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Vienna Calling

If you were spending the summer in the Austrian capital, what would you do?
Vienna Calling

Hallo, hallo, I interrupt this non-stop gloomery to report that soon my son Matt and I will be departing for a summer in Vienna. We have planned for months to spend the summer in the Austrian capital. I rented a flat from a friend who gave me a fantastic deal, and will use Vienna as a base to travel and do research for my next book. Matt is going to cycle a lot, travel with me some, and look around for grad school programs in Europe.

We visited Vienna last summer for a long weekend, and really liked it. I have some friends there — ADF folks, Mario and Ellen Fantini, and a few others — so we won’t arrive as strangers. I have never really been drawn to German culture, but there is something soft and appealing about the Austrians. I even like to hear their lilting version of spoken German, though German speakers seem to look down on it the way Back Bay Brahmins would snoot at an Alabama drawl.

Let me put the question to you Vienna lovers, and generally to you fans of Austria: what should we do this summer there? Mind you, I’ll not be staying put in one place, and we’ll be living there, not being tourists, so I’m more interested in the kinds of things that should become part of our summer-in-Vienna life. What are some good walks? Good cafes to make our second home? Places to drink wine? Our apartment will be not too far from the opera house, near the center of the city.

And what about Austrian culture? What should we know about it? What are things we should do? Shouldn’t do? What about trips within the country? I was just out here in Baton Rouge, where the temperature is 91 degrees Fahrenheit, with 42 percent humidity, and I’m thinking that I need to be on top of an Alp, drinking a cold crisp lager.

What should we read to prepare? Actually, this is a question for my son. I’ll be reading books of research for the book I’m writing. I insist that he read Joseph Roth’s novel The Radetzky March, Stefan Zweig’s memoir The World of Yesterday, and Paul Hofmann’s nonfiction portrait The Viennese. What else? If I had the whole summer to read what I wanted, I would probably try Robert Musil, but my reading program is set.

There’s a movie theater on the Ring that plays The Third Man, one of the greatest movies ever, regularly. I will find a Third Man tour of Vienna for us. And I might even bring myself to compete for 50,000 krankheits by climbing the Shmatterhorn!

If you have nothing to say about Vienna, why don’t you still add to this thread by talking about your vacation plans for the summer. I’m curious to know where people are going, if you’re going anywhere during this inflationary season.



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