Archive | December, 2012

The Viennese ‘House Mountains’

29 Dec

Today the weather was gorgeous (after a number of days of gray skies and rain) and Mylo and I went off to do something very Viennese–we left town and headed out to one of the ‘mountains’ in the Vienna Woods, the Anningerberg in Gumpoldskirchen. There we had a long walk under beautifully blue skies followed by lunch with a glass of the local (famous) wine for me. This gives you an idea of what it looked like:

image

A good way to spend a day, don’t you think? 😉

White Christmas?

25 Dec

Well, we didn’t make it, at least not downtown.

image

Never mind. It still has a certain Viennese charm. (The focus on my camera works just fine, by the way. That is the common Viennese winter fog you see in the picture.)

Winter wonderland?

24 Dec

The Vienna Woods this Christmas Eve …

image

image

A White Christmas?

23 Dec

Will we perhaps have a white Christmas in Vienna after all?  Stay tuned!

image

Old Vienna

22 Dec

With the exception of the cars and the height of the trees this view of Vienna probably hasn’t changed much since the houses were built over 100 years ago. It seems to have been largely spared the destruction in the war and has been protected since then.

image

The Viennese and their weather

19 Dec

It occurred to me that those of you who have never lived in Vienna might wonder why I have a special tag for the weather. That is because we have a lot of it in Vienna. 😉 At least, the Viennese are very aware of their weather and talk about it a lot–not in the way the British do, as a kind of safe subject for small talk, but as an explanation, not to say excuse, for all kinds of things. Everybody is short-tempered? Must be the weather. You’re tired even though you slept well last night? Must be the weather. You’re dizzy? Guess what. Must be the weather.

There is, in fact, one weather phenomenon known to cause some physcial symptoms–Föhn. This is more common in Innsbruck, but that doesn’t stop the Viennese from talking about it. I once had the joyful job of trying to explain Föhn (pronounced rather the way Inspector Clouseau as played by Peter Sellars pronounced “phone”) to a group of American visitors. At the time I believed, because my Viennese friends had told me this, that it was a hot wind coming up from northern Africa. Now there is Wikipedia and I can tell you with authority that it is a “warmer trockener Fallwind” or a warm dry wind that comes down over a mountain (great diagram at: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallwind). What does it feel like? Perhaps it helps to mention that Austrians use the word Föhn for  “hairdryer”  rather than the more standard Haartrockner.

But what does it do, this warm dry wind coming down off the mountain? The most common complaint associated with Föhn is headache. But sometimes you also hear of someone suffering from a Kreislaufzusammenbruch (Kreislauf = circulatory system; Zusammenbruch = breakdown). The first time a business partner called to cancel an appointment because she was suffering from Kreislaufzusammenbruch I gasped and said, “Are you calling from the hospital? Can I do anything to help?” She was audibly amused and said no she was at home but not up to a meeting. Life-threatening as it sounds, Kreislaufzusammenbruch does not usually require medical intervention. It makes the sufferer feel dizzy and miserable, but is not usually serious and is usually quite short-lived. (The circulatory system, by the way, is to German speakers what the  liver is to the French. We have KreislaufzusammenbrĂŒche; they have crises de foie.)

In spite of my New England upbringing, where external factors are seldom an excuse for falling down on the job, I notice that I have lived in Vienna long enough to feel it, too. Got a headache? Must be the Föhn!

Photos from the Vienna Woods

16 Dec

From a walk today from Cobenzl to Kahlenberg …

image

image

Thank you for your attention

14 Dec

An announcement over the PA system at the tram stop this morning reminded me of another change in Vienna. At some point the Wiener Linien (public transport authority) realized that they were really irritating their passengers by finishing their announcements about delays, for example, with the phrase “Wir danken fĂŒr Ihr VerstĂ€ndnis” (word for word: “We thank you for your understanding”), to which some more vocal Viennese would respond, “You don’t have my understanding.” These announcements occur ever more frequently now as traffic and mechanical problems interfere with the smooth running of busses and trams. No one is very happy about that, but at least we no longer have to consider whether the Wiener Linien have our “understanding” or not. They have changed the last phrase to “Wir danken fĂŒr Ihre Aufmerksamkeit“–“Thank you for your attention.”

No dogs allowed

11 Dec

From a park in the 4th district …

image

The picture is clear. The nice touch is the text: With the exception of those dogs whose owners clean up after them. 🙂

13A bus

11 Dec

Below is a sign of a big change in Vienna. The 13A bus, which used to travel between Alser Strasse and SĂŒdbahnhof and has been an important part of my life in Vienna (it has always carried me from my living quarters of the moment to somewhere I wanted to go), now travels between Alser Strasse and Hauptbahnhof. The route is the same, but SĂŒdbahnhof was torn down a few years ago and an enormous central train station was built in its place. This opened a week or two ago, witness the sign on the 13A bus.

image