Fans of the wonderful director Richard Linklater will no doubt be familiar with the story of Jesse and Celine. Played by the charming Mr Ethan Hawke and transcendental Julie Delphy, these two strangers meet on an overnight train from Budapest and spend a day together in Vienna. My trip to Vienna was every bit as fleeting, enchanting and a great deal of it was also spent walking around on foot, which in my opinion is the best way to see a city.
Image courtesy The Austrian Film Museum
Admittedly, after first seeing that film – and reaffirmed by the many re-runs since then – Vienna has been on my to-see list. I’ve always been fascinated by Empress Sisi (formally Empress Elisabeth of Austria, 1854-98) whose life bears striking similarities to that of the Princess of Wales. Vienna aside from being renowned for its concert halls and ballrooms is also home to Mozart’s only surviving apartment. So when the idea of a weekend away to Vienna was floated I was very much sold.
One word comes to mind when I think about Vienna: grand. From the old-world architecture from the Habsburg dynasty to the busy pedestrian junctions, it’s no stretch of the imagination to imagine the city in its former glory as the capital of the Austro-Hungarian empire. Overall better preserved than Budapest, if Prague is quaint then Vienna evokes a regality of a bygone era.