Comment: Vienna, ‘City of My Dreams’

March 9, 2009

Vienna has always been a magical place for me. When my wife and I first had an opportunity to visit Europe in 1983, we made sure it was on our itinerary. The fact that our daughter and son were only nine and six years old, respectively, meant that we had to make each city we visited a special place for them. Vienna meant two things for them: dancing white horses and waltz music. Of course, it soon meant other things, such as Sacher-Torte and wiener schnitzel. Even nine- and six-year-olds appreciate good food, and Vienna certainly had a feast of that!

 

Vienna has always been a magical place for me. When my wife and I first had an opportunity to visit Europe in 1983, we made sure it was on our itinerary. The fact that our daughter and son were only nine and six years old, respectively, meant that we had to make each city we visited a special place for them. Vienna meant two things for them: dancing white horses and waltz music. Of course, it soon meant other things, such as Sacher-Torte and wiener schnitzel. Even nine- and six-year-olds appreciate good food, and Vienna certainly had a feast of that!

We enjoyed the Spanish Riding School and the Opera, where we saw The Barber of Seville from standing room brass rails. We visited the wonderful statues of composers in the parks and talked about their beautiful memorials in the cemetery. The children loved the "big church with the zig-zag roof" and the big bell.

But the thing they still remember most vividly is the famous Prater amusement park, with its giant Ferris wheel (the Riesenrad, at the time, one of the largest in the world) and also the delightful merry-go-round with REAL horses pulling it around.

Both children are now much older (as are their parents!), but both have been back to Vienna to show their partners the Prater, the Riesenrad, and the joys they remember of that first trip so long ago.

My subsequent visit to Vienna in 1992 coincided with the European Regional Congress of the ISRRT, the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists, when I had the great privilege to represent Australia as its council member. I still recall the exhilaration at walking down the main hall in the Hofburg Kongresszentrum, proudly carrying our national flag, enjoying the warmth and hospitality of the locals including the experience of a Heurigen -- their traditional wine and food festival, and waltzing to a small orchestra in the amazing Rathaus.

So why are these memories flooding back just now?

Because I'm about to attend my very first ECR, and I can't wait to renew my previous experiences of such a great city.

Having attended many RSNA and UKRC and ICR meetings, I am excited not only because of the location but because of the reputation that the ECR has gained internationally.

I presently have the privilege of being president of the ISRRT, the society representing over 350,000 technologists from more than 80 countries. Our society has been associated with the ECR for many years, and we act in a coordinating role for the ESR, chairing the technologists organizing committee.

What ISRRT brings to the ECR is an international perspective for technologists similar to the radiologists'. This is evident when one peruses the excellent and comprehensive technical program.

By comparison, the RSNA, which has traditionally been seen as a U.S.-focused meeting with all of the benefits that can bring, is now making positive moves to develop its increasing international attendance and participation.

There is no doubt, however, that ECR has the leading reputation for technological advancement in presentations and education. For those of us who have enjoyed ECR from afar, the excellent range of material made available during and after the meeting is superb and almost makes not being in Vienna itself almost tolerable!

This year for me will be a milestone: my first ECR and a special Australian session as well. This is made all the more enjoyable because those two small children from 1983 I talked of earlier are now both radiographers like me and have both enjoyed the experience of working in the U.K. for two years and traveling widely throughout Europe and, of course, visiting Vienna.

I will take great delight in e-mailing them images of the Hofburg, the Schonbrun Palace, some Sacher-Torte, and, of course, the Prater. I'm sure that, like many Australian radiographers, they will mark March and the ECR on their calendars for some time in the future, as indeed should ALL technologists!

MR. GEORGE, FIR, is president of the International Society of Radiographers and Radiological Technologists (www.isrrt.org) and a member of DI Asia Pacific's Editorial Advisory Board. He qualified as a diagnostic radiographer and was formerly a manager in a large private radiology practice in Adelaide, Australia.