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The Feast of the Immaculate Conception

8 Dec

The Trafik was closed this morning! I knew today is a holiday. When I woke up I suspected that was why I was able to sleep late on a Saturday. However, many years ago, the government decided to allow shops to open on Mariä Empfängnis so that people could do their Christmas shopping. That made me think our Trafik would be open, too.

Instead, disappointment was great. Maylo pulled me over with great enthusiasm right up to the door and then looked at me as if to say, “What’s happening? Where are they?” And I had to explain that they were having a well-deserved day off.

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Did I mention it has gotten colder?

19 Nov

A photo from our morning walk in the 6-a.m. murk:

And, yes, that is snow.

Kristallnacht, 80 years on

9 Nov

As I went out with Maylo for our last trip around the block, I saw this:

I knew it was the anniversary of Kristallnacht because it, like Hiroshima day, is part of my personal calendar. When I saw the candles next to the commemorative plaque, I suddenly realized that Kristallnacht was 80 years ago tonight. May God help us all.

02 – Cobenzl to Häuserl am Roan

4 Nov

Knowing that I’ll have to put my hiking on hold for a while as I am teaching all day the next three Saturdays, I decided to try at least to wrap up the first two stretches. This found Maylo and me once again on a bus on the Höhenstraße. It is a strange feeling to be whisked (and some of those bus drivers do take it at a clip in spite of the bone-shaking cobblestone surface) up a hill we usually huff and puff our way up. The bus does in 20 minutes what we usually take two to three hours for!

Anyway, up we went again to Cobenzl to resume our walk to Jägerwiese and beyond. I had not expected so much fog. (On the left is a photo from yesterday and on the right is a photo taken today very near the same spot.)

Furthermore, having noticed the fog on the way up on the bus, I would not have expected to see a lot of people, and yet there they were. Old, young, Austrian, Viennese, Polish, Hungarian, thin, sturdy, with children, without children, dressed for serious hiking, dressed to look good, with dogs, and without dogs. There were so many people that the restaurant at Jägerwiese was completely overcrowded and the wait staff rushed off their feet. Maylo and I joined a few hardy souls (the fog made it pretty chilly) on the terrace, but finally gave up any hope of getting coffee and Apfelstrudel, stamped our pass, and carried on. At least we found out what a Stempelstelle looks like. The red box contains an ink pad and the necessary rubber stamps.

05_stempelstelle

Off we went again, heading towards Dreimarkstein and Häuserl am Roan, into the ever denser growing fog. I did start to wonder if it was wise, but I have to say we were not alone. Help would have been available if we had needed it.

07_jägerwiese to dreimarkstein

We reached Häuserl am Roan with just a few minutes to spare before the bus got there. As it only runs once an hour on Sundays, it seemed like a good idea to catch it and come back to Häuserl am Roan another time.

An aside, Häuserl am Roan is one of the rustic restaurants offering Wiener Hausmannskost (more or less, Viennese home cooking) that dot the Vienna Woods. It has a special place in my heart because it was one of the first I discovered, many years ago. If I remember correctly, it was as I was hiking my first Stadtwanderweg (city hiking trail), Stadtwanderweg number 3, so there were two big discoveries in one afternoon.

So there it is. I spent my long weekend (Friday counted as a Fenstertag or “window day,” the day between a holiday, All Saints, in this case, and a weekend) hiking with Maylo, taking photos, blogging about it, eating, and seeing friends. That’s a pretty good weekend in my book! Oh, and here is my Wanderpass with its first stamp. 🙂

08_wanderpass

Distance: 4.9 km

Time: unknown

01 – Nussdorf to Cobenzl (part two)

4 Nov

Feeling the pressure of an unfinished route, we took the 38A back to Sulzwiese on Saturday with the best intentions. Since we were only going to do the last two to three kilometers of the first stretch, I planned to carry on from Cobenzl and do the approximately five kilometers of the next stretch (Cobenzl to Häuserl am Roan). We all know, however, where good intentions lead. By the time we had made it prematurely to Jägerwiese (having missed another of the little signs) and retraced our steps part of the way to get to Cobenzl, I again felt we had done enough. It was too discouraging to turn around and go back to Jägerwiese (a Stempelstelle, more about that below) on the same day.

We saw some beautiful views, but it did seem like a lot of traveling for not much walking!

49_going from sulzwiese to cobenzl

About Stempelstellen: The City of Vienna wishes to encourage people to use the hiking paths in the Vienna Woods (and are wildly successful in their attempts if the number of people we see each time we go out is anything to go by). Part of the tradition is to offer a Wandernadel (a “hiking pin” in silver or gold depending on the level of achievement), and the way you get your pin is to stamp your Wanderpass as you make it to various Stempelstellen and send in your pass when you have filled it in. More about that in the next post, in which we go back to the Jägerwiese and get our first stamp.

Distance: 2.6 km (est.)

Time: unknown

01 – Nussdorf to Cobenzl (part one)

4 Nov

Technically this is the first stretch of the Rundumadum hiking trail, even if it was the second for us. And–confession is good for the soul–I have to say that we did this one in two parts: Nussdorf – Sulzwiese on Thursday (All Saints, a holiday in Austria) and then Sulzwiese – Cobenzl on Saturday. Why? I think I got tired of stumbling around in a part of the Vienna Woods I actually know quite well looking for the little trail markers (see below) and bailed out, catching the 38A back to Grinzing.

