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Italy

A Guide to Vienna

A red-haired girl and I recently skipped the length on London bridge, arm in arm. I can’t imagine it meant much to either of us, but it was a lot of fun. She was from Vienna, though she didn’t like it as much as London. Here’s a guide.

Vienna is yet another one of those pretty, classical, Baroque cities that are so common in that region of the world; but Vienna does it even better than most. Every year since 2005, Vienna has been the number one choice for companies and charities for international conferences and meetings. It’s not just because of the time zone – Vienna’s a great place for anyone to visit, and enjoys a prime position right in the centre of Europe. Passing through Vienna’s a lot of fun.

Vienna is a city of culture. Proper, sophisticated European culture – not the watered down stuff in the States or the 40-proof stuff you’ll find in Asia. Real culture, at a respectable 12.5%, aged carefully in ancient barrels and allowed to breathe before anyone touches it. Celebrate that by doing something that you wouldn’t normally do – go to the opera, or the ballet, or see Goethe’s Faust performed in one of the many, many classical venues that are dotted around the city. Vienna’s the place to do it, without any doubt – it’s known as the City of Music, after all. And you packed your good clothes for something like this, right? Come on. At the very least visit an art gallery.

The performances and culture, although immensely important, are nowhere near the limit of what Vienna has to offer. The architecture of Vienna’s old town is stunning; with Art Noveau, Romanesque, and Baroque architecture featuring prominently. Older buildings are more medieval in character and the change of styles between each building is easy, fluid and even a little flirtatious. Am I getting a bit artsy here? Sorry, Vienna does that to people.

Vienna isn’t all about the old, either. Areas around the old town are all too keen to bring in the new, and Viennese nightlife is some of the best you can find anywhere in Europe. U4 is one of the oldest of the new clubs, and it’s a testament to management that it’s managed to keep up with the times. Burlesque nights are becoming a popular scene in Vienna; make sure you don’t get left behind. Besides, who doesn’t love a burlesque night from time to time?

Historically, Vienna’s an interesting place, and has had a central role in European history for centuries. It’s worth visiting a few museums and exhibits whilst you’re there, and as there’s such a vast choice, the single one I’d suggest (and trust me: it hurts to choose) is the Sigmund Freud museum, which is, of course, fascinating. Also make sure to visit the illustrious university of Vienna, which was once the site of the Vienna Circle; the only place in history where a group of philosophers have ever managed to work together positively, even in a limited capacity. The Vienna Circle had an enormous and profound effect on 20th century philosophy, and is just another example of the amazing things that have happened in Vienna over the years.

Wherever you go in Vienna, look out for a girl with bright red hair. Tell her somebody says “hi”. Thanks.