A true Wiener says things like, “my dad is Bohemian and my mom’s from Hungary, which makes me as Viennese as it gets!” In language, cuisine, culture and attitude, Vienna attributes its differentness (Wien ist anders) to its history as a social, artistic and intellectual melting pot. But along with the remnants of Empire, Vienna is used to being surrounded by a world in flux. And perhaps that is what has bred the instinctive resistance to change, the political neutrality since the 1950s and a steadfast hold on Gemütlichkeit as a way of life. When you’re surrounded by eight wild cards, you might as well take a step back and see what happens.
In our Cover Story award-winning Czech journalist Martin Ehl examines Austria’s evolving relations with its ex-communist neighbors and the opportunities and challenges we face going forward. For the countries of the Balkans, assimilation into the new Europe has been a long and sparsely paved road, as we see in the Special Report. In Vienna, expats and heirs of the former Yugoslavia bond through a shared history, in bars, clubs, and a special slang, the worldview of the ex-Yugo. Further back, we look at the aid Austria and its neighbors received after WWII through the Marshall Plan – perhaps the last time the U.S. was universally applauded – that helped build the Europe we know today.
But times have changed. Austria and Vienna have taken on a new role in Europe. On our international pages, you’ll find each neighbor’s relationship to Austria outlined, highlighting key developments and idiosyncrasies. Business has sought to redefine the role of Austria as a gateway to Central Europe, but perhaps – as we see in our business story – in the subculture of start-ups, it may be a gateway back for CEE to the rest of the EU. And post-Brexit, Vienna is vying for two EU agencies that are leaving London, which could bring new opportunities to our city.
Austria’s relationship with Germany has come a long way, from big brother/little brother to poking fun, as Andreas Rainer shows in his op-ed “Don’t call me Tüte”. Then there are the times when you love your neighbor so much you want to make it official: see How To Get Hitched in Vienna.
Assumptions are not always negative, nor do they need to rely on historical ties. In the Melange interview, the irresistible head of Stella Models Roberta Manganelli talks of being Italian in Vienna and how catcalls create a culture clash.
South African Richard Asher takes us to dine in three imperial capitals in just one day. And for our Last Word, we’ve chosen Schlawiner, a lovable person who can’t be trusted, and yes, it comes from our neighbor to the south.
In our On The Town pages, you’ll find the best the city has to offer, on stage, in cinemas, on your plate and in your glass, not to mention great gift ideas for jewelry in our Style pages. Don’t miss the Events Calendar with a selection of dates for the cool and curious.
Everyone has a story; just ask your neighbor, and if you haven’t met yet, remember…
don’t be a stranger,