Vienna : 'Don't look up the meaning of your dreams...' *

Vienna Travel Blog

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Heading down underground on the way outta town (Prague)

The spectacularly pregnant blister on my right foot, groaning under the wieght of my backpack breaks its waters on the trudge to the bus station.  The pathetic Compeed plaster-dam proves not enough to arrest the gush of rather unctuous gunk that now flows sticky between my toes. “Nice!”.  At the bus station the seat next to the pretty, stylish Japanese girl is “Not free” - ”Oh, you have a friend?” - ”Yes.”  Bummer.  So I am relegated to a seat next to a man strongly resembling Charles Darwin and smelling about as fresh as the old botanist would also do by about now. “Nice!”.  The older couple to my other side entwine arms and shake each other softly and reassuringly. A nearly imperceptible “It’s alright my love, the journey will be ok” moment of tenderness.

Another fine day, coaching it to Wien (Vienna).


Today is a Student Agency Express coach to Wien (Vienna) via Brno in the Czech Republic.  I seem to be clocking up the miles here and do need to slow down at some point I know.  One of the key pointers from my ’Rough Guide to Your First Time Around the World’ was the danger of going too fast and losing your “peripheral vision“, the appreciation of things, people and possibilities happening around you if only you took the time to stop and look.  I’m alright on this point I think.  Mostly.  I always knew Europe was going to be a bit of a burn, emotionally, financially, physically.  5...4...3...2...1.…”WE HAVE LIFT OFF!” etc… Europe. Home continent and launch pad for little me into the rest of the world.

The rather meagre Stadtgarten.
  Rocket fuel burning into the atmosphere, trailing behind me as I go for 6 weeks before my main thrusters burn up and jettison away and I am left to (relatively speaking) drift around the remainder of the globe.  Once I hit Cyprus I’m gonna kick up my heels.  I have to say though fellow hostel-mate San Diego Sarah, also heading to Vienna in a day or two sounds like she’s clocked a great place just on the southern border of the Czech Republic where the hostel lend you inflated inner-tyre tubes to float down a river  and get the best views of a local castle or something.  I coulda joined her on this one, and on to Vienna but already have my ticket outta town and a hostel booking in Vienna.  Slow  down.  Look around.
The golden monument to the town's favourite son Johann Straus (nope, I don't know how to spell his name).
  See what ideas other people have Stevie.


The coach trip(s) to Vienna are not unpleasant.  Another nice day and the quality of service on the Student Agency Express coaches is excellent with free hot drinks, music and (if you so choose) movie from drop down Tvs to watch.  For the most part I prefer a mixture of a little reading and gazing at the landscape as we drive along.  Europe does seem keen on its wind farms.   More fields of graceful white blades slice through the skyline as we progress.  Having had ‘Chicago’ on stage one,  on the Brno to Vienna leg of the journey some peculiar 1974 Czech film ‘Give Him the Works, Fella!’ plays out in all its tedious quirkiness.  Basically a movie-length homage to the classic Brit sit-com ‘Some Mothers Do ‘Av ‘Em!’.

Water fountain within the Stadtgarten (detail)
  The main character’s even called Frank and wears a black beret and trench coat.  It is a deeply unfunny movie but passes the time weirdly anyway. 


My hostel in Vienna (Strawberry Hostels) is fortuitously well placed in the vacinity of the Westbahnhof, one of the city’s main stations and (as I later discover) the departure point for all trains heading west through Austria that I will need for the next leg of my journey.  I check in and dash straight out to town as it’s getting late afternoon already.


I have a little stroll through the Stadtpark.  Not very impressive at all considering it is one of the main ‘green’ areas of the city centre.  An understated start to my explorations.

  It does though house the apparently mega-famous golden statue of Viennese composer Johann Strauss.  I get a few lucky snaps in before the poor lad is literally smothered by large groups of American and then Japanese camera-toting tourists in quick succession.


‘Threads’ (Part 3 of 3)

(Parts 1 and 2 of 'Threads' can be found in blog entries numbers 6 (Paris) and 10 (Meppel) respectively).


