A good start to the day

20 Feb

Just one of those fun exchanges with the men of the MA 48 (city sanitation) to start the day off well, including a good example of Wiener Schmäh:

Maylo and I walked out of our door and down the street this morning. There was a worker from the MA 48 in his distinctive orange uniform at the entrance to the apartment building next door. As we approached, he held up his hand to someone in the building. Maylo and I stopped, and then he encouraged us to carry on and made sure his colleague who was bringing out the trash bins waited until we had passed. I thanked him. A few seconds went by and he said, “Auf den Hund passma [passen wir] auf.” That is, “We’re looking out for the dog” emphasis on “dog”. What could I do but laugh, thank him again, and carry on.

That kind of humor is part of what is called “Wiener Schmäh”–a kind of humor that requires a winky emoticon.

“Magistratsabteilungen” or MAs are city offices. They all have numbers and you start to realize the central points of your life by which numbers you know by heart–MA 6 for pets, MA 35 for immigration, MA 42 for parks and gardens, and MA 48 for sanitation.

11 – Laaerberg to Zentralfriedhof

16 Feb

This stretch we did a week ago, all in one go. We tacked on about two kilmeters by missing a turn, but it still felt like a miracle after the missteps and detours of the last two stretches. And because of the extra stretch I discovered a “Weinschenke” (like an even more rustic Heuriger) that I would like to try out another time.

And, boy, did this stretch have its beauties. I like my usual stomping grounds–in the northwestern part of Vienna–because there a hills and woods as well as meadows (and vineyards :-)). This part of Vienna, still in the 10th district, was an extremely pleasant surprise. This is a part of Vienna where food is grown, within the city limits. I hope the photo of the fields catches some of the sense of space and almost rural character.

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One of the reasons I write “almost rural” is the amount of traffic. There aren’t many cars–we finally got away from the Autobahn in the other part of the 10th district–but the buildings you see in the photo are on the other side of railways tracks and the hiking trail is right under a heavily traveled route to Schwechat, the Vienna airport.

As you can see, it was a beautiful day and lots of people were out, with dogs, without dogs, on bicycles, on foot, scruffily dressed, nicely dressed (perhaps on their way to Sunday lunch at grandma’s?), quickly, in a leisurely manner, in groups, and alone. I always think you see on Sundays in the Vienna Woods and environs how the Viennese actually survive the traditional diet of Wiener Schnitzel and so on. They get out and walk. Long may it continue!

This stretch takes you to the famous Zentralfriedhof, where people like Johannes Brahms, Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Strauss, Theodor Billroth (Austrian medical pioneer) and the late presidents of Austria are buried. There is an honorary grave here for Mozart, who, as most of you know, was actually buried in a communal grave in St. Marx. Surely, there are many important non-musical people buried here but my Baedeker’s–a guide book after my own heart–mainly lists the musical ones.

Understandably, dogs are not allowed in so an alternate route was provided along the wall. We still got to see a bit of the cemetery, when we weren’t dodging bikes on the pedestrian / bike path.

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The last stretch for us, along the tram tracks of the 11 and 71 trams was not so nice. In fact, I almost gave up on got on at the first gate to the cemetery rationalizing that we could make up that stretch by starting there next time, but the idea of actually finishing one of these routes for a change motivated me to keep going.

Not a great photo (below) but here is proof that we walked all the way to the main gate before getting on the 71 and going home.

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Distance: 5.3 km

Time: 1 1/4 to 1 3/4 hours. We, of course, took longer given that we unintentionally added quite a stretch to our walk. (Also think the alternative route for dogs was a bit longer in this case.)

Link: https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/rundumadum/etappe11.html

10 – Wienerberg to Laaer Wald

9 Feb

Part One – 12 January 2020

For all that I felt parts of the last stretch were too obviously close to or even directly under major highways, I have to say that the Wienerberg recreational area has something to offer.

There is some frustration, though, that certain stretches are through areas with “Hundeverbot” (I’m sure you can tell that means “No dogs allowed”). An alternative is given–and, as I belatedly discovered, marked on the map provided by the City of Vienna–but it is without trail markers.

