Archive | The many faces of Vienna RSS feed for this section

A scene from the World Cup

16 Jun

Since neither Austria nor Italy are in the World Cup (which in the case of Austria is not so surprising) this is the only flag I’ve seen so far. (The Pride flag wasn’t there yesterday. I assume that is because of the Pride Parade today.)

Advertisements

Water-skiing, Vienna style

5 May

Look, Ma, no boat!

May Day 2018

1 May

Many years on I still can’t get over it–public transportation is running today. My first year in Vienna I was invited to lunch by friends. In plenty of time, I went to the bus stop only to find that public transport wasn’t running because it was not only a public holiday, it was the First of May and therefore Labor Day, the day we celebrate by not working. In those days, the Social Democrats had an absolute majority in Vienna (“Red Vienna,” after all). They mainly represent blue-collar workers (“Arbeiter” or laborers) and tram, bus, and train drivers count as blue-collar workers. They were freed from work until 2 p.m. so that they could enjoy the parades and other festivities. On that day I walked to lunch.

How times have changed. The Social Democrats have not had the absolute majority for many years. I know there was a lot of corruption in the party. Some of the most spectacular bankruptcies of the 1990s (I’m thinking particularly of the supermarket chain Konsum) were due to the mismanagement and corruption of people closely tied to the SPÖ (the Austrian Social Democratic Party). At the same time, many of the aspects that year after year take Vienna to the top of quality of life rankings are thanks to the Social Democrats–the great public transportation, amazing cultural life, super public facilities like swimming pools and skating rinks, humane public housing, low crime rate, and perhaps that most fantastic institution, the Vienna Woods. There is little hope that the new “turquoise” and blue government (a coalition of the new branch of the Conservatives and the right-wing nationalist Freedom Party) will carry on those traditions. How times have changed, here as elsewhere.

St. Patrick’s Day in Vienna

17 Mar

This scene was accompanied by music from a brass band in best Austrian tradition, but I was drawn by the sound of the pipes that preceded it.

Heringschmaus

10 Feb

“Heringschmaus” (one contributor to the online dictionary at leo.org suggested “herring delight” as a translation) is a traditional feast on Ash Wednesday. Now, if that sounds contradictory to you, then you are not alone. I come from the Protestant tradition, where there was certainly no feasting on Ash Wednesday. It was a day of great solemnity and deprivation, even though when I was a child we didn’t celebrate anything like Carnival so had nothing to recover from or make up for.

In the Austrian context–one of moderation in all things, even moderation–Heringschmaus makes sense, though. It goes along with the dearly held belief, in the meantime supported in some ways by medical studies, that eating “sour” things like pickles helps alleviate the symptoms of a (Mardi Gras) hangover. (The herring in this case is pickled and is eaten with pickled vegetables like beets and cabbage.) It also complies with the Catholic idea that eating fish is somehow penance (no meat).

What to do this year when Ash Wednesday coincides with Valentine’s Day? The Kurier is suggesting Heringschmaus by candlelight. Just thought I’d pass that tip along. 😉

NYTimes: Gowns, Wurst and Protesters: It’s Ball Season in Vienna

9 Feb

We made the New York Times! (Doesn’t happen all that often.)

Gowns, Wurst and Protesters: It’s Ball Season in Vienna https://nyti.ms/2GL8Fkl

January weather

28 Jan

My first January in Vienna (1989), we only had 26 hours of sunshine the whole month. People were gray-faced and weary and the suicide rate rose significantly. This year is giving 1989 a good run for its money. The sun is shining (sort of) as I write this, but it doesn’t look as if it’s going to stay out, and, indeed, it has already disappeared for a lengthy period once this morning. It may not be all that cold–it’s about 4°C or approximately 40°F–but this weather is not for sissies. I’d almost prefer the 5°F (~ -9°C) with the deep and shining blue skies of my New England childhood.

Ah, well, at least it’s not -9°C with gray skies! 😉