Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's election day!

This is Salzburg.
Election day dawned bright and sunny in Wien. It's finally over and I have given thanks to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster for getting me through this ordeal unharmed and with brains relatively intact.

I went walking as usual this morning and took some photos of the Flak Towers on Neulinggasse. For those of you who are not from Wien, these are towers that were built during the war so that the flak guns could get clear shots at the Allied bombers who were on a mission to flatten every city and town in Germany and Austria – regardless of their military importance. They are enormous – and I am not sure why they are still there – but will try to find out. Perhaps they are to be taken down by Telekom Austria but they haven’t made it to the work orders for 1952 yet.

I have read a number of books about the deliberate campaign by the Allies to flatten German and Austrian cities and still think it was the worst mistake they made during the war – for a whole raft of reasons to numerous to go into here. However, one of the main reasons is that after the war there was apparently only one set of plans left – and no architects – so all the buildings erected in Wien between 1948 and 1975 look the same and are made out of the same awful stuff.

I am still on a quest to find out about meat so was browsing bookshops on Landstrasser-Hauptstrasse looking at pictures of meat (with captions). I filled in some gaps in my knowledge but couldn’t find a book that gives me what I need. I will search further. I can’t stay too long in bookshops looking at pictures of meat or people will call the police.

I am apparently supposed to have my passport with me wherever I go but keep forgetting it. I was asked for it when we arrived at the hotel on Friday night but they let me in when I showed them my residency card. So if I do get arrested for loitering over meat pictures I will suffer the consequences. If they then look at the car they will see how dangerous I really am.

We are just about to start the quest for driving licences and the first step is a medical examination. At this examination we have been advised to say that we do not wear glasses for reading – or else it involves another trip to the optometrist. There are many more steps after this but I don’t look to far ahead when dealing with the Austrian bureaucracy or I start to feel faint and have to lie down. There is apparently no driving test which is probably just as well as I could not do it in the Queen Mary -and after this length of time may not be able to drive a car they weighs less than 60 tonnes. We are hoping that the global recession may mean that we get our car before 2009 if other orders are cancelled – but don’t really expect that to happen.

A more realistic goal is for us to win a car in a competition so I have started filling in entry forms an sending them off. I am in the running for a Skoda Octavia and will know next Friday!

My favourite café is Massimo in Landstrasser-Hauptstrasse – but the Italian man who owns rarely has any other customers. I think this is because most of tables are for non-smokers – so the Viennese stay away in droves. I am sure he will come to his senses soon and dump the non-smoking table – and he will have a full café like every other on in the street.

I have been watching FOX for the last few days to see how badly they deal with the election of Obama. They are taking it very badly indeed and are becoming incandescent with rage that a (Gasp!) Democrat will once again occupy the White House. They have trundled out a number of not very inventive lies and today’s was the story that Obama has undertaken - when elected - to bankrupt the Coal industry. They played this story every hour. But what is the point as surely no rational undecided voter would watch FOX. Surely it is only for hardcore Republicans and people like me who enjoy a spot of Schadenfreude. Anyway it’s great fun and I am having a whale of a time.

I am planning on waiting up for a result – which won’t happen until at least 2:00 AM Wien time so it will be a long – but satisfying night.


  1. Hi Phil,

    I am a bred and born Austrian (proud of it, too) and immensly enjoy reading your column every morning! Just soo refreshing...

    As for the meats: don't bother!! I have been used to the stuff all my live and take my word, only some depicted 5 or 6 are worth more than a fleeting thought (unless you are into the ghastly stuff of liver, kidneys, brain etc.).

    As for the FLAK towers: as they are made of concrete and steel and most walls being more than 2 m wide it would take forever to tear them down manually. To use explosives is not such a good idea either as the adjoining buildings would certainly not sustain the blow. So Viennese have resorted to use some of them as archives and turn one in the 6th district into an aquarium - quite unusual and definitely worth a visit.

    Keep up the great work - it's just so much fun...

    An avid reader :)

  2. I live near Landstrasser Hauptstrasse as well and I have been trying to find this cafe Massimo's so that I can be their second customer. Having been up and down the street a couple of times I have not managed to locate anywhere called Massimo's. Which number is it on the street?