Tag Archives: flora and fauna

MA 42 a.k.a. das Gartenamt

8 May

The Parks and Gardens Department in Vienna have pretty much declared summer. They have put out their summer flowers along with a welcome addition of the last few years–a sign telling you what is growing in the bed. One thing I greatly enjoy is watching the flowers grow and fill out until they reach their peak in the fall. 🙂

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06 – Bahnhof HĂĽtteldorf to Lainzer Tor (again)

30 Apr

Yes, you read that right. I did the Rundumadum stretch from HĂĽtteldorf to the Lainzer Tor again. This time I was able to walk through the Tiergarten (the Lainz Game Reserve) and get the stamp I need for the “Wandernadel” (the pin you can earn by hiking enough designated paths in the Vienna Woods).

It was a pleasure–and something of a homecoming–to walk through this park I used to go to regularly but hadn’t been through in over seven years. (Dogs aren’t allowed which means that as long as I have had Maylo I have walked elsewhere.) Much was the same–the paths, the picnic tables, and many of the signs–but a lot of lumbering has gone on, as in other parts of the Vienna Woods, and so there were a number of rather forlorn patches I didn’t remember.

I entered through the Nikolaitor (St. Nicholas Gate), remembering my first time when I opened the gate to go in, saw a wild boar standing just meters away, and tried to close the gate again. I couldn’t get it shut because there were people on the other side trying to get out. I let them out, closed the gate, and wondered what to do. Since I knew that people walked in the Tiergarten, I decided to take another look and noticed that there were lots of people, including small children, standing around admiring the boar. Ah, a more or less tame one (photo below). I went in.

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Wild boar, 1989

No boar at the Nikolai Gate on Sunday. Probably the one I saw has long since gone to his heavenly reward. I was unimpeded. I turned right and went along the route I used to know so well. I greeted the first few fellow hikers going by with a friendly “GrĂĽĂź Gott” only to then remind myself: We’re still in the city. People don’t greet each other here as they do in the mountains. After that, I smiled but said nothing. It was wonderful–much as I love him–to be walking for once without my dog, to go at my own pace (not needing to stop to allow him an intense sniff at something) and to think my own thoughts. I usually try to walk mindfully, but this time I let myself just walk and not try to do or be anything in particular. It was deeply enjoyable.

Because spring came so early and fast this year there wasn’t much to see in the way of blossoms, unlike my first walk in the Lainzer Tiergarten. That was 30 years ago probably pretty much to the day when I took the photo below and showed it to friends at home, amazed and proud of the fact that this was within the city limits.

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Nonetheless, this time I did see a fox skirting around the people excitedly watching it (never seen a fox in the Tiergarten before) and these beautiful purple flowers.

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Before I knew it, I was at the Rohrhaus–the rustic eatery where you can get your card stamped. I briefly considered having coffee and a Milchrahmstrudel (a piece of Topfenstrudel served warm in a sea of warm vanilla sauce),  but they were–not surprisingly given the weather–full, and I suspected there would be quite a long wait. Instead I just asked for the stamp and carried on, thinking I might have better luck at Empress Elisabeth’s retreat, the Hermes Villa.

Even on the way to the Hermes Villa I didn’t see any wild boar, not even a squirrel. But I did see this sign (below), which makes me think perhaps all the animals were resting (“ruhen”) peacefully away from us humans. (The sign makes more sense if you know that in this context “Wild” in German means game, as in, boar, deer, pheasant, and so on.)

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More quickly than I remembered I arrived at the Hermes Villa and saw that outside on the terrace there was a self-service cafĂ© so I got a delicious cheesecake (actually, more precisely, a “Topfentorte”), and then I carried on to the Lainzer Tor remembering outings with friends and their children to pick “Bärlauch” (wild garlic) and dandelion greens and to read all the informative signs about the trees and bushes along the path.

I arrived at the Lainzer Tor a few minutes before the bus was due to leave to take me back to the bus that would take me to the underground (do you get the sense that this is truly on the edge of the city?) and took the opportunity to check where we go from there. It looks as if Maylo will be allowed on the next stretch and, much as I enjoyed walking without him for once, I’ll be happy to have my hiking companion with me for the next bit.

Distance: 7.6 km

Time: about two hours, even with the coffee break

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P.S. My initial reaction to the boar was apparently not out of place. The British Ambassador had an encounter with a boar in the Lainzer Tiergarten in which he hurt his hand (story here).

Judasbaum

21 Apr

To think I almost missed the Judasbaum this year. So glad I caught it. ❤

Ducks!

12 Apr

Two ducks just hanging out next to the bike path on the Ring. I love Vienna a.k.a #keenonwien

06 – Bahnhof HĂĽtteldorf to Lainzer Tor

2 Dec

Well, I didn’t get the stamp in my Wanderpass today, even though it is Rundumadum stretch with a Stempelstelle but for that I was flooded with memories and had a really nice walk through the snow, too.

What happened is this: I set off relatively early this morning (for a Sunday) so that I could be back in time to clean up for a First Sunday in Advent celebration with friends. I went without Maylo because this stretch of the trail goes through the Lainzer Tiergarten, where dogs are not allowed. (I’m not sure Empress Elisabeth would approve of that—she loved dogs—but it is the case nonetheless.)

As I left the Hütteldorf station and crossed the bridge over the Wien Fluss (Vienna River) I saw a heron landing on the water among the ducks. While it’s not quite in the middle of Vienna, it’s still within the city limits. That made the trip worth it right there.

