Tag Archives: public transportation

Mobility in the time of the corona virus

15 Mar

Yesterday I picked up A4 paper at Libro, as announced in yesterday’s post, and, I must confess, I picked up something else–a bicycle helmet.

I’ve been meaning for a couple of years to replace mine, which is over 25 years old, but the truth is that for various reasons I haven’t been riding my bike. Now, though, even with the relatively empty trams, I’ve been thinking I might want an alternative form of transportation.

I had already gone to the sports store near me a month or so ago to look and get some information, and yesterday I decided the time had come to act.

At the cash register the woman in front of me in line was buying a city scooter. The process was taking some time–the salesperson was making some adjustments for her–so I started a conversation. (This is something I ordinarily wouldn’t do in Vienna as it is frowned upon but seems more acceptable under these exceptional circumstances.)

I pointed to the helmet I was buying and said,”Are you thinking in terms of alternatives to public transporation, too?” She opened up, telling me that she wants to make sure she can check in on her elderly parents without taking the tram and would prefer to get to work that way, too. (She is in a job where her presence is required.) Then she pointed to the bike helmet and said, “I don’t like riding on the street so I’m getting something I can use on the sidewalk.”

By then her scooter was ready to go. She rolled away, and I finally purchased my helmet.

Somehow I have the feeling that, before this virus is under control, I’ll be getting done a number of things that have been on the back burner for quite some time.

On today’s to-list: Get bike out of cellar, pump up tires, and take bike for a spin.

Ducks!

12 Apr

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

Wiener Linien

12 Jan

The Wiener Linien (“Vienna Lines”) are the public transportation authority in Vienna. Here, we even have unicorns taking the tram. 😉

A new corner of Vienna

26 Oct

Somehow I find myself avoiding my usual corners of Vienna, like Neuwaldegg or Nussberg. They’ve been so crowded recently that I’ve hardly enjoyed my walks there with Maylo. I think it’s great that so many people are out in our beautiful fall weather getting some exercise and fresh air. I just don’t want to share the space with all of them. It isn’t very restful.

Today, on the Nationalfeiertag (celebration of Austria’s neutrality clause after the Second World War), Maylo and I followed up a tip from another dog person and took the U1 out to its new (to me) terminus, Oberlaa, where there’s a clinic / spa with thermal waters.

 

My ancient (1988) Baedeker’s Austria tells me that the Kurzentrum Wien-Oberlaa is a “spa treatment establishment” opened in 1974, a date that doesn’t surprise me as it showed up constantly on the various signs in the Kurpark. The site was the scene of the Vienna International Garden Show in 1974, and a number of attractions in this 860,000-square-meter green space, like the sculpture on the RosenhĂŒgel or the Japanese garden, date back from that year.

 

Unlike many of Germany and Austria’s spa towns, Oberlaa does not seem to have a long history of people taking the waters there in spite of the fact that they, according to my Baedeker’s, have one of the strongest and hottest sulfur springs in Austria. (I figured out about the sulfur without Baedeker’s help. You smell it the moment you get out of the underground station.) So it’s not very traditional but they wasted no time in establishing two things essential to any Kurort: the park and a famous patisserie.

The park, true to Kurparks everywhere, is a carefully controlled environment suitable to people being treated for various maladies. There are paved paths, railings, lots of benches to rest on, carefully tended flowerbeds and lawns, and completely tamed bodies of water. It’s also suitable for people staying for several weeks at a time, providing different attractions like a petting zoo, restaurants, different kinds of gardens including an allergy garden(!), and, no doubt, somewhere a gazebo for concerts on fine days. We wouldn’t want people to get bored while they’re being treated!

 

Maylo and I didn’t make it to the patisserie, Kurkonditorei Oberlaa, but we wandered about the park and enjoyed ourselves, catching the impressively clean and quick U1 back into town when we had had enough.

Our excursion has inspired me to start a new practice. I’m going to try to get around to all the underground stations in Vienna to see what is there, focusing especially on those stations I don’t go to regularly. Look for more under the tag “U-Bahn stations”.

A note for my readers not familiar with the Austrian concept of Kur. A Kur is a stay, usually about three weeks, at a nice, although sometimes somewhat clinical, hotel at a place with special springs where various medical conditions are treated. Several of my friends have been on Kur for intensive physiotherapy. It’s almost de rigeur after major surgery. And sometimes it is prescribed simply because people are feeling run down. It sounds like something for rich people and did use to be. The aristocracy of Europe used to run into each other at Kurorte all over Germany and Austria and similar places of healing in Switzerland (those sanatoriums!). These days, though, it is prescribed through the national health system here and patients pay only a tiny daily rate based on their income. There’s something (else) to be said for social democracy.

This means that a Kurort is a town with such an establishment, a Kurpark is a park attached to such an establishment, and a Kurkonditorei is a Konditorei or patisserie especially associated with such an establishment, essential because the Austrians, on the whole, have never been all that good at denying themselves the pleasures of life if they could help it.

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.

On the streets of Vienna

5 Jan

I’ve been meaning to tell this story for a long time. I find it illustrative of a particular trait especially among old ladies in Vienna, that is, their tendency to comment on things one might think were none of their business.

A friend of mine, many years ago now, was waiting for the bus to take her cat (in a pet carrier) to the vet’s. A little old Viennese lady came up to wait, too, and started a conversation–something that almost never happens in Vienna unless you have a pet with you. The conversation took place in German and went something like this:

Little old Viennese lady (LOVL): Dog or cat?

My friend (MF), with a big smile: Cat.

LOVL: Boy or girl? (In Viennese dialect: Bub oder MĂ€derl?)

MF: Boy.

LOVL: How old is he?

MF: Six months.

LOVL: Castrated?

MF: [!?!?!?!?!] No! He’s too young!

LOVL: My dear woman, it is high time!

Wow!

18 May

I’m just taking the 13A bus across town from one appointment to another. The weather is gorgeous and we keep passing one park, square, and sidewalk cafĂ© after the other where people are going about their business in the leisurely and yet purposeful way typical to Vienna. There even was a small farmer’s market. What a city!