Vienna: It Might Mean Something to You
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For those that know the song, it might mean nothing to Midge Ure and co but it might mean something to you. In the rock n’ roll lifestyle of an English teacher you can find yourself anywhere including Austria, not a known country for the TESOL world so you can imagine my surprise.
I had only two previous encounters, one in 2000 (see the Voyage of Nomad book) when Austria still used the Schilling as its currency and the other, a night at the airport enroute to Bratislava (2017). So a visit was long overdue (and also as timing would dictate, short).
You might call Vienna airport, the Hong Kong of Europe with its flashy grey flight board after which comes which ticket to Vienna itself? To their credit the team at the airport inform me of the Salzburg train when they could’ve recommended the more pricey airport train. Big thanks team VIE.
Once in the city’s uber cool central station (Hauptbahnhof) rivalled only by Berlin’s, my first port of call is to deposit my luggage and pleasantly find I can fit both bags into a locker for the princely sum of 2.00eu Yay! My next mission is to find a bottle of water and a toilet.
The first comes by way of the huge INTERSPAR supermarket within the station which doubles as a shopping mall. Like many stations in continental Europe you’ll have to pay .50c for the privilege to use the facilities so I nip out into the street and utilise the IBIS hotel toilets – good call me.
The next mission is to simply see as much of the central city in a few hours to jog the memory and update myself. On the map I’ve downloaded I quickly see if I follow the parks in a northerly direction I should be within striking distance of a tourist info office.
PARKS AND EMBASSIES
The first of these is Belvedere – cue photo and there are a lot of embassies in the immediate vicinity: Brazil, Spain, France – the latter especially resplendent as is the dome of Karlskirche which catches my eye.
Being Vienna means there’s no shortage of old world cafe’s. I just wish I’d had more time to indulge but I’m travelling on a pretty hefty stomach from breakfast. In any case if you wanted some pointers; Cafe Schwartenburg, Cafe Mozart, and AIDA stand out.
Another aspect of the city to be aware of is the cyclists. Vienna has a reputation for being the rudest city and if the cyclists are anything to go by that is certainly the case.
KULTUR WITH A K
Vienna is not just about Ultravox or FALCO, it’s also known for it’s classical composers. For an education on that, the HAUS DER MUSIK would be a good place to start. And not far away is MUSIK REGION KULTUR (not sure what it is or does) and the Opera House. I should also mention that part of Wang Chung’s 1986 record Mosaic was recorded in the city, here’s some commentary from singer Jack Hues.
“We recorded in London for about 6 weeks, then moved to Vienna. I know the brass parts on Everybody Have Fun were done there and we worked on the intro collage for The World in Which We Live. Let’s Go too – I think we did a lot on all the tracks in Vienna.”
The statue of GOETHE which I shot on a dreary March day in 2000 is now bathed in a sumptuous sunlight beneath a blue spring sky. Continuing my walk via Volksgarten I end up in more familiar territory and the parliament building I shot on the same day 22 years ago is part smothered in scaffolding – what’s new.
With regret, the Museums Quartier passes by in seconds as I’m enroute to a library I’ve heard about at Burgasse Stadhalle which straddles the train tracks. It’s not quite the marvel it should be but is ingenious. I particularly like the views through the round windows inside.
Outside the signs are clear, and Vienna shows its geographical badges with pride; Prague to the North, Budapest to the East, and Graz to the South, There’s a plethora of streets, nooks and crannies to explore but for this time I round off with a visit to Westbahnof.
The train station resembles an old school airport terminal from the 1950s or 60s and just opposite is the tram and subway terminus I alighted from years previous. Interestingly the Sudbahnhof station mentioned in my Nomad book is no more and was demolished in 2010 to make way for the current station. No wonder I couldn’t find it.
I wish I had some images of it but in 2022 it’s still the number 18 tram to and from what is now Central. I’m pretty sure I spot the street my hostel resided on but there was no time to walk it before heading back to Hauptbahnof for the train back to the airport.
The last thing I was expecting in Austria was a train delay and as it turns out a flight delay too. Still it was a beautiful day in Vienna and one wonders if I might be back sooner than later. So for now it’s Goodnight Vienna.
PLAYLIST AND CREDITS
Meanwhile, stay tuned with things here at Kulture Kiosk via THE ATLAS or on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram where you can see some of my photos from around the world.
Alles Klar – Ultravox
Vienna Calling – Falco
Betrayal -Wang Chung
Vienna – Ultravox
Franz Schubert – Kraftwerk
Endless Endless – Kraftwerk
Photos: KH, Ultravox and Falco covers from discogs.com