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A nice exchange in the bus

22 Jan

I hopped on the bus to go and finally buy some wineglasses. (Of the 18 a friend gave me about 25 years ago — six each of three different sizes — only one remains, and there are some nice ones on sale for €1.49 each.)

There was a man standing with his dog near the door, a pitbull mix by the look of it all correctly leashed and muzzled. Since the man didn’t seem interested in the empty seat near him I took it. Within 30 seconds the dog had decided that I was a friend and came over with dog-like enthusiasm to say hello. We exchanged a few friendly words and then he (she?) turned his (her?) attention to the woman sitting across the aisle from me. Similar raptures and then the man called his dog back to him. The woman across the aisle smiled at me and “So eine nette Begrüßung” (“Such a nice greeting”). I replied “Ge?” (Viennese for “Wasn’t it?”) And then, true to proper behavior on public transportation in Vienna, we each went back to what we had been doing.

Eine nette Begegnung (or chance encounter).

A look back

15 Jan

I’m in the process of re-reading my journal from 2021 before putting it away and came across the following entry, from 6 July 2021:

This morning on our walk we ran into the MA 48ler [man who works for the city sanitation department and keeps our neighborhood clean] who loves to talk. We had a really good chat about how inconsistent the government is (“Sagt ‘man kann bei zwei Dingen nicht sparen — Sicherheit und Sauberkeit’ — und dann sparen sie trotzdem”*), how beautiful Vienna is, the oldest houses (apparently somewhere near Mölkerbastei), sustainability and not using coffee capsules, and so on.

This all came back to me as I was doing my gratitude session and I thought how amazing it is that I was allowed to experience that, in this city, in a foreign language I now speak well enough to follow almost all of what he says [he speaks a pretty thick Viennese dialect], safe, healthy, comfortable, on a beautiful not-too-hot July morning. What an amazing life I am allowed to live.

* “They say ‘There are two things one mustn’t try to save money on — safety and cleanliness’ and then they cut the budget for those two things anyway.”

08 – Breitenfurter Straße to Alterlaa

4 Jan

After an abortive attempt on one of the May holidays (not only the rain but the wind was too discouraging and I wasn’t dressed right), a friend and I decided to attempt this stretch again. Because we were so deep in conversation most of the time, I’m afraid I didn’t get any pictures. Still, if you look at the pictures from this post–Trail 09–you’ll be seeing very much what we saw, complete with ducks.

I did take in some things, in spite of our conversation, and it was special to do this stretch with this friend. She not only lives in Alterlaa and often walks along the Liesing River, but she has lived in the 23rd district all her life and so can tell me about landmarks other people would miss.

We started more or less at the aquaduct that was built in the early 1870s to provide Vienna with clean water from the mountains. Apparently, 40% of Viennese tap water still comes from this source and is exceptionally good. As an old Viennese friend of mine used to say, with somewhat justifiable pride, “We flush our toilets with the kind of water people in other places buy in the supermarket.”

One thing that struck me as we walked was how varied the buildings are in this part of Vienna. Some are clearly from a more agricultural time before the area was incorporated into the City of Vienna. Some are non-descript newer buildings that look as if they are only there to serve a purpose but not to delight the eye. And some are interesting newer buildings.

When we got to Alterlaa, my friend invited me in for coffee and some of the best Christmas cookies around. The deep conversation continuing, I ended up staying for supper. Perhaps it would have been better if this stretch had been a bit longer so as to burn a few more calories!

All in all, though, it was a wonderful way to spend one of my holiday afternoons and evenings.

Trail number 8
Distance: 5.6 km
Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

A message for the Second Day of Christmas

26 Dec
Message on a park bench

Walking with Maylo in the park on this chilly (down over 10°C from yesterday!) morning I came across this message. Wanted to share it with you.

Happy Second Day of Christmas! 🙂

Holiday greetings with haiku

24 Dec

May you all have a happy and healthy holiday season spent with as many loved ones as possible and a happier, healthier New Year!

Third jab

16 Dec

And in Stephansdom no less, where you don’t need an appointment.

Beyond the fact that I didn’t need an appointment, why did I choose to go to Stephansdom for my vaccination? For romantic reasons. I have never forgotten the tour I took of the catacombs very early on in my Vienna days. There are bones of Bubonic plague victims in those catacombs and I am slowly coming to accept that COVID-19 is our plague.

