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Neville Walker’s ode to Vienna in this past weekend’s Financial Times is gorgeous and plaintive. Writing about Vienna in the newspaper’s “What I Love About…” series, Walker compellingly nails Vienna’s eccentric character.
Walker writes that Vienna was “once a cul-de-sac on the edge of the Eastern Bloc” now “learning to be hip and modern.” Yet what makes the city so interesting is not its uneven emergence into contemporary European cool but rather its vestigal otherworldliness. Walker knows this; by singling out the Kettenbrückengasse flea market and Peter’s Operncafé Hartauer as emblems of today’s Vienna, he gets at a city that is not so much resting on its laurels as much as it is holding the uncanny tight, as if it were a lifevest. Or, in Walker’s words: “Vienna is like an estranged relative grown eccentric by living alone, but suddenly seized with enthusiasm for a newly-expanded social circle.”