Vienna is in the Balkans

“Tirol isch lei oans, isch a Landl a kloans, isch a schians, is a feins, und des Landl is meins.” – “Tyrol is unique; small perhaps, but beautiful and fine; and it is my country.” And no, I did not hear this at a football game in Tyrol or a Tiroler Schützen parade. It was on the U4.

The singers, a group of men in their 20s and 30s, were (as far as I could tell from the crests on the backs of their jackets) from Gerlos, one of the small villages at the tail of the Zillertal. Proud of their homeland as Western Austrians generally are, they felt the need to sing the unofficial Tyrolean anthem to the Viennese. Who couldn’t have cared less.

Cringing inwardly, I prayed that no one on the train could see I’m Tyrolean.

As the men staggered off the train – not only Tyrolean, but also drunk – I felt embarassed. It’s complicated: The Viennese had already betrayed them, they will tell you, when the Habsburgs gave Tyrol to Napoleon. In the iconic Piefke-Saga, an Austrian film from the early ‘90s, a Tyrolean hotelier explains to his German guests: “The Viennese, they live on the Balkans. We are different.” I could only imagine what the Viennese present in the U-Bahn thought of my fellow Tyroleans.

– Sophie Bachler

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