Once upon a time in Vienna
AFTER mere days in its awe-inspiring embrace, like an ancient relative embracing a new born and whispering old secrets, it becomes quite clear that Vienna is indeed the birth place of fairytales.
It all begins when God takes pity seeing eye on this poor 21st century Vagabond and sends a guiding light in the unusual form of Emirates Airlines.
At his destination lives one million eight hundred thousand people. They live in Vienna, or Wien to the locals – the Imperial romantic city – where for 600 years monarchs and rulers had chosen to seat themselves to oversee their various empires and kingdoms; where 60 theatres and 100 museums house the pinnacle of music and art converging from every corner of the globe; and where residents enjoy one of the safest cities in all of Europe.
The Vagabond wanders the streets in awe. Every building stands proud with its grand baroque style, huge entrances guard and are upheld by larger-than-life statues of all those who lived or worked in the Osterreich – the Empire of the East. Around the ‘ring road’, a central circular highway where the city walls used to exist before expansion overran it and forced the Emperor to remove it, stand bold examples of 19th Century architecture such as the State Opera, one of the largest in Europe, formed by Don Giovanni Mozart; the Imperial Hotel, the choicest in Europe; as well as the Twin buildings of the Museum of Natural History and Museum of Fine Art which face off like two titans between which stands the epic statue of Empress Maria Theresa.
He meanders further on, circling outward to learn more about this intriguing place. It has been days since he’s watched any television. His curious legs lead him to the Prater. If the city was a house, the Prater would be the garden. The massive 5 sq km protected patch of greenery used to be the Imperial hunting ground, but 240 years ago, at the end of the monarchy was opened to the public and now includes an amusement park. This is the largest of 200 parks in Vienna that help make up an astounding 50 per cent of the city. The iconic Ferris wheel, built in 1897, slowly rotates over the canopy of trees at all times.
As the city unfolds before him, with the gothic spire of St Stephens Cathedral reaching toward heaven, the Vagabond follows the small tributary that runs through the city centre to its host and parent, the Danube. The great river now circles around the city where once it had struck right through its heart, but its unpredictable and untameable waters proved too risky and it was moved outside the city.
Back to the beautiful city, the now familiar fascia of the dramatic buildings remain silent and mysterious, their sculptured inhabitants adorning them as they always have, but now like new friends they also seem familiar. Each structure weighs upon him expectantly, like wise old men who have delivered their lesson and now huddle around waiting for understanding from their newest pupil.
But all good things have to end and so, with the trusty help of Emirates Airlines the less-lost Vagabond returns back to a land not so far, far away and thanks to his Austrian adventure, where fairytales may not come true but where their existence is far more valuable, he lives a little happier ever after.