The van didn’t exactly waltz into Vienna, as I might have hoped, it did more of an exasperated shuffle as I fought the dying gearbox before coming to a spluttering standstill in the national stadium’s car park. This breakdown had been a long time coming. Since Zagreb and through Hungary, the signs had been clear that trouble was on its way, and when we arrived in Vienna, so did that trouble.
It was a long wait for a recovery vehicle to get to us and pull the van onto its bed (a sore sight) so we waited for hours in the car park distracting ourselves with a marathon of frisbee golf. As the van disappeared off to a mechanics, so did our accommodation so we began the search for a new place to stay. Vienna has a wealth of choice, and a wealth of pretty much everything, but in the budget department it wasn’t quite as cheap as free parking and squeezing into Fanny. Vienna is always amongst the top cities for liveability, and it was easy to see why, and when we did find an agreeable place to stay, it felt like luxury. Both places we rented had pianos.
Vienna itself, if you ignore me moaning about the unreliability of my van, is just incredible. Every building in its historic centre seemed like a palace and a lot of them were indeed palaces. Schonbrunn, Hofburg and Belvedere- all palaces. The grand avenues, manicured parks and imperial buildings offered a glimpse into the city’s wealthy past as the centre of a sprawling empire whilst staying clean, modern and inviting. It is called the city of music and was once the home to Mozart and Beethoven. It was also the home of Freud, Stalin, Trotsky, Hitler and Tito once.
As far as a place to breakdown goes, it’s a strange one. My van was taken to a Porsche garage of all places. A Viennese Porsche garage is not a cheap place to get a repair but at least the mechanics were probably some of the best in the world. Dr. Porsche himself was born into the Austro- Hungarian Empire and helped design the original VW van so I trusted that some engineering ability had been passed down. I guess you get what you pay for and the payment situation was mildly scandalous as I couldn’t hang around and wait for the money to clear and suggested the alternative was me sleeping the showroom which was a bad enough idea to grant my freedom. The floor manager wasn’t a fan of an unwashed teen using a Porsche spoiler as a bed.
Despite the breakdown bumming me out, it still wasn’t my kind of city. All the luxury, fine architecture and cultural richness was lovely but for a scruff like me bumming around in a van it wasn’t somewhere I fell in love with. It is an amazing place, rich in history and with plenty of things to do but it just felt a little too fancy and a lot too expensive. It will always be the place that I broke down and played a lot of frisbee, and until I write an opera, not much more.