Tag Archives: weather

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.

09 – Alterlaa to Wienerberg

5 Jan

(We walked this on 5 January 2020. I’m only now getting around to fleshing out my notes on it and posting.)

I was going to write the title of this post with a question mark, but by the end I figured we had come close enough to walking the right route that I didn’t need to.

Attentive readers will notice that there is no blog post (yet) for the 8th stretch of the Rundumadum trail. I’m saving that one to walk with my friend B.

The first thing I noticed–and probably Maylo, too–was how cold it was when we got off the U6 at Alterlaa to start Trail Nr. 9. It was especially the wind that went right through us. I almost turned around and got us back on the underground. Then I reminded myself that I am from New England and made of sterner stuff. 😉 Nonetheless, I felt compelled to take a photo of these ducks along the Liesing River. They were huddled into themselves and their feathers were all puffed up. I realized I wasn’t the only one feeling the cold.

It is very interesting for me to get into this part of the Rundumadum trail because I am now on new territory. Everything up until now I have hiked in one form or another, and I also know the public transportation for those earlier bits fairly well. As far as this new stretch goes, I have been to Wienerberg before, but I approached it from a different direction and so felt somewhat lost from the beginning. (It didn’t help that so much time has gone between this hike and the one before it that I forgot to look for the Rundumadum signs! I was relying heavily on the very general map and directions the City of Vienna provides and that was not easy.)

As instructed, we went along with the Liesing River on our left (ducks!) and the Steinsee, a manmade lake, on our right–that much was pretty clear. After the Steinsee, we crossed a big street with no visible street sign and kept going with the Liesing on our right. We came to a bridge with no clear idea (did I mention that the directions were very general?) whether we should cross. We decided (well, actually, I decided–poor Maylo has no say in any of this) to stay on our side, thinking that there would have been a sign if we should cross over.

After 7 minutes or so, we came to landscape that is representative of this part of Vienna–an enormous flyover (overpass) in the middle of what tries otherwise to be a green and natural part of the city. The noise from the cars is not too bad because sound barriers were put up, but there’s no hiding the fact that thousands of cars an hour are driving through this part of Vienna. It does take some of the charm away …

Given the fact that there was no way through (there were railway tracks on the ground and they were fenced off), we had to turn back and try the bridge after all. After about half an hour of uncertainty whether we were on the right path there came deliverance. We were very relieved to see this sign.

From then on it was somewhat easier, but by then I had lost some of my spirit of adventure. (Did I mention that it was cold and I had no idea where we were going? I also was starting to feel sorry for Maylo, who was being very game but not obviously enjoying our walk. He does seem to prefer walks on which I know where we’re going. Probably this has something to do with my being–at least when it suits him–the alpha dog. ;-))

At some point, I realized that we had overshot the end of this stretch and started the next. I wasn’t thrilled that this was because the map I downloaded from the internet (link below) right before leaving home was still orienting itself around the number 67 tram, which no longer exists. Warning: That route is now served by the number 11 tram. We did a good bit of the beginning of the next stretch and then gave up, turned around, and went home.

Not all bad–I’m happy to get to know another part of Vienna and test my navigation skills–but not the most fun we’ve had on this journey. I certainly failed at being curious, which really is something of a failure as three years ago I took a year to train my curiosity skills (and, of course, blogged about it) : ayearoflivingcuriously.wordpress.com

I will endeavor to do better–i.e., enjoy the whole process more–the next time!

Distance: 4.1 km (we probably did almost 3 km extra)
Time: 1 – 1 1/2 hours
Route: https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/wald/freizeit/wandern/rundumadum/etappe9.html

The seasons in Vienna

23 Feb

Nothing from the Kurier this Saturday morning, but here is something a friend sent me from the ORF (Austrian Broadcasting Corporation) Vienna. The Viennese have a well-recognized tendency to complain, even though their complaining is for the most part at “hohem Niveau” (at a “high level”, that is, about small things from a position of considerable comfort). This graphic shows this beautifully, I think. “Deppat” means “stupid” so the photos, which take us through spring, summer, fall, and winter are captioned: stupid pollen, stupid heat, stupid leaves, and stupid cold. 😆

Sun!

