[This story was published in the Toronto Star on June 15, 2011. I broke up a stay in Paris with three nights in Vienna in May and the sophisticated Austrian capital ended up becoming my favourite European city.]
VIENNA — Staid, conservative and beautiful in that European way are the perceptions of Vienna, the former seat of the Austro-Hungarian Empire known for its classical music, ballgowns and coffeehouses. It’s also a focal point for the modern art movement that began at the turn of the 20th century and that experimental, free-form thinking continues to impact the city in ways far beyond just its design aesthetic.
In his novella “The Third Man,” Graham Greene described Vienna as a “smashed, dreary city” after World War II. It had been divided by the Allies for about a decade. Sixty years later, it’s a bright, friendly place with a flourishing tourism industry.