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The Mayor

15 Sep

I just saw the mayor of Vienna, Michael Ludwig, on my street. He looked very happy and was, of course, walking around without any security detail. Ah, Vienna!

18 (2nd half) & 19 – Aspern Nord U to Wagramer Straße

13 Jun

Today we carried on with the second half of Trail 18 and more than all of Trail 19 (we missed a sign and probably went about 2 kms out of our way). And today I have photos! 🙂

It was a beautiful sunny day (although with such a wind that a friend sent a message: “Hopefully you will not get blown away!”) with beautiful flowers (see above), including lots of elderflowers (visible on the left of the photo below), which my hiking partner collected to make syrup, and some interesting wildlife. We saw a bird that neither of us had ever seen before and I couldn’t find in my field guide and which I think may, in fact, be a pet that escaped and is now living it up in the fields of the 22nd district. In shape it had some similarities to a dove but was much larger, had bright blue markings on its head, and interesting black and white striping on its tail. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know.

We were still in a very flat part of Vienna with scattered small bodies of water. It is still quite rural (see below) and had horses! As with other parts of the Rundumadum trail, I was amazed to see food being grown on a relatively large scale (the 10th district also has proper fields with grain and vegetables). From the underground train you can see extensive greenhouses and the paths we took today were almost all through open fields. Really extraordinary for a city of almost two million people. Long may it last.


This was such a nice stretch that I would like to come back and perhaps even swim in the Süßenbrunner Teiche (ponds).

Trail 18

Distance: 4.1 km

Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs


Trail 19

Distance: 5.1 (if you do it right ;-))

Time: 1 hr 15 mins to 1 hr 45 mins


17 & half of 18 – Eßlinger Furt to Aspern Nord U-Bahn (instead of Breitenleer Straße)

13 Jun

You can see I’m getting sloppier in the execution of (as well as the writing about) the Rundumadum hiking trail. Half of 18? Really? I don’t think it’s entirely my new hiking partner’s fault, but I must say he’s more ambitious than I am (trying to do two or three at a time) and in this case we didn’t manage to do the whole two stretches on 2 May 2021. (You can see I’m trying to catch up in my reporting of progress, even though I in this case didn’t take any photos.)

It may have been the discouragement of arriving at the U2 Seestadt station and then not being able to find the bus we were supposed to take (and this on a Sunday when nothing runs as often as on other days) so having to wait almost half an hour or it might have been the considerable and rather unpleasant wind blowing across that very flat part of Vienna (Transdanubia) on a steely gray day or it could have been the frustration of the detour along the road instead of through the fields ostensibly because of construction, where the U-Bahn line they were supposed to be working on was completed several years ago. (It turns out the City of Vienna is not perfect! ;-))

In any case, we did get discouraged and stopped halfway through the second stretch. We enjoyed the walk through neighborhoods neither of us knew before, though, as well as through fields that may not much longer be fields (this part of Vienna is being developed very rapidly) and past Himmelteich (~ Heaven’s Pond), one of the small bodies of water that is so common in the east of Vienna. We also enjoyed a picnic before we got the underground back to the city center, eating cheddar and spinach muffins and bananas in an out-of-the-wind spot in what will one day be a park across the street from Nelson-Mandela-Platz.

Sadly, all I have to report …

Trail 17

Distance: 3.7 km

Time: 1 hr to 1 hr and 15 mins


Trail 18

Distance (if you do the whole thing): 4.1 km

Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs


14 & 15 & 16 – Nationalparkhaus to Eßlinger Furt

13 Jun

It seems a bit strange to be writing about this on a summer afternoon. We actually did this walk in February on one of the coldest days of the year on a sheet of ice (some of which is visible on the photos). We were concentrating so hard on not falling down that (a) we missed a turn-off and ended up doing three stretches rather than the two we planned and (b) I, at least, could hardly move on Monday my body hurt so much from the strain of trying to stay upright! (This, I remember. ;-))

It was a beautiful walk though (even without Maylo, my dog, who stayed at home).

This was where it started:

And this was where it finished:

As you can see, this part of Vienna has a fair amount of water. In fact, it word “au” in the name of this region, Lobau, means “water meadow” or “wetland”. It’s a very precious ecosystem with some rare species and is endangered by plans to build a tunnel through it to enable car drivers coming from the east to get into Vienna more quickly. (How 20th century is that?!?) It hardly bears thinking about and I try not to. If it comes to protests, though, this seems like a good place to put my protesting energies.

In February, when we were there, Vienna had been in hard lockdown since the day after Christmas. About the only thing we were allowed to do, other than go to the grocery store, was to walk outdoors and so it came that even on this very cold and slippery day there were more people on the trail than there usually would be on a beautiful spring day.

I’m afraid that is about all I remember about this hike. A lot has happened since then. I did want to mention it though.

Trail 14
Distance: 4 km
Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs

Trail 15
Distance: 4.7 km
Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs

Trail 16
Distance: 4.2 km
Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs

The Linden Trees

7 Jun

This afternoon I caught my first whiff of the linden trees in blossom. They’re late this year, but then we have had a cool spring (thank goodness, in my book).

