Vienna; Trees and grass at long last; Camping under the apricots; Famous dead people

Regine had to work late on Monday night, and so she couldn’t host us any longer than one night. We appreciated that one night greatly though - it was nice to be around some fun people, and her couch was comfortable. She slipped away in the morning, and we followed afterward. We headed out to Hüttledorf in the west end of the city where we knew there was a campground with space for tents.

It wasn’t a quick trip - three trains and a bus - but it was worth it. Regular readers will know of the difficulties we’ve had with campgrounds in Spain and Portugal (which are, basically, rock-hard dirt parking lots). When we arrived at this one, though, we nearly wept with joy. There was grass. And trees. It felt like walking out of the wasteland into Paradise, I’m serious. When I pushed on the tent pegs, they slid right into the ground - I’m serious. I didn’t have to pound on them with a rock even once. Incredulous, I pulled them all out and did it all over again, just because I enjoyed the experience that much. We set up under an apricot tree and ate tiny wild apricots for the rest of the day.

In the afternoon, we went to the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery). We were both tired and hanging around with dead people was about our speed. The cemetery is huge - three times the size of Mount Pleasant Cemetery in Toronto by area, and with twenty times as many people interred. We could have spent an entire day wandering there. Some of the monuments are impressively grandiose, and many of them are small and simple. We found the graves of Ludwig van Beethoven, Johannes Brahms, Johann Strauss and Franz Schubert. Brahms had by far the most interesting memorial, with a harp fashioned like a fish with a toothy grin and a bat hovering by his head. There was a memorial for Mozart as well, but he isn’t buried there. I looked for the grave of Antonio Salieri, but couldn’t find it. I was also chagrined to find, on leaving, that we’d missed out on seeing the grave of Falco, of Eighties Rock Me, Amadeus fame.

There were some interesting things in the cemetery. We saw a Buddhist cemetery, with a central dome ringed with unmarked stones, and a crypt that had broken open from frost or tree roots. Sheryl had a light and we had our camera flashes, so we peered in with trepidation (zombies, you know) to see the floor below littered with bones - some of them quite fresh - and various squishy bits and pieces. It was more than a bit gruesome actually, though that didn’t stop us taking pictures.

Open Crypt at Zentralfriedhof, Vienna, Austria

The west wall of the cemetery by the Jewish section is piled high with smashed grave markers. We saw a few Stars of David, and wondered if it might be a Holocaust memorial, but we couldn’t see a plaque. I thought it would have been the worst taste to just leave smashed tombstones lying there if it wasn’t a memorial, but we eventually found the sign. It was only in German, so we were no wiser and left mystified. I looked it up later and found that it was a memorial, but not a Holocaust memorial - the Jewish stones we saw were only coincidental. The stones were the remains of graves destroyed during bombing in the Second World War, and for which the proper locations couldn’t be found afterwards.

Flourish

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Chris Liberty - Dispatches from a Gentleman Adventurer
Being the internal dialog of a vagabond who chased his own tail across five continents for 4 years and 2 days from May 2008 to May 2012, in search of something that never really became clear.
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