Written by Paula Jones Last updated: June 6, 2006
Enter a waltzing wonderland
If your idea of romance is waltzing yourself dizzy to the sound of great music, then Vienna can be your only destination. Musical capital of the world for centuries, the Austrian city was home to Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Mahler, and their music is celebrated throughout the year. In January and February there can be up to 40 balls in an evening so you’ll have every excuse to don your favourite ballgown and play the princess. When your dancing legs are tired, why not take a horse‐drawn carriage past some of the city’s impressive baroque palaces, and other majestic architecture from the Hapsburg era, before indulging in delicious sachertorte to the sound of the Blue Danube Waltz?
Vienna is the home of cake and pastries and good coffee, so don’t miss out on the Austrian four o’clock ritual. Check out a famous konditorei (cake shop) like Demel, where tourists and locals queue to savour walnut torten and poppyseed strudel. It’s also the home of authentic sachertorte ‐‐ chocolate sponge layer cake coated in apricot jam and chocolate frosting.
For something more substantial try Hotel Altwienerhof ‐‐ an oasis for gourmets who can enjoy dinner in the candlelit tapestried dining room and select wine from the 23,000‐bottle cellar! Or for a real splurge try Steirereck, one of the world’s great restaurants, both for its food and its style. Dress up and join wealthy Viennese in ankle‐length furs.
Go to Vienna in January or February, and buy a ticket for one of the more sumptuous balls. Pop the question after whirling in three‐quarter time to the waltz Emperor Johan Strauss. (Just remember to learn the steps before you go.)
Choose your mood‐setting melodies from virtually any of the continent’s finest: Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert and especially Strauss, waltz composer par excellence. Or if you fancy something more modern, there’s Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus or Ultravox’s Vienna!
The Big Wheel in the Prater Gardens may well be familiar from Orson Welles’s moody film adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Third Man (remember Harry Lime?). James Bond has had a few spills and thrills here too.
Herzlichen Hochzeitstag! = Happy anniversary
Ich liebe dich = I love you
Herzlichen Gluckwunsch = Congratulations!
Wurdest du mich heiraten? = Will you marry me?
Austria has a robust beer culture, so check out the local brews such as KrahKrah. Your best bet is to go for a bar crawl round Vienna’s bar‐packed “Bermuda triangle” ‐‐ so‐called because people tend to disappear for hours…