Archive | January, 2013

Cold in the Vienna Woods

26 Jan

Luckily, Mylo and I were dressed for it, unlike this gentlemen.

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Roof avalanche

22 Jan

All around Vienna you see these signs in winter.

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They always make me smile because “Dach” means “roof” and “Lawine” means “avalanche”. Seems like such a dramatic way of describing the snow that slides off the roof.

Snow – update

17 Jan

I had an appointment near the Freyung this morning. This photo is from about 11.30 and it is still snowing now at almost 2 p.m.

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Snow

17 Jan

Mylo and I walked out into a pillow fight this morning, big downy flakes such as come about once a winter in Vienna. Wonderful!

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A winter walk in the Vienna Woods (where else? ;-))

12 Jan

 

 

 

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There was quite a bit of activity this afternoon in the Woods. People of all ages, moving at all speeds, with dogs, without dogs, with Nordic walking poles, without Nordic walking poles … but I only saw one person on a bike. Could be because the conditions were pretty hazardous. After at least a week of rain everything froze quite quickly and then came the dusting of snow that you can see, so you didn’t notice the ice underneath until it was too late!

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There are a few houses in that part of the Woods, but only few. This one always makes me think of my home country, New England.

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When the snow stopped, the light was gorgeous.

As you can see, more or less just a typical winter’s walk in the Vienna Woods.

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The Votivkirche

9 Jan

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The snow is already gone, but I felt it made a nice picture yesterday with the Votivkirche, that neo-Gothic church erected by Emperor Franz Josef’s brother in thanks that the Emperor escaped an assassination attempt, visible here at the end of Frankgasse in the 9th district.

Perhaps I was also drawn to the picture because of the drama that is unfolding in and around the Votivkirche. The end of November, if I remember correctly, tents appeared in Freud-Park, named indeed for Sigmund Freud, and located between the Votivkirche and the Ringstrasse. At some point I walked down to find out what it was about and it turned out to be a protest for overfilled refugee and asylum-seeker camps. Over the weeks that followed the camp didn’t grow, but it didn’t shrink either. At the end of December the police stepped in to clear the camp, which was in violation of several ordnances. A number of inhabitants of the camp fled across the street into the Votivkirche, where the priest decided to let them stay, at least for now.

At the moment there is something of a stalemate. The refugees, asylum-seekers, and organizers of the protest are, of course, reluctant to give up since they have, presumably as intended, received a lot of media attention through their action and gotten the government to discuss their plight. The City of Vienna, and indeed the government of Austria, is reluctant to give in to what has become essentially a form of blackmail and might encourage other groups to follow suit. So, your basic lose-lose situation. In an attempt to up the ante a number of the protestors have now gone on hunger strike. So far it hasn’t made a difference.

What I have further garnered from the free daily newspaper, Heute, and the website of the Austrian Broadcasting Corporation (ORF), is that the FPÖ (the Freedom Party of Austria, far right) has responded by saying that the hunger strikers should be forcibly removed and force fed (always makes me think of the scenes about the suffragette movement as shown in “Upstairs, Downstairs”), the Grünen (the Green Party of Austria) has come under attack in Parliament for their relative support of the protestors, the ÖVP (the Austrian People’s Party, right centrist) is against the occupation of the Votivkirche and would probably like more regulation of immigration, and the SPÖ (the Socialist-Democrats in Austria and by far the strongest party in Vienna–not for nothing known as “Red Vienna”) are lamenting that the one federal state in Austria that is actually fulfilling its commitments to refugees is the one with the large-scale protest. Dr. Michael Häupl, mayor of Vienna, has also, legitimately, I think, expressed concern that the refugees and asylum-seekers are being used to political ends. The City of Vienna offered, apparently even before the occupation of Freud-Park, alternative accommodation that was rejected. Add to the mix that the organizers are reportedly from Bavaria (a federal state in Germany) and you have a sense of the complexity of the situation, and the low, low chances of a favorable outcome for anyone.

Café Konditorei Klement

4 Jan

I went to have breakfast with a friend at Café Konditorei Klement in the 17th district and found that they closed their doors on December 31st. The friend actually has been a customer there much longer than I have and was able to give me a bit of background, although she, too, hadn’t known they were closing.

It is a fairly typical story not only for Vienna. The children–in this case a daughter–didn’t want to take on the business so that when the parents reached an age where they could no longer keep the café going (and, let’s face it, it is very long hours and hard work with no great financial return) the café closed. The photo below of the notice outside Café Konditorei Klement explains the circumstances to some extent. Another factor may very well have been that the terms on the lease changed with the new proprietor. This makes it even harder for children to take over the business and make a good living.

Klement was, in fact, one of the few hold-outs left. A number of other Konditoreien (fine pastry shops) have become chains–centralized their production and standardized their look, taking over family businesses with sound customer bases as they close. In fact, L. Heiner, who is taking over the Klement premises, is one such company. Originally a very select pastry shop in the First District it has grown to simply a very good mass producer and distributor of creamy cakes. (Can you tell where my preferences lie? ;-))

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It reminds me a little of the sign Kathleen Kelly hangs on her children’s bookstore in “You’ve Got Mail” when she accepts the inevitable. One paragraph above says: We thank you for your loyalty over all those years. It was a pleasure to fulfill your wishes and delight you with our work. Thank you for having been our customers!