Monday, 31 March 2014

Litte gem

I wonder if this little gem has a future. A small house, one storey in a area where you are allowed to buy 5 storeys high, if not even higher.

Everytime I come by this house I feel happy and saddened at the same time: happy because it is still here, saddened because its expiration date is coming closer. 

Not that I call this house beautiful. I mean look at the plastic windows. I just like the fact, that it still exists. It is one of the last of its kind. What it must have been like back in the days, when the neighbourhood existed of one-two storey houses only.

Good night!

Why waste?


I am back from the service station, it was tougher than I had expected. The problem was: the people who work there are professionals. They care about bicycles. They see how much or how little care you take and - they let you know. They dissaprove rusty chains and rust in general.

I fought for my reputation: "But there was the salt, you know, the salty snow, after 10 minutes the chain will be a rusty mess the next day."
I was hoping for some respect. How many people ride their bike in the snow? 
The problem is: that snow was like 5 weeks ago.

I asked, how much the new parts would cost in total. 400 EUR.

This calculation lead straight to the idea of a new bike = 650 EUR. Fully equipped, better components. 

The idea of a new bike sounds seducing. An old bike remains an old bike, no matter how many parts you replace. But it was not plan, I only wanted to repair the worn out and broken parts.
is this waste?
Buying a new bike is good for the company which produces bikes.
Buying a new bike is bad for the environment, because during the production process, the company uses a lot energy, the bike has to be shipped - probably with a truck - it comes with plastic wrapping etc.
Ok, ok, I do realise this sound radical.

What to do?
I stood there in the service station like a wet, showered cat: unhappy and without a plan.

I looked down at the broken pedal and decided to start with a quick fix:
new pedals, old bike
19 EUR later I was good to go. Not without the man at the service station complaining about the rust.

On my way home I came past these waste containers.

The old floors and the old doors in the waste containers somehow tell the story of my bike: one day  they in use, the next day they are waste, because someone you decides to go for something new. IYou can tell, I don't feel comfortable, turning goods into waste. Why waste? What is my responsibility?

It is irresponsible to ride a bike with worn out brakes, tires and a broken pedal. Replacing the pedals as a quick fix was the right thing to do. The brakes and tires will be replaced next week, for a fraction of the 400 EUR, far from the price for a new bike.

Some of the parts are "nice to have", they won't hazard me or others. The extended mudguard made of an empty mineral-water bottle plus scotch tape even serves as an icebreaker, because it looks so ridiculous. Ridiculous might be an appropriate label for this posting. ;-)

I might take this very seriously. Thinking about your own responsibilty is probably not the worst thing to do on a Sunday morning.  


PS: did you notice? Street photography arrived at the blog! The young man was ripping out the floor tiles of the apartment and I asked him, if it is ok to take a photo. I should do this more often, because it is fun.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Temporary timekeepers

Temporary newspaper stands are a familiar sight in Vienna – during weekends and on holidays.

The plastic bags come with a distinct timeline which works like a clockwork. 
Wiener Zeitung and Der Standard in a more ... "academic" district of Vienna.

Saturday afternoon the majority of the bags is still empty.

Saturday evening vans appear on the scene, with them piles of freshly printed newspapers.

Saturday night people pick newspapers from the stands, on their way home from the nightclubs.

Sunday morning people walk their dogs and pick their newspaper from the stand. It is common to "forget" to insert a coin in the cashbox. Same with the BMW and Mercedes drivers, who stop for a quick pick at the temporary newspaper stand.

Kronen Zeitung in a ... "less educated" district  of Vienna

Late Sunday afternoon its time for the vans, again. Only this time they come to collect the empty bags and probably half empty cashboxes.

When the vans appear, there is not much left of the weekend.

Hush, hush, the vans are getting ready!

whereabouts: Meidlinger Markt

My dear friend C. works as an editor at the weekly newspaper FALTER. He recently covered the Meidlinger Markt. My dear friend S. and her mum were regular customers at the Meidlinger Markt, back in the 1980's in her childhood days. Back then they bought vegetables, fruits, but also and shoes at the nearby shoe store. And french fries! Sweet memories.

S. read the article and suggested to meet for lunch at the market and enjoy a cup of coffee in the March sun.  Our visit together was a trip down her memory lane.
Blurry childhood memories from a colourful past.

