Three days ripping up Budapest while barely sleeping took it’s toll, yet somehow we made it to Vienna alive. NC Kapita and Marc slept in the car as I drove and despite a 2 hour blitz for info while connected to the McDonalds free wifi at Gasometer City, we were left with plenty of time to take a look at the delights of Vienna.
Starting off in the Wienfluss, the culverted canal beneath the city, we walked for what seemed like miles without finding the secret hole into the Ubahn that we were hoping for. Eventually we took the Ubahn back to where we’d started from and after failing to get into onto the roof of a nearby tall hotel, took to driving around the city to look for interesting things.
At around 5am we decided we were knackered, and after the minor inconvenience of being pulled over and breathalized by the Polizei, we soon arrived at the locked gates of the Ausgarten, the large city park holding two of these 50m high concrete beasts.
Despire some attempts to secure the place, we found ourselves in the Flakturm. Having navigated some precarious concrete steps with no sides, in the dark, we emerged onto the roof and deciding between the logical choice of getting some well needed sleep and taking some photos, I elected for the latter. It was a notably nice way to end the trip, watching the sun rise over the city.
For the uninitiated, a Flakturm is a giant bombproof concrete box, a relic from World War Two. Half ammunition store and anti-aircraft gun post, half air-raid shelter, these were an idea of Hitlers to protect his favourite city from Allied bombing. Being so big and cumbersome, the Allies marched straight past them on the way to Berlin, returning after conquering Hitler to hold siege.
By 2011, the Flakturm appears to have turned into a popular location for visiting explorers to sleep between visiting drains and metro. As ever, I’m a firm advocate of avoiding hotel accommodation, something that would make a trip like this prohibitively expensive. Thus, sleep where you can.
Inside, the Flakturm has seen some damage. Some time after the war, some kids lit a fire while playing in the Flakturm and some remaining ammunition exploded. Thus, there’s holes all over the place and several sections that look like caves, with the extent the concrete has crumbled.
Vienna captured our imaginations. Giant concrete military constructions that resembled an upside down bunker, big drains, a metro with plenty of opportunities and a desire to hit fresh stuff leaves me asking the question – when do we return?