Archive | Vienna RSS feed for this section

Runners

28 Mar

Not me! I’m just a dog-walking observer. And as an observer I can’t help noticing how many more runners there are than there were just two weeks ago.

The other thing I’m noticing is how fast some of them are running. I still remember walking through Central Park in New York with my then Austrian partner, about 15 years ago, who couldn’t get over how fast all the runners were moving. Vienna was in the throes of the “slow running” fad, and until now I hadn’t really thought about it, but Vienna was still in the throes until the coronavirus lockdown started!

Clearly, there’s currently a lot of energy out there that is not getting used up in other ways.

Tuesday evenings

24 Mar

There is a store in Vienna called Edusco or Tschibo. They technically sell coffee, but they also sell inexpensive consumer goods that change every week. The change is made on Tuesdays. So I am used to looking with great curiosity at what they have in their window when I walk by with Maylo on Tuesday evenings.

It is just one of many reminders that we are on coronavirus lockdown that the window has been the same for three weeks. I must confess I am getting a little tired now of the underwear in their shop window!

A crisis with an odd sense of comfort

16 Mar

Just a quick post today to say that two aspects of this coronavirus crisis are particularly disorienting here in Vienna.

One is that we are going through this in considerable comfort. As the child of two Europeans, both of whom grew up in war zones during the Second World War, I have always assumed that a crisis would be accompanied by severe rationing (=hunger, for years), cold, long stretches without water or electricity, not to mention the fear of having a bomb dropped on your head or the head of someone you loved. It is almost disturbing to have everything, including, so far, excellent internet, phone service, and so on. It seems it should be more painful!

Come to think of it, that is not only the impression I got from my parents. When you grow up in New England, as I did, you know there can be snowstorms that take out the power and telephone for days on end and therefore make sure you have food, wood, and water on hand. You know that you will have lots of time to read (provided you have alternative sources of light), but you don’t expect it to be really comfortable.

The second factor contributing to this sense of disorientation is the exquisite early spring weather we’re experiencing. How can something bad be happening when the sun is shining the way it is and blossoms and flowers are coming out?

It doesn’t seem possible–and yet it is.

Ausverkauft! (Sold out!)

11 Aug

I’m having a wonderful time reading Helmut Deutsch’s memoirs (a present from a kind and generous friend).

This greatest of Lieder accompanists, born and raised in Vienna, tells a good story. This one strikes me as quintessentially Viennese: Deutsch was one of two accompanists who regularly played for the incomparable Hermann Prey. On one occasion, Deutsch needed a ticket to a Prey recital in the Konzerthaus in Vienna. The posters for days had sported a bright red “Sold out” sign. Nonetheless, Deutsch went into the ticket office to see what could be done. To his great surprise, the lady behind the counter asked, “Stalls or balcony?” Deutsch drew her attention to the “Sold out” signs at which point she smiled and said, “No, not at all. It’s just that Kammersänger Prey likes so much to see the signs.” [“Nein, nein, der Herr Kammersänger hat das nur so gern.”] 🙂

Heatwave

28 Jul

It’s going to be hot the next few days. Here are a few tips from today’s Kurier on how how to stay cool in a city that until recently has largely eschewed air-conditioning.

1 Follow the heat-crazed tourists to the bars and restaurants of luxury hotels. Guaranteed temperature 19°C.

2 Go to a fishmonger’s. Hopefully, everything there is on ice.

3 Churches, basilica, and cathedrals. Now is the perfect time for appreciating art history and quiet reflection.

4 Cinema. Go to one matinee after the other.

Finally, you could get into your car, turn the air-conditioning on full blast, and drive for hours around the block.

I hope some of these tips help you enjoy the weekend.

New Mayor

26 May

I just feel I should report that after 23(?) years Vienna has a new mayor. Dr. Michael Häupl departed on Thursday and the new mayor, Dr. Michael Ludwig, has taken up the reins. Just FYI: It’s not a pre-requisite that you be called Michael to be mayor of Vienna. The one before Häupl was named Helmut … However, it does seem to help if you have a PhD.

Vanillekipferln

3 Dec

It’s that time of year again. The Kurier has printed a recipe for Vanillekipferln (an essential and quintessential Viennese Advent and Christmas cookie) with the comment that there are probably as many recipes as there are “Omas” (grandmothers). Here is their version this year. 

You will need:

250 gms of flour

210 gms  of (cold) butter

100 gms ground  almonds

70 gms of sugar

salt

4 – 5 tablespoons of powdered sugar

one packet of vanilla sugar.

(1) Mix the flour, almonds, sugar, and a pinch of salt. Cut the cold butter into pieces and knead it quickly into the flour mixture. Wrap the dough in foil and cool for at least 30 minutes.

(2) Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper, turn the oven on to 180  degrees C. Knead the dough one more time. Cut about 1/3  off and put the rest back into a cool place.

(3) Shape the dough into a roll with a diameter of about 5 cm. Cut the roll into slices of about 1 cm each. Out of each slice roll the dough between the palms of your hands until it is 6 – 8 cm long. Bend the dough into a crescent shape and place on the cookie sheet. Bake the batch for about  15  minutes.

(4) Remove the cookie sheet from the oven, take off the cookies, and let them cool for a few minutes. Mix the powdered sugar with the vanilla sugar and turn the warm Kipferln carefully in the sugar mixture. Put the finished cookies on a plate to cool and then store for a few days in a tin before eating.