A haiku

3 Jun

Church bells ringing out

A Thursday morning in June

Oh, Corpus Christi

Coming alive again

2 Jun

I’m out running errands near Mariahilfer Straße and can’t help noticing what a difference there is to my visit two weeks ago, when I dropped off my computer to be repaired. I don’t think it’s all due to the loosening of Covid regulations, although there are certainly lots of people taking advantage of the fact that we are now allowed to sit down and eat out. My sense is that the weather is playing the biggest role. After weeks it’s finally sunny and over 20°C (68°F) and people are soaking it up.

10 years of ecbinvienna

29 May

I am astonished and pleased and happy to announce that today is the 10th anniversary of my first post. It is amazing for me to have this blog to capture special moments and thoughts about living in Vienna and to be able to share them with you. I’d like my readers to know that they belong to a small but fine group (in German: “klein aber fein”). There are about 50 of you. I may not post as often as I would wish, but it means a lot to me to be able to do so.

And this is where it all started: 

Happy reading! 🙂

The first concert as we start to come out of lockdown

20 May
The Konzerthaus in Vienna, 20 May 2021

Thanks to the amazing generosity of a friend, I was able to go to one of the great concert occasions as we slowly and cautiously move back to going out again–the Jonas Kaufmann / Helmut Deutsch Liederabend at the Konzerthaus. What follows are just some quick impressions as it has been an exhausting week and is not over yet, but I did want to get some notes down.

The photo above shows the front of the Konzerthaus this evening, adorned with a flag that brought tears to my eyes with its jaunty text: Wir spielen! (Love the exclamation mark.) Literally that would be “We’re playing!” and essentially it means we are back in business. 🙂

The ingress was orderly and friendly even as the people at the door checked IDs, tickets, and test results. (Vienna is working on the 3-G system–gestestet, geimpft, genesen or tested, vaccinated, recovered. To take advantage of things opening up you need to fit into at least one of those groups.)

Once inside there was a kind of collective amazement at being back. Concert goers are loyal people and concert halls are often their second homes. It was like being back where we belonged.

Inside the hall itself we were very spread out, an unusual feeling for such a special concert. It may have been my imagination, but it seemed to me that many people were more dressed up than usual and many had obviously just been to the hairdresser’s. (Why waste a test? 😉 You need them for services that involve body contact, too.) Many people seemed happy to see friends again and what was really warming to see was how much pleasure the ushers expressed at seeing their regulars again.

A note in the program (below) and announced before the start of the concert laid out the rules for “the current situation”: no intermission, to only sit in your assigned seat, when leaving the hall to allow 2 meters distance (wasn’t possible even using all the exits as requested!), and the mandatory FFP2 mask at all times, even during the performance. (Friends told me that at Salzburg last summer you were allowed to take off your mask once you reached your seat but had to put it on again before starting the applause. That didn’t turn out so well. The government, however, does seem to be learning.)

This evening’s program with the rules for the “current situation”

As the doors were closed and the lights dimmed the tension tangibly rose. Then the announcement of the rules, a brief wait, and there they were! The two extremely distinguished musicians in their tailcoats (which I appreciated). The applause was relatively quiet not from a lack of enthusiasm but rather from a lack of people. For that, it went on even longer than usual, everyone was so happy to be back.

Kaufmann sang with music rather than from memory. I can’t remember if this is usual for him. Personally I would have liked at least the first (long!) ballad without the music but it’s the artist’s choice. The songs themselves were absolutely beautifully crafted and I wondered if the time spent with Deutsch during lockdown–the two almost seemed to have quarantined together–gave Kaufmann a chance to polish that. As for Deutsch, his playing, which was always exquisite, seems to have gotten even more liquid or seamless. Incredible.

The Schubert and Schumann seemed almost subdued to me; but in the Liszt, Kaufmann let his natural flair for dramatic presentation free rein and the intensity rose. At the end of the official program, in Vienna there are (almost) always a number of encores, the two artists exchanged an elbow bump and allowed the public to express its now much louder appreciation.

A very blurry photo of the two artists

Four encores and finally a standing ovation. And then we started, with a collective sigh of contentment, to leave, few thinking about distance at that moment.

The Konzerthaus is back in business! 🙂

A blackbird’s song

18 Mar

There’s a bird whose song I’ve been delighting in on our morning walk. He sits on an old TV antenna atop a roof and fills the morning air with what sounds like rapture.

I thought he was a thrush but also, thinking of Romeo and Juliet, considered that he might be a lark. I even wondered if he might be a nightingale.
This morning I decided to find out so I checked out the bird songs from all those birds, and a few others, on YouTube. (Technology is good for some things. ;-)) None of the songs seemed quite right. Then YouTube suggested the song of the “Amsel” (blackbird) and that was it! 🙂 Wikipedia then informed me that a blackbird is part of the thrush family (as is, I believe, the nightingale), which made me feel I wasn’t entirely wrong.
A nice way to start the day, including having a bit of time this morning to go down this particular rabbit hole. 🙂