The new picture looks nothing like the beloved memory:

The overall atmosphere is down tempo. In many aisles, the market life is absent. Many market stands are closed.

But: it is changing. Milchbart and Purple Sheep are two incredibly nice, cool and hip places where you can eat, drink, enjoy the spring sun and meet friends  - meet old friends and make new ones. The money you spend at the Purple Sheep supports the NGO "Freunde Schützen". win-win you could say. The food is 100% homemade comfortfood.

Back home I realised, that I had not taken any pictures of two newly opened trendy market stands. I only focused on the deserted stands. I guess I did not want to behave too touristy, now that the market has been featured in the newspaper.  So be aware: my photos do not capture the full picture of the market. Half a dozen farmers come everyday and sell their vegetables, bread, sausages, fruits and flowers at the market, too.

I can not define what it is, but the tables in front of the Milchbart reminded me of Hamburg. Friend C. from the FALTER agrees - Schanze, Altona ... it is a kind of very relaxed atmosphere, where you smile at the people who take a seat next to you, welcoming. The people come, stay, stay a bit longer and things evolve. A new vibe in Vienna.

Milchbart and Purple Sheep hopefully will work as catalyzers (I know, it is ridiculous that I don't have any photos. My apologies!). In April there will be 3 newly opened stands, because "Anna" is going to open her french grocery store at the market.

In the past deserted markets in other districts of Vienna underwent massive transformations - from market stands to large 3-storey buildings. The city destroyed market stands to make room for new public buildings on the former market grounds. Lets hope for the best, that this won't happen in Meidling. Let the catalyzers succeed and more entrepreneurs will follow.

On the one hand we hope that the market rises, becomes trendy and that the deserted market stands find new owners. On the other hand we want it to stay the way it is now, because overall downtempo you experience there is like an antidote to all the loud and trendy cafés which emerged on former un-trendy districts all over Vienna. In Meidling the prices for the market stands already went up. Gentrification on the move to Meidling.

This was weird: a stuffed bird hanging from the roof of the wast-container-depot. 
Probably to shy away pigeons.

I plan to visit the market again, and again ...  next time I will dare to take photos of the two new market stands. I am glad I discovered this raw diamond with the help of my friends. I only knew it from nighttime - it is along my jogging-route. At night all stands are closed.

BTW: did I already tell you that I believe Meidling is the most underrated district in Vienna? In case you missed the episode with the romantic underground station, please take a look.

 On my way back to the city centre I found more intriguing motifs.

Enjoy your Sunday!
I will dedicate it  - like many Sundays before - to my love. As for any love: seldom reasonable, always rewarding. Well, maybe not on a day with 20°C and blue skies...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

DIY route planner

This is my smart small phone:
Today I went to the service station with my bike. Since I am not familiar with the area, I looked up the route online before I left the house. On glance at the screen of the laptop and it was clear: This trip needed some serious preparation, otherwise I would get lost in the peripheries of Vienna.

So I sat down and sketched a quick DIY route planner. It proved to be a big success, I stayed on track:

Is there anything you can't DIY?

When sketching a plan, it helps to include also those streets, which lead you off track. So you know it's the 2d and not the 1st one to the left. The plan faithfully lead me here:
I found the area to be surprisingly appealing:

How could I not notice this inscription before?

Rome obviously did something to me, it sharpened my senses.

Probably not the best promotionial face for a wedding dress:
 Does anyone NOT see the horror in her face?

This woman seems absoutely petrified, on her way down the aisle. 

I understand her, I do.  ;-)


DIY bird feeder

Do you remember the DIY coffee pot cozy?
The variety - various clips and clothes, how versatile!
There are many reasons, why I choose DIY over buying. You find the story behind the DIY coffee pot cozy here. Today's posting is not about the praise of the coffee pot cozy but about my new DIY bird feeder. It comes with a story.

The story
[for immediate results: please scroll down to "The making of a DYI bird feeder"]

Last year I happily fed birds on our window board. Every morning I would spread nuts, oats and raisins on the window board and in the evening the board would be empty. Those birds must have been so hungry! 

