To all Insiders,
In 2011, I wrote a (too) long piece on Vienna - now capital of Austria; until 1919 capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I've revisited it a couple of times recently, and still find the experience fascinating and stimulating. Many of its most famous sites - the Palaces, Museums, Galleries, Opera House, Concert Halls and coffee houses (the most famous possibly being Central - regularly frequented by Leon Trotsky et al, but these days almost impossibly crowded - try Cafe Hawalka as a fall-back) - are already well documented, so I thought I'd dwell on a couple of less famous sites.
First - and though this might sound a little morbid, it is truly fascinating - the Wiener Zentralfriedhof, the city's main cemetery and one of the largest in the world. Its lay-out reflects the heritage it is heir to: segments dedicated to the various ethnic/religious groups that made up the Hapsburg domain - Serbs, Croats, Romanians, Jewish and many more. But there is a little area - the Musicians' Corner - where in front of the graves of Beethoven, Brahms, Schubert and several Strausses you might choose to genuflect for a moment. There is a shrine to Mozart there too, though not a grave, as in all probability he was buried in a pauper's site, the location of which is unknown. Around the corner is another grave - of a much less well-known, but equally important figure, Ludwig Boltzmann, originator of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics and the Boltzmann Constant. A prodigious intellect, but also a sad figure, given to bi-polar disorder, who committed suicide whilst on holiday in Trieste. The formula that is his greatest contribution to science adorns the top of his gravestone (see attachment.)
OK, this is getting serious, so just one little anecdote before we seek refreshment. The cemetery is so full of deers that twice a year the authorities close the gates for a day and a full-dress hunt is held!
A drink perhaps? If you insist☺. Well, follow me across the City (taking the No 6 tram is the easiest method) to Heiligenstadt - Beethoven country! Here he wrote his famous Testament, recognising the approach of total deafness; but our destination along Grinzinggasse is Mayer am PfarrPlatz, the oldest of the celebrated Viennese heurige - wine bars/restaurants that specialise in the young white wines that grow in this area of Austria. A couple of glasses, with a portion of wild mushroom risotto, and suddenly "alles gut".
In the evening I went to a concert at the Musikverein, where some of the best of Europe's young musicians (in the GustavMahlerJugendOrchestra) played in one of the most historic of all venues.
I stayed in the Renaissance Wien, about 10 mins (by u bahn) from St Stephan's, and very good value.