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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

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

07 – Lainzer Tor to Rodaun

27 Oct

Dear Reader,

Yes, we are back to the Rundumadum trail. Today we took advantage of the last warm day of autumn (the ORF tells us) to walk the seventh stretch, from the Lainzer Tor to Rodaun. And we (Maylo and I) walked with a friend (which I will use as an excuse for not noticing more about the scenery and happenings).

Because Maylo came with us we could not do the usual route through the Lainzer Tiergarten. The City of Vienna being what it is, though, had devised an alternate route for people with dogs. 🙂 The first half hour or so of this route was along roads lined with beautiful houses and gardens. We were a little distracted from the beauty around us, however, as it was all we could do to not get run over by bikes and cars and to not crash into other pedestrians. (There were many–many–people out enjoying the beautiful weather.)

After this stretch, we made it to a “Forststraße” where cars, at least, were not allowed and could take time to photograph the view and the vineyards.

Then we followed the path along the wall of the Lainzer Tiergarten until we turned off to the left in the direction of Mauer. It was an exquisite walk through an autumn woods at its peak, with just the occasional flurry of bright leaves blown from the trees.

We briefly considered a stop at the Schießstätte–one of the many simple restaurants that fortify the walkers in the Vienna Woods–but decided we weren’t hungry enough yet. We carried on and found to our suprise and pleasure that both of us did know the area somewhat after all. We had both, separately, done the Stadtwanderweg (City Hiking Trail) #6 at some point, which in part coincides with the Rundumadum trail at this point.

Before we really expected it, we arrived in Kalksburg in the 23rd district and followed the trailmarkers to the Liesing River and then walked along the river to the Number 60 tram.

The tram routes in Vienna do get changed occasionally and not always in ways that maximize convenience. This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the 60 tram had been extended to Westbahnhof (the westerly train station) and took that more or less home.

Next time Rodaun to Alterlaa …

Distance of alternative route: 7.5 km

Time: approx. 2 hours subtracting the break we took on a sunny bench

Marathon world record in Vienna Prater

12 Oct

Eliud Kipchoge did it! He ran the classic marathon distance in under two hours (1:59:40). And he did it in the Prater in Vienna. I’ve never seen him so happy. 😁

https://sport.orf.at/stories/3054515/

Heuriger (wine taverns or gardens)

11 Oct

How could I miss this? The Wiener Heuriger as an institution was declared “intangible cultural heritage” by UNESCO on Tuesday. Now there’s one cultural institution I’m still supporting regularly. 😁

https://m.facebook.com/oesterreichwein/photos/a.411385460232/10156501926320233/?type=3

Happy End – WIENzig

4 Oct

According to this, Emperor Josef II decreed that all plays had to have a happy ending. This meant (pretty major, if you ask me) re-writes for plays like “Romeo and Juliet” and “Hamlet”. These happy endings became known in the German speaking world as “Viennese endings”. Apparently, Apfelstrudel and other delicacies weren’t enough to keep the population happy. 😉

https://www.wienzig.at/happy-end/

More Helmut Deutsch

6 Sep

Ever since I read Helmut Deutsch’s memoirs I’ve been meaning to post this “review” I wrote almost 10 years ago of a concert with Barbara Bonney (who doesn’t come off terribly well in Deutsch’s memoirs), Angelika Kirchschlager (who does), and Helmut Deutsch himself.

Here goes, finally:

An Evening of Duets, 5 November 2009, Konzerthaus, Mozart-Saal

I have just come home from a mythical concert. It was the kind of concert you hear about the way you might hear about unicorns but can never be sure exist. It was a concert that made me forget that parts of Pakistan are increasingly ruled by the Taliban, that Iran is building up nuclear capability, and that bonuses are back on Wall Street with no one having learned anything from the economic crisis we are not even yet out of. It was a concert that made the world seem whole and a cheerful place to be. And it truly was miraculous—it provided a mass healing of the TB patients who usually attend concerts in the Mozart-Saal in the cold months. I think I heard only six coughs the whole evening. I’m referring to the evening of duets done by Barbara Bonney, Angelika Kirchschlager, and Helmut Deutsch at the Konzerthaus.

Kirchschlager was completely her usual extravagant self, a kind of Dorabella to Bonney’s more Fiordiligi-like gravitas. Her singing as always was simply an extension of herself. More than any singer I have had the privilege to hear live Kirchschlager embodies what one of my singing teachers referred to as singing from the inside out. She is, quite simply, a force of nature.

Deutsch was even more than usual a frame for the singers. In fact he, together with the Steinway grand piano open, unusually, on the full stick, was quite literally the perfect frame this evening, enveloping the singers in the warm curve of the piano, supporting them with his exquisite playing and remaining unobtrusive yet present in the background for the bows.

Most touching was Bonney who recently, according to reliable sources, has had several very poor years vocally. The voice this evening was not quite what it was in her early career, and I like it better. It has lost some of the ping and for that gained a kind of gentleness which at times almost suggests a fragility as well as a maturity it did not have before. It has much more power to move me than it ever did. And in the second encore, by Gounod, when she started alone and sang with such fervency it was almost unbearably moving. This rather hardened concert-goer quite suddenly found tears streaming down her face.