Wondering what next to do with my time, on a complete impulse I amble around from Stadtpark, along Karntner Ring to Opernring curious to see what’s on if anything and what the set up is at the famous Opera house.  The one my talkative midnight friend ‘Strawberries’ from Breda had enthused about so much some days ago and whose voice is now ringing in my mind’s ear.

Mozart gives directions to the Vienna Opera House: "It's behind you Madam".


Before I know it I’ve got into a chat with a nice English couple who are on the same mission but with at least some fore-knowledge as to what we should be looking for.  We eventually infiltrate the building (not so easy an entrance to find) and locate a ticket office.  The couple are after some tickets for a few days time but I just barge on in on a complete whim, “anything on tonight?”; “how much?” and suddenly land a bargainous standing ticket to see ‘Ariadne of Naxos’ by Johann Strauss that evening for… can you believe it?!… 4 euros!!! “Wow!”


I can’t believe my mixture of luck and audacity.  There I was strolling aimless, directionless yet happy around the busy streets of Vienna and now in 50 minutes time I’m gonna be watching opera for the first time, and the Vienna State Opera at that!  The ornately lit and decorated building is up to the occasion of course, as are all of the swelling numbers of attendant Sunday night guests.

The Vienna Opera House.
  The audience.  The vast majority of them, as one would expect, are dressed in their very best.  Finest frocks, suits, jewels, the lot.  And here’s me schlepping around in my smelly f**kin’ Gore-tex trainers, duffed up jeans and two-days-worth-of- sweat’n’travel-old T-shirt!  Lowering the tone in the name of cultural exchange I say!


I haven’t got a Scooby-Doo what I’m supposed to be doing in this place.  Are there rules?  Formalities? Places thou shalt not tread?  Things thou shalt not do within the halloed walls of the Vienna Opera House?  Oblivious to all such considerations I just float around the place, smelling slightly of the lower orders of society I'm here to 'reprezent' and grinning from ear to ear like a Cheshire Cat who got the cream and then turned invisible to sneak into the opera.

Inside the Vienna Opera House.
  Directed to my standing area, a lady has just finished explaining ‘the rules’.  Everyone seems to have come prepared except unknowing I, for to mark and hold your place on the standing rostrum you must tie an item of your possession - anything at all - around your place so that you may leave it, explore, do whatever and return to the same spot without complaint from others.  Your spot for the opera reserved.  “Yikes!” but I don’t have a darned thing I can use!  And my bag HAD to go in the cloakroom, so what on earth am I to do to stop being relegated right to the back of the viewing pool (not good for a man of my stature!).  Everyone else has come with silk scalves and hankies and what-not in preparation but I have diddly-squat, not a jot that I can use!  Initially I’m short on initiative.
Splendour within : the vaulted ceiling and balconies of one part of The OPera House (the bit where the "toffs" go :)
  Save for using my boot laces (not a chance, these have got to last me 2 years trekking and can’t risk being lost) or tying my dick around the brass pole and seeing how far the ‘leash’ will let me stretch away (not a chance, can’t risk damaging the kiddy-factory… and besides “frankly that’s just not opera darling”) I’m all outta rope.  All outta hope.  “BUT WAIT!”  [clash of cymbols appropriate to shock revelatory moment]… I have my threads don’t I! Remember?  Yes… my 3 euro tourist wonder-trinket tied about m’wrist by Caramac in the shadow of the Sacré Coeur in Paris a week ago… “YES!”  All I have to do is struuuggle - which I do momentarily - to coax and yank the green, yellow and black bundle of cotton lines from off my wrist and there I have it…a tiny little circle of string which I painstakingly tie around my place.
The stage and the crystal chandelier within the Opera House.
  I am free now to wonder amidst the glitterati… smiling and smelling at liberty.


So there you have it.  ‘Threads’. An inconsequential anecdote in 3 parts.  Why?  Well, why not?  Just a demonstration and a reminder at this early stage of my escapade as much to myself as to you guys really of how these tiny moments and fleeting interactions with random people on The Road sometimes come together and combine, twist and twine together, their colours and textures wreathing in time about your person and your experiences to make a better moment or opportunity of the future.  Nothing to be taken for granted, and don’t shirk too much the company of strangers whether it be sought after or not (as long as you are careful too).

