36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 005: Coffee and call girls


Vienna 1971—A Student Journal
A year of music, study, travel, sightseeing & friends.

Day 5 — Coffee and call girls
07-August-1971 (Sat.)

Journal Aug 7


I still can’t get over how helpful and friendly everyone is. When you ask a question, they are extremely courteous and patient. Not like the too-frequented American cold shoulder.

Beautiful weather for last 3 days.

After paying 20s (20 Austrian shillings) for a cup of coffee, I will not walk into just anyplace. Look for cheaper places.

Akademiestrasse – cafes for students.

I have found out (from Herr Arthur S.) that I had my coffee in the Hotel Statler, which, unknown to me, is one of the exclusive hotels right in back of the State Opera. Many upper-class go here, and nobility also, after the opera.

I always knew that I had a taste for the “better way of life,” but this was ridiculous. And all I wanted was a cup of coffee for breakfast. No wonder no one believed me.

On weekends, the student restaurants are usually closed. It is hard to find cheaper places to eat. Finally, I stopped off at a “hot dog” stand. I sat down on a bench, next to a very pretty girl, and after I finished eating:

On Frustration.
The following conversation occurred after the above:

• Me: “Sind sie Österich student?”
• Her: “Ja, … …” [Words I did not understand.]
• Me: Shaking my head, not understanding. “Wo, in Wien Universität?”
• Her: “Nein.” … … … [Words I did not understand.]

Feeling frustrated, I sat awhile.
Not knowing how to say, or what I was hearing.
Smiling, we departed.

Began to practice the guitar.

Who says there are language barriers? The student hostel consists of each room looking out into the center courtyard. While I was practicing, a conversation began to develop among the different people in the different rooms (windows). It was multi-lingual and very amusing. Once I yelled out, “Parlez-vous Francais?” and when somebody answered, I didn’t know what to say.

Later that night, I went to a diner to get coffee. While I was sitting, a man asked me how I learned German…it developed into a conversation. He was a middle-aged gentleman named Arthur, who was an artist working for CBS as a promotional manager. He lived in Paris and New York for a while, before going to Vienna. He was extremely friendly and answered many of my questions. He pointed out some cheaper places to eat and buy things.

When I asked him why so many “mädchen” were “bra-less,” he said, maybe “I” was seeing these type of girls. We went just a block out of the way from Kärtnerstrasse. Then this really good-looking girl (woman) came and asked him something. We kept on walking and there were several others around. I found out that “streetwalking” was legal in Austria, and was considered a business. When I told him that I was surprised at how good-looking they were, he said that was an “expensive district.”

We had a couple of more drinks and called it a night. If I ever had any questions, he asked me to call.


Everyone's friendly. Here it is Day 005 and I’m still raving about the friendliness of everyone I meet. Again, perhaps it’s just trying to speak the native language. I keep saying that the native language is German, but I’m certain that Austria and the Viennese may have some variations or dialects. I’ll try to research that. I don’t know why I’m so hard on the Americans, who, I think are generally very friendly. Maybe, it’s just being young.

A cup of coffee. So, how much was that coffee for 20 Austrian shillings? If I remember correctly, it’s probably about one dollar. Now, don’t compare that to Starbucks. This was 36 years ago, in Austria, way before any Starbucks existed.

Needless to say, having a cup of coffee at the exclusive Hotel Statler would be expensive for that time. Then, I meet “Herr” (Mr.) Arthur S. who let me in on the Statler/coffee scoop. It was the weekend.

How to pick up a German-speaking girl. What’s next? I may as well practice my German by trying to meet the pretty girl mentioned in my literary narrative called “On Frustration.” I asked her if she was an Austrian student from the University of Vienna. In response, I only understood two words—“yes” and “no.” Good going, John. The ellipses represent her speaking and my not understanding. How am I going to meet anyone like that? To be frank, I wasn’t a big lady’s man in college. I was always working, as I remember. Later in life, as a young professional, I was similarly also very poor at picking girls up that spoke perfectly fine English here in the USA.

At least I got to eat a hot dog. Probably a wurst.

Guitar pickin'. I return to the hostel and start practicing guitar. Beginner classical guitar (you know, nylon strings that you pluck). That past year, my senior year, I took totally-beginner classical guitar lessons as one of my courses, which I enjoyed. I wasn’t that good and didn’t plan on getting much better. Why did I bring this big, lunky guitar—a very nice one, Giannini—to Europe? Now, I’m thinking that material objects, such as guitars, cars, clothes, cell phones, and iPods are extremely important to young people. Is that profound or what? Has anyone else ever mentioned this? Why didn’t I see this at the time? Well, I was young. At any rate, there I am playing. I did like practicing though.

Courtyard banter, "I don't understand you." I remember this next event even today. The student hostel was like a large square with a center courtyard. And on this early evening, students start speaking out of the windows to each other in a variety of languages. Very European, I guess. It was fun and interesting to hear the lingual-chatter, none of which I could understand. And, of course, I had to be the joker and yell out in French. And, of course secundo, I didn’t understand the response and didn’t answer. I bet it was a beautiful French girl, the kind you dream about and immediately fall in love with. You know, I love accents. All men and women love accents. They just melt you—when coming from the opposite sex, most often.

Mr. S. Later, I meet a man named Arthur at a coffee place. I start the conversation in German, and thank goodness he knows English. That’s the only time I can get my questions answered. As I mentioned, he is a promotional manager for CBS Records. UPDATE: See Day 258 for a surprise.

Girls, bra-less infatuation. Before you know it, I’m speaking of girls and, in my adolescent fervor, immediately focus on bra-less girls (a repeating theme). Obviously, it was big at the time. Obviously, I am infatuated with…err…them, err…the social phenomenon. I think I mention elsewhere in this journal that I have no idea why this is occurring. At my U.S. college, I don’t think anyone was going bra-less, except us guys. Ok, Montclair State Teacher’s College wasn’t Columbia or Berkeley, but it “was” the late 60’s.

Obviously, Arthur has my number and hints that I (
moi, as Miss Piggy reminds us) may be the one “see”-king such girls. Well!

Call girls. On the way back home, I get a tour of places to eat and buy things at reasonable prices. Oh, and of call girls. No, I didn’t do anything. I was a “poor” student, remember? I don’t remember if I was tempted but my wallet always keeps me in line, regardless. I do think it’s cool that it was legal and not such a big deal. So European. So worldly. So bad.

Photo of the day:

Scan of my journal
Journal Aug 7


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