Vienna was a super power

Slipping off my shoes and unpacking my lap top, I make my way through thousands standing around (TSA). While there’s nothing in my soles, the small Swiss army knife and little box cutter (which I’ve tucked away on each flight since 9/11) seems to concern no one. On the TV at my departure gate, our president reminds me via Larry King how terrorism has changed everything. Larry and Laura both nod.

In 12 hours I’ll be in Vienna. It was a super-power itself once–until a terrorist (from a Muslim land, living under a Christian emperor) killed its prince, leading to a war that ended Austria’s dominance. Today in Vienna the pressure’s off. The world spins without Hapsburg guidance, and the once powerful people of Austria savor their impotence…enjoying among the shortest work weeks and longest lifespans in the world…not to mention the most glorious church services and the best chocolate cake anywhere.

Somewhere in there is the key to why Vienna charms me so. Traveling–especially traveling alone–causes you to have strange thoughts and…sometimes…do strange things.


8 Replies to “Vienna was a super power”

  1. Blissful anonymity on the part of the Austrians. Hard to imagine a couple of centuries ago. But you’re right…it suits them.

  2. With an income tax rate at 50 percent and a highly socialized government, Austria has guarenteed themselves impotency for generations to come.

  3. Are you married?!

    (chuckle … but really, could you clone yourself or identify someone who thinks like you? I want to meet him and travel with him …)

  4. So the box cutter is for slicing your chocolate cake ? Or did it just feel thrilling including them while packing ?

    While meeting friends in London, Amsterdam and Florence, I digressed from mentioning terrorism to them, trying to remind myself “if you are afraid, then the bad guys have won”.

    Then last June we visited the British Museum and rode the tube just days before the bombing…that Saturday evening prior, we actually rode several routes with a friend all around London visiting pubs without a care in the world switching from the bus to walking to wizzing around up and down stairs.

    Never did it cross our minds that anything like this would happen. My London friend said they are prepared for this to happen.

    How lucky we have been, we don’t consider how our European friends have lived with terror for many years.

  5. Hi Rick

    Really enjoy your show and books. Since this blog was about your flight to Vienna I have to ask your thoughts about travel especially in Economy and having your knees at times practically in your chin ( not really – but it really gets pretty uncomfortable). Any thoughts on the roomiest airline or other advice.

    Rick g.

  6. How do you get a SwissArmy knife through security, let alone a box cutter of any size? My husband has had his 1 1/2 inch knife confiscated several times when he forgets he has it in his pocket. I try to add it to our packing checklist to REMOVE it from the luggage and we check everything. I wouldn’t mind too much if I actually felt safer for it, but to my knowledge no airplane has ever been hijacked by an overweight, middle-aged white woman. Call that racist or profiling, it’s truth.

  7. It isn’t at all right that you brag about packing “small Swiss army knife and little box cutter (which I’ve tucked away on each flight since 9/11)”. I was on a plane ready to take off when the bombing happened on 9/11 it hasn’t make me stop traveling but I appreciate the checking.
    I like reading most of your stuff and watching your show, but this comment is just really a naughty boy thing. You probably don’t care, but if they find it they will take it and send you a fine.

  8. Rick; the Hapsburgs were the dominant and most cunning of all the rulers in old Europe. Most of their power came from shrewd marriages and well placed donations to high church officials…don’t forget that they also held large power in Spain as well.

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