just a pretty face: floating conversations about money and life and some guy called Dennis. A puff of smoke from an overtaking passenger stuck in my nose (two coughs out, one breath in).

Lovers stroll past, warm hands under stone walls.

My eyes capture what my camera cannot.

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I can hardly recognise MuseumsQuartier these days.

I close my eyes and rewind in time to three months ago. The hustle and bustle of life. Electro music in the background, smiling faces in the foreground, and a man with a backpack selling two euro beer somewhere in-between.

Now, winter bites at our bones.

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Chin up, push to start, and we press forward, before nostalgia hits me even harder.

The famous fluro sign confirms we’ve come to the right place.

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The 25hour hotel. Hipster pit stop. Two beers, one wine, please.

Inside, we dance to swing. Outside, rooftop sips, we watch as city meets stars.

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Time to backtrack ‘till we arrive full circle.

We guide our wheels to the first district and are dazzled by city lights,

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car lights,

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and wurstelstand lights.

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Follow the glow back home.

Come face to face with sparkling synergies: the construction workers who keep you awake until the crazy hours of dawn.

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Sweet dreams Vienna.

May your stories soar like stars.

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Milly Arsic is co-founder of North. Like what you read? Want more? Send us some FB love

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