- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Sigmund Freud
Interestingly, the guidebook on Austria that I bought there had a list of famous Austrians, yet it somehow neglected to mention those first two. While I was there (in Graz), I saw plenty of advertisements for the Arnold Schwarzenegger Museum, though. (I was not tempted.)
Continuing my theme of learning stuff that was obvious, I'll admit that (as far as I recall), I don't think I'd ever heard of the city of Graz until my husband organized some kind of math thing with a colleague there. So, when people would ask which part of Austria I was planning to visit, I'd tell them "Graz" -- and then wait for the reaction. Everyone I talked to clearly already knew about Graz, which led me to conclude that (a) it's probably a relatively important city, and (b) I'm pronouncing it correctly (or at least close enough). In fact, it's the second-largest city in Austria!
I was also pretty surprised by how dang far away it is. I mean, Switzerland and Austria are both small countries that share a border. So it should be no biggie to hop from Zurich to the major cities of Austria, right? Nope. Zurich-Graz by train takes about nine hours (and the night train takes 11 hours because they have several stops where they stop for a long time). By contrast, Paris by train is a little more than four hours from here. Going to Graz by train is almost comparable to taking the train all the way to London -- except that you get a breathtaking mountain view during a big part of the trip.
Austria borders Italy, Switzerland, and Germany -- but those borders are all along the narrow strip of Austrian Alps. The more populous part of Austria is farther to the East. (This is a part where "The Sound of Music" really stretches its believability thin -- they seriously walked all those kids from Salzburg over the mountains to Switzerland?! Good luck!)
Given my Cold-War-influenced perspective, I was kind of surprised so see that the Austrian's population's real neighbors are Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Czech Republic. I mean, I somehow always thought of Austria as being squarely a part of "Western Europe", but the closest major city to Vienna is Bratislava (trains depart every hour for the one-hour trip between them). The surprise bonus: there was plenty of opportunity to sample delicious Hungarian goulash!