We went to Vienna in October 2011 and spent five wonderful days there. Our visit fortunately coincided with the last glorious weather of the summer – ideal weather for visiting, when it was warm enough to go around in shorts, but never too hot to make walking a burden.
We were fortunate enough to find a hotel not far from the Cafe Central, the most famous of the Vienna cafes. At the turn of the last century it was the meeting place of the city’s intellectuals, Trotsky played chess here in the years before World War I, and other famous patrons of the cafe included Tito, Freud, Hitler and Lenin, and between the wars it was the haunt of the Vienna circle of logical positivists. The cafe was reconstructed in its original form in the 1980s.
The cafe was constructed with a piano at the centre where a pianist still plays every afternoon and evening. The repertoire inevitably includes a selection from from Strauss but also from the classic film music – and the Harry Lime theme.
Note the portrait of ‘Sissi’ or Elizabeth, the Empress of Austria, on the far wall.
At the entrance is a papier-mache figure of the poet Peter Altenberg, who was a regular at the cafe to such an extent that he even used it as his postal address. Here I am attempting to argue with him without much success.
(I should say that I am Andrew Selkirk from London and when I am not visiting interesting cities I am Editor-in-Chief of Current Archaeology and Current World Archaeology. I was in Vienna strictly on a non-archaeological basis.)
We stayed in Vienna in the Best Western Tigra Hotel which is situated in the Tiefe Graben, which means deep ditch, and was originally the north western defences of the Roman Legionary fortress of Vindabona. The name Tigra comes from Tiefe Graben.
This photo shows the Hohe Brucke, the bridge over the Tiefe Graben, originally built in 1903-4.
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18th October 2011