National Geographic : 1962 Jun
American basketball exhibition, I learned lat er, topped every other entertainment attrac tion in the city that week. Vienna's coffeehouses have undergone a decline in patronage. "People just don't have time any more," a friend explained. "Once a man would leave his office for an hour or more both morning and afternoon to enjoy his coffee, read a newspaper, and chat with his friends. Today business won't wait. He runs out for a cup of espresso and is back at his desk in 15 minutes." My grandfather was a Viennese, and I sought out a coffeehouse where he spent many a happy hour in the last century. It is still in business, but its patrons that June morning included three tables of women playing bridge and a few youngsters sipping soft drinks and watching a documentary film on TV. The facade changes, but the spirit remains. I have heard that money talks, and in Austria it tells what the Viennese consider important. The 1,000-schilling bill ($38) bears the picture of a composer. A Nobel Prize-winning physi cian is honored on the 500-schilling bill. The 100-schilling note is graced by a poet, and an inventor is on the 20-schilling bill. Mozart appears on the 25-schilling coin. Politicians? Well, you can find a picture of an Austrian Bundesprlsident on the 11/2-schilling stamp. Peter the Hermit and his followers left the Danube not far from Vienna and took the overland route to Belgrade. Part of that road lies in what is today a restricted zone just inside the Hungarian border; so Tom and I followed the Danube to Budapest, as had German Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, a great Third Crusade leader. I knew Budapest before World War II, when its gaiety was famed throughout the world. It is a far different city today. Its ba roque beauty was scarred by the war and further marred by the tragic revolution of 1956.* But new buildings are going up in every section, the markets are full of food, and the biggest problem the citizens face is not how to find work but how to get to it. The traffic jam is monumental. Until nine at night, that is. Then the streets are deserted. There are theaters and a few nightclubs-but most Budapesters stay home. A Hungarian friend explained: "We're * See "Freedom Flight From Hungary," by Robert F. Sisson, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, March, 1957.