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Servitengasse 3

30 Dec

Over 30 years ago, I spent my first two months in Vienna in student housing (a “Hochschülerinnenheim”) on Servitengasse. Today I was in the neighborhood again to pick up some fresh pasta for New Year’s Eve dinner and saw that two floors have been added to the building and it has been turned into luxury flats. Things are changing …

Holiday haiku

24 Dec

Wishing all my readers a very happy holiday season and a wonderful New Year!

The view from the 2nd district to the 22nd

6 Dec


The photo didn’t quite turn out the way I wanted, but I found the view an interesting representation of some of the major changes in Vienna over the last 100 years or so with one of the original Gemeindebauten on the other side of the U2 tracks and the UN and everything that has grown up around it in the background. On the right you can catch a glimpse of the Danube.

NYTimes: ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ Comes Home

14 Nov

‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’ Comes Home https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/12/arts/design/hare-with-amber-eyes-vienna-edmund-de-waal.html

And I’m going to the exhibit at the Jewish Museum in Vienna on Sunday with the friend who recommended Edmund de Waal’s book. Lucky me. 🙂

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/

Wien ist anders (Vienna is different)

10 Oct

“Wien ist anders” was a slogan of the City of Vienna, highlighting the fact that Vienna was a major city but still different from the others. Today I’m using it to mean that Vienna is different from the way it was when I arrived. The photo is an illustration for me of how the city has changed–new next to old, the White Hair Salon next to Haus Neubau (the retirement home for people in the 7th district).

I spent the morning at a dynamic event launching a new endeavor (FuturAbility) to promote the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It was held at one of the now numerous co-working spaces, this one on Lindengasse in the 7th district.

I was amazed at how the area (not that far from my flat) has changed without my noticing–many new buildings, many of them very stylish apartment houses that do not exactly look Viennese (more Italian somehow).

As I was pondering the changes, I arrived at this corner and thought this about summed it up. Old (at least 20th century) Vienna is still there in the form of a humane solution for older people who no longer can or perhaps no longer want to live on their own (made possible by Red Vienna). Alongside it is a modern building in which a trendy hair salon with an English name. The old and the new.

Rooseveltplatz

26 Jul

What a concise reminder of bits of Viennese and Austrian history, all in one sign at the Institute for Social Sciences of the University of Vienna. They are located at what I have always known as Rooseveltplatz. Obviously, it has had different names over the years, reflecting eras and events in Austrian history.

I can guess at most (all) of them. Maximilian was Emperor Franz Josef’s brother, who had the nearby Votiv Church built. Freiheitsplatz (Freedom Square) probably expresses the hopes of the new democracy after the First World War. Dollfuss was the Austrian chancellor assassinated by National Socialists in July 1934. Hermann-Göring-Platz is sadly self-explanatory. And then Freiheitsplatz again until it was named after the U.S. President Roosevelt.

Interesting!

Magdas

12 Feb

I’m going to an ICF (International Coach Federation) workshop this evening in Magda’s Hotel and am equally excited about the topic (creative writing as a coaching tool) and the venue. Magda’s is a social business, with some support from the Austrian Ministry of Digital and Economic Affairs, that puts former refugees to work in a business that makes perfect sense, the hotel business. After all, the former refugees speak many languages and know many cultures and Austria is famous partly for its tourism and hotel schools. I can hardly wait to see it. 🙂

BTW in German you don’t use the apostrophe for the possessive, which turns the name, Magdas, into word play, something the founders of Magda’s were clearly aware of. “Mag das” in German means “like this,” as in “I like this.”

https://www.magdas-hotel.at/

Wien Museum (Vienna Museum)

10 Jan

I went to the Wien Museum (formerly Museum der Stadt Wien) at Karlsplatz this afternoon. For some reason, I feel the need to justify this on a Thursday. My justification is this: at about noon I finished the preparation for my big meeting tomorrow, the preparation that shortened my Christmas vacation by three to five days, depending on how you count it. Now I’m making up part of one of those missing vacation days.

