Thursday, July 11, 2013

35A to Salmannsdorf

One week of fun camp for Jake at the American School.  4 trips on public transport to and from the American School for me.  About 40-45 minutes each way in the morning and 5 and a half years in the afternoon.  I'm talking dog years.  The daily routine involves a short, pleasant U-Bahn trip to the Spittleau station, a bus ride through the 19th District with 18 stops each way on the 35A to Salmannsdorf, and a walk up 4 Mt. Everest-like hills to the American School.  Easy peasy, except the bus in the afternoon is like a can of ripe sardines careening down a hill of gopher holes.  After the first journey of misery, Jake and I started in with "witty" quips such as:  "the 35A to Salmannsdorf has its' own weather system:  hot and humid with a 99% chance of rancid body odor" or "if you are looking for a good time in Vienna, skip the 35A to Salmannsdorf".  After experiencing shortness of breath, muscle soreness and buckets of sweat, we even began calling the walk UP to school the 4 phases of "Heart Attack Hill".  The pictures are from my phone, so please excuse the quality.

35A to Salmannsdorf

Phase 1 of Heart Attack Hill

Phase 2

Phase 3

Phase 4

Today, I learned what happens when one mocks the 35A to Salmannsdorf.

Following a short, pleasant U-Bahn trip, we approached our nemesis, snickering about the ride and walk ahead.  Halfway through our journey, a man wearing a shirt decked out with the stars and stripes of Old Glory, boards the bus and starts speaking to each passenger.  "Giffelteushgitte" or something like that, since I don't understand German.  By the time he gets to us, I've figured out he is checking tickets.

Important Side Note:  Public transportation in Vienna is on the honor system.  If caught without a ticket, the fine is 500 Euros.  Mike has warned me to always carry my ticket, just in case.  This morning, I changed purses.  You know where this is headed.  Salmannsdorf.

I fumble around my bag looking for a ticket that is not there.  Jake gets embarrassed and pretends he does not know me since children ride free.  I frantically pull out old tickets (see! I've paid before!), lipstick, iPhone, used tissues, pieces of purse fuzz......I run out of options.   Jake is now yelling "C'mon Mom, find your ticket!"  Other bus riders stare off into space with exasperated looks.  The ticket checker, seeing and hearing our obvious distress, shakes his head and moves on with no further action.  I doubt he will ever wear his Old Glory shirt to work again.

With newfound humility and respect, I purchased a return ticket from the bus driver.  There is one more day of camp remaining.  One more day on the 35A.


  1. Da.., I was hoping to send my kid on the bus if she goes to AIS. (reading what's in store for us next year)

    1. There are lots of AIS students on the 35A, it is a busy route for sure! We just happened to be riding in the thick of summer, before they upgraded to the newer Mercedes bus. It is good for a short hop across the 19th District, the ride is long if going from end to end. Good luck with your decision!

  2. Dear LAH Johnson,
    I spent two years in the early 70s at the top of that long flight of stairs in a house on Dreimarkstein Gasse. We went to AIS. We rode the 35A many times! Back then it was a double-decker bus and one could get away from the old "angry" Austrian ladies by going to the top floor. Thanks for the awesome memory!! I am Andrew McCulloch on Facebook and I would love to hear from you directly!