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Dress your best in showpiece music capital

Costa Rica

The city will celebrate 2010 with the traditional starburst of elegance, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra’s New Year’s Concert, broadcasted worldwide from the Golden Hall of the Musikverein. Tickets? In your dreams. However you can share in this glorious concert, mainly waltzes by the Strauss family, live on a big screen in front of City Hall. The New Year’s Trail, with live music, operettas projected outside the opera house, and seasonal culinary treats opens the previous afternoon. It starts at City Hall, with attractions running through the old city to Stephansplatz, the epicenter of the celebrations. Everything stops on the stroke of midnight as the great Pummerin bell in St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the largest in Austria, booms in the New Year, www.wienerriesenrad.com

Wonder view

The London Eye is bigger and slicker, but Vienna’s Ferris wheel, recently
refurbished, in Prater Park, has real vintage. It was built in 1897 by
Briton Walter Basset. It’s a good place to survey
the awe and might of the Habsburgs, who ruled the Austro-Hungarian Empire
from their court here. The Hofburg, the dynasty’s winter palace, is the
finest thing in the inner City, along with St. Stephan''s Cathedral. The
Museum of Fine Arts contains the world’s largest Bruegel collection. (Museum
Hundertwasser shows photographs by Annie Leibovitz until Jan 31, 2010.) The
72 hour Vienna card, (buy at the airport for a discount on the train in)
gives free use of public transport. Use it, with a good map, to make the
sightseeing easier. Find time for the Danube and the Vienna Woods.

Strictly ballroom

Vienna is world capital of the formal ball, and there’s room on the dance
floor for the Strictly-inspired. The official five-week season – it opens on
New Year’s Eve with the Kaiserball at the Hofburg Imperial Palace - includes
many grand and dazzling events. But in recent years the schedule has grown
to over 300 balls, and now lasts into the summer. There is huge demand for
the gala events, soon sold out to insiders. But it is possible to buy
tickets – try wien.info. No dancing skill is required to attend a ball,
but dress your best. If you want to impress in the polka, the waltz and
traditional quadrille at midnight, consider lessons at somewhere like
Elmayer Dance School. (They hold their own ball).

Third at 60

Film directors have tried so many versions of the dramatic entrance for the
main character. But, for me, no one beats Carol Reed, picking out Orson
Welles, as Harry Lime, on a glistening wet pavement in Vienna just 60 years
ago in The Third Man. Was so much mood and tension ever generated in a
city''s streets, and in black and white? Was the zither ever hit so hard (by
Anton Karas)?
Take the In the Footsteps of the Third Man tour, and cast yourself as the
Joseph Cotton character, tailing Lime''s shadowy figure in fedora, striding
through pools of street light. It includes a descent into the sewers – the
scene of one of film’s most claustrophobic chases. .
There’s a weekly screening in the Burgkino Cinema.
The museum of The Third Man'' is on Pressgasse.

Mozart magic

Mozart was a towering musical genius. But not everybody thought so at the
time. In the film Amadeus he loses a musical play-off to mediocre court
composer Salieri. “Too many notes” said the emperor. That happened in the
Orangerie at Schönbrunn Palace (now a café) one of 20 or so locations where
you cross Mozart’s path on a self-guided tour in Vienna. In the Hall of
Mirrors at Schönbrunn, where the Empress meets the boy wonder. At the
cathedral, where he was married; and St. Marx Cemetery, where he was buried
in a common grave. The newest thing, opened in 2006, in the apartment where
he lived in grand style, is the outstanding Mozarthaus, with several
floors of displaY and detail on the Vienna of the day.

High note city

Music flows through Vienna like an invisible river in spate. Just about the
only place you don''t hear it is in the Central Cemetery - scene of the Third
Man''s opening. Here the A Team of the classics - Beethoven, Schubert and
Brahms – are buried. Over the next two years the city celebrates another of
its musical revolutionaries, composer Gustav Mahler – the sublime slow
movement of his fifth Symphony is the movie Death in Venice. 2010 is the 150
anniversary of his birth; 2011 the centenary of his death. Many of his
symphonies will be performed in the city’s great venues, including the
Musikverein, by the world’s great orchestras, including the Vienna
Philharmonic. Elsewhere the musical options include The Vienna Boys'' Choir,
often in concert, and on Sundays in Hofburg Chapel. ()
The Lipizzaner stallions practise and perform (to music) at the Spanish Riding School.

Coffee cup winner

Vienna doesn’t do pub crawls. Try the coffee saunter, instead. Each of its
50 or so classic cafes is a unique refuge from a frantic world. While
international coffee shop names are standardizing cities, Vienna promotes
glorious diversity. They range from the stalwart old haunts of artists and
writers, such as café Hawelka, Diglas, and Griensteidl, through to the
formidable Hotel Sacher, which invented the Sachertorte, an emperor of a
chocolate cake, and Café Demel who claimed it was their recipe. Asking for a
simple coffee simply won’t do. The sacared drink is served 20 to 30
different ways, and that could be in one café. Melange (half coffee, half
milk) and Kapuziner (with milk and whipped cream) are safe beginner’s
choices. Then abandon yourself to those pastries, study Viennese café society, read the newspapers, or start your next book.

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