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Originality in Gift Giving

Originality in Gift Giving

Insead of pitying the (wo)man who has everything, give them something unique and original. At Christmas time it’s more than  family, it’s also the house presents for countless Christmas and New Year’s parties. A box of cookies or bottle of wine will surely disappear in no time. So where to find the perfect individualised gift? […]

Agatha Christie’s Courtroom Thriller: Style and a Twist

Agatha Christie’s Courtroom Thriller: Style and a Twist

Agatha Christie is always a treat. A full parade of villains and charmers, elegant settings from a time we feel was much nicer than our own, and a twist in the tale that keeps us engaged to the end. Witness for the Prosecution, originally not a play at all but a short story entitled Traitor […]

Sex, Drugs and Violin Concertos

Sex, Drugs and Violin Concertos

By all accounts, Niccolò Paganini led an interesting life: Part of the first crop of world-famous violin virtuosos, his skill on the fiddle was unrivalled: He was capable of playing an entire concerto on a single string – a near necessity, as he frequently broke strings during performances. It is not his skill however, but […]

Trailing the Krampus

Trailing the Krampus

It is cold and dark. It’s November 24, and I have been waiting in the bitter cold behind metallic fences for more than an hour. Many others, both children and adults, wait for the Krampuslauf (Krampus parade) to start. Some are drinking Punsch, and everyone appears excited. I have seen pictures of the Krampus, but […]

Scent of a City – Exploring Local Colognes

Scent of a City – Exploring Local Colognes

What are the scents that define Vienna? I don’t mean Kaiserschmarrn with warm plums or Christmas market punch or the acrid smell of the carriage horses by Stephansdom. I mean the bottled fragrances – perfumes, colognes, waters, oils – that cannot be purchased around the world in duty-free carts. Seven generations of the Filz family […]

Music to Vanquish Nations

Music to Vanquish Nations

The camera is focused on a tall, ornate opera house, and we hear the orchestra surge under a deep, soaring bass. It pans down to show two small people walking out. The young woman – Diane Keaton – is protesting; they had a deal, she says in the famous scene in Woody Allen’s Manhattan Murder […]

Tenerife: Eccentricity of Nature

Tenerife: Eccentricity of Nature

The final stretch of single track back to the Tenerife village of La Guancha plunged down steeply over loose rocks. It was a hurtling, stomach-lurching, twisting, arm-jarring descent through the pine trees. Tall flowers lined the path and through the larger gaps between the trees, there were glimpses of the deep blue Atlantic Ocean. My […]

A Ballroom Reborn

A Ballroom Reborn

On 16 August, 2001 a fire broke out on Marxergasse in Vienna’s 3rd District. Allegedly caused by a careless workman, the flames raged for eight hours. Only when the smoke cleared could the damage be assessed: The legendary Sofiensäle, once Vienna’s most beloved ballroom, was a smouldering ruin.   Bath to ballroom The story of […]

Lucian Freud’s Naked Truth

Lucian Freud’s Naked Truth

The poster causes double-takes all over town. It shows a painting with two figures lying naked together. Their faces and bodies are twisted away from one another, the man lies confidently like someone who has been satisfied, and the woman is curled up, on the edge of the bed. My first impression was the uneasy […]

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