Small Wonder

According to some organization, Vienna is the most “liveable” city in the world.  I can see why, and I could live there in a heartbeat.  I’ve often commented on my love for Vienna — to this day, it’s the only city that is so beautiful that the first time I went there, I walked the streets with tears running down my cheeks.

I don’t know what criteria the EIU set to decide livability, but here are mine:

1)  It must be beautiful.  Vienna has that, in spades.

2)  There must be lots of culture:  art, music and all the rest.  Feel free to tell me Vienna doesn’t have that  covered.  Here’s the Kunsthistoriches (Art History) museum, see also beauty (above)

…and as for music?  Even their street musicians are a cut above the rest (he was playing Mozart  tunes, FFS):


3)  The people must be well-mannered, well-dressed and classy.  Vienna:  check, check and check.  The Viennese are terribly formal, which suits me down to the ground.

4)  A relaxed lifestyle.  Vienna = café culture, maybe even more so than Paris.  And oooh the coffee…

5) Good food, and restaurants.  Here’s Vienna’s equivalent of Whole Foods, or maybe M&S Food Court.  Let me tell you:  I know  grocery stores, and Julius Meinl is the best in the world.

Let’s not forget the street markets:

So yeah:  if somebody stuck a gun to my head and said, “You have to go and live in Vienna!”, I’d snatch the gun away and shoot him before he could change his mind.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn’t list a couple of negatives about Vienna.  (A German I met once said, “Vienna would be beautiful, except for the Viennese”, and my only qualification of his opinion is that of the language.)

I speak German reasonably well, and can get around most of Germany without too much hassle (once I’ve been  there a few days and have caught up — you don’t use it, you lose it, and I’ve pretty much lost it).  That’s not true in Vienna, where the local patois is incomprehensible, even to a lot of Germans.  (In the early days in Munich, Hitler had to take a few elocution lessons because people couldn’t understand his Austrian-accented speeches.)

Also:  in winter, it’s witch’s tit cold.  Holy balls.  Even coming from Chicago as I did, Viennese winters are cold, Bubba.  The only good thing about winter there is that it keeps most of the tourists away — which brings me to my last quibble:  in summer, Vienna has more tourists per square yard than the average day at DisneyWorld.

But in summer, the weather is glorious and the whole city seems to sing.  The multitude of statues to Beethoven, Mozart, Brahms and Strauss (all of whom lived in Vienna) must have something to do with it…

Mein schönes Wien… I need to get back there, and soon.

As for the rest of the “ten most liveable” cities on that list?  Ugh.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s Snow White and the Nine Dwarfs.

And one wonders how anyone could put Vienna and Toronto (???!!!) on the same such list, with a straight face.


  1. Weird ratings.

    I live in #5 but agree with much of what you say about Vienna. Calgary has almost none of the strengths of Vienna, which has almost none of the strengths of Calgary. It’s almost as if a group of urbanites rated Vienna and a group of anti-urbanites rated Calgary.

    Here in Calgary I can take long green urban walks, with pathways along 2 rivers and several creeks, through huge prairie parks, get to smashing skiing, boating in uncrowded waters, hiking, camping on prairies, badlands, isolated lakes and mountains, etc,etc. It’s pretty calm, orderly, quiet and peaceful here, the Diversity is mostly high end diversity and they fit right in.

    Getting a high end restaurant meal, or something lesser, other than a chain, is not so easy, except for ethnic food which is excellent. There are exactly 2 shops in town worthy of being called a Konditorei, and they’re so small their selection is limited. As for public culture, arts, architecture, the less said the better. Appalling shite.

    And Vancouver? One of my brothers lives there. Nice moderate climate, wet but warm, but a socialist hellhole rapidly turning itself into San Francisco.

    1. What I’ve seen of Vancouver, I’d question their rating methods. Every bit of dirt, drugs, gangs, and prostitution that any other liberal cesspit can claim is theirs. Add every single home having a woodstove burning in pea soup fog. You can’t breath or even see outside in the winter. The only redeeming feature is, you can escape the city in a reasonably short time to Grouse Mtn. or Whistler/Blackcomb, Golden Ears, or maybe out on the salt water.

