Vienna is very beautiful - this aspect of Vienna is understated by world travelers. The place is so painstakingly maintained, the historical buildings and monuments lovingly looked after, that just walking a few long blocks can infuse you with a sense of wonder. You have to love the Viennese for that. I've been here four times now and envy people who live here. The public transportation is great, the cultural life is first-rate, the infrastructure runs as smooth as can be.
In contrast to the buttoned-up personalities of rural Austrians, Vienna has has a fine old history of tolerance of Bohemian lifestyles, social freedom, and appreciation of ground-breaking artistic accomplishment. Beethoven, Schubert, Schoenberg, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and the Secessionists all flourished here. You're reminded of this everywhere, and my intuition tells me that its influence extends beyond a tour guide's rap and still lives on in the general population.
Great street eats, too. Eat a bratwurst on the street with an Eidelweiss, it'll fix you right up.
THE BAD CITY
The old joke goes: Austrians will try to tell you that Beethoven was Austrian and Hitler was a German.
The outsized slip of Austrian haughtiness is always showing despite latent attempts to hide it. The place reeks of understated affluence. Touring the city, one constantly wonders where the money comes from.
When Andi, a lifetime Budapesti, got her first glimpse of the city she was a bit awed. "Where do the poor people live?," she asked. "Hungary," I answered.