Tag Archives: vienna woods

Vineyards

23 Aug

Vacation? Nope, just an ordinary Sunday afternoon walk in the 17th district of Vienna. 🙂

06 – Bahnhof HĂŒtteldorf to Lainzer Tor (again)

30 Apr

Yes, you read that right. I did the Rundumadum stretch from HĂŒtteldorf 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 “GrĂŒĂŸ 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 “BĂ€rlauch” (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).

A typical(?) Sunday afternoon

23 Dec

Of course, this includes the Vienna Woods.

What was perhaps rather unusual was to find this horse with his handler very competently dragging the recently lumbered logs to the path, where they will, presumably, be picked up later.

05 – Feuerwache Steinhof to HĂŒtteldorf

1 Dec

Actually, I did this stretch last Sunday with a friend (which explains, perhaps, why I didn’t take as many photos as usual–we were too busy talking) and am only just getting around to writing about it. It’s been a very busy week!

Whether it was the fact that we were talking or really that there were some signs missing, we lost the trail a couple of times. We even had some trouble finding the starting point! Ah, well. At least my friend wasn’t troubled by this. 😉

It was a somewhat quiet walk. As the weather gets colder and grayer, fewer people seem to be motivated to go out. As before, one of the aspects that surprised me was that I have walked in that area several times but discovered new corners this time. There are roads back there that look like country roads–paved, but only wide enough for one car at a time. And there are lucky people who there in modest, one-family houses! Vienna the way it was for many decades before property developers got greedy here, too.

I was also surprised by this small lake (Silbersee) in the 14th district, serene in the middle of the woods, a bit of a hike up from Dehnepark. I wonder if one can swim here in summer.

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We both were struck almost speechless by this gem below, which seems to be a culture center with concerts and other events. We were not alone in being struck with it. I had to wait my turn to get this photo!

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Not far from this, we were reunited with the Rundumadum trail and found our way on to HĂŒtteldorf. There we were quite taken aback to see hordes of police with what looked like riot gear standing along the road to the new Rapid football (soccer) stadium. I like watching soccer but perhaps not when it requires a full squad of police in full gear.

We made it into the station at HĂŒtteldorf and thankfully made our way home unscathed.

Distance: Officially only 3 km, but we put in quite a bit of extra, partly through starting at Schloss Wilhelminenberg rather than at the Feuerwache, and partly through getting lost.

Time: 1.5(?) hrs of walking

03 – HĂ€userl am Roan to Marswiese

11 Nov

It wasn’t clear if we were going to continue our hike around Vienna today, but after I took a look this morning at how much I have to do this coming week and the week after (way too much), I decided this was the best way to make the most of our Sunday.

This is a route we know well. We have walked it often in the other direction, where it is disguised as Stadtwanderweg 3 (City Hiking Path 3). Again, it was strange taking the bus up the Höhenstraße. It almost feels like cheating and, on top of that, I realized today how much I actually enjoy the exertion of walking uphill. Ah, well. Another time. 😉

Here is finally a photo of the HĂ€userl am Roan (our starting point today) and the view from their front garden:

(The photos are gray because the weather is gray today.)

The bus was quite full, but there appeared to be very few people out. I thought with some relief that perhaps the density has died down as last week was a holiday weekend. Nope.

Empty as the Höhenstraße looks …

… there were plenty of people out and about.

First of all, we were almost run over by a large group of runners coming at us along the trail. Then there was the ongoing threat of the mountain bikers and Nordic walkers. And on the stretch from Hameau to Marswiese we encountered a group of at least 70 people all hiking together. That’s a big group!

07_on the way from hÀuserl am roan to hameau

Finally, we made it to Schwarzenbergallee, where at least one expects to dodge people constantly. And from there we made our way home. All in all, it was shorter and quicker than I expected.

Distance: 4.8 km

Time (without a break): 1 hr 15 mins

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 GrĂŒnland: http://unnuetzeswissen.eu/wien/gruenland

A new corner of Vienna, and a new idea

2 Nov

It is (still) autumn and for me, after so many years of living according to the academic calendar, it is (still) the time to start new endeavors.

In my last post, I said I’d like to start exploring the neighborhoods around underground (subway / metro) stations I don’t know. Rather without meaning to, I seem to have started a second project along the same lines. I have done two sections of the Rundumadum hiking trail, the trail that takes you through Vienna’s “GrĂŒngĂŒrtel” or “green belt”, and am thinking I’d like to walk the whole thing.

Stay tuned and keep an eye out for the dedicated tag “Rundumadum”.