  2. Different strokes. I don’t find any city particularly attractive (Urban and Ugly both start with a U for a reason IMHO) and I am getting to the point where I really don’t want to be around crowds of people. (“You should go to this event. Everybody will be there!” “That’s why I’m not going.”)

    There’s nothing on your list that would cause me to give up my (small and pitiful I know) firearms collection and stop carrying in order to indulge.

    Despite being stuck in an urban area through circumstances, I’m more of a big country small town type of guy. YMMV.

    What I like about you Kim is that you have a more refined taste in things that you enjoy without the pretentious condescension so many with the same tastes seem to project.

    1. Gotta agree. I’ve never been in a city I could stand. Mostly due to the crush of people all around. I like living near the mountains and away from the throngs of people. I don’t even really miss any city amenities. If I desperately need something I can’t get in my small town, I can either order it or go to a city. Where I am, I get fresh air, basically zero crime, and about 1500 people to deal with (besides tourists), and I can still get everything I want or need.

  3. Ok I can fully understand the love of culture, art, history etc. But I have no regard at my advanced age of any city/country where I can not own guns unfettered. Where I can shoot said guns on a regular basis. Where my neighbors own and shoot guns.

    I would not move to Canada even though my family lives there. My youngest went to college there. The idea that some govt toadie would need to be watching over my shoulder that I am a gun owner sickens me.

    If I were POTUS, which aint never happening, I would demand that all forms of foreign aide, military or money, carry an absolute agreement that those countries make gun ownership a right.

    Reminds me of when I was a teenager. Next door neighbor who was a wwii vet and had spent 4 years in combat both in Europe and the Pacific said of Europe that we should kill all the people there and make it a hunting preserve. I like the idea.

    Maybe Switzerland. Maybe.

  4. So yeah: if somebody stuck a gun to my head and said, “You have to go and live in Vienna!”, I’d snatch the gun away and shoot him before he could change his mind.

    verbal gold.

  5. My values differ from those on any ‘best city’ list.

    In the 1990s, I lived in the rural Cottage Grove, Oregon area.
    The population was around 3,000.
    Everybody knew everybody.
    Commitment to follow-through on agreements was very high on everybody’s list.

    Now, in 2019, the population of the Cottage Grove area exceeds 60,000… many of them are CALIFORNIANS.
    The CALIFORNIANS brought their ‘special’ brand of politics.
    And, as you might expect, drugs and thieves thrive, and the commitments valued by old-timers are fading into ‘quaintness’, something to be wondered at in a museum.

    Around 10,000 years ago, our species transitioned from nomadic hunter-gatherers and pastoral animists to agriculture and cities, from extended family-tribes to managers and administrators, from experiencing everything as spirit to the terror of monotheism.
    I wonder if the planet was infested with a virus from a meteor.
    It sure seems sick.

  6. Must concur on the beauty and functionality of Venice. I spent a week there last year (my first visit) and I can’t wait to get back. But I don’t have it quite so high on my list of favorites. Granted I’ve not seen too terribly much of the Yurp, my preference would be the unaffordable bits of Paris first (5eme, 6eme, 7eme), Munich, Galway, and Helsinki. On the other hand you couldn’t pay me to live in Britishland (except perhaps a remote bit of the Scottish Highlands), Dublin, the south of France or anyplace hot for that matter. Prague I’m split over. Gorgeous, historical, good food offerings, great beer, relatively cheap, but a lot of remnants from the Bad Old Days too, with crime/corruption too high to make living there palatable.

  7. I will confess to adoring Vienna. It’s Paris…if Paris were run with Teutonic efficiency and cleanliness.

    It helps to remember that the heart of the shooting sports is found in South Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Northern Italy. Every town has a well-equipped range.

  8. I could see a case for Toronto, maybe.

    But Calgary?

    And Adelaide?

    Also: Vienna is especially cold in winter? Compared to where?

    The average low in December-January-February is right at freezing.

    Compare to Minneapolis, which averages 3C below freezing. Or Berlin, -2.3C.

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