Stories Only Locals Know...
Who can tell foreign stories better than a local?
Travel Log picks up stories about famous city sights and leads you to them on a walk.
Travel Log "Old Town Vienna" takes you on a time travel through Vienna's very heart.
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Travel Log Blog
While writing the first Travel Log I stood desperately in front of the Anker Clock. “Which story could I tell? One of the statues? Would be unfair. Its making? But what do I know?” Questions upon questions; and then breakdown.
So I called the Helvetia Insurance Group. I explained my matter; Bianca Herzog burst into enthusiasm immediately. After the first meeting it was clear: “We create a special edition to do the old lady the compliment.”
Completely awestruck I examined the architect’s Franz von Matsch original sketches and drawings, together with Gerald Sabath, the Keeper of the Anker Clock. I discovered I fascinating gate into another world. For me that was Travel Log live. The stories and the design almost created themselves and soon after the curtains were lifted.
October 20, 2016; 7pm; Headquarters of the Helvetia Insurance Group Austria
Travel Log – The Anker Clock came into the world
It was a wonderful evening. Gerald Sabath told all these stories, which the guests carried home.
It is an honour and a pleasure to be a part of this artwork’s history now!
First of all I want to send out a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has been part of Travel Log – The Haunted Walk.
THANKS to all Time-travellers who joined us in such incredible numbers.
THANKS to Maksymilian Suwiczak for his stirring performance.
THANKS to Elentári T. Nepomucky for the Travel Logs’ designs.
I really enjoyed the walk. It’s exposed more beautiful aspects of the craft as a voice actor, which I discover with excitement.
I’m really looking forward to meeting you again at upcoming readings!!! :D
What a relaxing day it’s been, away from the metropolis Vienna right into the gorgeous city of Mozart.
We, my nephew and I, wander from Neutor (a tunnel through Mönchsberg) passing the Pferdeschwemme (a water basin for horses) in the direction of Getreidegasse (the cutest shopping street ever). As expected it was overcrowded. So take a rat run on the left and hide out in nice little coffee shop to regain with a cappuccino and Sacher cake.
After that we walk on to the cathedral, round it once and continue through the small alleys. On our way we see the – as usual – subtle advertisement of “Anker Insurance”. (Remember: they are the ones with the art clock in Vienna. :) )
After this first, for the connoisseur well known impressions of the historic city, the mountains called for us. But that’s written on another page...
Salzburg, Alter Markt 10a.
This is the address of Salzburg’s Smallest House. Width: 1.42 meters or 4.66 feet.
It was put into place some time between 1830 and 1860 in order to close a small alley. Today it accommodates a jeweller who, if four customers enter at once, has to close due to overcrowding.
That is my motto for yesterday’s Travel Log’s reading tour.
I am happy and so very proud of myself that for the very first time I was able to present my own stories to a selected audience. It happened at several locations between Vienna’s St Stephen’s Cathedral and Michaeler Square. No mic – that goes without saying ;)
Though I enjoy telling it, there are only a few people who know. About 10 weeks ago I started a training in elocution to become a professional speaker. I attended that class rather by accident, but delight and euphoria aroused quickly. Speaking itself – together with my outstanding instructor – woke and revived aspects in me that have most likely made me a new being. Like a text in our learning materials predicted: “New Voice – New Person”.
I have already finished the first part of this education with passion, nerves of steel and many unique colleagues. And – thanks to the universe, all divinities on earth and destiny – I will start the advanced course next week :D
Since I am so very excited I have done the reading tour now. It was my test whether my voice, without technical frills just the way it is, is audible – or rather: perceptible in public amongst tourists, cars, carriages and church bells. Yes, it is and I am. And with that my stories are. Thus yesterday – September 3rd, 2016 – became the day when my newfound vocation has become my profession!
Many thanks to all who have escorted my up to here and on the reading tour. There are many names to be mentioned. I renounce because I know these benefactors feel involved. Still I have to honour one person: Elentári, whose graphic designs beautify my writings so much.
And I close with the same imperial words as on yesterday’s reading tour: It was very nice, I enjoyed it very much!
