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Vienna, At Last

Slow down, you crazy child
And take the phone off the hook and disappear for awhile
It’s all right, you can afford to lose a day or two
When will you realize, Vienna waits for you?

— Billy Joel, Vienna

A traveler seeks magic in places big and small, and in mountains and cities alike. Two weeks of trains, planes and automobiles carried us to some of the most beautiful places in the region, but we had to come to Vienna before we felt our trip was complete. Maybe it was Billy Joel’s reminder that the city—the world— is out there waiting for us to stop the madness and seek out the magic that inspired a visit, or maybe it was a voice inside. Vienna, like Paris or Budapest or Prague remains a myth until you reach out and meet it.

The first impression a visitor may have of Vienna is that the city is far bigger than one might expect. The larger city looks and feels like the working city it is. Cranes all over the horizon indicate it’s still growing, and quickly. But for all its bigness the Old City itself is very walkable.

Where do you go first when you visit Vienna? For me the choice was obvious: St Stephen’s Cathedral. Seeing the massive and ornate structure of the church itself was a goal, but climbing the 343 steps up the South Tower for the incredible views of the city was my underlying goal.

Having seen the city from a high vantage point, it was time to find the details that make Vienna unique. One must walk an old city and find that which hides from casual visitors. This city offers something around every corner.

When you’ve heard about Vienna your whole life don’t just skip across its surface like a stone, sink in! One should visit the palaces and museums and cafés to know Vienna, but you should also seek out the nooks and crannies where the place reveals its magic. Those who built this place leave a bit of themselves for us to discover, should we only look for it.

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