Waking Up in Vienna, the City of Dreams

Vienna is known as the City of Dreams for being home to psychologist Sigmund Freud, and like a dream, Vienna swells and surrounds your senses at every turn. Vienna is also known as the City of Music, and the very excellent Haus der Musik museum illustrates why, through highlights of the great Viennese composers of classical music like Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler.

But Vienna is also a place of palaces and princes, of waltzes and women in Chanel and old men in Armani suits on bicycles on a Sunday afternoon, of cakes, coffeehouses and Klimt’s The Kiss.

People bring their fashion A-game in Austria.

People bring their fashion A-game in Austria.

Vienna serenades you with the sounds of symphonies escaping to the streets from concert houses by the classical greats like Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Mahler and Schoenberg. Vienna awes you with beautiful monuments and grand palaces like Belvedere and Schonbrunn and leaves no opportunity or space for art overlooked, from exquisite ceiling murals to ornate gold-leaf statues.

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Incredible sculptures attached to buildings for all the world to see. I honestly remember this as being the front of a bank?!

Time drifts away from you through afternoons spent sipping perfect cups of coffee and sampling cakes like the famous Sachertorte in Viennese cafes, which are a culture unto themselves.

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An afternoon or three of indulgence is required in Vienna.

I was so enraptured by Vienna’s fancy facade in my first few days that I couldn’t see past the fog of decadence. I think it was when a man passing by on the street threw his still-lit cigarette into my friend’s handbag on purpose that I woke up from the City of Dreams.

After that incident, I noticed all kinds of grittier aspects of this gorgeous city – the body odor on the street cars, the graffiti near the Metro and the manure on the streets left behind from the fancy horse-drawn carriages.

The scrappier side of Vienna.

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Horse-drawn carriages are very romantic. The poop they leave behind on the streets afterward, not so much.

I will leave you with the following poem as food for thought. It gives a good idea of how important cafes are to the people of Vienna, as well as pointing out how very less glossy and glamourous Vienna can be.

“You have troubles of one sort or another –

TO THE KAFFEEHAUS!
She can’t come to you for some reason no matter how plausible –
TO THE KAFFEEHAUS!
You have holes in your shoes –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!
You have a salary of 400 crowns and spend 500 –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!
You are frugal and permit yourself nothing –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!
You find no woman who suits you –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!
You are SPIRITUALLY on the threshold of suicide –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!
You hate and disdain people and yet cannot do without them –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!
Nobody extends you any more credit anywhere –
THE KAFFEEHAUS!”
-Peter Altenberg, 1859-1919

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