Sunday, 28 December 2014


Bad Ischl, an Austrian spa resort, became famous when Princess Sophie went there in 1828 to cure her infertility and within 2 years gave birth to the future Emperor Franz Joseph. It became the spa of choice for the imperial family.

But WW I put an end to the empire  -- and the glory of the resort. To quote the author of an essay lamenting the decline of the spa in 1922:
Chin up, old boy, and don’t spoil the joy of your 30th visit to Ischl. Accept that the times have changed.

And how did the times change the resort?
The aristocratic circle of courtiers has been replaced by a society which is the symbol of the new Austria: High-rollers with lips like negroes and hands like Cyclops, obliging ladies drawn by the money bags like iron by a magnet, the next generation of rascally teenagers who spend their money at the Café Zauner, the pastry shop in the Pfarrgasse… the fairy-tale automobiles whose owners have made their money in questionable transactions, and a mixed mob of currency-rich foreigners, who strut around here.

Well, Bad Ischl has survived the onslaught of the commoners, and the pastry shop Zauner still serves customers in the Pfarrgasse. According to the town’s official website, Bad Ischl is a charming place which offers tranquillity, the fragrance of unspoiled nature, and spectacular views. And the company of high-rollers, judging by the number of luxury hotels.

(Source: Essay in Neues Wiener Tagblatt quoted by Karl Kraus, Die Fackel, November 1922; my trans) 

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