Monday, November 2, 2009

Friedhof Der Namenlosen

Click to Embigiate (thanks Steph)

Melissa and I went to the Friedhof Der Namenlosen (Cemetery of the Nameless Ones) at Albern Hafen on the outskirts of Wien – next to the Donau. It is tiny and mainly comprises graves of unknown people who were washed up on the shores of the Danube.

There are a few people who have grave markers but most are lost souls who died watery and unremarked deaths many long years ago.

It is a bit remote – and was very bleak - and is apparently rarely visited except on the first Sunday after All Saints’ Day – which happened to be Sunday - so there were hordes of people there (well - at least 10). The graves had been attended to and candles were lit.

It is a not a place I would choose to be buried – but if you drown and get washed up on the banks of the Danube and can’t be identified then I guess you have to take your chances.

It was finally time to take Billy in for repairs.

If you want to meet some friendly Austrians don’t bother going to the Information Counter in the Wiesenthal Mercedes dealership in Wien. There are none there.

None of the three people at the counter had heard of Herr Schnauser - the man with whom I had an appointment - but after sending me to see someone else – who sent me back to them – they said I would have to wait for half an hour.

For what? I asked. I have an appointment with someone unknown to you – why should I wait?

Our relationship deteriorated after this but - following an exhaustive search of the building – we discovered the culprit at the next desk – about 3 metres away. he was carefully disguised in a Wiesenthal uniform so it’s no wonder he was practically invisible.

Herr Schnauser was very helpful and got me to sign many papers before he took Billy away for repairs. Herr Schnauser then introduced me to Herr Gritzmeister who has a cousin in Melbourne. Herr Gritzmeister asked me to sign many more forms and gave me the keys to a very, very small car with manual transmission.
This proved to be a Smart Car. It turned out to be a lot smarter than the driver.

My first act was to get stuck in the middle of a very busy intersection with no way forward – and the inability to find reverse. Fortunately Austrian motorists are unfailingly polite and helpful and made encouraging noises and signs.

One man started to get out of his car – he was apparently coming over to help me find reverse – or perhaps mop my brow - but I managed on my own and we all relaxed. Well – most of us – I couldn’t get my portable navigation system to work and had to feel my way home - but made it eventually.

Melissa and I had lunch at Cafe Diglas today and I inspected the toilet. The door is in working order and turns opaque when you lock it. Provided you follow this simple procedure you can wear any underpants you like.


  1. All Saints' Day is celebrated (by those who do that sort of thing) on 1 November and the following day is All Souls' Day (or was when I was growing up) or following Sunday in some religions. Obviously, it should be a much bigger celebration that that for the chosen few.

    I too am facing car repairs and think Austrian cousins must have migrated to work at "No worries" NRMA, with whom I have been dealing! But I will be giving up my car next Tuesday, for an unknown duration and without a replacement :-(

    Finally, I'm sure you wore your Hugo Boss numbers to Cafe Diglas just in case...

  2. friendly austrians at information counters is like unicorns on crack

  3. Bitte schoen. (sorry, can't seem to copy/paste an umlaut.)

    All those crucifixes look like they're doing a B'way song and dance number. (Will I get smacked by your Viennese friends for saying that?)

  4. I know this is not a support group for people who used to live in southern climes, but I hope you will not send me out into the wet and cold if I ask: "How are you coping with this catastrophic weather?" (I really wanted to use a non-polite word instead of the more benign "catastrophic"!)