Tuesday, October 29, 2002

See a View of downtown Vienna from the Belvedere Palace, with the spire of St. Stephen's Cathedral (partly encased in scaffolding, as they are repairing it) in the middle.

Well, I am back in Vienna, after a tumultous stay in Graz. I will be updating about events there, but for the moment you can see some photos Here. I checked into the cozy little Pension Bosch (See the surprisingly snazzy Web Site for this huimble but extremely comfortable pension - the music rocks!) on Keilgasse just off Rennweg Street. It was Count Metternich, who as you probably know was the engineer of the 1814 Treaty of Vienna, who said that despite what geographers say Rennweg Street is the real boundary between East and West. When you cross Rennweg Street to the east you are essentially in Asia. I noticed that one street leading off Renweg is called Metternichgasse, apparently in honor of Metternich. Since it is so close to Halloween I then decided to duck into the Hapsburg Crypt, where 133 members of the Hapsburgs are kept in coffins. The many famous Hapsburgs encoffined (if that is the word; you can't really say buried) are Maria-Louise, Napoleon's wife, whose marriage to Napolean was brokered by the above mentioned Count Metternich. See Coffin of one of the Hapsburg Emperors

See more Coffins of Hapsburgs.

See Skull on one of the incredibly elaborate coffins in the Hapsburg Crypt. This guy looks like a member of that famous rock group The Crypt Kicker Five.

Of course, no visit to Vienna is complete without a stop at the Cafe Central. Now mainly a attraction for more sedate tourists but once the center of Vienna's intellectual life, with such notables of Leon Trotsky, who along with Vladimir Lenin founded the Soviet Union, holding down regular tables. There's a story that one Vienna official, told by the Secret Police that Russian exiles in VIenna were plotting a revolution in Russia, said sarcastically, "Oh, and just who to going to start this revolution in Russia. I suppose you will tell me it's that Trotsky felllow who sits drinking coffee all day in the Cafe Central." By the way, I was once in the tiny village in Siberia where Trotsky, whose real name was Bronstein, spent time in a prison camp for his revolutionary activities. He eventually escaped from this camp and made his way to Irkutsk, where I lived for three years. Here collaborators in the underground gave him a new set of clothes, a train ticket, and a forged passport with a name on it that he used for the rest of his life and by which he became famous all over the world: Leon Trotsky. The inside has a high multi-domed ceiling not unlike that of a church or mosque with high rounded at the top windows. Very nice, very expensive pasteries. One can only wonder what Trotsky had to eat here . . . See Cafe Central, hangout of Leon Trotsky and many other notables.