Tag Archives: dogs

Pets in Austria

10 Jun

It took two tries, but I finally managed to buy train tickets for Maylo and me from the machine. I was a little surprised that Maylo (all 5 kgs or 11 lbs of him) cost 30 cents more than I did. I felt somewhat better when I realized that the person at the next machine was having some trouble as well. I mentioned in the face of his sounds of frustration that I had had some difficulties, too, and added that my dog had actually cost more than me. He thought for a moment and replied that pets in Austria are highly valued. Even more than people, I pointed out.

An early Sunday morning in Vienna

19 Apr

People still  abed
Tightly shuttered shops, and yet
A lone dogwalker

The Trafik

14 Sep

Trafik is what English (EFL) teachers call a “false friend”. It may make the English speakers reading my blog think of “traffic” as in cars, yet it means something completely different in Austrian German, is something I think of as very European, and it, too, is changing.

First of all, a Trafik is a small, neighborhood store that has government concessions to sell tobacco products, some postage stamps, lottery tickets, pay-and-display parking stubs, and tickets for public transportation. (They also used to sell the dreaded Stempelmarken–those stamps you had to buy for any official transaction, for example, making a visa application. This particular system has since been modernized.) From my time in France–granted, over thirty years ago now–I seem to remember that there was an equivalent, the Tabac.

In addition to cigarettes and so on the Trafiks sell newspapers and magazines, smoking paraphernalia, greeting cards, wrapping paper, and such and are very much a part of everyday life in Vienna. I have the impression that most Viennese have one Trafik they always go to. I have four within a five-minute walk from my apartment and still almost always go to the same one, even though they weren’t all that friendly to me until I walked in the first time with Mylo. 😉

Trafiks traditionally have played a significant role in Grätzl* life. As one Trafikant (proprietor of a Trafik), interviewed in today’s Kurier, said, “Our customers and we were like family. People exchanged news about the Grätzl, sport, and politics. We knew who had died and when a new baby had been born. It was really nice in the Trafik.” In fact, to visit another European country briefly, in a few of her crime novels set in Venice Donna Leon has her police detective, Brunetti, get invaluable information from the Italian equivalent. The people in the Trafik simply know what is going on in the ‘hood.

But apparently, what with changes in the Trafikgesetz (Trafik laws) and in the concessions they have, ever more Trafiks are having trouble making a real living and, as is possible in a highly centralized administrative system, the government office responsible for regulating them can simply decide to close some down. According to today’s Kurier that government office is planning to close down about 10% of the existing 2600 Trafiks in Austria in the next four years.

Now I hear the free-market capitalists out there saying, “So what? That makes sense.” At this point I need to bring in some additional information. It has always been my understanding that many of the Trafikanten have disabilities that make it hard for them to get other work. One of the points of the Trafik system is to provide them with a moderately pleasant way of making a living and knowing that they are a part of and contributing to society. The Kurier article makes the same point. Some Trafikanten will retire, some will (have to) find other jobs, and the ones with disabilities will simply be out of a job.

For me, old-fashioned person that I am in some ways, it is simply a further sign of the deterioration of organic, local community. And I find myself paraphrasing Winston in 1984: Don’t close down my Trafik. Do it to someone else!

* See here for a brief definition of Grätzl.

All references in this post to the Kurier are to the article “Abschied von der Trafik-Kultur” by Michael Berger.

Regeneration of a district – Neu Marx

20 Jun

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This morning Mylo and I took a trip out to a part of the 3rd district I haven’t been to in ages, if ever. We needed at health certificate for him for reasons that belong in another blogpost and had to go out to the MA (Magistratsabteilung) 60 to get it.

They are based in an area that used to house the stockyards and the slaughterhouses, as the photo above suggests, and are located on a street that did not appear on my 25-year-old map. (It didn’t matter. I asked a construction worker who at first said he was sorry they came in from Mödling and didn’t know the area. It was clear from his accent that he originally came from somewhere outside Austria, possibly Hungary, and, indeed, he then lit up and said, “The street named for the Hungarian comedian, Karl Farkas?” and pointed me in the right direction.)

In addition to the monumental statues of steers on the gates to the stockyards, there is other evidence of the past uses of the space–for example, an enormous building still called the “Rinderhalle” or “beef hall” and the Municipal Vocational School for Butchers (photo below). In true Vienna fashion there is also much for the 21st century. The Campus Vienna Biocenter, one of the leading international biomedical research centers, is out there, too. And there are a number of cheerful eateries that lend life and gaiety to the neighborhood.

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I’ll be going back–not just because we couldn’t get everything accomplished today (also in true Vienna fashion)!

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No dogs allowed

11 Dec

From a park in the 4th district …

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The picture is clear. The nice touch is the text: With the exception of those dogs whose owners clean up after them. 🙂

A Friday morning in Vienna in the summer (an e-mail to my mother)

24 Aug

Good morning, dear!

It’s promising (threatening? ;-)) to be very hot today. Mylo and I went for our usual walk and I took my usual break on my usual tree stump in the meadow at the Narrenturm. We were having such a nice time outdoors I thought “I don’t want to go home” and decided on the spot to go to Café Weimar, dogwalking shorts and naked face notwithstanding. So Mylo and I traipsed off to Café Weimar where we sat under the awning and I had a croissant and caffè latte. As Maylo’s vet is very near there and I needed to pick up the food I had ordered for him I considered hanging around until they opened at 9:00 to save myself an extra trip. However it was only 8:15, and I thought that might be a bit too much hanging around.

Then I found myself staring at the big sign announcing the weekly open-air market of organic and (relatively) local produce at the WUK on the other side of Währinger Straße. I’ve thought about checking that out for years and never gotten around to it. They didn’t open until 9:00 either, but I decided that those two things together were worth waiting for so  I pulled out a little notebook from my bag and started making notes for work on Monday and my interview on Tuesday. I was able to pull my thoughts together really well (amazing what a cup of strong coffee and nice surroundings will do for one’s concentration) and then went off and bought grapes to take to M’s party tomorrow and picked up Mylo’s food.

Just to top it all off—I texted P from Café Weimar and arranged to have dinner together this evening in Pötzleinsdorf.

I have now closed up all windows and lowered all possible blinds to stem the onslaught of the heat and am sitting here with the fan blowing on my legs.

Wishing you just such a nice day!!!

Dogs in Vienna (4)

22 Apr

We are in the middle of a “police action” against dogs and dog owners. That is, for two weeks the police in Vienna will be on the lookout for infractions of various dog-related laws, like the leash law and (one hopes) the pooper scooper law. This made headlines in the local newspapers. As one friend of mine said, “I find it very fair that they give us notice.”

I think this a really good (and, basically, very Viennese) way of approaching the topic. Let’s face it–the police have enough to do without prosecuting every person with a gentle, well-behaved dog for not having the animal on a leash. By putting a time limit on the “action” and in that time period being very strict, the police remind dogowners what their actual responsibilities are. Everybody is made to think twice. And then the police can, in good conscience, go back to chasing bank robbers, purse snatchers and dogowners who are endangering others with out-of-control pets.

It gets the message across without making the lives of the police officers, many of whom seem sympathetic to dogs and owners wanting some freedom from the leash,  harder.