Maybe it’s the wine, two glasses of crisp white Grüner Veltliner, downed on an empty stomach to still the flutters at the start of my stay. I flew into Vienna a day early and am waiting for my wife Claudie to join me. She’s French, and for her Austria is primarily a European neighbor nation steeped, like Paris, in culture and history, its capital a jewel of a city with grand boulevards, resplendent palaces, world-class museums and concert halls, and cozy cafés. Maybe it’s my mood and where I am in life: sixty-four, my parents long gone, and the tingle of time nipping at my heels. Dare I let go and indulge in the city’s abundant delights?
A looming anniversary brings the past too close for comfort. On March 12, 2018, it will be eighty years since the Anschluß, when German soldiers crossed the border unresisted, jubilant masses mobbed Vienna’s sprawling Heldenplatz to welcome the invaders with a native Austrian at their helm, and my parents fled for their lives.
That was then, this is now, I try to tell myself, as if Vienna is just another popular destination and I am just another tourist. Read More