On Thursday, I returned to Vienna for a second visit. This is what she had to say.
“Well look who’s back! One week wasn’t enough, huh?
“Why are you so surprised that you like it here? Just because one person told you that he fell asleep on a Mozart-themed bus tour doesn’t mean we’re a boring city. It means you need more interesting friends! Let me guess, he’s the kind of person who goes into an ice cream shop in Italy and asks if they have frozen yogurt. No? He gets gelato like a normal person? Well good for him. Tell him our ice cream is just as good and costs half as much.
“You really have to stop describing our city as ‘underrated.’ We’re not some indie band from Chicago or an Almond Joy. We’re not Dune. And while you’re at it, don’t compare us to Paris. Look around. Our horses can dance. What does France have? The Eiffel Tower and a macaroon? Please. If you ask me, they should spend a little less time trying to convince themselves that they like duck and a little more time working.
“While we’re on the subject. Who died and made the croissant king of breakfast? Talk about overrated – slap some jelly on a crescent roll and call it a meal. That’s what the French do! You want to put something nice on a plate? Two words: Apple. Strudel. Croissants… they’re nothing more than a trumped up pie crust and you know it.
“Yes, I know our museums are better than the Louvre. It’s always been that way, but thank you for noticing! Seriously. Name a museum more fabulous than the Albertina. The Rijksmuseum? That place is a Dutch garage with a view of puddle water. Try again. Museo Picasso? Why? You like waiting in line for an hour to see paintings of fruit done by a 14 year old before he was famous? What else? The Tate? Yeah, OK. The Tate’s pretty cool. You got me there.
“What did you just say? We’re cleaner than Prague?! We’re cleaner than Prague?! Let me get this straight. You visited Vienna and Prague back to back and that’s what you came up with? That Vienna is cleaner?! That’s like reading The Hunger Games and Ulysses and saying, ‘Well Ulysses is longer. If I set it on fire, it would burn longer.’ No shit we’re cleaner! We also don’t sell Pilsner Urquell or try to stuff something called a chimney cake down your throat.
“Yes, I’m familiar with Prague Castle. Since when is that a selling point? You don’t even like castles. You say that all the time, ‘Castles are boring on the inside… The only nice part of the castle is the cathedral.’ You want to see a nice church, go to St. Stephen’s. Please. Don’t act like you didn’t take 40 pictures and then spend an hour editing them with your knockoff Photoshop. What church is nicer than St. Stephens? Do not say – ugh. I knew you were going to say Sagrada Familia. Look. Sagrada is what would happen if a church hosted a rave and then let everyone collectively decorate the exterior. I don’t care if you still like it better, at least ours is finished.
“What do you mean, ‘Let’s talk about the food.’ What’s wrong with our food? Well who told you to order boiled beef? Your AirBnB host? What are you doing on a date with him? Actually, let’s table that for a minute. Since when do you let people order for you on dates? You speak German! Ask for the branzino and call it a night. Boiled beef! No wonder you don’t have anything nice to say about our food. Did he at least pay the bill? You know what, don’t even answer that. Clearly you don’t know the first thing about dating! What a waste of a romantic city you are!
“Oh, other cities have ‘interesting history’, do they? Are you implying that we don’t? Yes, please tell me what you learned on your free walking tours. If dreariness is your thing, we can go toe to toe with Budapest or Krakow any day. OK, fine. Maybe not Poland. But our story is not without its challenges. You just don’t hear us crying about it all the time like Hungary. ‘We lost our territory in Translyvania a hundred years ago… The Soviets didn’t let us use color.’ We fought three wars against Prussia. Prussia! I bet you don’t even know what Prussia is!
“Oh my god. You did not just call us ‘classically pretty.’ That is the same backhanded compliment that you gave to people when you were going through your phase with a lip ring. Who said we’re not edgy anyway? Berlin?! Berlin said we aren’t modern?! Well I’d like to see Berlin upstage her own opera house with a giant rabbit. I bet Berlin doesn’t even have an opera house! Oh she does? Is it nice? No, I haven’t been there recently either. I’ve heard great things too! I’m thinking Spring. Yeah, let’s do it!
“No, but seriously. We’re hip. We have boutiques! Per capita, we have the most upscale paper shops of any city in Europe. And if you bothered to go into one of our stores, you would know that our designers know how to make a comfortable shoe. No, we don’t have a section like The Nine Streets in Amsterdam. Because we don’t need gimmicks. We’re cooler than that. Yes, I agree. Amsterdam is fun. Especially if your idea of fun involves smoking pot in the middle of the day and getting hit by a bike. Excuse me for wanting a little more out of life. I thought you did too.
“You’ll be back. Maybe not for that AirBnB host, but you’ll be back. Because Vienna is the best city in the world.”
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