Archangel Michael is guardian of the gates of heaven that he protects with his fiery sword. He has earned this position in his fight against Satan himself. He has fought the evil and brought it down. Immediately before the Fall he whisperd into Satan’s ear: “Who is like God?” By the way, this question is the translation of his Hebrew name “Mi-ka-el”.
At the latest we will all meet Archangel Michael at the Last Judgement when he discharges his duties as “soul weigher”.
One of the most famous Viennese folk songs and definitely my favourite is the one by and about dear Augustin. It gives you such a nice view into the Viennese heart: grumpy, black as our souls, but nevertheless jolly.
You can also call this the Viennese Charm. :)
Here you find lyrics and melody of Dear Augustin in English and German origin. The whole story how these events during plague you can read in Travel Log – Old Town Vienna (A14).
Here sang for the first time the dear Augustin:
O, you dear Augustin, Augustin, Augustin,
O, you dear Augustin, all is lost!
Money's gone, girlfriend's gone,
All is lost, Augustin!
O, you dear Augustin,
All is lost!
Coat is gone, staff is gone,
Augustin lies in the dirt.
O, you dear Augustin,
All is lost!
Even that rich town Vienna,
Broke is like Augustin;
Shed tears with thoughts akin,
All is lost!
Every day was a feast,
Now we just have the plague!
Just a great corpse's feast,
That is the rest.
Lie down in your grave!
O, you dear Augustin,
All is lost!
Lyrics and melody: Marx Augustin (1679)
Last week I have taken a tour through the Grinzing cemetery. It is located in a part of Vienna I hardly ever visit, though it is so very picturesque. One tavern follows the other, the Kahlenberg rises high so you look down onto the city. That is why I am not at all surprised that so many well-known names lie here. It is a marvellous last resting place.
The cemetery is at the end of a street called ‘An den langen Lüssen’. I have asked myself: “Sorry... what?” The guide explained that means something like ‘at the long lots’. My inner voice replies: “Well, sure. Hang on... what?” In the middle ages it was custom to assign everything – properties, houses, valuables – by lot. The Grinzing soil was divided into stripes and assigned to the farmers by lot. That is why I have been ‘an den langen Lüssen’.
The cemetery itself is a very quiet place and thanks to the sunshine it is also a place to take a time-out. On the gravestones you detect many artists’ names. Peter Alexander lies near by Thomas Bernhard. Gustav Mahler and his early deceased daughter is buried one grave row away from his widow, her latter husband and their early deceased daughter. Attila Hörbiger, Paula Wesely and Raoul M. Aslan have found their last resting place here, too.
The templish, monumental grave stones are remarkable as well. They form a gate into another world – a gate we all have to pass someday.
For me the Grinzing cemetery is an artistic-mystical place that invites to relax and sends you thoughts on a time travel.
While enjoying my short trip at the charming Hotel im Park in Bad Radkersburg (Styria) I have also bothered – and you might imagine it already – about the city and its long history. And an exciting history it has been.
Founded in 1182 as a market Radkersburg gained its town charter in 1299 from Albrecht I. of Habsburg. Right from the beginning the townscape and its fortifications were neatly planned. Actually that made sense, because as a border town it was always involved into shooting wars. From 1480 to 1490 Radkersburg was also part of Hungary. Due to the Ottomans the town’s fortifications was reconstructed and extended in the 16th century. Therefore Radkersburg was announced “Reichsfestung” (empire fortress). Further confrontations followed at the end of the 18th century. But this time they came from within. As often in the Danube Monarchy, the citizens were German speaking Austrians whereas the servants and surrounding farmers came from neighbouring Slovenia. During World War I the SHS-State (Serbs, Croats and Slovenes) benefit from the chaos and occupy the town. The Peace Treaty of Saint-Germain finally ripped Radkersburg in 1919: Austria’s Radkersburg and Slovenia’s Oberradkersburg. The Nazis carried the conflict further. The town was destroyed (except for four houses) and the rest of the German natives were dislodged. Only since the bridge over the border river Mur has been re-established in 1969, approach starts. But you can feel the division of Radkersburg and a deep ditch until today.
