Posts Tagged 'the third man'

The Second Of Four Cities: Vienna


From the window of the tour bus between Budapest and Vienna, the Hungarian countryside had a vague strangeness to it. Open farmland broken by the occasional tree line, by distant red-roofed villages, the larger towns marked by dreary Soviet era concrete apartment blocks. The landscape itself seemed oddly different, the greens, just a bit grayed and muted.

Once across the border into Austria, the windmills appeared, hundreds and hundreds of gigantic hi-tech windmills, all facing east into the prevailing winds that blow from the not-so-distant steppes. It was once written of Vienna that Asia began on the Landstrasse, a street on the city’s eastern suburbs. Our guide told us that Austria is one of the world’s leaders in the production of wind driven electricity.

The hotel wasn’t ready for us, and we stopped for lunch, decent, at a large railroad station on the outskirts of the city. We were now on the Euro and the prices were at least comparable to those in the states. The first thing I picked up on was that the people generally were much better dressed than those in Hungary. Once in the city itself, the contrasts with Budapest were even sharper. No graffiti, no trash, and again a prosperous looking crowd. The cars were now large, almost as large as those in the states, many of them high-end Mercedes and BMWs, and most were relatively new.

With still a bit of time to kill, we walked the grounds of The Belvedere, the 18th century palace built by Prince Eugene of Savoy, a general from Italy who saved the Hapsburg empire from the Turks. Interestingly enough, one of Nazi Germany’s WW II heavy cruisers was named the Printz Eugen, in honor of the Italian who is Austria’s national hero. The magnificent Belvedere, built to rival Versailles, appears to be another case of  Hapsburgs trying to keep up with Bourbons. Continue reading ‘The Second Of Four Cities: Vienna’