Reviewed by P.P.O. Kane
The Rough Guide to Vienna
By Rob Humphreys
Rough Guides, 2011 (Sixth edition)
Happy to have got ahold of Rob Humphreys’ guide to one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Vienna is relatively small as capital cities go, hence many of its key cultural attractions are close together, and it is surrounded by beautiful countryside – the much vaunted, verdant Wienerwald. There’s much to see and do.
In the book there are chapters devoted to each area of the city, both central (e.g. the Innere Stadt, the Hofburg and the Vorstadte) and outlying (Leopoldstadt, Schonbrunn and Hietzing). The Kunsthistorisches Museum, reowned above all for its Bruegel room, which featured in the film Museum Hours, is given its own chapter. There’s a lot of practical information: listings of hotels, cafes and restaurants; specialist shops; music and arts festivals; plenty of city maps and the lowdown on the transport system (the U-Bahn in particular is wonderfully efficient for getting about).
Colour sections cover that venerable Viennese institution the Kaffeeehaus, the Secession (Klimt and company’s art movement) and suggest some twenty things to see and do. However, it is true to say that there’s little colour throughout most of the book, unlike say in Stephen Brook’s DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Vienna, but the density and diversity of information makes up for it. Also, Humphreys is strong on the often troubled history of Vienna and includes thumbnail essays on Freud, Wittgenstein, Mozart and other Viennese figures of note, two things that Brook’s book doesn’t do.
All in all, an excellent guide.
About the reviewer: P.P.O. Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org