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Austrian Capital Preserves Imperial Ambience

Published: January 26, 2010 (Issue # 1542)



  • A sphinx in the Belvedere Gardens which surround two 18th-century palaces in Vienna. The palaces now house art museums.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • The St. Stephens Cathedral in the city center dominates the citys skyline.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • The famed Vienna Opera House was severely damaged in bombing during World War II.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • Modern architecture is also a feature of the landscape in Vienna.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • An open-air bus offering tours for visitors through the city center.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

  • A narrow side street in the center of Vienna.
    Photo: Sergey Chernov / The St. Petersburg Times

Its midnight at the Vienna Airport Hotel. A group of wet, disheveled and strange-looking people, one with his head covered with a towel, walking through the lobby looks a little out of place in the quiet setting. But when several tired Russian business journalists try to head to their rooms, they are stopped by a short but muscular man with a mustache.

Dont move! Stay where you are! the man hisses, while starting to assume what appears to be a martial arts combat stance, but after the mysterious group disappears down a corridor, he follows them briskly. It takes a while to dawn on one of the shocked journalists that the men were in fact Metallica, whose bodyguard had unwisely mistaken the reporters for fans seeking autographs.

Metallica Performed a Black Mass in Vienna, read the headline in Osterreich (Austria,) the free daily local newspaper picked up the next morning, preceding a review of the previous nights stadium concert where the metal band had played to thousands of Austrian fans an effort that might have affected its personnels thought processes.

Osterreich is the rival to Heute (Today;) both papers are widely available all over the city, including on the Vienna Metro (U-Bahn,) where they are frequently left behind.

The metro, which has 76 stations, was officially opened in 1898, electrified in 1925 and has been modernized since 1976. A single-journey ticket for the metro or any other public transport costs 1.70 euros, or two euros if bought onboard the bus or tram.

The Vienna Metro has proven popular with suicides, although a scientific report claimed that the introduction of media guidelines regarding the reporting of suicides in 1987 led to a 75 percent decrease in the rate of subway suicides.

However, residents of Vienna say they do still happen, and that a metro announcement that a train has been delayed for technical reasons is generally interpreted as news of another despondent person choosing to end his or her life.

The metro is just one part of Viennas well-developed public transport network. Almost any destination in the city can by reached by metro, as well as by bus, train or tram. Viennas public transport company, Wiener Linien, operates five underground lines, 31 tram routes and 80 bus routes.

While the St. Petersburg authorities are gradually scaling back the citys tram lines, claiming that trams hinder car traffic, a tram ride is a pleasant and convenient means of transport in Vienna and it does not seem like the city will ever reject it. Visitors can take the yellow Vienna Ring-Tram around the most beautiful parts of the city. A round trip takes 24 minutes and cost six euros (four euros for children.)

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Apr. 18


Teachers and students alike shouldnt miss the opportunity to establish lasting contacts with Russian and foreign institutions during the 21st Education and Career Fair at LenExpo, beginning today and finishing tomorrow. Learn more about education in Russia and connect with your fellow scholars.


The Tromso International Film Festival, Norways largest, brings a short festival to St. Petersburg for one day only during Scandinavian Oddities, starting at 7 p.m. today at Rodina Cinema Center. Tickets for the event are 100 rubles ($2.80).


Sunday, Apr. 20


Celebrate Easter at Pavlovsk during the Easter Fair that begins today and continues through next Sunday. Visitors will have the chance to paint Easter eggs and children can take part in games as well as help decorate a tree in honor of Christianitys holiest day.


Today is one of the final days to see the exhibit Cacti Children of the Sun at the Peter the Great Botanical Garden. Starting Apr. 17, budding botanists will marvel at the variety and beauty of the deserts most iconic plant.


Monday, Apr. 21


Improve your grasp of Neruda, Bolano and Marquez at TrueDAs Beginners Spanish Lesson this evening at their location on the Petrograd Side. An experienced teacher will be on hand to help all attendees better understand the intricacies of the language and improve their accent.


Tuesday, Apr. 22


SPIBAs Breakfast with the Director event series continues as the association welcomes Andrei Barannikov, general director of SPN Communications, to the Anna Pavlova Hall of the Angleterre Hotel this morning at 9 a.m. Attendees must confirm their participation by Apr. 21.


The AmCham Environment, Health and Safety Committee Meeting is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this morning in the their St. Petersburg office.