As a bonus to that historical connection and a beautiful setting in which to wait, an Advent meditation was starting just as I was leaving. Simple and meaningful, with a small choir and short bursts of organ music and a homily on finding room at the inn.

Stephansdom has survived plagues (and wars and reformations) and we shall, too.

The way home

First frost

24 Nov

This morning we had our first frost. It seems a bit late this year and was most welcome for that crisp feeling. One notices something has changed. Maylo, in any case, was moving quite a bit more quickly than he has been!

The first day of this lockdown

22 Nov

I am on the tram going around the Ring and found myself, as so often in the past 33 years, looking at the marquee on the Burg Kino to see what was showing (“The Power of the Dog” and “Dune” among other things) when I realized there was no point. Like so much else it’s closed for the next three weeks.

20 & 21 – Wagramer Straße to Brünner Straße

21 Nov

It seemed like a good idea to get in a couple more stretches of the Rundumadum hiking trail before we go into lockdown again tomorrow (even though we will still be allowed to walk outside with close friends for purposes of physical and psychological recreation) so off we went.

The weather was suitable for November, as you can see on the photos–a gray, slightly melancholy day–and it was a good day for walking. This is a mood I love in Vienna, like a physical expression of the melancholy underlying the lighter side of life here. It’s not all waltzing and champagne, or concerts and cakes, especially not in the middle of a pandemic.

The Wiener Linien (public transit authorities in Vienna) rather fell down on the job today as they did last time, at least as far as the busses went. We arrived punctually at Süßenbrunn train station to catch the bus that was to take us to the starting point of our first stretch. It never came. On the other end, we arrived at the bus stop with about five minutes to spare and waited almost 15 minutes. That one never came either. What with walking from Süßenbrunn to Bettelheimstraße and then from Erbpostgasse to Stammersdorf, I estimate we covered 10 km today, about 1.5 more than intended. Thank goodness for good shoes!

Like the last few stretches, these were flat, with small ponds. (The swimming pond for Gerasdorf bei Wien looked especially inviting–or would in summer.) There are still signs of agriculture, including some vineyards :-), and we saw quite a few horses, yet there was also a lot of building going on, the cranes quite visible on the horizon. Given my tendency to pessimism, I did wonder how much longer there would be any fields left. All the more reason, I suppose, to enjoy them while one can.

At Gerasdorf we crossed the state line from Vienna into Lower Austria. One moment we were in Gerasdorf, the next we were in Gerasdorf bei Wien with the blue and yellow logo (I don’t know what else to call it–it isn’t the coat of arms) of Lower Austria. A small, mostly attractive, town, very quiet on a Sunday morning. There were a few people about, mainly walking dogs, but no cafés or restaurants open, even though they don’t have to close until tomorrow. About the liveliest place was the “Hundezone,” a rather bare and not overly large rectangle of earth clearly delineated by a chainlink fence. Outside were acres and acres of fields and other green areas. It seemed a bit senseless to me, and we didn’t go in.

The next stretch went along the Marchfeldkanal (canal) for a long stretch. We enjoyed the crows and magpies and got into an interesting discussion on the–as any student of German knows–often senseless gender assignment of different creatures or objects. Magpies and crows are feminine (“die Elster” and “die Krähe”) while bird as a generic term is masculine (“der Vogel”). Larger birds of prey like the eagle are, apparently, more typically male, a point my (male) hiking companion seemed to take greater exception to than I did.

As we got closer to Brünner Straße (the road to Brunn or Brno in the Czech Republic), the landscape changed slightly. It became more wooded and slightly, but only very slightly, hillier. The bus stop was opposite a rather garish industrial structure in the middle of what was otherwise fields and woods, closed, of course, on Sunday. Given that the bus did not arrive and the next one was scheduled for an hour later, we were happy that there was a nice little path running along the road that took us to the tram in Stammersdorf.

Trail 20

Distance: 3 km

Time: 45 minutes to an hour


Trail 21

Distance: 5.5 km

Time: 1.5 to 2 hours


A November Day

12 Nov

Today is almost like the November days I remember from 30 years ago — gray, damp, chilly. It isn’t raining, but the pavements are damp with condensation; it isn’t that cold in temperature (about 4°C), but it is a penetrating chill. The air, as always on these days, is a bit acrid because the cloud cover holds in all the exhaust. And it may be a bit warmer than back then. Certainly it is somewhat brighter as the buildings are for the most part cleaner and this year’s spectacular foliage, in yellow and gold, is not yet completely gone.