When it rains, go in drains! When it rains, don’t go in drains! I’ve heard it both ways, and sure each has merit but it depends where you are. Draining mostly in london I’ve become complacent that 90% of the time the water level is going to stay the same. The other 10% however is when the tunnel floods and your left with very wet nipples and a bad taste in your mouth. Having said a teary eyed farewell to Italy and Brescia we ventured north to Vienna, Austria. Our target, yea you guessed it, The Third Man.
Access is simple enough, its a culvert, just walk in. We left the moderately clear skies and headed in, the Wein’s flow a calm and clear affair. Now the Wein is a big tunnel, really big. In my opinion its comparable to the main chamber in Optimus Prime, except it runs for several kilometres, built with varied assortments of stone, brick and concrete.
While interesting enough, the culvert was just a bonus to The Third Man sewers, that was our main target. And soon enough we came to the entrance, which annoyingly was now covered in three, 1ft thick steel flood gates. Bugger. This was a bit of a blow, as without the use of a blow torch or small explosives access would be impossible. We pondered our options for a while, exploring several smaller side pipes in the hopes they may give access but to no avail. The Wein/Third Man access was no more. While slightly disappointed, we still had other options to try at a later date. With this in mind we continued upstream to the infall.
As we approached the tunnel lit up before us. We paused, thinking it might be a photographers flash gun, seconds later the tunnel started to vibrate and a terrifying roar echoed from the infall. Ok, so that’s thunder, not good. We continued on, deciding the infall to be the closest exit. When we arrived we stood in awe, lightning streaked across the night sky, thunder shaking the buildings below, but at the time no rain.
We decided for now it would be safe, we were at the exit, if anything should happen we could jump out. Deciding this we got out our cameras and started shooting. Fifteen minutes later, then rain hit, and hit hard.
Now, we found ourselves with a bit of a dilemma. Seeing as we were all cheap and attempting the trip with minimal expenses, ie no hotels, the clothes on our back were pretty much all we had, getting them wet would be a royal pain. As such we decided hey, its been raining for a while an the water level hasn’t changed, why don’t we sit it out? Placing a marker on the waters edge to monitor the flow, we kicked back against the wall and enjoyed the show.
By now the thunder had intensified, so had the rain, yet still the water level remained unchanged. Slightly odd, but seeing as how Vienna had just completed a 3.2km flood relief tunnel it made some sense. Then the marker got swept away. O, time to go. We began slowly packing up, placing another marker just to be sure. Twenty seconds later the marker was gone. We looked at the river, it was rising, and rising fast. Ahh shit.
Within a minute the water level had risen almost two meters and was still climbing, not good. We ran for the exit but the rising river had submerged the path we were on, blocking our escape. We ran back towards the last exit, water busting from the ceilings, the dry side pipes now a torrent of water to leap across. The river was now lapping at the tunnel walls, the middle a fast flowing death sentence, bits of tree, debris and miscellaneous objects swept by. Falling in was out of the question. We bolted as fast as we could for the exit, just diving into as the tunnel’s path disappeared in a brown soup of disaster.
Safe, well we thought we were. Trapped would be a more appropriate word. The top of the shaft was padlocked and there was no way out. We had no choice but to sit out the storm and pray the water didn’t rise further.
After two hours of ”ohh crap, the waters still rising” moments the level began to recede, eventually a path opened up for us, but with the middle of the Wein still at full force we held back, resorting to catching fish caught in a water vortex. Eventually we made a run for the next exit, making it just as the water level began to rise again. We found ourselves in a emergency exit for the metro system, it was here we slept and waited out the storm. Lessons learnt, time for a new day.
Day two, time for The Third Man, We decided we would be pro noob’s and take the tour. Yea i know, bla bla bla, hardcore puppies, rocket cats and such but still, it seemed the only way. Shuffling up to the tour van the worker took one look at us and shook his head. ”No tours today, the water levels are too high”. Damn, we even fail at tours! Almost as embarrassing as getting arrested at smithfield market. We asked if we could take a little peak but the guy was not having any of it, that and he had a mcdonalds which I’m sure he wanted to eat rather then talk to foreigners.
We walked to over to the tours entrance, the famous flower like manhole, looked down and sighed. This would be as close as we would get. Until we noticed something. For some reason the locking device was on the second cover, meaning the first one didn’t lock, odd. As the workers were still staring at us we walked off, returning later that night.
Sure enough, we returned, finger popped the cover and to our delight discovered a small gap beneath the locked cover we could squeeze through. It smelt like piss, we got soaked, but we were finally in The Third Man.
The Third Man tour consists of three chambers, two over interceptors/mainline sewers with the third being the easily recognisable overflow chamber from the film. A lot has changed in the last few years, With the construction of the new flood sewer a eddies vortex style plughole now sits tucked away in the corner of the main chamber, roughly 2.5-3m in diameter with an unknown depth. This being the reason access is now impossible from the Wein.
Seeing as how the power was on i felt it might be interesting to turn on the lights, yet another bad idea. The tours audio and visual light show fired up, and it was loud. The recorded guides voice boomed around the chamber as lights flickered on and off in a dazzling array of red and blue. The worst section was when it played clips from the movie Screaming, gunshots and angry german’s shouting were just some of the delights. Imagine taking a unofficial disney ride through a drain.
Needless to say, i absolutely shat it at that point. Theatre De Sewer continued for 10 minutes before finally the audio fell silent and the lights dimmed slightly. Ok, yet another lesson learnt, no more “light” switches. We grabbed several pics of what we could before deciding it was time to leave, squeezing out into the night and away, mission success!