In this case, we made it to Neilreichgasse, as we should, and could not find out how to continue. The direction was clear but not which street we should take. And if you get the wrong street you could end up not knowing where a bus or tram stop is, that is, not really knowing how to get home.

After looking around for a bit and trying to figure it out, we opted–well, actually, I opted as Maylo, as I have pointed out before, has no choice in the matter–to give up for the day, get over to the 15A bus, and go home. Discretion truly is sometimes the better part of valor.

Intermezzo

Frustrated by the lack of clarity on the last few stretches of the trail, I have worked out a new system. I no longer rely solely on the (rather vague) maps provided by the City of Vienna, with the (even vaguer) route descriptions nor on the (sometimes missing) trail markers. I now photograph with my phone the section of town we will be covering from my excellent Falk city map of Vienna. That way I get the details I long for and can zoom in so that I do not need to get out my reading glasses. Much better. 🙂

Part Two – 2 February 2020

Suitably equipped with a photo of the map as described and picking up where we left off at Neilreichgasse, we walked down Sibeliusstraße, I appreciating very much the residential character of the area (so different from where I live). Parts of it didn’t look distinctly Viennese, but it did look pleasant. One thing that’s interesting is that there are considerable swathes in Vienna where you leave the houses completely behind, as you can see in the picture(s) below. (The church in the photo directly below is the Parish Church of St. Francis de Sales in the 10th district, appropriately at Holeyplatz ;-), a whole Autobahn away from where I took the picture. ;-))

We carried on to the Volkspark (see photos below)–passing the Fachhochchule Wien or University of Applied Sciences for Management and Communication on our way, notable because someone had just mentioned to me that she was looking into study programs there–and enjoyed the spacious park with the lovely little lake and mini amphitheater.

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We found Endlichergasse and made our way to Theodor-Sickel-Gasse, where the path split, again one way for people walking with dogs and one for people walking without. At this point it started to rain. We walked along looking for the right path. (The route for people with dogs is, as I have mentioned, not marked at all.) It started to rain harder. Eventually, I decided to give up and look for the nearest bus stop–and, lo, and behold, it was the one we were supposed to end up at. Victory!

A brief philosophical reflection

Some thoughts on hiking with a plan instead of just going:

It can get me going even when I feel like staying at home. (I want to make progress and the next step is spelled out for me so I go.)

I find hiking according to a plan less mindful. I am so wrapped up in looking for signs and trying to make sure we are on the right path (oh, that bugbear, the right path!) that I pay less attention to sounds, smells, colors, and so on. On the other hand, I am sometimes more attentive (that is, not on autopilot and not so wrapped up in my own thoughts) because otherwise I would lose my way.

It is taking me to neighborhoods and areas I probably wouldn’t go otherwise. In fact, I’m pretty sure that is one reason the City of Vienna has set up the Rundumadum trail. To get us out of our Grätzls. One of the ways I recognize that I’m in new territory is that I am not at all familiar with the public transportation network “out there”. Never mind “Where’s the tram stop?” Far more “Which lines even run out here?”

Distance: 5.3 km (This estimate is according to the map and description provided by the City of Vienna, but I have to laugh as it took us well over two hours to do the whole thing and we didn’t get THAT lost!)

Time: Supposedly 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 45 minutes

Link: https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/rundumadum/etappe10.html

Political colors in Austria

8 Jan

I may have written before about the colors of Austria’s political parties–black used to be the color of the ÖVP (the conservative party), turquoise is the color of the new ÖVP under Sebastian Kurz, red is the color of the SPÖ (the social democratic party), pink is for the NEOs (the neoliberals), blue is the color of the FPÖ (the right-wing nationalist party), and green is, I believe, self-explanatory.

Commenting on the new coalition government, formed by the turquoise and green parties, President Alexander van der Bellen (formerly of the Greens now an independent) said he hoped for a red-white-red government. Nothing to do with political parties this time. Red-white-red are the colors of the Austrian flag.

