From its humble origins as a Roman camp along the Danube, Vienna (pop. 1,500,000) was catapulted by war, marriage, and Habsburg maneuvering into the political lynchpin of the continent. Meanwhile, music saved its soul; the melodies of Mozart and Beethoven, Mahler and Schonberg have made Vienna an everlasting arbiter of high culture. So high, at times, that it seemed inflated; during its fin-de- siecle coffeehouse phase, bohemian Viennese self-mockingly referred to their city as the merry apocalypse. This smooth veneer of Straussian waltzes and Gemiitlichkeit (good nature) concealed a darker side expressed in Freud’s theo ries, and later in Musil’s Man Without Qualities. Although the city has a reputa tion for living absent-mindedly in its grand past, the recently opened MuseumsQuartier, an ultra-modern venue for architecture, film, theater, and dance, proves that Vienna is still writing its own dynamic brand of history.
Rights: The Wien-Schwechat Fiughafen (VIE; 700 72 22 33) is home to Austrian Air lines (051 76 60; www.aua.com). The airport is 18km from the city center; the cheapest way to reach the city is S7 FlughafenWolfsthal, which stops at Wien Mitte (30min. every 30min. 5am-llpm, ‚3). The heart of the city, Stephansplatz, is a short Metro ride from Wien Mitte on the U3 line. The Vienna Airport Lines Shuttle Bus, which runs between the airport and the City Air Terminal, at the Hilton opposite Wien Mitte, is more convenient, but also more expensive. (93 00 00 23 00. Every 20min. 6:30am- 11:10pm, every 30min. midnight-6am; ‚5.80.) Buses connect the airport to the Sud- bahnhof and Westbahnhof (see below) every 30min. 8:25am-6:55pm and every hr. from 5:30-8:25am and 6:55pm-12:10am.
Trains: Vienna has two main train stations with international connections. For general train info, dial 05 17 17 (24hr.) or check www.oebb.at.
Westbahnhof, XV, Mariahilferstr. 132. Most trains head west, but a few go east and north. To: Amsterdam (14Vihr. daily, ‚159); Berlin Zoo (llhr. daily, ‚123); Budapest (3-4hr. 3 per day, ‚38); Hamburg (SS’ihr. 2 per day, ‚125); Innsbruck (5-6hrž 2 per day, ‚49); Munich (4V2hr. 5 per day, ‚63); Paris (14hr. 2 per day, ‚13); Salzburg (32hr. every hr. ‚37); Zurich (9
Siidbahnhof, X, Wiedner Gurtel la. Trains generally go south and east. To: Graz (2%hr. every hr. ‚27); Krakow (7-8hr. 3 per day, ‚46); Prague (4V4hr. 5 per day, ‚46); Rome (14hr. daily, ‚101); Venice (9-10hr. 3 per day, ‚72). Info counter open daily 6:30am-9pm.
Buses: Buses in Austria are seldom cheaper than trains; compare prices before buying a ticket. City bus terminals at Wien MitteLandstr. Hutteldorf, Heiligenstadt, Floridsdorf, Kagran, Erdberg, and Reumannpl. BundesBuses run from these stations. Ticket counters open M-F 6am-5:50pm, Sa-Su 6am-3:50pm. Many international bus lines also have agencies in the stations. For info, call BundesBus ( 711 01; 7am-10pm). Hitchhiking: Those headed for Salzburg take U4 to Hutteldorf; the highway is 10km far ther. Hitchhikers traveling south often ride tram #67 to the last stop and wait at the rotary near Laaerberg. Let’s Go does not recommend hitchhiking.