Europe | Austria | Vienna – Not a sausage
It’s been a hard day’s drinking. Started around 1:30 pm on the banks of the (not looking very flooded at all) Old Danube. I chose that spot as it was the only part of the river on the Vienna map that actually bends in a natural way. So I thought it was the old river, the one my ancestors may have been on way back in 18-something. Halfway through the afternoon I noticed the water was flowing upstream. No, it was not the sparkling wine and beer – a second look at the map and I saw the “Alte Danube” is dammed up. It’s basically now a man made lake. So that explained why it was so clean and lovely for swimming.
As I had no suit, I took a running dive into the water, hoping no one would see my mismatched underwear, and stayed in for quite awhile, enjoying the nearby hills and church steeples. There was nowhere else open to the public on this stretch of water so Sexton and I had settled for the swimming part (paying 3 Euros each), hiding our booze and picnic lunch in case they weren’t allowed. Sexton slept, I swam…and then we discovered the bar. For all everyone says about Vienna being ‘expensive’ it was still cheaper than London. The spritzers and beers flowed like the river (but luckily not upstream) and we were well on our way to being sloshed when we headed for the real Danube, the part that really leads to the Black Sea.
I know it’s still far cheaper to have been drunk in Romania or Bulgaria – and we did do so once – but after nearly getting run over by a donkey cart (not really. I made that up) we inadvertently decided to save it ’til our last night in Vienna.
There’s a stretch of land between a sky scraper sci-fi future world and the old city. We were nearly run over by skaters (that IS true) as we searched for a bar on the water. The picnic tables we finally found were deserted; we had the sunset to ourselves. The woman behind the bar served me a ‘large’ spritzer – and when they say large here they mean it. There must have been half a bottle of wine in that plastic cup.
Things got all silly and romantic and we celebrated our second (or sixth?) honeymoon, remembering how our first was a little rushed and not all that great as I had tonsillitis. So we made up for lost time. And watched the red ball disappear, then walked across the bridge, heading for city centre, and hoping maybe to see some decent busking…
No such luck. The only live musician we saw was a lone guitarist singing for Palestine. Otherwise it was all clowns, magicians and breakdancers, and the same old crappy disco music we’d been bombarded with for the last few weeks. The music in Romania was so bad that we were overjoyed to hear old 70s rock on the beach in Bulgaria (that was the day we got drunk, yes).
So the only solution was to drink more, crawling from one bar to another. Streets had great names like “Gluck Strasse” and “Gas Gasse”. We got some slabbo pizza which we ate standing up. “I like your style,” slurred Sexton.
Eventually found our way back to the hostel and I vaguely remembered how the day had begun before our picnic. I had higher hopes of finding my great grandfather in the Austrian Military archives than at the universities. But in the end I found nothing, “not a sausage”, as they’d say back in England. However, Sexton had a delicious Knoblauchwurst at the hotdog stand outside. He said it was wiggly and reminded him of a pipe. So all was not lost I suppose…