Hiking in the city – Stadtwanderweg Nr. 6

15 Jun

Mylo and I went out to Rodaun today (a holiday, Corpus Christi, and perfect June weather) to hike the municipal hiking trail nr. 6.​

It never fails to amaze me that one can get a real hike in without leaving the city limits (although in this case, I do think we spent a few minutes in Lower Austria). The trail is over 12 kms long, goes up hill and down, through woods and meadows. Amazing. It even allows you to see some flora and fauna.​

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BĂ€rlauch (wild garlic)

30 Mar

Spring arrived in Vienna suddenly the end of last week, after an unusually cold and snowy winter. The sun had barely been out for a day—and the snow was not entirely gone—when my friend Petra started talking about BĂ€rlauch. Petra and I may not be the most skilled or dedicated foragers in the Vienna Woods, but we do like the tender, bright green shoots of this form of wild garlic (botanical name: Allium ursinum) commonly found in and around Vienna.

What is it about BĂ€rlauch that brings out the residents of Vienna in great numbers? It is certainly easy plunder. It grows profusely and the pungent, completely distinctive scent leads you right to it. It is also versatile. Menus in Vienna feature cream of BĂ€rlauch soup, BĂ€rlauch risotto, BĂ€rlauch pesto, BĂ€rlauch sauce, BĂ€rlauch dumplings, and so on. (Imagine Bubba talking about shrimp in “Forrest Gump” and you won’t be far off). And it truly is a sign that spring has arrived. It appears early and grows quickly, and gives an extra purpose—if one needs it—to those early spring walks, preferably in the Pötzleinsdorfer Schlosspark or Lainzer Tiergarten (no dogs). It seems to have an enormous attraction for many demographic groups, but not all.

For older Viennese the gathering of their own food in general and particularly the picking of BĂ€rlauch—the smell is powerfully evocative—has grim associations and they usually don’t participate actively. They remember too vividly the years during and just after the Second World War when BĂ€rlauch and whatever else they could find in the woods was one of the few things standing between them and starvation or, at the very least, scurvy.

On the other end of the scale, some people have bought into the stories in the Austrian press over the last few years that say that BĂ€rlauch is out of culinary fashion. They no longer pick or eat it for that reason.

But for families with small children, for example, hunting for BĂ€rlauch is a pleasant way of tiring out the children in the fresh air that keeps everyone happily occupied and out of each other’s hair. People who have desk jobs get the chance to enjoy the immediate results of their labors for a change. Others use BĂ€rlauch to eke out food budgets—I have seen family groups going home with shopping bags full—as well as to add zing to their suppers. For me, finding, picking, cooking, and eating BĂ€rlauch is an experience I associate exclusively with Vienna and my life here. We took many family walks around Walden Pond when I was growing up. We never went home with anything to eat.

It is also something that anyone who picks it associates with early spring. There is a reason for this beyond the heady days of gathering the first shoots. BĂ€rlauch, once it has flowered, is said to resemble lily of the valley, which, as the German name Maiglöckchen suggests, appears in May—and is poisonous. Reports vary as to how poisonous it is, and a friend of mine is fond of saying that the only people who end up in hospital with lily of the valley poisoning are husbands whose wives picked and prepared the “BĂ€rlauch”. Nonetheless, no one really wants to risk it, and it is relatively easy to forego BĂ€rlauch as it gets older because the scent and flavor get more intense and become almost overwhelming.

For all of us who do pick, it seems to bring a special satisfaction. Yes, we save money on our grocery bills, add spice to our menus, and get some exercise in the fresh spring air into the bargain. But every spring when the season begins I wonder if this foraging isn’t perhaps also about returning to an earlier time when our ancestors worked physically harder with less security than most of us do today but also with less time pressure, without precise targets, and for something they could benefit from immediately. Wandering through the Vienna Woods basket or bag in hand, picking what is available until one has “enough”, then going home and preparing it for supper surely is filling some primal need.

(This piece was originally written in 2010 for submission to the now-defunct Vienna Review.)

State holiday

26 Oct

Absolutely perfect fall weather (see below) for the Nationalfeiertag today and a record number of people in the Vienna Woods to make the most of it. What does Austria celebrate on its state holiday? Many Austrians themselves are not sure. A quick look at the German-language Wikipedia shows that it is Austria’s return to sovereign state status when the last occupying troops (Brits in the province of Carinthia) left. The Austrian parliament then immediately enacted a law ensuring Austria’s eternal neutrality, a point that is now viewed with some skepticism given Austria’s EU membership. So today Austria celebrates its sovereignty and its neutrality. True to Austrian custom there is no extra day to make up for the holiday even though it falls on the weekend. On Monday we all have to go back to work. In the meantime we get to enjoy this:

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