Saturday, September 28, 2019

The best city in the world, is it true?

Several international rankings put Vienna at the first place for quality of living. This isn't new, Vienna has been elected the best city since years. Always at the top, together with Vancouver and a few other cities. Everyone, who visits Vienna, find the city magnificent, but living here is different. Is it really the best city in the world? I realized that it is true, after the comparison with Brussels, but it's my personal opinion. Now, the Kurier, a local newspaper, listed the ten reasons, why Vienna is truly the best worth living city. Here the points and my experience on them.
1. Vienna is a city, not a village, but in a few minutes you are in the countryside. True. With the local transportation, you find yourself deep in the Wienerwald in a few minutes, or among vineyards, crops, lakes, etc. The city itself is quite green, with several parks and green areas along the Danube, enjoyable in any season and with any weather.

2. Open air events. True. Movies, concerts, plays, traditional events, dancing,... Many events are completely free, offered by the city.I like the classical music, and I'm here fully satisfied with the offer, but there are opportunities for rock-, jazz-, or pop-lovers, too.

3. Efficient public transportation network. True. Furthermore, since I'm in Vienna, I've never experienced a strike. Regular maintenance and a relatively good communication in case of a problem. Combined with a bike, you really don't need a car.

4. Tap water. The water is truly of high quality and with a delicious taste (of nothing). In many nations, this is a dream. Do not waste the tap water!

5. You can meet friends and talk all the night long without having to drink or eat something. True! Free banks and chairs are everywhere. The last week, I chatted for hours with a friend of mine, sitting on the steps in front of the KHM and enjoying one of last pretty warm sunset.

6. It's a safe city. True. At least for a city with almost 2 million of inhabitants, one third of them with another nationality than Austrian. There are crazy people and petty criminals, but a large city, full of tourists, could be much more dangerous, especially at night. Here, I take the subway in the middle of the night and... surprise, surprise, I safely go home.

7. It's a clean city. True. Not as clean as Tokyo, but pretty much for an European city.

8. Multicultural society. True, but... If it is true that the community is progressively more international, without losing the Austrian identity, it is also true that there is a general feeling of racism or at least of non-acceptance of any foreigner. Even if you Austrian, but coming from another Land, and you live all your life in Vienna, you'll never be considered "Wiener".

9. A metropolis with the lifestyle of a village. True. People are relaxed and efficient.

10. Ideal size for a city. Not too big, not too small. True. In 30-45 minutes, you can cross the whole city from one point to another. Of course, if you use the subway.

Not to mention the affordable cost of living, due to a "socialist" policy, providing housing for low income people at a reduced rate, discounts for the public transportation, cultural events completely free, training and education for any age in VHS for convenient prices,... I hope that it won't change in the future, because this contributes to make this city so nice to live in.
How would I judge Brussels, considering exactly these 10 points? Disclaimer: this is my personal opinion resulting from the past experience in that city.

The Atomium
1. Good. Brussels is also surrounded by a green girdle. The city parks are a bit sad, because crossed by congested roads and because the bad weather doesn't help.

2. Open air events were offered also in Brussels, but not as good and as many as in Vienna. Sometimes, the scheduled time forced people either to use their car or to take an (expensive) cab.

3. Public transportation. A disaster for a "small" city like Brussels. A few lines, bad schedule, buses locked in the regular traffic jams, broken cars of the subway, frequent strikes. If you own a car, it is even worse. No parking and hours spent in the traffic jam.

4. Tap water. Drinkable, safe, but full of limescale and with a terrible taste. I had to filter it also to cook a tea. Those filters were expensive and non environment-friendly.

5. Public meeting places. Plenty of them also in Brussels, but the weather could ruin many days. It was safer to meet in a restaurant or a Café, both more expensive than in Vienna.

6. It might be a relatively safe city, but the feeling was of fear, especially at night and in some locations.The night lighting was more than sufficient, but none was around, no police officers, in particular in hot points, such as the Gare du midi.

7. Brussels was filthy and smelling bad, at least in my experience. I saw drunk guys urinating and vomiting not only in the dark corners. Garbage bags left on the sidewalk, because taken out in the wrong day or not the allowed city bag, eventually broken by foxes and crows. The sidewalk was either covered by dog excrement or by badly parked cars, when not completely muddy. The feeling of distress was increased by the bad habit to put pop music in any subway station, making the city also loud.

8. Multicultural society. True. Much more accepted than in Vienna, but... the city has lost its soul, its identity, in the name of the respect. The true Belgians are rare in the city, the prefer to live in the countryside and commute every day. Living in Brussels or on the Moon... would be socially very similar. You can hear the Viennese dialect everywhere, but in Brussels just a few people could even speak Flemish!

9. Brussels is a city. Farmers bringing local products are to be... searched for in the internet. There are no seasonal products. On the weekend, large parts of the city are deserted. From Monday to Friday, the life is hectic.

10. As big as Vienna, but badly organized. Unfortunately.  

It's a pity, because Brussels could potentially be a good place for living. The location is perfect, in the hearth of Europe, well connected with the other capital cities, not too far from the sea side, full of universities and research facilities, multicultural and open society, multilingual. Really a pity. I hope that being aware of its weak points, the administration will work to achieve a top ranking.