Nevertheless, this region – a bath since 1975 – is worth a trip. Fuelled up again and ready for action I return to my work to tell you more stories soon.
The English duke was a power-obsessed and relentless king who won his father’s crown in a coup. His ally was no other than the French king Phillip II. Together they also set out for the Third Crusade. There, Richard claimed more power without any sense of diplomacy. Eventually Phillip II. and the Babenberger Leopold V. of Austria turned against him.
On his way back from Jerusalem, which he had had to leave without having achieved anything, Richard learned that Phillip, who had had left the crusade early, had closed all French ports. The land route was Richard’s only option back to England.
Disguised as a poor pilgrim Richard set off from Sicily. Unfortunately he had to pass possessions of the Babenberger. The pretended pilgrim attracted attention by behaving very imperiously and was detained at Dürnstein.
The Babenberger claimed. Amongst other things they wanted 23,3 tons of silver – double of the yearly earnings of the English Crown. Richard himself rejected to pay, as well as his younger brother and interim king. It was only the mother who raised the money. The result is that there are no precious artefacts from that time left in UK. The financial weakening and the following riots were the beginnings of the Robin Hood myths.
The ransom money was invested into a campaign to Sicily, renovations of the city of Vienna, the founding of Wiener Neustadt and the fortifications of the cities of Friedberg and Hainburg. Until today Richard I. Lionheart lives on in Austria!
It’s fascinating how well such an unloved building as the Looshaus fits into Vienna’s tradition.
Despite emperor Franz Joseph’s personal opposition, Adolf Loos design featuring unsquiggled, clear lines and smooth facade was released from 1910 – 1912. The Wiener Moderne (or Viennese Modern Age) was born, much to the displeasure of the aged emperor. He didn’t even try to hide this point at the opening.
I guess that’s why no pictures of the opening exist. If you are curious how the story could have happened anyway, read our Travel Log – Old Town Vienna (A4)!
At first he thought the enemy would pass by with its horses, camels and cannons. But when some Ottomans arrive at the magnificent abbey – “Austria’s Montecassino” – to search for food, clothes and other treasuries, the abbot who had seen them long before awaited them.
They thought themselves save while sneaking through the castle’s gate. The abbot attacked them out of the shadows. One strike of his blade and all three plunderers go down. The abbey’s future has been saved – until today.
71 years ago the Soviets won the battle over Vienna against the Nazis. Three month prior – in January 1945 – and confident of victory, they held an architectural competition for a monument of the liberation of Austria. Major G. G. Jakowlew’s pencil sketch won the bid. And before the Red Army reached Vienna first models were constructed. Due to clay shortage sculptor Lieutenant Michail Awakowitsch Intesarjan used leftovers of bread, which he moulded around a bottle.
On August 19th, 1945 the monument was unveiled. A Soviet soldier with a golden shield and a flag stands on top of an eight-meter high column. 26 smaller columns edged by fighting soldiers frame it. The Russian words on the arch mean: Eternal glory for the heroes of the Red Army, who fell in the battle against the German Fascist land grabbers – for freedom and independence of Europe’s peoples.
Lovingly – as the Viennese still are – they nicknamed this soldier respectively his monument: Monument of the Unknown Plunderer, Russian Monument or Peas Monument and Peas Prince.
The latter comes from a food donation by Stalin who gave 1,000 tons of peas to the starving population on Ma 1st, 1945.
Vienna, 1910 – A call for bids for a new building on Michaelerplatz right behind the Hofburg is out. Many sketches are submitted, some are good, but just one stands out: a house with a plain façade, split in two by dark green marble and a pale wall and small windows.
The emperor is not amused about this undecorated building in the middle of his pompous inner city and in front of his rooms. In despair he tries to stop the bidding, but fails. So he claims: “Put ornaments onto this blot!”
Adolf Loos is shaken. Only a simple soul can destroy his artwork in such a way. But he has to bow to this simple soul. But how? He sketches in pure frustration. A pile of crumbled-up papers spills around the fireplace. He draws flower boxes under the small windows, completely unnerved. “Let’s reconstruct it into a farmers house. But I won’t change more, not even for the Emperor!”
