Walking down the main road of Vienna, a dimly lit street caught my attention. The night was cold; the onset of winter had driven the city folk into the warm comfort of their homes. Turning into the cobblestoned street, I was dimly aware of distant conversation. The sound of my footsteps and wisps of my breath ascending into the cold air. Illuminated by the golden glow of lamps, a worn facade of simplistic beauty caught my attention; a lone silhouette in the profound silence of the night.
Driving along an unknown road skirting the border between Austria and Germany, I suddenly caught a glimpse of a simple shed contrasted beautifully against the majesty of the Swiss Alps in the background. Instinctively, I stopped the car and walked onto the footpath, spellbound. I stared at this magnificent scene for a long time, deep in reverie. Sometimes, all it takes is to simply pause and be present in “the now” to experience the beautiful moments in our life, for they are the moments that one can engrave within the depths of ones heart, or be lost forever.
Pausing on the bridge oblivious to the sound of traffic, I looked out yonder towards the “Altstadt” nestled by the banks of the serene river. I stood in silence for long moments surveying the amazing scene that unfolded before me. Spellbound, the elegance and sophistication of the city forcefully imprinted a scene of rare beauty within my mind. A radiant sunny day cast forth its rays, illuminating an amazing mosaic of clouds that decorated Heaven itself. Below, archaic beautifully coloured Baroque and Rennaisance buildings, vibrant beautifully complemented the surrounding landscape. The brilliance of European architecture was truly beautiful to behold.
Walking slowly through an old narrow laneway in the Altstadt, I paused in astonishment. The facades of the buildings were unique and unlike anything that I had experienced. The street, almost hidden, barely noticeable connected numerous arcades to the Old Marketplace. The street renown for its goldsmiths that long ago peddled their antique craft in the many shops that line the roadway. Beautifully designed and decorated medieval and baroque facades adorned with religious ornaments and intricately designed cast iron signs of artisans selling their wares were everywhere to be seen. Bouquets of neatly arranged colourful flowers lined the elegant buildings. The picturesque and archaic surroundings manifested a feeling of nostalgia.
Pausing along the banks of the old town I looked out across the river. The night air gently caressed my face as the sound of the water flowing soothed my thoughts. The golden glow of lights illuminated the bridge brilliantly as it stretched forth, traversing the great expanse of water decorated with dancing lights. A sense of adventure stirred my heart, as I crossed the vast iron bridge, stepping onto an archaic cobblestone road. The transformation was immediate as I entered the old section of the city. Disappearing into a secluded street, I paused and looked down the empty street, illuminated by the warm glow of street lamps. Beautiful facades of buildings from a bygone era manifested their magnificence in the stillness of the night.
The large wooden door simplistically adorned beckoned me to enter the deserted street. It was late in the evening; the glow of lamps cast a golden haze across the cobblestone pathway and archaic buildings. The stillness of the night was as profound as the smell of winter rainfall, lingering in the air. Walking along, I noticed the various cracks across the facade of buildings, a historical tapestry weaved from the renaissance to the present day. The scene was forlorn, yet it seemed as though the harsh passage of time could not entirely efface the beauty these stones, heralding a bygone era.
Yonder, across the great expanse of water an archaic building guarded the entrance to the old city along the river bank. Illuminated by the golden glow of street lamps, a warm light reflected in the calm, steady flow of the river. The whirling of the wind intermingled with the gentle sound of waters flowing. My thoughts drifted from the nearby bridge towards the old city with its magnificent blend of classical and renaissance architecture, unique and mesmerising to behold. I pondered an era, long ago that somehow I deeply yearned for. For long moments I stared out from the river bank, silent, a lone silhouette in the stillness of the night. Deep in reverie, my thoughts were entranced and calmed by the beautiful golden glow on the mysterious waters.
From the shore I gazed out towards the magnificent cast iron bridge spanning the great breadth of the river. The old part of the city, lit up by streetlights, emanated a warm light reflected in the calm but steady flowing river. The whirling of the wind dancing around me, intermingled with the gentle sound of running water. Entranced by the soft glow of distant lamps I looked out yonder towards the old city. It seemed the bridge and city were connected by the impulsive drive of mankind to surge forward towards the future while establishing a tenuous hold with the past. For long moments I stared out from under the embrace of this magnificent steel structure. My thoughts were entranced and calmed by the golden glow upon mysterious waters.
Walking along the main road leading to the harbour, I heard the gentle lapping of the waves against the wharf in the distance. After a brief walk, the main road suddenly opened up into a beautiful Venetian harbour. To my utter wonder, I was greeted by a splendid panorama of buildings arrayed in an myriad of earthy hues. As the first rays of sunset shone forth the splendour of renaissance facades sparkled before me. I paused and looked out in silence; for to truly acknowledge beauty one must be silent. Somewhere in the distance a church bell rang; the sound merely enhanced my reverie.
Walking along the Venetian harbour, I felt at ease. The sun cast its radiant glow over the blue water lapping against the yellow sandstone walls. The picturesque walk was complemented by a lone man selling sea sponges on a boat bobbing gently in the water. From early morning to late afternoon, he would be ply his trade; despite rarely ever selling anything he was blessed with a radiant smile full of joy. I was drawn to this man with whom I struck up a friendship, talking to him every day. Harris as he was known was a sailor, having travelled extensively around the Greek islands, and settled long ago on Crete where he had raised his family. He had seen times of prosperity and more recently adversity. I offered to pay Harris to take me around the Greek islands, knowing that he had difficulty making ends meet, however he answered, “My boat is in disrepair, nevertheless I would take you around for no money whatsoever”. One cold winter day he asked me if I wanted to have a drink of schnapps with him. Out of respect I said yes. I admired the heart of this man, even though schnapps was not to my liking. Harris then proceeded to order a couple of drinks from the restaurant across the street from where his boat was moored alongside the harbour. I was deeply touched yet saddened, as Harris was willing in a moment of sheer hospitality to spend several days wages on a couple of drinks in order to please me. I remonstrated with him not to order any drinks, as I thought that he had the drinks within his boat. He asked “Why not, it’s fine! Are you worried about the money?”, as he noticed the concerned look on my face. After reassuring him that it was okay he finally relented. Suffering had merely tempered his beautiful heart, and in this man I sensed a deep sense of humility and serenity despite providing for his family in difficult times. How could one not love such a man? Never before had I experienced such hospitality amidst adversity. I told Harris “May God bless you, and you forever trust in Him ”. Harris responded with a sad smile of conviction. “And that’s the greatest gift that one can ever wish for in life”