53_rundumadum sign

We started at Nussdorf, as prescribed and walked along the Donaupromenade, a beautiful path along the Danube I had never been on before. What I was missing!

We went along to Kahlenbergerdorf. I have been there before but mainly know it from looking down from a path I’m fond of through the vineyards on Nussberg. This is what it looks like from sea level, so to speak. And, yes, despite its rusticality it is part of Vienna (19th district).

Then began the walk up Leopoldsberg along the “Nasenweg” (“Nose path”?). I have walked down the Nasenweg before but never up, and I don’t expect to do it again. It is hard work! Thank goodness the views are beautiful, with the vineyards (see above) on one side and the Danube on the other. (I intentionally didn’t write “on the right” and “on the left” as that alternates as the path snakes its way up the hill.)

At the top, there is a small castle with great photo ops and, in this case, someone I know and hadn’t seen in many years, who greeted me with “What are you doing in Vienna?” “Um, I (still) live here.” Wien ist, as we say, ein Dorf or Vienna, in spite of its 2 million inhabitants, is a village, and you really can’t go anywhere without running into someone you know.

Maylo and I then carried on our way to the next landmark (Josefinenhütte), and she went her’s. At the Josefinenhütte I think we lost our way a little. We ended up where we were supposed to–Sulzwiese–but I’m pretty sure we didn’t take the intended path. (Missed those little trail markers again!) Nonetheless, I make no apologies because I have walked down the Höhenstraße from Kahlenberg to Sulzwiese, and it is a lot easier and maybe shorter than what we did on Thursday. Although the path we took wins for beauty, I think.

37_going from kahlenberg to sulzwiese.JPG

That’s Maylo on the left, by the way, my wonderful hiking companion.

We wandered through these gorgeous woods, taking in the scent of late fall and reveling in the sounds of our feet in the leaves, until we got, as mentioned, to Sulzwiese and I decided we had done enough.

Off to the nearby 38A bus stop and back to town!

Distance: 5 km (est.)

Time: unknown

A new corner of Vienna

26 Oct

Somehow I find myself avoiding my usual corners of Vienna, like Neuwaldegg or Nussberg. They’ve been so crowded recently that I’ve hardly enjoyed my walks there with Maylo. I think it’s great that so many people are out in our beautiful fall weather getting some exercise and fresh air. I just don’t want to share the space with all of them. It isn’t very restful.

Today, on the Nationalfeiertag (celebration of Austria’s neutrality clause after the Second World War), Maylo and I followed up a tip from another dog person and took the U1 out to its new (to me) terminus, Oberlaa, where there’s a clinic / spa with thermal waters.

 

My ancient (1988) Baedeker’s Austria tells me that the Kurzentrum Wien-Oberlaa is a “spa treatment establishment” opened in 1974, a date that doesn’t surprise me as it showed up constantly on the various signs in the Kurpark. The site was the scene of the Vienna International Garden Show in 1974, and a number of attractions in this 860,000-square-meter green space, like the sculpture on the Rosenhügel or the Japanese garden, date back from that year.

 

Unlike many of Germany and Austria’s spa towns, Oberlaa does not seem to have a long history of people taking the waters there in spite of the fact that they, according to my Baedeker’s, have one of the strongest and hottest sulfur springs in Austria. (I figured out about the sulfur without Baedeker’s help. You smell it the moment you get out of the underground station.) So it’s not very traditional but they wasted no time in establishing two things essential to any Kurort: the park and a famous patisserie.

The park, true to Kurparks everywhere, is a carefully controlled environment suitable to people being treated for various maladies. There are paved paths, railings, lots of benches to rest on, carefully tended flowerbeds and lawns, and completely tamed bodies of water. It’s also suitable for people staying for several weeks at a time, providing different attractions like a petting zoo, restaurants, different kinds of gardens including an allergy garden(!), and, no doubt, somewhere a gazebo for concerts on fine days. We wouldn’t want people to get bored while they’re being treated!

 

Maylo and I didn’t make it to the patisserie, Kurkonditorei Oberlaa, but we wandered about the park and enjoyed ourselves, catching the impressively clean and quick U1 back into town when we had had enough.

Our excursion has inspired me to start a new practice. I’m going to try to get around to all the underground stations in Vienna to see what is there, focusing especially on those stations I don’t go to regularly. Look for more under the tag “U-Bahn stations”.

A note for my readers not familiar with the Austrian concept of Kur. A Kur is a stay, usually about three weeks, at a nice, although sometimes somewhat clinical, hotel at a place with special springs where various medical conditions are treated. Several of my friends have been on Kur for intensive physiotherapy. It’s almost de rigeur after major surgery. And sometimes it is prescribed simply because people are feeling run down. It sounds like something for rich people and did use to be. The aristocracy of Europe used to run into each other at Kurorte all over Germany and Austria and similar places of healing in Switzerland (those sanatoriums!). These days, though, it is prescribed through the national health system here and patients pay only a tiny daily rate based on their income. There’s something (else) to be said for social democracy.

This means that a Kurort is a town with such an establishment, a Kurpark is a park attached to such an establishment, and a Kurkonditorei is a Konditorei or patisserie especially associated with such an establishment, essential because the Austrians, on the whole, have never been all that good at denying themselves the pleasures of life if they could help it.