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A new announcement in the U-Bahn

16 Oct

I’m on my way to the university and heard this announcement for the first time: “Dear Passengers, Please keep your luggage with you at all times. Unattended bags will be removed.” Feels almost as if I’m finally living in London.

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

Link: https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/rundumadum/etappe17.html

Trail 18

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

Time: 1 to 1.5 hrs

Link: https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/rundumadum/etappe18.html

40 demonstrations

15 May

My heart goes out to the police in Vienna today. After over a year of extra work enforcing the pandemic restrictions, they now have to deal with 40 demonstrations in downtown Vienna today. Some are against the (ever more quickly vanishing) covid restrictions and some are to do with the situation in the Middle East. I can’t even imagine how you fit 40 demonstrations into the first district!

March 13

13 Mar

One year ago today was the last day I stood in a seminar room facilitating a workshop with any sense of freedom. Even then the Romanians in the group were very distracted by the thought that they might not be allowed to fly home or would have to quarantine for two weeks when they got there.

Afterwards, I sat with a colleague in the otherwise empty bar at the seminar hotel. We did our usual after action review, interspersed with unsettling tidbits from a population biology course he had taken as an undergraduate, enjoying a drink in public for what we thought would be the last time for several weeks. (Ah, the innocence!)

Then we gathered up our things and went our separate ways to make sure we had food for the next few days, not knowing what the lockdown, due to start the following Monday, would bring.

Those memories highlight two facets of a year of pandemic in Austria that I’ve been thinking about quite a bit as we neared this anniversary: that what seemed unthinkable and almost insurmountable (two weeks of quarantine???) have become part of our daily lives and that no one I know foresaw how long the pandemic would go on or was prepared for the uncertainty. (I don’t number any epidemiologists among my friends.)

A year ago Austria acted quickly and decisively and had low numbers to show for it. Now our numbers are bad, although not quite as bad as the rest of Central Europe, and our vaccine rollout is pathetic. It’s anyone’s guess when life will regain any of its pre-pandemic freedom.

At least spring is coming!

Curfew

31 Oct

Well, I didn’t see that coming, even though our numbers are terrible. As of Tuesday we will have the first curfew of Austria’s Second Republic. True to Austrian form it is early. We will not be allowed on the streets between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.

There isn’t much front page news that interrupts my habit of starting at the back of the paper and working my way forward (the last I remember was the announcement of Karlheinz Böhm’s death), but this was one of the items that did.

Today’s headline, by the way, says that the government is tightening the screws. I’ll leave you to consider which ones.

The seasons in Vienna

23 Feb

Nothing from the Kurier this Saturday morning, but here is something a friend sent me from the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) Vienna. The Viennese have a well-recognized tendency to complain, even though their complaining is for the most part at “hohem Niveau” (at a “high level”, that is, about small things from a position of considerable comfort). This graphic shows this beautifully, I think. “Deppat” means “stupid” so the photos, which take us through spring, summer, fall, and winter are captioned: stupid pollen, stupid heat, stupid leaves, and stupid cold. 😆

A particular Vienna kind of cold

2 Jan

My thermometer is pointing to 3°C above zero, but I have just gotten back from a dogwalk that felt a lot colder. There is a special combination of wind and damp in Vienna (“hands and feet weather” I call it) that makes even this vegetarian look longingly at the fur coats going by.

Add to that the fact that there has been thick, dark gray cloud cover all day and you have a fairly typical January day in Vienna.

Anyone want to come visit? 😉

More or less unheard of in Vienna

28 May

Generally speaking, you can drink alcohol where and when you like in Vienna (and you don’t need a brown paper bag). However, there has been so much violence at Praterstern recently, much of it alcohol-inflamed, that alcohol is now forbidden there. Drastic times, drastic measures.

Watch “Eurovision Song Contest 1967 – Sandie Shaw – Puppet on a String (WINNER)” on YouTube

8 Apr

Should the question ever come up when you are playing Trivial Pursuit “Who won the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest and in which city?” the answer is: Sandie Shaw in Vienna (captured on film, link below). If you’re thinking “I didn’t even know they had a Eurovision Song Contest in 1967,” I can only say “Neither did I.”

Many thanks to the Saturday Kurier for this indispensable piece of information.

Back

1 Dec

After four months in the U.S. Maylo and I are back in Vienna. Anyone who’s been following this blog at all knows how much I love this city, but what did I notice most in the last 48 hours? Sadly, how much and how indiscriminately people smoke. Ah, well. Nothing is perfect.