Sunday, April 18, 2010


from ole Billy Bry Bryson:

Now he's heading to Vienna:

{Nobody goes to Graz. Nobody knows about it. It's the second largest city in Austria (way behind Vienna), but it gets left out. That's ok, though. You know why? Because it's not full of tourists, but it's just as wondey, and it makes it especially nice for those of us living here and for the 12 tourists a year that actually do visit (not counting our families...they are way inflating the statistic this year..the Graz tourism industry hasn't seen such a jump since 2003 when Graz was the UNESCO Cultural Capital of Europe.) And, none of that Salzburg tourist crap here that Bill Bryson wrote about. Just genuine Graz. No fanny packs and white tennis shoes. Just those ugly Euro black ones. It's a hidden treasure.}

I'm only putting a few accompanying internet photos because my class is going Thursday for a day field trip and I will show you my own soon!
{I better get some goodies.}

"There is a curiously durable myth that European trains are wonderfully swift and smooth and a dream to travel on. The trains in Europe are in fact often tediously slow and for the most part the railways persist in the antiquated system of dividing the carriages into compartments. I used to think this was rather jolly and friendly, but you soon discover that this is like spending seven hours in a waiting room waiting for a doctor who never arrives. You are forced into awkward intimacy with strangers, which I always find unsettling. If you do anything at all - take something from your pocket, stifle a yawn, rummage in your backpack - everyone looks over to see what you're up to.... ....and of course there is nothing like being trapped in a train compartment on a long journey to bring all those unassuageable little frailties of the human body crowding into the front of your mind - the withheld fart, the three and a half square yards of boxer short that have somehow become concertinaed between your buttocks...


"At Vienna's huge Westbahnhof I paid to have a room found for me, then walked to the city centre along the long and ugly Mariahilfer Strasse, wondering if I had been mislead about the glories of Vienna. For a mile and a half, the street was lined with seedy-looking discount stores and customers to match.

...but then near the Hofburg palace I passed into the charmed circle of the Ringstrasse and it was like the sun breaking out from behind the clouds. Everything was lovely and golden.

...Graben and Kärntnerstrasse are two spacious pedestrian shopping streets that dominate the heart of Vienna, and between them they provide Vienna with the finest pedestrian thoroughfare in Europe. Strøget (in Copenhagen, Denmark) may be a hair longer, others may have slightly more interesting buildings, and a few may be fractionally more elegant, but none is all of these things. I knew within minutes that I was going to like Vienna."


"I went to a nearby Konditorei for coffee and a 15,000-calorie slice of cake and read in the Observer Guide to Vienna."

"The woman at the postcard stand didn't speak English and when I held up a Dürer postcard and asked her where the original painting was, she just kept saying, with that irritableness for which the Viennese are noted, 'Ja, ja, das is ein postcard,' as if I had said, 'Pardon me, is this a postcard or is it snack food?' and refused to try to grasp my question until finally I had no choice but to slap her to the ground and leave." (Oh Billy, I feel your pain.)

Apart from her, however, I didn't find the Viennese especially rude and pushy, which rather disappointed me, because I had heard many times that they are the most disagreeable people in Europe. I was also promised that at the famous Café Landtmann, 'the waiters and cloak-room attendants treat you like shit' and this was certainly close to my experience. I didn't feel precisely like excrement, but the waiters certainly did have that studied air of superiority that you find among a certain class of European waiter. I always think, 'Well if you're so hot how come I'm sitting down and you're doing the fetching?'


"Vienna is certainly the grandest city I have ever seen. All along the Ringstrasse colossal buildings proclaim an imperial past - the parliament, the Palace of Justice, the Natural History Museum, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, the opera house, the Burgtheater and above all the Hofburg, with its 2,600 rooms. They all look much the same - mighty piles of granite and sandstone with warlike statuary crowded along the roofs and pediments. A Martian coming to earth would unhesitating land at Vienna, thinking it the capital of the planet."

And I'll stop there before he gets into Austrian politics and President Waldheim.

I hope you enjoyed these little excerpts. Almost the whole chapter, actually!

I'll let you know my own take on Wien after our little trip!


Christian said...

12 tourists a year? Time to change this! I should make a list on my site why to visit also graz :-)

Amy said...

when do you go to vienna? just for the day?

Nocturnal Queen said...

Interesting read. Maybe someday I'll get to visit your town, and hopefully all of Europe.

I have an award for you at my blog. :-)

jja said...

Since I love Vienna and lived there for some months I enjoyed photos. German trains are great, just try ICE, in couple of hours you can cross whole county. Austrian trains I didn't try yet.

Anonymous said...

saag ma warum hat euer hund auf manchen bildern nen kurzen schwanz und manchmal nen langen

Carolyn said...

weil auf manchen bildern sie ist mit dem Schwanz wedelt so schnell, man kann nicht alle sehen!

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