He doesn’t have to change more. Emperor Franz Joseph approves the plan. As a matter of course he expects flowers in the flower banks all year around.
Until today we see flowers in every season. Read the story about the Looshaus’ opening ceremony in our Travel Log – Old Town Vienna (A4) soon!
July 3rd, 1897 – Today is the grand opening of Vienna’s Ferris Wheel at the Prater. It’s a hot day and the sun burns down onto the lawn. Luckily the big trees give their shadows to all those visitors gathering beneath the ride.
Finally it starts. The wheel starts rolling. The riders wave out of the windows, the visitors cheer. A new, secular landmark in the Habsburger Empire is established in honour of Emperor Franz Joseph and his 50th throne anniversary.
It is real amusement to enter the gondola and be carried up high to the clouds. The view reaches far: spacious hunting grounds, Vienna’s inner city with St. Stephan’s in its heart and Kahlenberg on the horizon. For everyone who can afford 8 Guilders (approx.. 300€) it is a truly majestic view.
For about 600 years Saint Stephen’s Cathedral jewels our cityscape. It is THE Viennese sight and towers the inner districts. A wonderful masterpiece with uncountable stories to tell. Today I introduce to you: the west side.
Most people just call it the main gate. Insiders know the proper name is Giant’s Gate. A giant mammoth bone has hung above the gate for decades, as the folk saying goes. The Giant’s Gate is towered by the two Pagans’ Towers.
Lions and griffins observe the visitors from their outposts in the wall. A judge has taken his place above people’s heads. The Viennese call him Thorn Extractor because he misses one leg and there is just a nail left in his knee. Anyway, the biggest curiosities are the male and female genitals on those two columns. Interestingly they are positioned the opposite of the inner separated seating arrangements. The church says it wanted to break the power of those symbols. Artists say they wanted to weaken the power of the church. I leave it to you to make up your mind. But fact is, a penis and a vagina frame the main entrance of THE Viennese sight.
If you don’t have any plans for the weekend yet I recommend: go to St. Stephan’s to explore (his)stories!
On my Tyrol visit my friend and personal tour guide and I were cast up in Kitzbühel. It is a lovely, medieval city, with a core full of stories.
My favourite was the medieval city wall across which we took a little walk. Yes, we walked across it! Because this wall still is something very special.
In the 13th century Kitzbühel had been part of the Dukedom of Bavaria. Located in a fringe area it experienced advantages and disadvantages alike. Surrounded by three foreign countries encroachments were permanent threads. Its situation was worth a mint as an outpost for successful trading. That was the reason Bavarian Duke Ludwig II. exalted the village to a city.
At this point a solid and securing city wall was needed. A difficulty if you didn’t want to move existing houses and couldn’t move mountains either. The inflow of people in the new city let houses mushroomed up everywhere. The citizens constructed their houses as a city wall. Efficient, convenient and simple – a formula for success, that had affronted all dangers of the Alps until today.
Viennese and their black humour is part of many of my stories. One of my favourites is the Blutgasse in the First District, directly behind Saint Stephen’s Cathedral. By the way, Blutgasse means “Blood Street”.
There are two myths grow around these street’s name.
The first tells about slaughterhouses from which blood has guttered down the street after slaughter.
The other tells about Templars, who have been beheaded nearby and their blood has guttered down the street.
You’re going to find both stories in our Travel Logs soon. But I realised something different. And that’s why I have to ask you: is it way too morbid that of all things a health centre set up a business in Blutgasse?
The Hohe Markt (High Market), where you find Anker Clock today, used to be the city centre of medieval Vienna. Its name already presents its importance, as it was the highest of all markets.
From 1325 to 1850 the High Court - called Schranne – was located in the house which is number 11 today and that supports one side of the Anker Clock. An this story could have happened here...