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I got to the Nikolaitor (St. Nicholas Gate), no thanks to the Rundumadum signs. I saw only one near the beginning. Luckily, I know the neighborhood. Not that it did me any good. As I drew nearer the gate, something stirred in me and I seemed to remember that you cannot get into this part of the Tiergarten between November and March. Sure enough, when I arrived I saw the sign with opening times:

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Some day when I have a moment, I’ll have to work out when I can actually go and get the stamp. This was too complicated for me today!

As I was trying to decide what to do—I really wanted a proper walk this morning—a woman all alone in a monster black Mercedes SUV stopped and asked if the gate was locked. I told her it was and she decided to go to Grinzing for her walk. She was nice enough to invite me along but I declined (“Never get into cars with strangers”), and I thought about the amount of gas she was going to use to get to Grinzing in northwest Vienna from where we were more in the south, where there were still plenty of beautiful places to walk, and marveled at the essential cluelessness of some people.

I considered getting on the S45 (commuter rail) at Hütteldorf and traveling that direction myself, and then I thought how this was a real chance to re-visit a part of Vienna I used to come to regularly and stopped coming to when I got Maylo (since he’s not allowed to go in). I remembered that you don’t have to walk through, you can also walk around the Lainzer Tiergarten, and that is what I decided to do. I hadn’t done it since my very first time when I ended up doing it by default because I managed to find the Tiergarten but couldn’t find a gate. (A lot of my discoveries in Vienna have been hit or miss.)

It was a beautiful walk (if somewhat strenuous in places—steep and slippery with snow) and in the beginning I saw very few people. Here is a montage to give you an impression:

As I walked, the memories came—like the first time I went in through the Nikolaitor and saw a huge wild boar within meters of the gate. I backed out and tried to pull the gate closed only to be hindered by the people on the other side trying to pull it open so that they could get out. I let them out and then took a second look. Was it really a boar I had seen? It was. However, it was a peaceful boar eating some hay that had been specially provided, and there were people, even families with children, watching him. I joined them.

That was not my only encounter with boar in the Lainzer Tiergarten. I once left the beaten track only to find myself unexpectedly at a feeding station. I was just getting ready to sneak away again when a boar came racing out of the woods towards me. Before I knew it, I was up a tree, lying on a branch, looking down at him. (Isn’t adrenalin a wonderful thing!) I looked down at him and he looked up at me rather perplexed, as if to ask “What are you doing up in the tree?” At some point, he realized I wasn’t there to feed him, got bored, and left again, and I climbed down and carried on.

On another occasion, I was walking with a cousin and heard the characteristic galloping of a boar, yelled “Boar!” and hid behind a tree. My cousin, not primed in the fauna of the Lainzer Tiergarten, stayed where he was and was unscathed as the boar galloped past us on a mission known only to him.

The one occasion when I actually was a little afraid was the time I was out taking a walk in the spring with a friend and her two relatively small daughters. We wanted to go to the Rohrhaus (a rustic restaurant in the middle of the Tiergarten and, by the way, the Stempelstelle) and had to go past two boar fighting each other in order to get there. That took some gearing up. We were fine, though. They seemed to be far too absorbed in what they were doing to give us a glance (thank goodness).

There comes a point on every walk when I’m on a new route when I start to wonder how much longer the trail is and whether I have missed a turning. This time it came after the Adolftor, when the path started to weave around a little. I was relieved to make it to the St. Veiter Tor and find an older gentleman there who knew not only the right direction but the names of the streets I would need to take. As we were chatting, I saw someone exit the Tiergarten by climbing over the wall and remembered that I, too, had climbed that wall, albeit at a different point. Many years ago I went with a friend, eager to show off this beautiful place, and didn’t realize that the gates are closed (or were closed) on Mondays. Having taken the U4 all the way out to Hütteldorf and having set aside the afternoon for the hike through this former Imperial hunting ground, we decided to climb the wall and go for a walk anyway. We then quite brazenly exited through the main gate (the Lainzer Tor), playing the foreigner card.

Following the excellent directions the old gentleman had given me, I found myself in the right place near the right bus stop, with only about three minutes to wait for the bus (which only runs every 20 minutes so that was nice). On past visits, I have always changed from the bus to the tram—probably because I didn’t have the benefit in those days of Qando, the app for the public transportation system in Vienna. Now, Qando told me that the 56B bus would also take me to Hietzing to the U4 but that it would be quicker than the trams. I thought it would be interesting to see a different route.

The 56B bus goes over Küniglberg, where I hadn’t been in years, and the trip woke more memories. I remembered a fascinating visit with students to the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) production center out there as well as singing at the funeral of a mentor and friend at the Hietzing Cemetery. As we went past the zoo in Schönbrunn, I remembered that our panda twins, now aged two, were on their way to China today and felt a pang. Pandas are special no matter what, but for a panda mother to successfully raise twins, even with human help, is very special indeed, and now they are gone.

All in all, for a relatively short outing there was a lot going on!

Distance: ? (because I couldn’t take the recommended path, which would have been 7.6 km, I don’t know)

Time: About 1 hour 45 minutes

Green land

5 Nov

As if to underline my ongoing comments about the Vienna Woods and how much greenery there is in Vienna, the site Unnutzes Wienwissen (“Vienna Trivia”) has just posted that 49.6% of Vienna’s area is GrĂĽnland: http://unnuetzeswissen.eu/wien/gruenland

Pentecost Monday (holiday)

21 May

I found myself early-ish this morning, about 20 minutes on foot from Stephansplatz, the heart of the city, walking along in peace and quiet with a thrush singing from a rooftop on my right and a dove cooing in the park on my left. My heart sang along.