Vienna, Austria

Surprisingly, Vienna was our least favorite stop on our trip. Don’t get me wrong, we are glad we went, and Prague to Vienna to Budapest is a sequence I’d recommend to everyone. But Vienna is more sophisticated and self-assured than the others. It has a royal heritage, from the days when the Hapsburg empire ruled most of Europe and beyond. A driving force in classical music, home to the Lipizzaner stallions, with museums in a class with London and Paris, and perhaps beyond. This is the coffee house city, where cultured elites read newspapers and tell the rest of the world how things should be run — even if they are not listening. And unlike the other cities, they don’t NEED tourists. If you want to come and see how cool they are, fine. We’re happy to take your money and show you what your life is missing. If not, that’s fine, too.

Go to Vienna. It has great history, fabulous music and its coffee shops are wonderful. Everything runs with Germanic efficiency, and more than a touch of self-assured pride. But it’s a little too much like Frasier Crane for my taste.