Love is in the air
Two couples relive their honeymoon at the Hotel Stefanie.
As luck would have it, two married couples decided to reenact the honeymoon that had led them to the Hotel Stefanie in Vienna years before. One pair bundled the entire family together and departed Germany with children and grandchildren in tow to celebrate their golden wedding anniversary. The other set off on the long journey from Belgium in the car, just as they had done 46 years ago. Both arrived at the Hotel Stefanie in Vienna at the same time.
Many tales have already been written in the Hotel Stefanie. Occasionally, stories from the past intertwine with the present and become something particularly unique as a result. In this case, our pleasure is double, and I ventured to ask a few questions as to what things were like back then and what has changed in the meantime.
Golden wedding anniversary with the family in Vienna
I meet with the happy crowd that is the family Märkl from Bavaria at breakfast. Would they be able to tell me a little bit about it all? Yes of course, gladly.
Hubert Märkl came up with the idea of celebrating their golden wedding anniversary in Vienna after seeing a report about Austrian hotel legends on Servus TV some time ago. The Hotel Stefanie was featured as part of the program, the very hotel in which they had stayed for their honeymoon half a century previously. Both of them had often visited Vienna since then, but this time was of particular significance and the whole family wanted to be there: three children, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.
What has changed? The first thing that comes to Hubert Märkl’s mind is that “back then, there used to be a coin slot on the bed. You could put in 10 Austrian schillings and the whole bed would vibrate. You don’t get that anymore.” (A brief note: thank you for the story; nobody here can remember anything about that. Evidently this feature didn’t survive.)
Things are a lot more relaxed in the restaurant these days, for, when the couple wanted to eat 50 years ago, the porter took them to one side and asked if the gentleman might have a jacket with him. The wedding suit would serve as adequate apparel. They were allowed to dine.
Both of them remember walking a lot while they were in Vienna. On one occasion, they had to return to the hotel by foot from Grinzing (!), as the trams had already stopped running. No problem for a young, enamored couple!
They are still in love, though they are taking things easy this time round. To mark their golden wedding anniversary, there will be an evening at the opera and a mass at St. Stephen’s Cathedral with a small celebration in the company of the family. This has been organized by their son, a priest, who has accompanied them on the journey.
From Belgium to Vienna
Hugo and Anne Mie Van Autgaerden are also able to look back across many years of marriage. They tied the knot in 1972 and departed for their honeymoon in their VW Beetle. They first travelled to Munich, where a feeling of great upset still prevailed owing to the attacks at the Summer Olympic Games just a week beforehand. They continued on to the charming Mariazell, and from there to Vienna and the Hotel Stefanie.
Anne Mie Van Autgaerden beams as she recounts: “It was like it is today. We arrived and gave the car key to the valet so that he could park the car.” Only they had emerged from their honeymoon in the mountains, decked out in boots and clothing for hiking, with not everything as clean as it once had been, something also true of the VW Beetle. They felt incredibly awkward handing over the car in such a state as the Hotel Stefanie was also a very elegant hotel at that time already.
They still had fresh clothes to wear, and both remember the plush restaurant in which music was played on the piano and violin each evening. They kept hold of the original bill as a memento and have brought it back with them for us to see.
They did not see much of Vienna 46 years ago. “The priorities were different then”, suggests Hugo van Autgaerden whimsically. However, that is something the adventurous couple have made up for on this trip, and they speak of their tour through the city across the last few days with great enthusiasm. It sounds as though they haven’t missed one single sight!
They spent a lot of time at the Bruegel exhibition in the Art History Museum. Even though the two of them are not far from the home of the painter back in Belgium, they still felt the need to make the long journey to Vienna. Never before have so many of Bruegel’s works been exhibited together.
Dear family Van Autgaerden, dear family Märkl,
I would like to thank you for taking the time to share your stories with me and for giving me permission to publish them.
On behalf of the entire team at the Hotel Stefanie, I wish you all the best for the future, and hope that you remain as open, joyful and adventurous as you are now. You set an example for others.
Thank you for being our guests. It was our honor!