Earlier this summer, I saw a post on Facebook about a girls parkour jam happening in Vienna and I thought, hey, I’ve never been to Vienna – what a great excuse to go! To which my mother responded, “You know, most people go to Vienna for the architecture… music… wine… art…. not parkour.”
As I began to loosely plan the Croatia leg of my journey, I reached out to one of the girls from the Vienna parkour community to ask her about the jam and I am so glad I did! She not only invited me to coach at the girls jam but she agreed to host me for the whole week. Did I mention how much I love the parkour community? I have never met such a generous and hospitable group of people, connected purely by our love of movement. I had a fantastic host for the week, and she connected me with others in the parkour community who showed me around the city and invited me for trainings.
I was exhausted when I arrived in Vienna after a seven-hour train ride from Zagreb, although said train ride was a gorgeous ride through the mountains. I desperately wanted to sleep but I also wanted to meet some people and take advantage of my time in Vienna so I dragged my lazy bum out for a training session that night. I had no excuse not to go as the jam session was literally down the street from where I was staying. I jumped around with everyone and enjoyed talking with some of the Parkour Vienna folks for a while. It was a great spot that I went back to several times that week to play around. It’s off of the Donauinsel metro stop, right along the river.
After training, we went back to the apartment and made some dinner. I made a funny observation that night — we often eat the same foods in different countries, we just prepare them very differently. For example, that night we ate rice with ham and shredded zucchini. We also had raw zucchini in a vegetable salad which I’ve never eaten before. For some reason, I’ve just never thought to eat a zucchini without cooking it.
There were training opportunities almost every day that I was in Vienna. The first night, we had that little jam session down the road at Donauinsel, the next day there was a big end-of-summer community jam, open gym sessions a couple nights a week, and the girls jam the next weekend. When there wasn’t an organized event or training session, there were usually people out training anyways so I always had something to do. We even drove out to a nearby parkour park (and by nearby I mean in the middle of nowhere outside of Vienna) which was really cool. I’ve only been to a few parks specifically designed for parkour — all of which are located in Europe. I’ve never seen one in the U.S. (*cough* America, please build one! *cough*) The park was awesome. Small but fun, and I had a great training session with some new friends.
Following our little adventure at the parkour park, I went out for sushi with some of the guys and I couldn’t read the menu because it was in German. Luckily, “California” doesn’t translate, so I went with the most basic thing on the menu and ate a lot of California roll. Then the guys took me to this amazing spot looking over the city called Leopoldsberg (spelling?). We definitely did not hop over the jersey barrier and climb a castle-like wall to get the best view. That would have been breaking the rules.
Although I was freezing in the crazy wind up there, I couldn’t stop smiling at the beautiful sunset casting an incredible orange-pink glow on the entire city laid out below me. What a beautiful world we live in.
That was my only dose of urbex that week. I spent most of my time training in the city and yes, I did some touristy things too. My touristing activities for the week included:
- Attending a morning practice for the Lipizzan horses at the Spanish Riding School (Spanische Hofreitschule)
- Visiting Stephensplatz and paying 5 euros to climb 300+ steps. The 576th bell tower I climbed this summer.
- Walking by pretty buildings like the Opera House
- Visiting Mozarthaus even though I can’t remember the last time I listened to his music or found myself wishing I knew more about his life
- Visiting Schönbrunn Palace which, if you ask me, is a little too similar to the Palace of Versailles… except Versailles is way more luxurious (nobody outdoes the French). Sorry, guys.
- Visiting the oldest zoo in the world, next to Schönbrunn Palace, which was way cooler than the palace itself
I had a really amazing week in Vienna. It was the perfect combination of parkour, exploring, and being a tourist. I ate some delicious food, both at home with my hosts and out at some of the restaurants in Vienna, and I bought a few too many Viennese chocolates. I definitely want to go back someday. Thank you to the Vienna parkour/freerunning community for your hospitality! I hope to see you all again soon.