36 Years Ago

36 Years Ago, Vienna 1971—A Student Journal

Day 002: Arrival in Vienna


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

Day 2 — Arrival in Vienna
04-August-1971 (Wed.)

Vienna Burgtheater


Actually, most of the preceding day could have been under today’s news…if we started on Vienna time.

Arrived approx. 9 o’clock. Fairly small airport. The porter didn’t want to wake up the custom’s men so we just went through.

The first thing that struck me was that
people are people; they work, play, go about their jobs…!

The rest of the day was HELL. With tips, hotel (Tourist Ways), telegrams, and walking, and failing to Contact Dr. S. (Austrian) on the phone. Most people were friendly and tried to help. Especially the Austrian National Student Service…

My new motto. When in doubt, call a student.

Slept… 3 to 10:00.

10:30. Met two students. One from Brooklyn, and one from Germany; traveling together. Delightful conversation over drinks. Will see them tomorrow. The German knew English, German, and French fluently. And he could out-drink us.


Vienna rooftops
In Vienna. Well, I’m in Vienna.

I don’t remember much of this day. I’m certain that Vienna’s airport is not small, just smaller than JFK. That there was a porter to help me through customs was probably someone from Pan Am sent to take care of me. Thanks Pan Am—the major air carrier in those days.

Transit to Vienna proper. I don’t remember exactly how I got from the airport to the city, while lugging my suitcases, a box of books, a guitar, and cameras. I’m fairly certain that I took the bus and went directly to the Austrian National Student Service, who recommended a hotel for these first couple of days. I didn’t have a hotel reservation made before I left the U.S. That’s a pattern I will sometimes repeat this year—traveling without advanced reservations. Would I do that today? No, as we get older we become afraid of taking chances. Maybe that’s more sensible. Less adventurous.

That I didn’t write much down says to me that I was really tired, running around trying to find out what to do next. I wasn’t able to contact Dr. S. who was my official contact at the school and a liaison for foreign students.

Expectations. What I do remember is that before I left home, I had no idea of what to expect in Austria. I vaguely remember that I wondered if there were farms everywhere and I would be in Vienna surrounded by farm cows. Boy, was I naïve. Looking out the bus, I saw regular people, wearing business suits, lots of cars, trolleys, and buses—big-city life with people going to work in the morning. Just like at home—in the States. This is an example of being book-schooled but real-world ignorant.

Learning that the world consists of a vast variety of countries, languages, cultures, people, customs, and beliefs [different from the United States] is a powerful message of my first-time ever abroad. Again, I thank Rotary Clubs International and Nick for this opportunity.

It is funny that the first two people I meet at night include a student from Brooklyn, and my first multi-lingual European. The world is indeed small, but there is much to learn.

Photos of the day:

The Burgtheater, on the Ringstrasse
Vienna Burgtheater

The rooftops of Vienna

Vienna rooftops


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