11 Jan

We saw the sun in Vienna today. Not to be sneezed at!

A particular Vienna kind of cold

2 Jan

My thermometer is pointing to 3°C above zero, but I have just gotten back from a dogwalk that felt a lot colder. There is a special combination of wind and damp in Vienna (“hands and feet weather” I call it) that makes even this vegetarian look longingly at the fur coats going by.

Add to that the fact that there has been thick, dark gray cloud cover all day and you have a fairly typical January day in Vienna.

Anyone want to come visit? 😉

06 – Bahnhof Hütteldorf 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

Did I mention it has gotten colder?

19 Nov

A photo from our morning walk in the 6-a.m. murk:

And, yes, that is snow.

02 – Cobenzl to Häuserl am Roan

4 Nov

Knowing that I’ll have to put my hiking on hold for a while as I am teaching all day the next three Saturdays, I decided to try at least to wrap up the first two stretches. This found Maylo and me once again on a bus on the Höhenstraße. It is a strange feeling to be whisked (and some of those bus drivers do take it at a clip in spite of the bone-shaking cobblestone surface) up a hill we usually huff and puff our way up. The bus does in 20 minutes what we usually take two to three hours for!

Anyway, up we went again to Cobenzl to resume our walk to Jägerwiese and beyond. I had not expected so much fog. (On the left is a photo from yesterday and on the right is a photo taken today very near the same spot.)

Furthermore, having noticed the fog on the way up on the bus, I would not have expected to see a lot of people, and yet there they were. Old, young, Austrian, Viennese, Polish, Hungarian, thin, sturdy, with children, without children, dressed for serious hiking, dressed to look good, with dogs, and without dogs. There were so many people that the restaurant at Jägerwiese was completely overcrowded and the wait staff rushed off their feet. Maylo and I joined a few hardy souls (the fog made it pretty chilly) on the terrace, but finally gave up any hope of getting coffee and Apfelstrudel, stamped our pass, and carried on. At least we found out what a Stempelstelle looks like. The red box contains an ink pad and the necessary rubber stamps.

05_stempelstelle

Off we went again, heading towards Dreimarkstein and Häuserl am Roan, into the ever denser growing fog. I did start to wonder if it was wise, but I have to say we were not alone. Help would have been available if we had needed it.

07_jägerwiese to dreimarkstein

We reached Häuserl am Roan with just a few minutes to spare before the bus got there. As it only runs once an hour on Sundays, it seemed like a good idea to catch it and come back to Häuserl am Roan another time.

An aside, Häuserl am Roan is one of the rustic restaurants offering Wiener Hausmannskost (more or less, Viennese home cooking) that dot the Vienna Woods. It has a special place in my heart because it was one of the first I discovered, many years ago. If I remember correctly, it was as I was hiking my first Stadtwanderweg (city hiking trail), Stadtwanderweg number 3, so there were two big discoveries in one afternoon.

So there it is. I spent my long weekend (Friday counted as a Fenstertag or “window day,” the day between a holiday, All Saints, in this case, and a weekend) hiking with Maylo, taking photos, blogging about it, eating, and seeing friends. That’s a pretty good weekend in my book! Oh, and here is my Wanderpass with its first stamp. 🙂

08_wanderpass

Distance: 4.9 km

Time: unknown

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.

January weather

28 Jan

My first January in Vienna (1989), we only had 26 hours of sunshine the whole month. People were gray-faced and weary and the suicide rate rose significantly. This year is giving 1989 a good run for its money. The sun is shining (sort of) as I write this, but it doesn’t look as if it’s going to stay out, and, indeed, it has already disappeared for a lengthy period once this morning. It may not be all that cold–it’s about 4°C or approximately 40°F–but this weather is not for sissies. I’d almost prefer the 5°F (~ -9°C) with the deep and shining blue skies of my New England childhood.

Ah, well, at least it’s not -9°C with gray skies! 😉