Life around the world

Monday, 16 April, 2012 - 08:27

Vienna... what's that smell?

by Nicole Salomon

Every city has a particular smell; a scent which captures the imagination of many-a-tourist. Vienna is no different. There are plenty of smells on little streets, roads and squares, during the night and during the day. They gather, hide in the furthest corners, and step out to be tasted by any random creature and then they move on to look for new people or animals to haunt.

There is a huge variety of smells that caress and court our nose, and finally make their way into our brain, where they get stuck. We can actually recall them if we want to: mere imagination brings tears to our eyes or saliva to our mouth. However, there is a different side to smells too. Fuel emissions such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide cannot be removed from the picture of a city, not even from Vienna. This is especially poignant if you live on “the belt”, the outermost road of Vienna, which thousands of cars drive along every day. You can open the window as much as you like but you will never have the odour of flowers or the forest wafting into your room. There is, however, something good about “the belt”: sometimes, when I come home at night, the air is filled with the wonderful aroma of Sachertorte (chocolate cake)! I cannot work out where this smell stems from. Maybe there is a bakery nearby that produces chocolate icing at night; maybe the smell of fuel mixes with the stench that comes up from the bushes of the green area in the middle of the two roads and the smell of kebabs which you can buy at every corner. I should try and combine these three things and smell them at once (which would be no easy task!) and see what happens, but I doubt my theory already. The bakery seems the more appropriate cause for the Sachertorte smell.

When you have got some time to spend in Vienna, it is wonderful to stroll through the city just to catch some smells on your way. Hot sausages steam in the pots behind the stands where they are sold. On the zebra crossing I meet a man biting into a Käsleberkässemmel. The smell is so intense that I can feel the cheese melting on my own lips. At least I am outside. Don’t think you can avoid smells in a tram, the most popular form of transport in Vienna! Imagine going on the tram along the Ringstrasse when suddenly someone enters, holding a slice of pizza in his hands. A pungent aroma spreads through the tram, heads turn around straight away and you absorb the delicious smell with your nose. You discover at once that you are hungry. Well, there are a lot of restaurants in Vienna where you can fight against this feeling. There you can find an accumulation of the best aromas, particularly in the city centre. Barbecue, fish, curry, and come on in! Just think of the smells coming up from the plates and from the kitchen. What excellent bait to lure guests inside the restaurants. And I love bakeries, too. There is a special smell when you walk past them: I would call it a combination of pizza slices, cake, sandwiches, raisin rolls and coffee. This smell is somewhat artificial, but we only perceive the delicate aromas that we prefer most. Randomly, there is no smell of Sachertorte…


What's your favourite smell? What do you associate with it?

Submitted by hermione123 on Sun, 06/27/2021 - 11:49

I like the smell of rain. It smells like a forest and the air is cold. So, it feels so good. I've read that it's not the smell of rain, instead it's the smell of bacteria on the ground!
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