Monday, 25 June 2018

Vienna - Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Thursday 21 June  2018

Bo and Peter have a second house in 'the country' and have invited me and a friend of Bo's to visit in the afternoon.  I still need to find out how to spell the friend's name, as it is Polish. (Will update this later.)  Both Bo and she are from Poland actually.  We spoke mainly a mixture of Polish (well, not me ;-)), German and English, as Bo has just started to learn English and her friend (Halina is her name, I know now)  doesn't speak German, because she used to live in Canada.  What a mixture of cultures and backgrounds!  

It was a very hot day, 31 degrees, so we had a late lunch in the shaded sun room at the back of the house and later moved on to the pond-cum-swimming pool in the back of the enormous yard.  Only part of it is cultivated, but very beautiful. Only Bo went for a swim, because for the first time I hadn't packed my swimsuit as I have never used it before on my travels....

At the end of the afternoon Peter and Bo took us both back again to Vienna where the four of us visited a few art galleries, mainly paintings.  I must admit that I didn't stay long, as I don't much care for modern art.  I don't like paintings or other artwork that I have to 'understand'. ;-)  So, I walked home and had an early night after a very pleasant day.

I took pictures of the building where I am staying on my walk back to the apartment.  It's the bottom floor with the bay window in the centre, just above the arched door.

Friday 22 June 2018

My mornings are usually spent at home and towards the afternoon I will have made up my mind about what I want to do that day, as nothing requires me to stay away for a full day.  So different from other exchanges, where a lot of the entertainment is to be found in other towns or villages.

As the temperature had plummeted to a very cool 17 degrees it was a good afternoon for a walk.  The Belvedere Palace and gardens are just around the corner, so I decided to go and have a look.  The walk itself however takes nearly half an hour, because the entry is a the far end of the palace grounds.  Once within the walls you walk down to the other end and back up to the entry side again.  At first I wasn't very impressed with the gardens, because the top end was poorly maintained with tiny bushes of box and lots of weed. 

At the top end there is one part of the palace and the gardens are dotted with the usual statues of course.

Walking on the gardens improve with fountains, more statues, trees planted symmetrically and borders filled with flowers:

The palace itself is a museum, but I wasn't in the mood, although I am mildly interested in works by Gustav Klimt.  Perhaps some other time... I had come for an afternoon of walking. Next to the palace grounds are the botanical gardens which I visited as well.  They impressed me more and here I walked criss-cross through the gardens.  Also, because there was a multi-cache created in the gardens for which I had to find 6 or 7 answers.  In the end, even though I had all the answers, I couldn't find the cache, because the compass was very jumpy and had me all over the place.  Besides, it was getting rather overcast and rain was threatening, so I walked home again.

Botanischer Garten Wien 2011 (cache)

Water plants, all planted in their individual little ponds

A few years ago I had joined an organisation for women travelling on their own: Women Welcome Women World Wide (5Ws for short).  The idea is to meet other women, which is in particular very interesting when they are from different cultures, and sometimes you can request accommodation.  It's a pleasant and safe way to travel on your own.  Here in Vienna I have made contact with two members, and one of them, Irmgard, I met on Friday night for coffee and dinner.

Irmgard is Viennese and therefore knows all about the city.  She took me to two special places.  The first one, Vollpension, is a restaurant run by older women.  The story goes that a few women wanted to fill their time differently and started baking, using their old-fashioned recipes.  Oma's recipes.  (Oma means grandmother in both Dutch and German)  Now it is a kind of coffee shop decorated with a mixture of old-fashioned furniture and other decorations, like you have just entered oma's living room.

The outside is just as welcoming as the inside

From here we walked to the restaurant where we were going to have dinner.  The restaurant is different again from others as it uses mainly its own produce or produce from well-known local sources.  It also has its own herb garden where you can sit and relax:

There are beehives as well and I was told by Irmgard that bees are becoming very important in the city and a lot of people now learn bee-keeping and have their own hives in the penthouse gardens in many of the buildings. 

And thus our dinner we had at restaurant Heuer am Karlsplatz.  The restaurant has a limited menu, but it changes on a weekly basis.  There is something to say for that.

Irmgard and I spent a lot of time talking about our travels (like-minded people!) and backgrounds and chatted the night away.  It was nearly half past 10 when I walked home.

Irmgard and I

Saturday 23 June 2018

As it was still rather cold and windy I didn't feel the urge to go out and spent the day indoors.

At 7pm (I nearly forgot the time, as I am not used to it still being so light at that time of the day) I walked to Naschmarkt where I was to meet yet another 5W member: Janice.

Naschmarkt could somewhat be compared to Eat Street in Brisbane.  It is one long double row of restaurants and delicatessen shops with food from all over the world.  On Saturdays there is also a produce/farmers market right at the end of it.  We walked up and down a few times to make our choice and ended up at a Vietnamese restaurant this time.  The food was delicious although we talked so much we nearly forgot to eat at times...

At about 10pm (that late???) we wanted to finish off the night with coffee and cake so we walked to the nearby Cafe Museum where I had my first taste of Sacher torte.  It might look like our mudcake, but it is not half as rich and tastes so much better...

The museum is very stylish and has a rather old-fashioned interior, but very befitting for a city like Vienna.  

