PRIOR to travelling to Vienna, my only real knowledge of the city stemmed from my love of Carol Reed’s 1949 classic noir thriller, The Third Man, which sees Joseph Cotton unfurling the mystery surrounding the disappearance of his friend Orson Welles in the Austrian capital.

My own visit revealed a starkly different side to Vienna than that gloomy, war-weary city. I found a place brimming with life, and fiercely proud of its grand traditions, but vibrantly hurtling into an exciting future.

We were flying on the inaugural flight of low-cost airline’s new route from Manchester to Vienna and with prices starting from just £43 one way — I can imagine it is set to be hugely successful.

As a tall chap, I am often frustrated by a lack of leg room on aeroplanes but the spacious seating on my outgoing flight provided an excellent start to proceedings.

A champagne reception at Vienna International Airport, attended by Austrian television stations made it immediately evident that this new operation is a big deal for both destinations.

Venturing into the city, the scale and grandeur of Vienna’s architecture struck me straight away – the same exquisite structures I had seen Cotton and Welles marauding past previously but this time bathed in sunlight and surrounded by throngs of trendy, young people out to grab their slice of Vienna’s cultural pie.

We were escorted to the fabulous Penta Hotel, not far from the city centre, a sleek, modern venue that is quite unlike anywhere I’ve stayed before: extremely cool and comfortable with neon lighting and an expansive lounge area, the perfect place for down time.

Our sightseeing began with a sample of the epic Ringstrasse, a ring-road encircling Vienna’s central district that is overflowing with late 19th century mansions and public buildings — next year the much-loved road will be 150 years old and much is planned for the lavish celebrations.

Next up we were welcomed into the masterful Winter Palace, the hugely indulgent former home of Prince Eugene of Savoy is a must-see, especially for those with a penchant for extravagant gold interiors.

It is impossible to talk about Vienna without mentioning the city’s love affair with its iconic cuisine. It is a fare that is beautiful in its simplicity and unashamedly robust. The city’s menu draws on combined influences of neighbouring countries absorbed during Vienna’s extended period at the heart of the powerful Austro-Hungarian empire.

White wine is also an integral part of Viennese culture with no other world capital producing significant quantities of wine within its boundaries.

During a tasting session at Heuriger Mayer am Pfarrplatz, a charmingly rustic tavern which can boast a certain Herr Beethoven as a former patron, we discovered an excellent range of crisp and refreshing wines which perfectly complemented more hearty and tasty food. Who knew?

There is simply not enough space here for me to extol the many virtues of this elegant city but mentions should be made of the excellent museums quarter where you can meet for a drink and a chat before entering a number of fascinating worlds, including the Leopold Museum, where the masters Klimt and Schiele hold court.

Make sure to also frequent any number of Vienna’s superb coffee shops. Ranging from the high class to the shabby-chic, there is something for a plethora of palettes, I like to think that Messrs Cotton and Welles will have done so after a long day’s filming.