At length the road came to the river’s side, and we crossed on wooden bridges over two or three arms of the Danube, all of which together were little wider than the Schuylkill at Philadelphia. When we crossed the last bridge, we came to a kind of island covered with groves of the silver ash. Crowds of people filled the cool walks; booths of refreshment stood by the roadside, and music was everywhere heard. The road finally terminated in a circle, where beautiful alleys radiated into the groves; from the opposite side a broad street lined with stately buildings extended into the heart of the city, and through this avenue, filled with crowds of carriages and people on their way to those delightful walks, we entered Vienna!
May 31.—I have at last seen the thousand wonders of this great capital—this German Paris—this connecting link between the civilization of Europe and the barbaric magnificence of the East. It looks familiar to be in a city again, whose streets are thronged with people, and resound with the din and bustle of business. It reminds me of the never-ending crowds of London, or the life and tumult of our scarcely less active New York. Although the end may be sordid for which so many are laboring, yet the very sight of so much activity is gratifying. It is peculiarly so to an American. After residing in a foreign land for some time, the peculiarities of our nation are more easily noticed; I find in my countrymen abroad a vein of restless energy—a love for exciting action—which to many of our good German friends is perfectly incomprehensible. It might have been this which gave at once a favorable impression of Vienna.
The morning of our arrival we sallied out from our lodgings in the Leopoldstadt, to explore the world before us. Entering the broad Praterstrasse, we passed down to the little arm of the Danube, which separates this part of the new city from the old. A row of magnificent coffee-houses occupy the bank, and numbers of persons were taking their breakfasts in the shady porticoes. The Ferdinand’s Bridge, which crosses the stream, was filled with people; in the motley crowd we saw the dark-eyed Greek, and Turks in their turbans and flowing robes. Little brown Hungarian boys were going around, selling bunches of lilies, and Italians with baskets of oranges stood by the side-walk. The throng became greater as we penetrated into the old city. The streets were filled with carts and carriages, and as there are no side-pavements, it required constant attention to keep out of their way. Splendid shops, fitted up with great taste, occupied the whole of the lower stories, and goods of all kinds hung beneath the canvass awnings in front of them. Almost every store or shop was dedicated to some particular person or place, which was represented on a large panel by the door. The number of these paintings added much to the splendor of the scene; I was gratified to find, among the images of kings and dukes, one dedicated “to the American,” with an Indian chief in full costume.