Notice the various rags'n' scarves tied around the various viewing posts. (something I did not have to hand)
  Maybe not everything, but most things have their role to play I guess?  I’ll see.  Threads and loose ends coming together, playing their part, fraying in time and later falling apart.  My Parisian pester-power bangle from Caramac and the enthusiastic overtures to the Vienna opera from Strawberries in Utrecht combing to make this evening one of the most memorable events of my journey so far.



Oh…yeah.  And opera then.  The verdict?  Well I’ll withold my verdict 'til I've seen some more.  It was great fun and I’ll get used to the structure of it.  After the first 20 minutes the curtains came down and EVERYBODY left the hall.

  The whole audience.  I just stood there.  Hoping. Thinking “F*ck me! Alright I know I only paid 4 Euros but that better not be the end of the show!”  The kindly usher lady waves away my disgruntlement by explaining that I have only seen the “vorspiele”… uuh?… oh I get it “foreplay”… following which there is a 30 minute break for drinks etc before the main event. “Ah. I see now, 20 minutes of teasing me with foreplay before the (hopefully) longer, more satisfying main event with both men and women screaming, warbling and grunting all the way.  As long as it's all a loose sexual metaphor I getcha!”.


Oh sorry, the verdict.  Well, my father loved it I believe.  My mother, well it bored her to tears.

Some (smelly) weirdo infiltrating the higher strata of society within the Opera House.
  These feelings were inverted between them when it came to ballet.  Myself? Ok, a few words then.  Yes, it’s reputation is a little deserved.  An awful lot of it smacks a little of the absurd and everyone in the play of events seems to overblow and take every little moment a tiny bit too seriously.  Counter balancing this are frequent moments of the truly captivating and sublime… and I think the mix works most of the time.  Such as it is in life I guess, and long may it continue… until the Fat Lady sings of course.


Me in the scheme of Life’s grand opera performance?  Well, my threads reattached (you never know when they may come in handy!) I nearly get run over walking home not paying attention as I cross a side road whilst simultaneously struggling to get my lips around a succulent 10 inch Austrian sausage and gawping at the window display of a sex shop which to my English eyes sits rather incongruously upon one of Vienna’s largest retail-shopping streets.

The cast take their deserved plaudits and flowers.
  This is not the way my parents would have wanted me to go.  And you know what, the frickin’ hotdog cost the same as it did to see the Vienna State Frickin’ Opera!!! True.


From the sublime once more back to the ridiculous.


* Lyric from ‘Give him the works, fella!’ (1974)


keeweeset says:
That's great 4 euros for the State Opera! Awesome! =)
Posted on: Oct 09, 2008
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Heading down underground on the wa…
Heading down underground on the w…
Another fine day, coaching it to W…
Another fine day, coaching it to …
The rather meagre Stadtgarten.
The rather meagre Stadtgarten.
The golden monument to the towns …
The golden monument to the town's…
Water fountain within the Stadtgar…
Water fountain within the Stadtga…
Mozart gives directions to the Vie…
Mozart gives directions to the Vi…
The Vienna Opera House.
The Vienna Opera House.
Inside the Vienna Opera House.
Inside the Vienna Opera House.
Splendour within : the vaulted cei…
Splendour within : the vaulted ce…
The stage and the crystal chandeli…
The stage and the crystal chandel…
Notice the various ragsn scarves…
Notice the various rags'n' scarve…
Some (smelly) weirdo infiltrating …
Some (smelly) weirdo infiltrating…
The cast take their deserved plaud…
The cast take their deserved plau…
Vienna State Opera House chandelie…
Vienna State Opera House chandeli…
Statuary within the Stadtgarten.
Statuary within the Stadtgarten.
Johann The Man.
Johann 'The Man'.
Some posh restaurant (named after …
Some posh restaurant (named after…
The cobweb of tram lines and cable…
The cobweb of tram lines and cabl…
photo by: EmyG