09 – Alterlaa to Wienerberg

5 Jan

(We walked this on 5 January 2020. I’m only now getting around to fleshing out my notes on it and posting.)

I was going to write the title of this post with a question mark, but by the end I figured we had come close enough to walking the right route that I didn’t need to.

Attentive readers will notice that there is no blog post (yet) for the 8th stretch of the Rundumadum trail. I’m saving that one to walk with my friend B.

The first thing I noticed–and probably Maylo, too–was how cold it was when we got off the U6 at Alterlaa to start Trail Nr. 9. It was especially the wind that went right through us. I almost turned around and got us back on the underground. Then I reminded myself that I am from New England and made of sterner stuff. 😉 Nonetheless, I felt compelled to take a photo of these ducks along the Liesing River. They were huddled into themselves and their feathers were all puffed up. I realized I wasn’t the only one feeling the cold.

It is very interesting for me to get into this part of the Rundumadum trail because I am now on new territory. Everything up until now I have hiked in one form or another, and I also know the public transportation for those earlier bits fairly well. As far as this new stretch goes, I have been to Wienerberg before, but I approached it from a different direction and so felt somewhat lost from the beginning. (It didn’t help that so much time has gone between this hike and the one before it that I forgot to look for the Rundumadum signs! I was relying heavily on the very general map and directions the City of Vienna provides and that was not easy.)

As instructed, we went along with the Liesing River on our left (ducks!) and the Steinsee, a manmade lake, on our right–that much was pretty clear. After the Steinsee, we crossed a big street with no visible street sign and kept going with the Liesing on our right. We came to a bridge with no clear idea (did I mention that the directions were very general?) whether we should cross. We decided (well, actually, I decided–poor Maylo has no say in any of this) to stay on our side, thinking that there would have been a sign if we should cross over.

After 7 minutes or so, we came to landscape that is representative of this part of Vienna–an enormous flyover (overpass) in the middle of what tries otherwise to be a green and natural part of the city. The noise from the cars is not too bad because sound barriers were put up, but there’s no hiding the fact that thousands of cars an hour are driving through this part of Vienna. It does take some of the charm away …

Given the fact that there was no way through (there were railway tracks on the ground and they were fenced off), we had to turn back and try the bridge after all. After about half an hour of uncertainty whether we were on the right path there came deliverance. We were very relieved to see this sign.

From then on it was somewhat easier, but by then I had lost some of my spirit of adventure. (Did I mention that it was cold and I had no idea where we were going? I also was starting to feel sorry for Maylo, who was being very game but not obviously enjoying our walk. He does seem to prefer walks on which I know where we’re going. Probably this has something to do with my being–at least when it suits him–the alpha dog. ;-))

At some point, I realized that we had overshot the end of this stretch and started the next. I wasn’t thrilled that this was because the map I downloaded from the internet (link below) right before leaving home was still orienting itself around the number 67 tram, which no longer exists. Warning: That route is now served by the number 11 tram. We did a good bit of the beginning of the next stretch and then gave up, turned around, and went home.

Not all bad–I’m happy to get to know another part of Vienna and test my navigation skills–but not the most fun we’ve had on this journey. I certainly failed at being curious, which really is something of a failure as three years ago I took a year to train my curiosity skills (and, of course, blogged about it) : ayearoflivingcuriously.wordpress.com

I will endeavor to do better–i.e., enjoy the whole process more–the next time!

Distance: 4.1 km (we probably did almost 3 km extra)
Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours
Route: https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/rundumadum/etappe9.html

Servitengasse 3

30 Dec

Over 30 years ago, I spent my first two months in Vienna in student housing (a “Hochschülerinnenheim”) on Servitengasse. Today I was in the neighborhood again to pick up some fresh pasta for New Year’s Eve dinner and saw that two floors have been added to the building and it has been turned into luxury flats. Things are changing …

Holiday haiku

24 Dec

Wishing all my readers a very happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!