It was nearly midnight before we took leave with a hopeful: Will we meet again somewhere sometime?

Janice and I at the Cafe Museum

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Vienna - Wednesday

Wednesday 20 June 2018

My current pattern seems to be one of slowly waking up in the morning and contemplating the day.  So far I haven't managed any early morning walks as I don't sleep well yet, but I may resort to evening walks, seeing that the evenings are warm and long.

However, I have the use of a bicycle here, so bike riding may be the way to go.  I thought I'd try it out for a short ride to....... the Hundertwasserhaus!  This I've had on my list ever since we have visited the Hundertwasser toilettes (yes, toilettes, you read it correctly) in New Zealand.

The bike ride was a bit hairy in the beginning.  I litterally had my heart in my mouth a few times, in particular when I had to steer close to the tram lines.  One fall in the distant past, during my teenage years, is one I vividly remember and don't care to repeat.  Anyway, when I am not sure I get off and walk a bit until I can see my way free again, cross the road or round a different corner, as long as it gets me in the general direction.  And in fact it did.  I was standing in front of the Hundertwasserhaus before I knew it.  So following are some pictures I took.

I believe that the grey bit is the facade of an existing house
that Hundertwasser insisted had to be incorporated in the new building. 

I am sure it would have been a pretty place to live in the past.  Not now, with all the tourists.  Yes, I was one of them, and yes I took photos too, but collectively we have spoilt something peaceful and beautiful, since it is now merely a tourist attraction.

From here I wanted to follow my ride along the river Danube and cross to the Prater on the other side, but here I had made a miscalculation.  I could not get onto the bridge from the bike path, so I kept going and left the Prater for another day.

And yes, we live with grafiti everywhere, even along the
 (not so blue anymore) Donau

On the way back I rode through the Stadtpark again and couldn't resist another icecream.  I am afraid that young man at the stall is going to remember me for times to come.... ;-)

A quick stop at the supermarket for some groceries and then I was back home again.  In the supermarket I was suprised by some oldfashioned fruit that I hadn't eaten for years, so in my basket it went. 

European Goosberry (kroezels or kruisbessen)

Vienna is on the horizon

Yes, it's that time of the year again that I have packed my suitcase and travel to the other side of the world.  This time it's going to be Vienna, Prague and Lovedean (UK).

I left on Sunday afternoon, the 17th of July, after Kevin had dropped me off at the airport (what's new ;-)) and after we had enjoyed a cuppa together.

This time I flew from Brisbane to Singapore, with just enough time to transfer to the next flight (including taking the sky train - Changi is forever growing), which took me to Zuerich.  There I had a 4 hour wait, which didn't seem all that long, and before I knew it I was on the last leg to Vienna.  I bought a ticket for the train from the airport to central station, where Peter was waiting for me.  Otherwise it would have been another train into the city.  This was a lot easier.

So, I had arrived on Monday afternoon and Bo and Peter, my exchange partners, got me settled and left to go to their second house, just outside of Vienna. And there I was...  In a beautiful house in the middle of beautiful Vienna.  I had to find something to eat, so I walked to the nearest supermarket, which is very handy at the next block of houses, and got groceries for the next few days.  Then I took some pictures in and around the house and after that I crashed!  It had been a long two days with little sleep....

Outside Central Station

Central Station Vienna

Supermarket - Spar Gourmet

My evening meal: delicious European bread rolls.
I just wish the Australians knew how to make bread!!!

View from the living room window: Karlskirche

And yes, like every other old city in the modern world
Vienna to is being choked by cars

The large staircase going up to the first floor

Looking down onto the backdoor in the hall of this great old house

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I really took my time to settle.  Why hurry, I don't have to go or be anywhere. Besides, I had a great book that I couldn't put down, so between trying to wake up, doing some chores, like unpacking my suitcase, and keeping in touch with everyone via facebook, I kept pretty busy.

It wasn't until the afternoon that I felt like a stroll around town, so I walked via Karlsplatz, to check out the tube station, to the city centre.  I am staying so close to the city centre that I can easily walk the distance. 

Now, I have been here 7 years ago with Frank, so I thought I would remember a few places, because that's what we did back then: walk around the city.  Besides the Mozart house in the Domgasse there was really nothing that I could recall.  Even on my walk through the park I didn't feel that I recognised anything.  I remembered a park, but had no idea which one.  

I took pictures and at home I became curious as to what we had actually seen so long ago, so I got out the Vienna pictures of 2011 and what do you think???  I had virtually walked the same way, but in the opposite direction.  Even in the park!


Karlskirche (front)

Karlsplatz restaurant

Karlsplatz tube station

Vienna State Opera House

A fountain in front

Albertinaplatz (I quite dislike the monstrous
modern addition to a beautiful old building!)

Domkirche St Stephan

old meets new

A quaint little shop...

...hidden away behind tall buildings


Franz Lehar

Kurhaus in the Stadtpark

Johann Strauss memorial

Fountain at the end of our street

And you know what I enjoyed most of the walk?  A quiet moment on a parkbench beneath the trees.  I heard the song of a European blackbird.  Marvellous.  I think that sound is to me what the sound of a cookaburra is to Aussies: familiarity.  Add my favourite strawberry/vanilla soft icecream and my day was perfect!