The town council steps onto Schranne’s terrace. He holds a parchment in his hands. Hundreds of Viennese have gathered to his feet. They preserve his judgement. In the front is a young woman with flame red hair. She pulls at the two guards who capture her. The council darts her a glance of pity. Moments ago he has had prayed for her obsessed soul at the chapel belonging to the court. He doubts its use. Finally he enrols the parchment. With a loud voice he announces her death sentence after three days at the pillory. The red-head shouts and pulls and spits at him. His greatness protects him from her outrage.
Under cheerful shouts the woman is led to the pillory. It takes four men to tether her up. Before the men leave the pedestal, Viennese already throw their rotten fruits. They almost hit one man. He dives at the last second and the rotten tomato hits the witch’s breasts. The crowd laughs. Now a harvest rains onto the woman.
On the terrace the council has seen enough. He rolls the parchment again and steps back inside. It is time for another prayer at the chapel that is called “At Christ’s Mortal Fear”.
Last week I've been on a holiday in Tirol and I'm still sorting and writing down my impressions. That's why I let the Anker Clock tell you a story today...
The Anker Clock is a sight telling stories all by itself. That’s why I love listening to it. Every day at noon it plays a medley that guides its visitors through Vienna’s history; from Marc Aurel & the Romans to Joseph Haydn & the music.
A clock owned by an insurance company – especially the Swiss Helvetia Insurance Group – is extraordinary. But I have to mention this clock doesn’t run like a Swiss clockwork. Maybe that’s why it is in Vienna ;) Actually it is due to the old drag chain of the figures. It expands and contracts due to temperature. So it’s all physics. And still you never know how fast time passes by.
Originally the Anker Insurance Company established the clock as a marketing slapstick. For 102 years this clock stands for the transitoriness of time. At the beginning is this little human being and at the end stands Grim Reaper. In between you are better well insured with Anker Insurance – or now it’s Helvetia.
This old lady tells many stories inside and outside. Why there wasn’t an official opening. Why she actually is on a bridge. What she has to do with Big Ben. And who saved her from Viennese plunderers after WW II.
Thanks to committed employees of the Helvetia the clock is in good hands. And thanks to these employees we’ll tell you more stories in our Travel Logs.
The Cemetery of the Nameless is a quiet place and peaceful. Solitude of the city and loneliness give this place a reverent but still pleasant atmosphere. For me that’s strange to a cemetery. I want to dwell here, come to peace and explore the few known life stories of the Danube victims.
The first Cemetery of the Nameless was established on the other side of the dam in 1840. A water swirl washed up drowned bodies. Bloated and unrecognisable they remained nameless in death. The Danube in assimilated them again after their death during a flooding.
In 1900 the Cemetery of the Nameless was moved to the other side of the dam. Here the Danube victims rest, nameless and unknown. Their stories long drowned by streams of Danube and time.
Tief im Schatten alter Rüstern,
Starren Kreuze hier am düstern
Aber keine Epitaphe
Sagen uns, wer unten schlafe,
Kühl im Sand.
Still ist's in den weiten Auen.
Selbst die Donau ihre blauen
Denn sie schlafen hier gemeinsam,
Die, die Fluten still und einsam,
Alle, die sich hier gesellen,
Trieb Verzweiflung in der Wellen
Drum die Kreuze, die da ragen,
Wie das Kreuz, das sie getragen,
Gedicht von Graf Wickenburg
Deep in the shadows of old elm trees,
Crosses stare here at the gloomy
But no epitaphs,
Tell us who sleeps beneath,
Cold in the sand.
Silent are large meadows.
When the Danube inhibits her blue
For they sleep here joint together,
Those washed ashore by floods,
Silent and alone.
All who join here,
Despair has sent in the waves
That is why these crosses looming,
Carry like the cross they’ve borne,
Poem by Graf Wickenburg
(freely interpreted by ACE)
Every time I enter the patio of Blutgasse 3 in Vienna’s first district, I take a time travel into the 19th century.
In those days Austria wasn’t this little spot on the map reminding of a chicken knuckle. No, it was a proud monarchy ruled by one of the most outstanding families and counting more than 51 million citizens. Vienna used to be a melting pot of countless cuisines, traditions and peoples. The latter also brought their houses – well, rather their architecture. So called Pawlatschenhäuser came originally from Czechia. In English you might call them outside-corridor-houses or similar. Anyway, in those days Vienna was full of such houses. Almost always you found them next to small classy palaces. That was because those Pawlatschenhäuser were accommodations for servants and maids. To have them at hand day and day out high society quartered them in the direct neighbourhood.
