To Live and Die in the Holy Roman Empire

Vienna is gorgeous. If you enjoy almost shockingly archetypical old world charm, Vienna is dream. We hadn’t been there in a very long time and since Elise was traveling there for work, we thought it a great opportunity to return. Though it was work that brought us there, it turned out to be a terrific weekend of mostly catching up with old friends.

Vienna is a city where many things hardly change. And this is a good thing, in my opinion. Although it is no longer the capital of an empire stretching across most of Europe and in fact the defender of all of western Christendom, this history has indelibly imprinted itself upon the city. Splendid cathedrals and churches, opulent baroque palaces, sprawling city parks, and tree-lined boulevards all remind one with their beauty and grace that this was once the capital of the western world, and the confidence that the city still exudes is an echo of those times.

Much like the empire it once represented, the city is slow to change. And though the Hapsburg crown now remains unworn in the state treasury, life in Vienna seems to be not too different than how it was one-hundred years ago. The art scene is still vibrant and in fact a vital part of the culture. Be it ballet, symphony, graphic design, or a couple of hipsters working on a screenplay over coffee at a cafe, the effects of the patronage of the arts started under the Hapsburgs seem to reverberate to this day. Cafes are another timeless part of Vienna. In a world of Starbucks and instant, standardized gratification, Vienna is still a haven for true cafe culture. Though fewer in number, there are still plenty of coffee salons and cafes populated by locals at any hour where you are served by a waiter in a tuxedo and can wile away a morning or afternoon reading the papers and watching people while sipping amazing coffee amidst empire-style brass, leather, and marble luxury.

Therefore it was truly gratifying to meet up with some old friends in such an atmosphere of grandeur but also of such history. Old friends, like old cities, seem to change so little over time. Catching up with friends is wonderful no matter where or when, but to do so under the vaulted ceilings of original city wall fortifications or while strolling its markets and gardens made it a truly great weekend.

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