City of Mozart, chocolate and chocolate Mozarts, I was immediately seduced by this living gallery of art and music, an architectural utopia in which nearly every building is a museum piece, particularly, but not exclusively, around the unforgettable Ringstraße, where the Hofburg stands as testament to the Habsburg’s imperial ego, and the Opera House stands as a reminder of that ego’s unrivalled commitment to the arts (take note Australia)… A pretentious git was always going to feel comfortable in a city whose statuary immortalises the names of Mozart, Shakespeare and Strauss, whose streets, like Papageno Street, are named after characters from opera, and whose most incendiary scandal in the last 200 years was the Secessionist movement in art. Oh, and Hitler.
It had not been the plan, but I soon found my three nights in Vienna becoming four, then five, and then a week. Seven days, even so, was not enough to take in every treasure in the Museums Quartier and Kunsthistorisches Museum, or to visit every dead genius buried within her cemeteries. It was not all educational, and, in between the Klimts and Kokoschkas, I sunned away countless lazy hours in the Imperial Gardens, which, like so much of Habsburg Vienna, is now open freely to the public. Mercifully – for the drunk or culturally exhausted – Vienna’s past need not consume you, as the happy crowds, young and old, drinking beer in the imperial sun would attest. Like her famous Empress Elisabeth, Vienna is fiercely proud of her history and beauty, but seldom to the point of dull excess.
Appropriately for my last night in Vienna, I had a ticket to see Mozart’s The Magic Flute at the Volksoper, and, after visiting St. Mark’s Cemetery to pay my respects, pre-show, but post-mortem, to the composer himself, I was able to spruce myself up (as much as any backpacker is able), relax (as much as any backpacker is able) and luxuriate in what Vienna seems to do best.