The incentives were also strong. The Museum will be closing for extensive renovation and expansion on 3 February 2019, and an exhibition I’ve been wanting to see ends this Sunday already. (I can’t go tomorrow–big meeting–and I hate going on weekends because there are so many people).

In fact there were two exhibitions I really wanted to see so I was there for the better part of two hours, until they closed. One is called “Fluchtspuren” (or “What Remains: Traces of Refugees”). The other is called “Die Erkämpfte Republik” (or “The Hard-Won Republic”) and shows photos and newsreels from the first year of the First Republic of Austria (one hundred years ago).

“Traces of Refugees” is small. It displays 15 telling, everyday objects–shorts lovingly sewn by a mother for her son out of sailcloth and with buttons scrounged from a soldier or the keys that are all that remain of a house that was destroyed when a whole village was burned to the ground in the Balkan Wars. All the objects are connected to refugees to Austria, mainly to Vienna, and mainly at the end of the First World War as the Austro-Hungarian Empire was disintegrating, during the Second World War, and during the Balkan Wars (which I remember as I was already living here then).

This exhibition was in conjunction with a small but wonderful exhibition about Lisa Jalowetz Aronson, who was a costume and scenery designer (as well as being a Jewish refugee in the Second World War). Among other things, she worked with her husband on Broadway, where she landed after being born in Prague, raised in Cologne, and educated in Vienna. The exhibition included a video interview with her done, I think, by her grandchildren. Quite something! She struck me as the epitome of resilience, laughing easily as she recounted hair-raising stories like how angry she was at her parents that they wouldn’t let her finish her art studies in Vienna (in 1938). “They probably saved my life but I was still furious,” she tells us.

“The Hard-Won Republic” was an important and effective reminder that this city, which is now so beautiful and rich, was cold and starving at the end of the First World War. Trees were being cut down in the Vienna Woods (my Vienna Woods!) to make sure people had something to heat with, and the Viennese traveled out of the city to glean the fields once the farmers had harvested what they wanted. People were literally starving to death and, of course, were terribly vulnerable to disease, particularly tuberculosis.

Beyond that, things that stuck out for me were the fact that Kaiser Karl, Franz Josef’s successor and emperor for only two years, didn’t understand why people wanted him to abdicate(!). (Seeing a photo of him getting off a plane at the airfield in Aspern with his wife and children reminded me that this is all recent enough–and I have been here long enough–to have seen Zita Hapsburg’s funeral in Vienna. Something to tell my grandchildren, if I had any.)

Other things: Within days after the end of the war, there were three security forces in Vienna, each allied with a different political platform. Anti-Semitism was as strong and, in some ways as subtle, as ever. Women were getting the vote. People were taking to the streets–a different group practically every day it seemed. And in 1924 there was a massive anti-war protest (“Nie wieder Krieg!” or “Never again war!”) in front of the City Hall.

If I’d had time, I could have gone to the “Gemma, Gemma” exhibition (“Gemma” is Viennese for “Let’s go” or “Let’s get going”) about the coming renovations and expansion. As it is, I took a brief moment on my way out to watch a video about it. It looks very promising. (And this from someone who hates change.)

An afternoon very well spent, if you ask me.

The Italians are coming!

31 Dec

Actually, they’re already here. I went to two supermarkets this morning to get everything for dinner this evening and, in both, Italians were trying to communicate with the natives.

In the first one, a customer was trying to buy “brodo” (broth). She seemed, rightly so, rather skeptical when she was shown the bouillon cubes.

In the second one, the conversation at the cash register went like this:

Italian customer: Panettone?

Cashier: Nein.

Italian customer (in Italian): “No” you don’t understand or “no” you don’t have any?

Cashier (in German): I don’t understand you but no we don’t have any.

Italian customer: ?

Twenty years of voice lessons including Italian opera and a few trips to Italy allowed me to clarify: Non c’è la. [And benvenuta a Vienna. ;-)]