It really is lovely, if in an over-the-top sort of way. The many, many museums, the palaces, the Parliament, the opera house, cathedrals; they’re all beautiful, and there’s much to see. Too much, for one visit.
What was really beautiful about Vienna is the Cousin Peter lives there, and could show me what he likes about it. When I arrived, he took me first to the best vantage point, from which I could see the whole city. We drank a beer, and he pointed out the bits I’d be seeing during my stay.
While he was at work, I’d wander about, being overwhelmed. When he was finished he’d meet up with me, show me a bit more. He knows a lot about his city, does Peter.
The Austro-Hungarian Empire, it seems, was a pretty big deal – or so you surmise by the scale of their palaces – like Schonbrunn, or Belvedere (where I saw Klimt’s The Kiss. I’m not an art person, but I love that painting).
The weather was freakishly warm for October, and we spent an afternoon in the Schweitzerhaus beer garden. It was packed on a Tuesday afternoon. People were eating 1.5 kilos of pork. The dark beer tasted like honey. Women – not coming from Oktoberfest, but just from work – were wearing dirndls.
Pete took me to the market, where we tried Sturm (which is not-quite-wine), and to a classic old Austrian coffee house, Cafe Hawelka, where we sipped Wein Melanges and talked politics. Perhaps most importantly, he showed me where to get €2 kebabs.
He made me goulash one night, and schnitzel another, and on my last day there (halelluja) turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving.