“The City of Dreams”, you may be shocked that such a romantic name comes from the famously reserved Austrians, but fear not, they don’t have the same thing in mind as Alicia Keys when she sings about New York. Rather the nickname comes from Freud, one of the many famous figures to have lived here. On the other hand, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Freud reference may be only a superficial masking of a deep romanticism that runs under the surface. How could the city that inspired Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven and Klimt be anything but profoundly romantic?
Perhaps the first thing you notice walking around Vienna is how shockingly beautiful the city is (the people that fill it aren’t bad either). A short walk around the city center provides an overwhelming selection of architectural wonders and even more shockingly, while most cities, like Rome or Paris, have let these wonders slowly decay, Vienna has spent the last few years polishing up these gems and returning them to their original splendor. A blind person could get a job making postcards here. Actually judging by some postcards I saw today, it appears at least one has.
In any case, the exterior beauty of the city is just the beginning: the economy is excellent; cultural sights and events – from a pile of world-class museums to multiple opera houses – are more numerous here than in any city even close to equal in size; public transportation is plentiful and efficient; and the food is excellent, with satisfying cuisine coming from high-end restaurants and street vendors alike. This list is only the beginning. Just today I was out ice skating with friends and the first choice was which of the multiple fine ice skating rinks to choose. A catalogue of my week here would make this post read more like a Lonely Planet guide than a blog entry.
All these qualities haven’t been lost on the local population either. The universal opinion of my friends, who are in anything from their teens to their 70s, is that Vienna is a fantastic place to live. As I sit here in my new favorite café, I’m inclined to agree. Hidden away on a small side street with little to distinguish it to a passerby, inside it’s a romantic green velvet, complete with a working antique woodstove and wonderful homemade desserts. Perhaps best of all, it doesn’t have an internet connection. Quite a blessing if, like me, you’re quipped with the attention span of a five year old. Instead of simply refreshing my Facebook page a hundred times, I’m forced to choose from among the international selection of newspapers and magazines. If this isn’t a writer’s paradise I don’t know what is.
I’ve spent more time in Vienna than any city except New York, but I’ve only scratched the surface. Although my week here is drawing to a close, I have a sneaking suspicion this story is far from finished. I’ll be back soon.