The last time that I visited Vienna I was disappointed (and a bit disoriented) to be deposited at the Wien Meidling station in the far southwest of the city. So I was pleased to hear that the new Wiener Hauptbahnhof was officially opened this past weekend. Looking a bit like a regional airport, the $1.3 billion station replaces the down at the heels old Südbahnhof. When the new central station, which faces Südtiroler Platz, is at full capacity it will be visited by 1,100 trains a day and more than 100,000 passengers will pass through the concourses and shopping mall.
Still, I have some fond memories of arriving at the old Südbahnhof many years ago on my first visit to Vienna. Just minutes after arriving, I was dutifully studying a city map only to look up and find myself facing a line of black-clad, jack-booted police all cradling submachine guns and walking slowly down the stairway in lockstep. The theme from the Third Man played in my head and I knew that I had arrived.