Experience

An Interesting Experience
Recently I have discovered how difficult it is for me to remember names and recall events that have been stored only recently. It is well known that the long term memory is much more efficient for old people.
Now, I have found a new pleasure with remarkable side effects. When I zap through youtube I am normally looking for music entries especially concerning interpretations of classical music, especially piano music. However, in the side bar I find recommendations for other videos like comments on interesting chess games or cab rides of certain railway trips.
I have watched those earlier and I am quite sad, that the cooperation between Google and the Russian Railway Corporation does not show the 6,5 days videos of a complete trip with the Transsiberian journey from Moscow to Vladivostok.
But there are many others and while I am looking for high speed trips or special beautiful landscape sceneries (like e.g. Jungfraujoch in Switzerland) I have found a short trip of 30 minutes that does not seem so exciting. It is a trip from the railway station „Franz-Josefsbahnhof“ to Tulln a small town about 30 km away from Vienna. It is not a fast train but it has its merits as half of the time the tracks are squeezed between the street and the river Danube. The squeeze is a result because the last little hills of the Alps that form part of the Vienna Forests in the west of Vienna reach until the river Danube.
When you follow the video you will see Leopoldsberg with the edge called „Nase“ (nose) leading down to the beach of the Danube. There would be a lot to write about the „Franz-Josefsbahn“, the railway of the emperor Franz-Josef, but that would be a different story. It is sufficient to know that nowadays only a few trains will go past Tulln although earlier this was a main connection the „Kronländer“, as Moravia, Bohemia and Galitsia (in Poland) were called. It was not the only route, there was the Nordbahn („north“), Nordwestbahn, Ostbahn that were all having connection to the North.
But I started to talk about memories. When I looked at this video I was experiences history within 30 minutes of watching. It was less because the last section between St. Andrä-Wördern and Tulln is not really very exciting, straight, no mountains, no river.
The tour starts at Franz-Joserfsbahnhof. This station is nowadays hardly recognizable as a railway station. There is a big modern building on top of 6 or 8 tracks and when you step on the station platform it is dark like in an underground station there are two or three trains lingering on the tracks and they make the impression of being in retirement. Everything is quiet a little bit depressing.
When the train starts the first station is Spittelau. Spittelau is not sexy at all unless you consider a remote heating station with a high chimney as sexy. It looks better than you would expect it because the chimney has been ornamented by the famous Austrian artist Hundertwasser. In sunlight it radiates and mirrors the sun beams because of some golden surface. But the station is important because you can change from two different subways (U4 and U6) to the train. Even the next very close station has a link to the subway U4.
While the tracks from the beginning to Spittelau are rather depressing, tracks, cables and some advertisement boards you can watch even from the frog’s perspective, the tracks from Spittelau to Heiligenstadt, the next station, are barely better. One has to know that this region was industrialized and the real nice part of the 19th district in Vienna, Döbling, is blocked out of sight by the tracks of the former „Stadtbahn“ a sort of very old predecessor of our current subway system. On the other side of this „wall“ is the „Heiligenstädterstrasse“, one of the very long streets in Vienna, encompassing the train tracks until Klosterneuburg, about which I will tell later.
But in the Heiligenstädterstrasse was the flat of my grand parents who were originally coming from a town close to Ostrawa in Moravia. When I was around six years I came to Vienna and was living in a side street that crossed Heiligenstädterstrasse. It was possible to reach the flat of my grand parents by 7 minutes walking. The flats in this house that does not exist in its original form anymore could be considered substandard. One little kitchen and one sleeping room. But my grand parents were not so poor, they had two flats which were connected. So there was kitchen, sleeping room, living room and a room for storage of differents goods and also food. Toilet and running water was shared with other people in the house and there were constant quarrels who was responsible for cleaning and ensuring that the water would not freeze in winter.
It still was appearing very comfortable to me.
When I wrote about the tracks of the Stadtbahn I should have mentioned that there was a park next to the Heiligenstädterstraße. Actually there was an elevation of about 20 meter where the rest of the district was continued with villas of the borgeois. Most of the park was also much higher and when I looked from the park to the North, I would not be able to see the tracks of the railway but behind the tracks of the Stadtbahn I could see the „Donaukanal“ a side arm of the Danube and the 20.district that formed half of the island between Donaukanal and Danube. I felt elated when I could see all of this „landscape“ and I considered it then and even now as romantic.
Returning to my trip the next station on the route is Heiligenstadt. Heiligenstadt is a very important place. In Heiligenstadt was the end station of G and WD, the two major Vienna „fast“ mass transportation means. (Stadtbahn) G stood for „Gürtel“ (belt) and WD stood for „Wiental-Donaukanal“. WD was the longest implementation of the Stadtbahn. The route connected Heiligenstadt that could be considered almost the Northern end of Vienna, (not completely as there were more Northern parts across the Danube) and the utmost Western end of Vienna, already in the Vienna Forests. The end station is called „Hütteldorf“. It was once a major railway station of the „Westbahn“ where the fastest trains coming from Paris, Switzerland and Germany were having a stop so people could change to the WD-Stadtbahn, that brought them to almost any part of the city.
The next stations Kahlenbergerdorf, Klosterneuburg Weidling, Klosterneuburg Kierling, Unterkritzendorf, Kritzendorf, Greifenstein etc. (I forgot Höflein that also came in somewhere) are heavy with memories which I have to add at some later time.
However it is necessary that in this section you can see side arms of the Danube, the Danube itself and all the little houses that were kept by people as sort of holiday resorts. The specialty of those houses was their construction. They all rest on wooden piles in order to cope with floods of the Danube.
Klosterneuburg bears special memories as relatives of mine were living there. But that should be part of another story. For now, I have spent more time in writing this than in watching the video. Maybe, I should watch it again.
Epilog: maybe one can complain about the technical gadgets of todays society. But personally I get a lot of satisfaction by watching contents that I would not be able to experience otherwise. And I don’t have to be personally present in the driving cab in order to enjoy the trip. (Although that is a special pleasure which I once had when travelling from Linz to Vienna 🙂 )
The trip




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