Each time we step into Austria we take a deep breath. From Innsbruck, to Salzburg to Vienna, Austria feels organized and welcoming and somehow seems to say, “relax, I have it all under control”. There was a time when these characteristics may have bored me, but not after the experiences we have had on this journey.
Arriving in Vienna, there was a collective sigh in the car, as if this magnificent city gave us permission to let our guard down.
Saturday night, immediately after arriving and before unpacking, we headed to Prater Park for some weekend amusement. We boarded the giant ferris wheel constructed in 1897 just in time for sunset and saw the city, for the first time ever, bathed in a dusty roseate glow.
Sunday we picnicked at Schönbrunn Palace, got lost in labyrinths and listened to street musicians accompanied by the beat of the horse drawn carriages. As languages from all over the world meandered through the gardens, so too did Viennese families on a Sunday outing. As the leaves crunched on the pebbled paths, we completely surrendered to the orchestrated dance that is this city.
Monday was the day to visit “The Ring.” We talked to the proud Lipizzaner horses as they rested in their stalls at the Spanish Riding School. The kids played hide and seek darting through the columns supporting the opera house.
We bought lunch at the market and picnicked at the foot of the Donnerbrunnen fountain. We played away the afternoon at the Haus of Music, an interactive music museum, that was the perfect encore to our weekend of ease. The kids digitally composed their own waltz, played virtual conductor to an orchestra and learned about the history of sound and its journey through time and through their own bodies. We felt we could not experience Vienna without music and we were right. It is everywhere and it breaths life and creativity into each new facet of this remarkable city.
Vienna seems to have a gentle confidence and unshakable air. Some cities we enter and we have to wade through errors and misunderstandings to discover what works. Vienna is clear without being sterile. It is easy without being superficial. It is proud without being superior. It is gracious without being subservient. It is a city worth looking up to.