You know that cake… that lavish, ornate layer cake you once passed in a boutique window? The one that looked too perfect to eat but drew you into the confiserie anyway because you just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to taste it? And when you did your senses ignited with ecstasy, aphrodisia, and jubilee?
It is a city alive and pulsing with musical and artistic virtuosity, flecked with palaces, museums and opera houses, and designed with architectural formalwear. The Viennese culture exudes a sanguine imagination and the mood is simply infectious. It is no wonder that Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Franz Schubert, Friedensreich Hundertwasser, Johann Strauss, Otto Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Marie Antoinette, and the Wiener Schnitzel all come from Vienna.
The Viennese themselves are extremely high-brow and well educated, as are most Europeans. To boot they are very healthy, due in large part to their socialized health care system and the excellent walkability of the city. There is no need to have a car in Vienna, as you can walk or bike almost anywhere. On rainy days you can take Vienna’s amazing public transportation and be anywhere in the city within 15 to 20 minutes.
The Viennese also place a high value on old-fashioned etiquette, so firm handshakes are important, as is not putting your feet on pieces of furniture where they don’t belong. Should you litter or spit on the ground, don’t be surprised when an older woman in a fur coat publicly shames you. With that said, their sense of humor is nothing short of brilliant and is based around the concept of “schmaeh”, which is an affection for bullshitting. Once you’ve reached this level of banter with a Viennese, you’ve made a friend for life.
They have incredibly programmed, free, year round festivals where pets and kids are welcomed, placing an emphasis on the importance of family. Vienna itself is not an expensive city and, in fact, rents here are lower than most other metropolises of the same filigree.
The only unfavorable thing I can say about Vienna is regarding their service industry or, ahem… lack thereof. Going to a café or restaurant requires time and a hearty dose of patience. There is no ‘quick lunch’ in Vienna. In fact, the Viennese coffee houses have a declaration that goes, “time and space are consumed, but only the coffee is found on the bill.” As elegant as this sounds, what it translates to is, ‘the wait staff will get to you when they are good and ready, and should you ask for a menu or your check before they offer you one, you can add at least another twenty minutes onto your already ridiculously long wait in order to teach you the virtue of patience’. Waiters and waitresses act on ‘principle’ here and I can only strongly advise that you don’t request anything. Enter coffee houses and restaurants at your own risk. The good news is that a 5% tip is the norm and 10% if they managed to smile at you.
There are so many incredible things to do in and around Vienna, but here is a list of the top Attractions for your visit.
My recommendations on…
Wittgenstein’s Vienna by Allan Janik
Only in Vienna by Duncan J.D. Smith
Fin-de-Siècle by Carl E. Schorske
The Radetzky March by Joseph Roth