Vienna

Ah, Vien­na…

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.

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