At the end of the evening one realized again how unusual the concert had been. Not only had the coughs been soothed, but not a single person had clapped in the French group in spite of the fact that the group incorporated the work of several composers. And when the last tones of the second encore died away, there was at first a great hush and then a roar of approval. Then came perhaps the biggest miracle of all. This Viennese audience, who usually insists on four or five encores, understood that the program was complete and needed no additional songs. After bringing the performers back for a few more rapturously received bows, the members of the audience gathered up their things and flowed in perfect harmony from the concert hall.

 

150 years of the Vienna State Opera

26 May

I’m watching the gala celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Wiener Staatsoper and remembering the moment I first saw it.

I was in a car driven by a school friend of my mother’s. It was about 10 o’clock at night. She had picked us up at the airport (thank goodness because in those days the airport bus didn’t run that late(!)) and was driving us to the student residence where we were staying.

We rounded the Ring at Hotel Bristol and suddenly there it was all lit up and glorious. In those days, I believed I was destined to sing on that stage and found the sight electrifying and deeply moving.

Over 30 years later, I must confess to a certain familiarity. I sometimes ride past on the tram without really looking at it, but tonight is giving me back some of that excitement.

To 150 more years at least!

MA 42 a.k.a. das Gartenamt

8 May

The Parks and Gardens Department in Vienna have pretty much declared summer. They have put out their summer flowers along with a welcome addition of the last few years–a sign telling you what is growing in the bed. One thing I greatly enjoy is watching the flowers grow and fill out until they reach their peak in the fall. 🙂

06 – Bahnhof Hütteldorf to Lainzer Tor (again)

30 Apr

Yes, you read that right. I did the Rundumadum stretch from Hütteldorf to the Lainzer Tor again. This time I was able to walk through the Tiergarten (the Lainz Game Reserve) and get the stamp I need for the “Wandernadel” (the pin you can earn by hiking enough designated paths in the Vienna Woods).

It was a pleasure–and something of a homecoming–to walk through this park I used to go to regularly but hadn’t been through in over seven years. (Dogs aren’t allowed which means that as long as I have had Maylo I have walked elsewhere.) Much was the same–the paths, the picnic tables, and many of the signs–but a lot of lumbering has gone on, as in other parts of the Vienna Woods, and so there were a number of rather forlorn patches I didn’t remember.

I entered through the Nikolaitor (St. Nicholas Gate), remembering my first time when I opened the gate to go in, saw a wild boar standing just meters away, and tried to close the gate again. I couldn’t get it shut because there were people on the other side trying to get out. I let them out, closed the gate, and wondered what to do. Since I knew that people walked in the Tiergarten, I decided to take another look and noticed that there were lots of people, including small children, standing around admiring the boar. Ah, a more or less tame one (photo below). I went in.

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Wild boar, 1989

No boar at the Nikolai Gate on Sunday. Probably the one I saw has long since gone to his heavenly reward. I was unimpeded. I turned right and went along the route I used to know so well. I greeted the first few fellow hikers going by with a friendly “Grüß Gott” only to then remind myself: We’re still in the city. People don’t greet each other here as they do in the mountains. After that, I smiled but said nothing. It was wonderful–much as I love him–to be walking for once without my dog, to go at my own pace (not needing to stop to allow him an intense sniff at something) and to think my own thoughts. I usually try to walk mindfully, but this time I let myself just walk and not try to do or be anything in particular. It was deeply enjoyable.

Because spring came so early and fast this year there wasn’t much to see in the way of blossoms, unlike my first walk in the Lainzer Tiergarten. That was 30 years ago probably pretty much to the day when I took the photo below and showed it to friends at home, amazed and proud of the fact that this was within the city limits.

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Nonetheless, this time I did see a fox skirting around the people excitedly watching it (never seen a fox in the Tiergarten before) and these beautiful purple flowers.

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Before I knew it, I was at the Rohrhaus–the rustic eatery where you can get your card stamped. I briefly considered having coffee and a Milchrahmstrudel (a piece of Topfenstrudel served warm in a sea of warm vanilla sauce),  but they were–not surprisingly given the weather–full, and I suspected there would be quite a long wait. Instead I just asked for the stamp and carried on, thinking I might have better luck at Empress Elisabeth’s retreat, the Hermes Villa.

Even on the way to the Hermes Villa I didn’t see any wild boar, not even a squirrel. But I did see this sign (below), which makes me think perhaps all the animals were resting (“ruhen”) peacefully away from us humans. (The sign makes more sense if you know that in this context “Wild” in German means game, as in, boar, deer, pheasant, and so on.)

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More quickly than I remembered I arrived at the Hermes Villa and saw that outside on the terrace there was a self-service café so I got a delicious cheesecake (actually, more precisely, a “Topfentorte”), and then I carried on to the Lainzer Tor remembering outings with friends and their children to pick “Bärlauch” (wild garlic) and dandelion greens and to read all the informative signs about the trees and bushes along the path.

I arrived at the Lainzer Tor a few minutes before the bus was due to leave to take me back to the bus that would take me to the underground (do you get the sense that this is truly on the edge of the city?) and took the opportunity to check where we go from there. It looks as if Maylo will be allowed on the next stretch and, much as I enjoyed walking without him for once, I’ll be happy to have my hiking companion with me for the next bit.

Distance: 7.6 km

Time: about two hours, even with the coffee break

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P.S. My initial reaction to the boar was apparently not out of place. The British Ambassador had an encounter with a boar in the Lainzer Tiergarten in which he hurt his hand (story here).