Did You Know…
When you think of Austria, there’s the music, art, architecture, the Austrian Alps, the spectacular scenery, the images and sounds from the “Sound of Music”, or is it Arnold Schwarzenegger “The Terminator” saying “I’ll be back!” or…
These are some of the things we normally associate with Austria but, did you know that:
Austria – As A World Stage: Although known world-wide for its music, architecture and of course skiing; Austria and Vienna in specific, is the home of the third highest concentration of UN related offices, with 15. Among which are the (IAEAC) International Atomic Energy Agency Commission, which is the world’s central intergovernmental forum for scientific and technical nuclear cooperation and is now deeply involved in the issues associated with the Fukushima Nuclear Accident in Japan. Another is the seat of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs, which is responsible for promoting the peaceful uses of outer space. OPEC, the organization dedicated to the stability of the petroleum markets also has its headquarters in Vienna as do many of Austria’s major corporations. During the Cold War, Austria was an important go between East and West and that role certainly has expanded with the dropping of the Iron Curtain and the opening of the borders. This in itself could be considered the best of Austria.
Contributors to the World: Austria was home to Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychoanalysis and the famous, or infamous to some, “Freudian slip”. Among other noteworthy Austrians are: Ferdinand Porsche, of automobile fame and Christian Doppler, most famous for describing what is now called the Doppler effect, the science that brought about, among other inventions, the Doppler radar, which plays a major part in our storm forecasting. Another noted scientist is Anton Zeilinger, who is known as the first scientist to demonstrate quantum teleportation. Viktor Frankl, is a world renowned psychiatrist and author of Man’s Search for Meaning. Other outstanding Austrian-born émigrés include the world-renowned management thinker, Peter Drucker and the 38th Governor of California, the (ex) Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is immortalized by these famous words: “I’ll be back” from his Terminator movies. Interestingly, a number of these luminaries, including Mozart, come from the Salzburg area. Perhaps it’s the fresh mountain air or the many clear mountain springs and lakes. Who knows? I may have had this same influence passed along to me. Is this the best of Austria?
Today’s Energy Drink Purveyor: Red Bull, the world’s preeminent energy drink distributor and sponsor of all things fast and adrenalin pumping comes from Austria sponsors Formula 1 teams, other sports car teams, air plane races, etc. You name an adrenalin pumping sport and Red Bull is there sponsoring it. Red Bull has its headquarters in a very scenic part of the Austria; in the small village of Fuschl am See, located in the state of Salzburg.
Austria and Wine: Perhaps not so well known around the world, is Austria’s wine production, which can be traced back almost 4,000 years. There are somewhere around 20,000 mostly smaller wine producing estates in Austria, many of whose financial existence is based on selling the wine directly on the premises. The proliferation of wine estates is largely due to a decree passed in 1784 that allowed a person to sell his or her own wine out of their own house, without having to have a dedicated license to do so. Austria’s wine region is situated primarily in the Eastern part of the country, with Vienna being in the midst of it. Today white wines make up approximately 70% of its production.
Vienna and Coffee: One of the benefits coming out of the wars and eventual defeat of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Vienna was the coffee brought into the area by the Ottoman armies. The Viennese in turn have turned coffee into an art form and are now well known for their Vienna Coffee and “kafés” (Coffee Houses). Do stop in one or two and indulge in the coffee and perhaps a slice of Sacher Torte.
Swarovski Crystal: Near Innsbruck in Tyrol is the town of Watten and headquarters of Swarovski Crystal, the manufacturer of some of the finest crystal ware in the world. Originally started in Bohemia, which was then part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and now part of the Czech Republic, Daniel Swarovski, the founder moved manufacturing to Watten, Austria in 1895 to take advantage of the hydro-electric power required by his newly patented crystal cutting and polishing machine. Today, the Swarovski Crystal products, are known for their fine jewelry quality and include; crystal glass sculptures and miniatures, jewelry and couture , home decor, and chandeliers . Swarovski subsidiaries focus on related products such as optics and the company also has partnerships with electronic giants such as Phillips. When in or near Wattens, a visit to the Crystal World Museum (Kristallwelten) is a must.
Austria and Green Energy: With nearly 25% of the primary energy consumption coming from renewable energy sources, Austria is considered one of the leaders in renewable energy production and technology. In fact, it is expected that the share of energy generated from renewable sources is expected to rise to 34% by 2020. A great example of these types of efforts is the town of Gussing, a previously dying, down trodden town near the Hungarian border and the former Iron curtain. In 1988, because of the cost of fossil fuels and its dire economic situation, it decided to embark on a journey to become fossil fuel independent and in 1990, the town’s council made a decision to become 100% fossil fuel independent. Today it has achieved that and with it created some 50 new enterprises with over 1,000 jobs supporting that industry. In addition it is a magnet for a number of new related industries and an example of what can be done when a community looks forward and works together. There are a number of other similar projects in Austria, especially in its southern part where the temperatures are a bit more moderate and there are more hours of sunshine to enjoy.
So what is the best of Austria? Is it the music, it’s famous sons, its architecture, the Swarovskis or Red Bulls, the images and sounds from the “Sound of Music”, or… For such a small country its contribution to the world is manifold, and besides it is a wonderful place to visit and take in its spectacular Alpine setting and historic places like Vienna and Salzburg.