Memo to intrepid devil may care solo traveller – don’t go anywhere BIG – like Vienna – without booking a place to stay first. It’s ok, you’ll always have SOMEWHERE to sleep – but first you’ll have to walk round the whole bloody city towing whatever luggage you have and trying to read your map upside down in the rain and feeling hungry and thirsty and thinking what a waste of time I could be LOOKING at things!
On the other hand, I’m now a bit fed up with public monuments which look vaguely like wedding cakes (and Vienna is stuffed full of them) as well as witless Continental (or English) drunken fashion-obsessed youth hostel chicks (and my hostel is stuffed full of THEM).
I have supper at the Mozart Cafe, where I eat goulash (and I now know, which I didn’t before, that this is just glorified meatballs). However I’ve also discovered the wonder of elderflower lemonade, which sounds so healthful and delicious! Have some!
The Viennese are much more dressed up, as a rule, than the Czechs, and to slightly better effect. Pearls, expensive looking twinsets and complicated coiffures – still overweight and over-ripe, and an odd shade of brown (like men’s shoes). People are relatively friendly and helpful (relative to some Czechs, Genghiz Khan would be helpful).
As in Prague, high culture is hawked in the same way as, say, a swimwear modelling competition for aspiring local models might be where I come from (Oz). They absolutely pimp for it, ‘You want Mozart? We got Mozart, young and gorgeous.. How about Tchaikovsky? He’ll really get your juices flowing, if you know what I mean. No? We got Grieg then – at a discount tonight, just for you.’
So I’m strolling along and this guy outfitted like Wolfgang M leaps out of a niche and offers me a cut-price ticket to hear opera at the Schonbrunn Palace. Naturally I buy one (I might have in Prague, if I’d thought I could’ve found the venue ever again).
While I’m buying it, some yank wanders up and says something like ‘Say, the Schonbrunn….this aint where we’re at, is it? No? Oh well..so, this music then. What is it? Classical opera you say? So, um, any singing in it?” (apologies to all yanks..Aussies are even worse, believe me)
The Schonbrunn is all white and gold like an upmarket ladies rest room. The ceiling’s painted with what looks like people having a picnic in heaven, while looters lug off broken pillars from a Greek temple and someone else is climbing out of a dirt pit. Renaissance paintings can be like that, you sit there staring at them thinking, hmmm.
Talking about palaces, on to the imperial apartments of the hapless Hapburgs. Nice digs, lots of red velvet curtains and gold dessert stands. I was especially impressed by Empress Agnes, who had 11 kids with one guy and a further 17 with another, making a total of 28 kids! IMAGINE the stretch marks! Labour after all that would be just ‘hang on a sec darling, I think..oops!’.
The ‘Sisi’ exhibition was on in September – now Empress Sisi was an interesting woman. She wrote poetry of the soulful ‘I stand alone..’ variety, and did all the things you don’t expect empresses to do, like hiking, fencing and learning ancient Greek in her eighties. Gorgeous, too. Alas, she was assassinated with a file (what sort of a file? A nail file?) by an anarchist who was actually waiting around to kill somebody else, but they didn’t turn up and SHE did. She didn’t realise she’d been stabbed for about half an hour – then she keeled over. True story. REALLY bad luck!
Oh that I had not left the way
That would to freedom me have led,
Oh that I had not gone astray
On vanity’s broad path instead.
Now in a prison cell I wake
The hands are bound that once were free
The longing grows that naught can slake
And freedom thou hast turned from me.
She was, by the way, anorexic.