Monday, 21 April 2014

whereabouts: Hubertuswarte, Lainzer Tiergarten

The weather forecast for this weekend has not been too promising but still ok enough to punt on the Scotland-gear and go for a walk.

The Lainzer Tiergarten can be quite crowded on Sundays. It has been almost 4 months since our last visit at the park. I expected the park to be deserted, because of the weather forecast. The parking area was full and the main paths were busy. We made a turn at the Rohrhaus and went for a new destination, the Hubertuswarte, a look-out in the middle of the woods.

The plan was to see some green plants. This is what we got: 
On our way to the look-out we walked through unfamiliar settings, as if we had been translocated straight to the Siberian taiga. The soil was wet and dark, mosquitos were in the air and the trees along the path were young, with a light foliation, just like I would expect the trees in Siberia to be in the summer months, in a climate were trees won't grow as large as they do in Austria, due to a short growing season. In the Lainzer Tiergarten you find trees aged 100, 200, 300 years and older. Due to the quite recent deforestation, this forest is young, with light barks.
 The tower comes with an intimidating appearance. Built in 1937, it embodies the style of that time:
 An enamel relief has been vandalised during World War II. Soldiers shot at the relief just for fun. The owners of the tower decided to keep the relief in the damaged state.
 Two information panels tell the whole story about the tower in the woods:
Sorry, only in German
Sisi loved to climb towers in the woods to enjoy the views. So did we.
I did not take any photos on top of the tower, it was really windy up there. I did not stay up long enough to unpack the camera.
Old school picknick bench, new style: hikers and their devices. 
The appearence of the tower matched the overall weather situation. Gray, not too sunny. 
 Not too friendly, no? Am I the only one to think of a watch tower?
I was just kidding at the beginning - the trees actually were VERY green. Mission accomplished.

 It is always good to know your goals:
Metric, not miles. The Lainzer Tor is were we were coming from.
We continued our round and on our way we discovered new landscapes, can you believe we are still in Viennese, in the 13th district to be precise.
 Some trees brought me to my knees:
 Faces in Things. It seems as if not everyone sees what I see.
No walk inside the Lainzer Tiergarten without a boar-watch. Here it is:
 (in the distance)
High seat to the left, boar to the right.
The closer we got to the exit gate, the less we worried about getting wet and I halted for some  dandelion portraits. Not only to take a photo, but also out of curisosity. I wanted to see how far into detail the Sigma DP2Merrill can go in low light, me sitting on the ground:

An orange buggy always forms a nice contrast in the background.

So this was our walk. 9km later, we returned dry at the starting point. The rain gear served as a training unit on my back.

And it might not be apparent, but I did enjoy the walk. So did my company.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Where the Ancestors Rest

Neustift is known for its famous Heurigens, situated in the North-Western outskirts of Vienna. In my family, Neustift is known for the family grave at the cemetery in Neustift am Walde.

The paths which lead to our family grave are steep. The overall impression is somehow abandoned, but the place is a sanctuary for birds, just like a tranquil park, with so many trees and no cats!
Spring in Neustift am Walde, the cemetery
The reason for our visit was my grandmother's 104th birthday. Aries! The inveterate optimists among the signs of the zodiac. Good for her. Even better for us :-))
I once drove my grandmother to the grave, a drive-in experience so to say. This is not common in Austria at all. Is it ok to say, it was entertaining? Us sitting in my FIAT Uno, my foot clenching on the brake pedal, hoping that the downward facing car would stay in place, between the rows of tombs?

The cemetery faces North. The vineyards can be found on the slopes opposite the valley, facing South.
A grave with a view
We usually walk straight to our "neighbourhood", the family grave. Almost all other rows are strange to us. You have no reasons to walk down other rows. Except for paying your grandmother's cousin a visit. When you do so, you arrive at a different place. The light is different. The views, but also the design of the tombs. We walk past the tombstones, we read the names and dates. We wonder and imagine.

Last Saturday was overcast and grey.
Today was overcast and wet.
Lets hope for a sunny Easter weekend!


Morning sun at the Paula Residence

Thursday, 17 April 2014

whereabouts: Crimean Tatars' settlement

Crimean Tatars settlement in Koreiz, Crimea, May 2013

Of all the photos I have taken in the Ukraine during my stay in 2013, this photo is special. It matters to me. Over the weeks I had become familiar with this sight: A Crimean Tatar woman. Every evening she would stand at the corner of the street, burn her waste and watch it burn, stir around in the waste with a log. Burning waste, a ritual.

The corner is situated in the village where I stays, close to the coast. On my route home from the bus stop I would walk past this corner. All the days before I had not dared to take this photo. But this time – it was around the end of my stay – I did not pass by but and climbed down the small hill from the upper road and moved closer to the scene. My camera does not have a zoom, the zoom is in my legs.

During the Soviet area, the Crimean peninsula has served as a sanatorium where reupatble workers from all over the Soviet empire would spend their vacation. The Crimean peninsula was known for its pure air.When I planned my vacation, I was very looking forward to staying in a healthy environment surrounded by pure air, only to find myself in a toxic environment.

The evening we arrived in Kiev, we already noticed the fumes. To be precise: we noticed the fumes even before we had landed. You could see heavy fumes wandering around the outskirs of Kiev from the air. Fumes in colours we don't get to see in Austria. What we did not know back then, was that these fumes were resulting from fires in the woods, but from waste and that they would accompany us during our stay. Every single day. From dusk. Till dawn.

I would have to close my windows in the early morning hours as well in the evening. And in the afternoon. That's when the Crimean tatars' burnt their waste. All kinds of waste. Paper. Plastic. Wood. Plastic And more plastic. Having spent most of my life in Austria, I am not used to the fumes of burnt plastic. The fumes almost ruined my vacation. I turned into a Pavlovian dog: as soon as the fumes entered the room, I would rush to the windows and shut them.

My host repeatedly went across the street and told them to stop with the waste-burning. For years she had been trying to convince their neighbours to stop burning waste. She did it for two reasons: one, because she hated it and two, because she felt responsinble for my wellbeing. It was useless. The neighbours would not quit burning their waste.

Why would someone burn waste in the middle of the neighbourhood? You might think this photo is the direct response to a non-existent waste management. Which is not the case. Waste management exists. It is not the best around, but still better than, lets say, the waste management in Southern Italy. Russians, Ukrainians and Crimean Tatars live together on the Crimean pensinsula, door to door, but found only Crimean Tatars in the street, burning their waste.

I experience such a careless behaviour – in a slightly modified way – at home in Vienna. My neighbours. They open the door of their car just before they leave, so they can toss their litter. They leave and their garbage is spread in the street. And me? I watch this and cringe. Needless to say my moved to Vienna from a country in Southern Europe? Outch. I have enterted thin ice by now, asking questions like 'Why wouldn't they give up this behaviour?' Racism does not just knocked on my door, it already took a seat, right beside me.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

whereabouts: bathhouse cafeteria in Yalta

The current situation in the Ukraine exceeds my understanding.

My story would read like "A few months ago, the Ukraine called the E.C. for big money. The EC refused. The Ukraine went out of control. People died. Crimea became part of the Russian empire. More people die. The EC plans to transfer big money to the Ukraine."

Since I am obviously not in the position to report, I ask my photos to tell their story, like the one about the bathouse in Yalta.

Early evening at the баняin Yalta, Crimea, May 2013