As said before, for me these stories trailing around the Pawlatschen corridors and balconies are still alive!
I’ve found a place I want to share with you. Mainly because there I experience things I hugely miss in daily routine.
Every time I walk through the door of café+co Café I feel time slowing down. I can breath again and I feel seen and recognised just the way I am. As soon as I sit at my table the magic moment has captured me entirely.
As a Viennese writer I follow the tradition of tuning the coffee shop into my creative workshop. Typically I beam myself into other worlds with my Creative Playlist. But not here. At the café+co Café I pull the headphones – 21st centuries protective shields – out off my ears and enjoy my environment. As regular customers we give each other a nod. At least we see each other quite often. Loreta serves with a smile like the sun itself. Sanja hand-decorates coffee milk foam hoods like Michelangelo’s daughter. Anastasia with her power and experience is solid as a rock. And Roland radiates such a pleasant calmness that the sand of time itself seems to run backwards.
The climaxes of this magic moment are freshly roasted coffee, tasty cakes, Grandma’s Bundt Cake and delicious Palatschinken (special Austrian pancakes). Exotic coffee types like Jamaica Blue Mountain and the best iced coffee I’ve ever had in my entire life add a lot of variety. Best thing is you can watch them making the sweet and the tasty Palatschinken.
I could go on like this forever. But instead I recommend you go there yourself, enjoy the time and take this special magic moment home yourself.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------You find the café+co Café on Landstraßer Hauptstraße 3, 1030
“Left, two, three, four! Left, two, three, four!” A couple of youngsters, maybe 11 or 12 years old, goose-step past me. Of course I jump into a proper salute. The boys grin and thank me politely.
100 years ago the Imperial and Royal army of the Habsburg Empire marched and drilled here under the watchful eye of Emperor Franz Joseph. Well, our good old times when Austria was a world empire; when ladies wore beautiful gowns and gents wire elegant uniforms; when the world was conquered on horses’ backs; when formal curtsy and kisses on hands were omnipresent. Oh, how do we miss these good old times.
Luckily we still have Schönbrunn Palace hosting the monarchic flair in its ballrooms, lounges and parks over decades and centuries.
There are many ways to describe Joannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart – or briefly called Wolfgang Amadé Mozart.
He was a musical genius.
He was a survival artist.
He was a wunderkind.
He was a creative mind.
He was a man about town.
He was a Salzburg citizen.
He was a lady-killer.
He was a connoisseur.
He was a lateral thinker.
He was a stubborn man.
He was a musical revolutionary.
And Mozart definitely was an odd bird, too.
You find the statue in Vienna's Burggarten.
Now you see what Viennese people truly feel deep in their hearts...
tactless symphony & classy technics... :D
Whoever might wrap up today’s election of the Austrian President:
We wish him/her more glorious times and a more robust army than just these over-the-hill soldiers on the roof of
his workplace, the Vienna Hofburg. ;)
Lately I’ve had the pleasure and the honour to get a tour around Saint Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna’s most famous sight, by its registrar. It's unbelievable what you see and learn there... I’ll tell you those stories in my next articles. But this encounter I need to share right away.
As I diverge from my guide to take a few steps on my own I walk closer to the frontage for a close inspection. Suddenly this skull stares at me – on eye-level.
A carriage driver behind me says: “That’s an ashtray.” Erm... yes, sure. Now I’m curious. What the hell is this? In a close-up it turns out the bat-skull is an aspersorium.
The story is the following. This charming little bat-skull hangs right next to the entrance to the crypt. It guards this intermediate place between life & death, bright & dark, light & shadow. And it’s located on the cathedral’s northern side. That means it’s in the shadows all day long, just the way bats and skulls prefer their being.
So beware when you discover the mystical shadows of Saint Stephen’s. You never know who watches you...