I realised I’ve not written about the city, and my stay, unfortunately is nearly at an end. I love Vienna, the coffee houses, the cakes, the buildings, the museum, the people – the list could go on!
I’ve managed to negotiate the city with ease. Vienna has an awesome transport system with trams and buses arriving literally within minutes. I’ve taken a DIY Rick Steve’s audio guided tour around the Ring which was the old perimeter of the city. Instead of spending 10 euro for a tour, I used the tram, I jumped off at suggested places, and leapt back on. A travel card is more expensive than Berlin, but for 16.20 euro a week, excellent value.
The Staatsopera is one of the most famous in the world. I would have loved to have gone to a performance, but at a very steep 250 euro for the cheapest seat, ok, Anna Netrebko was performing, decided to pass. I needed to see inside it because a scene from one of my books is set there. I found the ideal solution. A guided tour of the opera house for 7.50 euro. Tours are given in four languages. My guide spoke English extremely well and we were taken on a back-stage tour, and saw how enormous the stage is. Every day the props need to be changed because the Staatsopera never performs the same opera on subsequent days.
‘The Third Man’ has always been one of my all time favourite movies. Vienna has a privately-run museum dedicated to it. A guided tour is conducted twice a week, and a very entertaining and informative tour it was. The owners have spent an extraordinary amount of time and money building a collection that is outstanding. Lots of stills from the movie, posters from different countries and even a script with notes by Trevor Howard written in it. Apparently, he wasn’t sober the whole time he was on location in Vienna. The movie was a massive success everywhere except Austria. The Austrians hated it. They didn’t like the way they were portrayed in the movie as unhelpful to the police, liars and eating awful food.
Did you know that Vienna was occupied after WWII by the four Allied Powers? It lasted for ten years and in 1955 elections were held. Stalin gave his agreement to this, only because he believed there would be overwhelming support for the Communist party which there wasn’t. Stalin could do nothing about this as he had made an agreement with the three Allied powers. Austria had elections and the Social Democrats won and formed a government. The price Austria paid for their part in WWII? Austria must always stay neutral, it can never align itself with any other country in the face of war.
I bought a poster for 10 euro but it cost me 20 euro to post it home, but I don’t expect many Kiwis will have a ‘The Third Man’ poster in German in their living room.
I decided to take a ride on the Prater wheel, which features in the movie. What a disappointment! It cost 10 euro, and I wish I’d saved my money. The ride is supposed to take 15 minutes, but I hadn’t realised it had become a romantic date venue. It took 10 minutes for couples to be ushered into individual carriages and then the wheel would begin again. I recall coming here about 20 years ago and the draughty wooden carriages were still in use. Sometimes it’s not a great idea to revisit the past.
In Germany, as part of their studies students must visit Holocaust monuments and camps. I asked a young Austrian woman this question. Students study WWII history for six months, and that’s it. In Vienna, older people are very reluctant to discuss WWII and the Holocaust. It’s seems to have been swept under the carpet. I’ll write a little more about this next time.
I’ve found the Viennese delightful, warm with beautiful manners. There are so many tourists here it would drive me nuts, but most of them are helpful and gracious when asked a question.
Next time more famous sights of Vienna!