images-1 Different cities match up to to different descriptors and monikers, some better known examples being the Big Apple for New York, La Serenisima (Venice), Tinseltown (LA) and El Kahira or the City Victorious for Cairo. For me,  the word that personifies Vienna is “gracious.” Of course this choice has to do with my experiences there, but compared to other European cities that I have enjoyed, this city truly wields her considerable charms with a grace unmatched (for me at least) by others I have visited.

I began this post last (2011) summer, after my second extended visit to Vienna, when I got to relive my first enchanted stay there in the same enchanted apartment, revisit old haunts and discover new favorites places to enjoy the next time I get there (whenever that will be). But why gracious of all words? There is despite it’s basically positive tone, a note of something perhaps a little staid, not so young and maybe even just a little condescending in the word gracious. And funnily enough I think it’s the full import of the word with all it’s positive and negative baggage that makes it such a perfect match for Vienna. For Vienna is not primarily a young city, teeming with energy and offering something for everyone. No, it’s a city for a peculiar sort of tourist,  indisputably beautiful with gorgeous facades on buildings churches, and Gustav Klimt lurking in unexpected nooks – but also less energetic than your usual holiday fare and somewhat expensive (hence the note of condescension?) Cafes look like living rooms with velvet lined furniture and evoke images of bygone eras when gentlemen still kissed the hands of ladies. not their cheeks as they do now. For some reason, these cafes reminded me of Rex Stout’s Archie Goodwin who pined for the days when one could sip champagne from a lady’s slipper. Culturally apt or not, the scene (it has to be a pink satin slipper) is just the sort of graciousness that I imagine when I think of Vienna.