Urban Sketch of Wientalterrasse

"And we all communicate with each other", the crab said



This terrace in Vienna which sits right on top of the underground train, do you know it? I am referring to this big wooden terrace between the fifth and the sixth district under which the U4 is speeding along and that has this brook right next to it in a huge stone bed – the Wien. Instead of "sits" a better word is probably "lies" because the terrace lies there rather stretched out, being much longer than it is high.

"Lies" is also quite fitting because on top of this terrace there are comfortable benches, wide enough so you can lie down, a bag or a jacket under your head, enjoying a small break. That is exactly what I did yet again a short time ago. And as I was just lying there, above me gulls circling the sky above the river Wien, it felt as if in the middle of Vienna I was on a big, tried and tested yacht.

And as I was dozing the traffic noise mingled with the sound of the waves and the voices from the neighbouring benches turned into conversations on neighbouring boats swaying on the waves and the gulls were no longer sailing above the Wien but flying above a harbour close to the sea.

Journey through the land of plenty

The yacht detached from its anchorage with a gentle jerk and started drifting wonderfully slowly towards the city center. Briefly I followed the river Wien into the underground and the gurgling of the water echoed from the wide, domed ceiling of the canal.

Before reaching the Naschmarkt we somehow managed to return to the surface through a drain cover, then we went along leisurely between the shacks and the pavement cafés. From my sun lounger I waved to the people who really couldn´t help but wonder, and pinched food from their plates as we were passing by. The people who run the market stands tossed trail food my way and on the verge of leaving the Naschmarkt a crab jumped on board from its tank, joining me.

High waves

On our way through Kärtner Straße I must have fallen asleep because I don´t remember anything, not even the Stephansdom. Only the rapids in Rotenturmstraße shook me up.

I clung to my sun lounger as to not get thrown into the water that was rushing left and right in high waves from the Stephansdom down towards the Donaukanal. The crab wedged itself between the planks at the very front close to the bow, kept his antennae stretched out stoically calm and seemed to enjoy the spray that swallowed him time and again.

A few bumps

Then I had the idea that it would be awesome to tackle the curve into the Donaukanal, jumped up, looked out for a tight grip in one of the flower boxes on the edge of the yacht and grabbed some poles and masts so I could alter the course. But I was not strong enough and the crab close to the front at the bow worriedly turned around to look at me.

Suddenly there was a thud, I went overboard, managed to hold onto something and watched how we crashed into a tram which steered us in exactly the right direction. And now we were leaving the city, on the fresh turquoise waters of the Donaukanal.

Across all borders

And then I dozed off again and when I woke up we were gliding on the Danube through the Lobau where cormorants were sunbathing right next to turtles as well as people. The crab was taking cover. A moment or an eternity later we drifted past the castle Bratislava and after one more nap I could see the building of the Hungarian parliament reflected in the large sandy river.

And then the crab murmured "And we all communicate with each other." And as if I had already said it a thousand times and a speaking crab was the most normal thing in the world I continued "Across all boarders" and fell asleep again. Until the calls of a boy who was waving to us high up on the Pančevo bridge in Belgrade woke me up. "Our friend" the crab murmured and again I added my "Across all boarders" and once again dozed off.

Growing fond of a crab

The Danube then led us through Bulgaria and Romania but unfortunately I didn´t realize any of it. I only awoke when we sailed out into the Black Sea and the smell of the Danube was replaced with the smell of the open sea.

The crab turned to me and said "I am Viennese", jumped off the terrace and disappeared and I took the opportunity once again to repeat my "Across all boarders". With a heavy heart I looked after the crab which I had grown quite fond of.

Then somebody tapped on my shoulder.

Misconception at home

"Hello?" a male voice asked, "is everything ok with you?"

"Where am I? I'm confused right now."

"In the fifth district, in Vienna, on the Wientalterrasse."

I repeated "In the fifth district, in Vienna, on the Wientalterrasse. And where is the crab?"

"What crab?"

"Well, the crab that… was able to speak and which…"

"Have you had one too many drinks? Do you need help?"

"No no, I was on this terrace… exactly the one we are standing on right now… with a crab… a real personality it was… we talked… about international understanding." I shook my head in incredulous amazement.

"I honestly thought that you had a little too much to drink."

"No way, not a single drop. I just fell asleep. It is just wonderful here."

"I just wanted to check if you need help."

"Ah yes, thank you, that was really kind of you."

The man finally left with his bike. I thanked the bench which provided such a comfortable place for my travel, bowed and said "goodbye" and "see you" to the planks of the Wientalterrasse and went to the nearby underground station.

Interesting links about the urban story and Vienna

Lying at anchor, the Wientalterrasse is located in the 5th district: Location of the Wientalterrasse - City map wien.at

And this is what the Wientalterrasse looks like: Wientalterrasse – Gestaltung - wien.at (German)

More information about Vienna can be found here: City of Vienna

Drawing: Sandra Biskup
Text: Simon Kovacic