36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 011: Danube boat party, the Iron Curtain


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

Day 11 — Danube boat party, the Iron Curtain
13-August-1971 (Fri.)

Danube Boat Party


Danube boat party 02
The Danube Boat Party (My impressions as I wrote them down.)

The “Blue Danube” had turned green…I hope that they won’t change the waltz to the Green Danube.

At the start—all is quiet and restful.

Danube is [a]
Big River with a strong current.

Outside of Wien [Vienna] are all woods, which is an extremely pleasant change from the city. Actually, you [can’t] see much except [for] the woods on the riverbank. Around Wien, there are some industries around the river, but I didn’t see anything [pollution] pouring into it.

Extremely pleasant day.

I was looking at this very beautiful countryside and admired how beautiful it was. It was Czechoslovakia—the Iron Curtain. Then when we circled around and were very close to the border, you could see the barbed-wire fence, and the observation towers, and patrol boat.

Suddenly, you feel frightened, and sad. These people probably have good lives and it doesn’t bother them, but for me, just the fact of the confinement of THAT FENCE–was too much.

I think that I would [will] appreciate democracy more.


The Green Danube. Finally, some “live” on-the-spot journaling. The result? A lot of poor grammar (my weakness). Choppy and fragmented writing. I use the conjunction “but” an awful lot, and a million dashes to set apart my stream-of-consciousness, non-linear thoughts. Messy, but you get the picture. Actually, it’s the way my brain thinks.

After a couple of short-journal days, this post makes up for it.

So, we’re taking a boat ride that afternoon on the BLUE Danube. If you don’t know the
Blue Danube waltz by Johann Strauss Jr., you must be from another planet. You would know it, if you heard it. The BLUE Danube is actually GREEN. What? Was the river actually BLUE in Strauss’ time? Perhaps. Even today, Google Earth has confirmed that the Blue Danube is still GREEN, these 36 years later. Can someone locally provide a scientific answer for us? Thanks. By the way, I love Google Earth. Ok, enough with the colors already.

Wien. Vienna is Wien in German. As I am now an expert, and culturally assimilated, I’ll probably use Wien more often. Vienna/Wien is surrounded by the Vienna Woods. This is where Johann Strauss Jr. got his inspiration for his Tales of the Vienna Woods. All very beautiful.

The Iron Curtain
The Iron Curtain. Czechoslovakia. This was my first encounter with communism and the Iron Curtain.

If you’re very young, you may not even be aware of the Iron Curtain, and the cold-war days with the Soviet Union and its satellites pitted against the West, NATO, and the United States. The Iron Curtain was the term used to describe the U.S.S.R.’s hold on its peoples and countries. The fence was the symbol of that prison. Remember, we are all book-learned. Seeing that it was actually true was a “shock.” I remember that gut feeling in my stomach when seeing THAT FENCE. That people were actually “fenced-in” was, well, shocking. Even today, I remember that moment. People died trying to escape to “freedom” in the West.

I remember being thankful I was an American and thankful that I was born to freedom. Thankful for democracy and the United States.

Thank goodness, those days are long gone. Today, we have new issues. Let’s hope they can be solved.


Angeli [Anjali], was the girl who was having problems at Johannesgasse [the dorms]. She is a very pleasant person, and we had a good conversation. Her father, a diplomat. She has been all over the world—Australia, London, France, NY—and has done a lot—horseback riding, private school, etc. But a little young. But, I also enjoy having a good time with pleasant conversation. Lived in India.

Bad-Deutsch Altenburg
Bad-Deutsch Altenburg. The boat landed here and we decided to walk around. It was a small type of village-town—quiet, serene, beautiful, fresh air, park-type area. It is well known as a resort town, but we didn’t see any mineral springs.

Afrika Museum. Very interesting. Angeli has been there [before]. But I enjoyed walking in the country (on a paved road). We stopped in a small grocery store (very friendly people) for a drink. It could have been Archie’s—it’s own atmosphere and very small. Meanwhile, I took plenty of pictures. Very beautiful.

On board [the tour boat], we had dinner and then listened to the music. The first band played older music, plus jazz (Farfisa organ), and were not really that good. But the second band was a popular and rock (bubble gum) group, very good—playing, singing, & harmony. But not heavy.

Angeli didn’t know how to dance. But I convinced her that she could learn, and I believe I taught her fairly well…[she is] selfconscious. But we both enjoyed it. I wonder what her father would say?

Anjali by tree
Anjali. Anjali is her name, though I mostly spell it wrong in the journal as Angeli. We usually don’t ask people to spell their names when we meet them, do we? (This photo is one of the few photos I have of Anjali taken during the Danube boat party excursion.

This is the first mention of Anjali in the journal. I had actually run into her on one of the first days at the dorms at Johannesgasse. She was in the foyer entrance and was having some problems with getting in. Of course, me, Mr. International, steps in with my broken German to assist. (I always assist damsels in distress.
I be a knight, perhaps.) That was the extent of our first meeting. Little did I know that she was fluent in a bazillion languages.

She came from a diplomatic family and obviously lived all over the world, including India. I’m just a commoner who worked in a deli for many years. Am I outmatched? We’ll see.

I mention that she is young. I later find out that she will be going to University the coming year. Whew!

Bad-Deutsch Altenburg. The tour boat stops in Bad-Deutsch Altenburg, a well-known resort. I’m now a companion to Anjali and we do a little sightseeing together, including a visit to the Afrika Museum. (See photo right.) I thoroughly enjoy walking, sightseeing, the beauty of nature, and taking pictures. Photography was my passionate hobby at that time. I would walk around with Nikon’s Nikkormat camera around my neck and a zoom lens strapped to my belt. Hopefully, I’ll be getting some of my thousands of Kodak slides (remember those?) converted to digital format by a service, DigMyPics.com. They look good with individual service and attention to each picture. Nice. The photo right is from the Afrika Museum.

The photo below is that of a farmer as we were walking along a road in Bad-Deutsch Altenburg.

Farmer in Bad-Deutsch Altenburg

Again, it’s all about the joy of discovery. You don’t think about it consciously, but it’s the excitement underneath the surface that is ready to explode. When you’re young, exploit it. Learn. Get excited. Enjoy your friends. While you’re discovering, don’t be destructive to yourself—you know what that means. You’re cool as it is, all by yourself. I’m the cheerleader here. Looking back, I wish that I could have remembered to keep that joy throughout my entire life. Well, as you get older (work, pay bills, rent, mortgages, more work), we often get into ruts and lose that desire to discover. For the last several years, I’m striving to reverse that. We’ll see.

Dinner is served on the boat during the return journey. We dance. Or try to. Anjali doesn’t know how to dance! How cool is that! Well, Don Juan to the rescue. Mr. International, and all that stuff. We have a good time trying to learn.

There may be something going on here. I just haven’t realized it yet. And I mention her father.


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