'Glamour and easy charm...'

27 August 2010
'Glamour and easy charm...'
Vienna.  Day off.

Given last night's bloodbath, this morning was a complete write off, as was most of the afternoon.  On surfacing, I wandered out to my default café, the very appropriately named 'Kleines Café' on Franziskanerplatz where you can get an omelette and read the papers any time of day.

I love this city, though it took me a long time to really discover the place.  The truth is that (with the possible exception of the stadium we're playing on Monday) all rock venues in Vienna are crap.  Small, medium or large, the places where bands play are just rubbish, so coming here on rock tours for years was never much fun.  The only time that was really promising was when I came to play the Opera House with R.E.M.  Vienna Opera House is one of the world greats, so the prospect of doing a gig there was very exciting.  Imagine our disappointment then to discover on arrival that the band was to play in front of the iron curtain on the stage apron and we were not allowed on the actual stage at all.

Added to this, before the introduction of the Euro, Vienna used to be a particularly expensive city (post-Euro, everywhere is expensive...) so all in all the place did little to win my heart during my rock tour visits.

All that changed about five or six years ago when I came to Vienna to work on a musical (Barbarella - Das Sexy Space Musikal) with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame.  I lived here for about three months in total, from December to February, with the place covered in thick snow for much of the time.  Living in a city obviously presents more bonding opportunity than on a one-night-stand and Vienna eventually won me over entirely.  Aside from its movie-set old-world charm, the secret is that it's really a city for grown-ups.  They still take their longstanding coffee shop culture very seriously and it's perfectly acceptable to hole up in one of these places for the whole day and read the papers.  I'm sure there must be a smattering of youth culture somewhere in Vienna, but if so it's sufficiently well buried so as  not to  disturb the status quo.  Arts funding is enormous so the cultural programmes are extraordinary, plus you have history and scenery in an extremely cosmopolitan city, so 'glamour and easy charm' is still here to be found.

Having managed a brief excursion, I went back to lie down for a while before meeting a friend for the evening.  We headed out for dinner and ended up taking a lengthy stroll through this most beautiful of cities.  The oldest part of town (the '1st District') is enclosed by the 5km-long Ringstrasse and centred on the cathedral.  Incredibly over-the-top baroque buildings line narrow streets, making the place stupidly atmospheric and a great place for a late night walk.  We ended up hiking around half the perimeter of the Ringstrasse, so I was fit to drop by the time I got to bed.

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David Addison
19 September, 2010
My favourite place in Vienna
Dear Willie, it was great for me to read this diary entry. The „Kleines Cafe“ is my favourite coffe shop in Vienna and has meanwhile become something like a second living room for me. I usually start the weekend there on friday evenings with a couple of friends and some glasses of „Spritzers“. What I appreciate so much is the mix of people who go there: Drinkers, brokers, actors, writers, politicians, students, tourists and rock stars (We sat next to Campino from „Die toten Hosen“ a couple of months ago. ). On that particular friday I couldn´t make it to the „Kleines Cafe“, but I passed by the place on my push bike at the time you must have been in there… (would have been nice to meet you) By the way I want to give you some background information concerning your diary entry from the 29th of August. Not only does the subway line U2 has a stop at the stadion where the band played, but also the section of that line that now leads to the stadion was opened in 2008 on Bono´s birthday with a U2 coverband playing (amongst others)! So there might be some fandom involved in the public transport authorities. Greetings from Vienna! PS: I´m looking forward to the concerts in Seville and Rome.
08 September, 2010
Viennese culture
Dear Willie, thank you so much for your heart-warming stories about your time in the capital of my country!!! I also know the Kleines Cafe on the Franziskanerplatz. You are right, the Austrians still take their coffee shop culture seriously. When people walk down the streets they tend to be hectic, but in the coffee shops the atmosphere is very relaxed and people can sit there as long as they want. I also love the 1st district, because it has a long history and the buildings are not as pompous as the ones on the Ringstrasse. It is true that Vienna already used to be an expensive city before the instruction of the Euro. Before 2002 we Austrians had another currency called "Schilling" and nowadays we usually say with a bit sentimentality: "With the Schilling everything was cheaper." Thanks for calling Vienna "this most beautiful of cities"!
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