I had a pen pal in Austria.
We wrote sporadically from 6th-8th grade, then lost touch. She is on my mind each Christmas when I unpack the one gift I have from her (I wonder what I sent to her.....something nice? nothing at all?), a candle holder accented with tiny pine cones. Since Francessa (Francessa's Thinking blog in Vienna) and I have become friends over the past blogging year I've wondered where the old letters from my pen pal might be stored, and I came across them in one of my file cabinets last week. I saved fewer letters than my memory told me I did, and I'd forgotten that she sent quite a nice group of postcards, adding a note that said she hoped I didn't mind if some of them were used. Today's postcard is one of them.
Francessa has already checked on my pen pal's girlhood name in the town where she wrote the letters. No luck so far. But the search is on for Rosmarie Gugler who lived in Mauer-Ohling, Austria, in 1962.
A site called Vienna Waits for You, in a page of info about the Giant Ferris Wheel and the new Prater Ferris Wheel Square, begins: You may want to visit this landmark of Vienna in the footsteps of the immortal movie “The Third Man” or simply enjoy the view of the city from almost 200 feet up. One thing is certain – only when you have taken a ride on Riesenrad are you really in Vienna!
A tourist who did exactly that provides a review at this site:
Well, the first thing to recommend about the Riesenrad - or giant ferris wheel to you and me - is that it was built in 1897 by Walter Basset, an Englishman! Hurrah!! It has become one of Vienna's most iconic landmarks solely due to the famous film adaptation of Graham Greene's novel 'The Third Man'. It might not be sought out by thrill-seekers but it certainly is by film buffs. If you haven't seen the film you might find yourself seriously underwhelmed, but if you've long savoured Joseph Cotton's celebrated scene with Orson Welles you wont leave the city without taking a turn on the wheel. . . I braved my rather sad fear of heights to go on the Riesenrad and was remarkably calm until the wind rocked the closed wooden carriage as we rested at the 12 'o clock position. Hardly bungee-jumping I know but I was suitably pleased with myself..and no, I'm not going back on it!
One further word, the Prater park is perhaps a touch on the seedy side (quite safe though) - aren't most funfairs?- and hardly in an elegant part of Vienna, so perhaps a daytime trip is best for the faint-hearted!
So, of course I wanted to include a scene featuring the Riesenrad from the 1949 film-noir, The Third Man, the mystery thriller that won the Oscar back then. (No, I haven't seen this movie, and, yes, I sure will after this.) The video clip I found at You Tube is really choice, not only for the perfect film it glimpses but for the oh-so strange English subtitles offered. When I read this quote below from the movie, well, you'll see ....... Grab a seat and enjoy!
Opening narrator: I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and easy charm. Constantinople suited me better.
[Scenes of black market goods changing hands] .........
......... Now the city is divided into four zones, you know, each occupied by a power: the American, the British, the Russian and the French. But the centre of the city that's international policed by an international patrol. One member of each of the four powers. Wonderful! What a hope they had! All strangers to the place and none of them could speak the same language. Except a sort of smattering of German.
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