Until the neighbour from downstairs confronted me: "Miss Paula*, you must quit using your kitchen window as a garbage can. All the dirt from your cutting boards and towels lands on my window board. Such a mess, all the dirt! This has to stop immediately."

I stared at him. And I realised. It was the wind, which had blown the food away. What a mess! 
I apoligized, of course. And I felt guilty, of course. But most of all, I did worry about my poor hungry little cute adorable desperate birds. 
My apology sounded something like this: "Mr Neighbour, this is a  big misunderstanding. This is not dirt, no, you must understand, this is birdfood! Oh, the poor birds, I thought they ate the food. I am so sorry! (... for the birds.)" 

Long story short, I had to find a way to get the food on the window board without starting off a war with Mr Neighbour. I googled the internet. Most bird feeders require some drilling. Others require a larger surface to stand on. 

Since this is a drilling-hostile environment (aka the fear of drilling an unfitting hole), there had to be another way to place the nuts on the window board. I let my mind wander and it did not take long until I came up with the solution: Glue! I digged out some glue which had proven to be an excellent tool back in my scrapping days. The information on the package says "suitable for cardboard and paper". I generously stretched the profile to "also suitable for iron sheet".

The making of a DYI bird feeder
1. Take a small box with "langue de chat" chocolate and eat enjoy the chocolate
Unfortunately I was not able to document the chocolate.
Someone was faster than me. Mr Paula says "Hello". The Katzenzungen were very yummy.

2. Seperate the top from the bottom

3. Pause and doubt "Is it really such a good idea, to glue a carton box on the window board?"

4. Apply the glue on the bottom of the box

5. Stick the cardbox on the iron sheet / No photo. Both hands were busy

6. Try to shake the box to see of it sticks firmly. / Again, no photo. Both hands were busy.
As you can imagine, I deliberately chose a private moment for vandalising.
Make sure no one is around to ask you "What on earth are you doing here?!?" 

7. Feed the birds
The great tit seems to have recently discovered the food. Adorable birds. I love the soud their wings make, when they leave: flapflapflapfalpp.

The new bird feeder, fully operational
I need a faster camera to "catch" them before they fly away.

Now that winter is almost gone, it is time for same changes in the great tit-diet. I once read that it is not safe to feed great tits with nuts as soon as they start to feed their ... kids(?) offsprings(?) The "baby great tits" depend on insects and the mother and father birds can't find enough insects in the city-environment to feed the kids.
I am going to pay the nearby Reptile Centre a visit and check out how limited the movement of flour worms (!)  is. Living flour worms. 2,99 EUR a box. Will the box prevent the worms from moving along?

I answer before you even asked:
1. Yes, you always feed living flour worms.
2. No, it is not contradictory for a vegan person to feed birds with living worms.

More to come!
*he will never see me as a grown up, especially when I cause trouble like this.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Tough days ahead

My bike is starting to lose one of its pedals. The brake shoes are almost nonexistent. Both tires are covered with cracks. The bottom bracket cracks all the time. The chain is worn out. I can't deny it: this bike needs a stop at the service station.

My bike became a shadow of its former self.
I usually delay this stopover as long as possible. Not because of the costs, no. It's the exhaustion these days cause me! Any day without my bike is a tough day for me. Public transportation is so exhausting. And walking is so slow.

In the past this service week always came with a big pro: my skirts finally got the chance to leave the closet, since I did not ride my bike with skirts. Not comfortable, somehow not possible. The skirts had to wait patiently in my closet for the one week.

But now I've established a new regime - it includes skirts of all kinds (velvet skirts, tweed skirts, mini skirts, pencil skirts). So I am in need of new pro. Maybe reading? Or Walking?

Wish me luck, that the pedal stays in place until I get to the service station!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

The beauty within: Piazza Farnese and Campo de' Fiori

When you stand in front of a famous fountains in Rome, with your camera in your hand, you are fully aware that thousands of photos of the exact same fountain already flood the internet. So there is no use in taking such a photo. This thought - or should I say conclusion - withdrew any possible magic between the Roman fountains and me. I just could not devote myself to them.

I tried, you must believe me, I did my best, so I could bring home at least this beautiful souvenir:
The fountain on the Piazza Farnese, as seen through the eyes of a tourist:
Meanwhile  Mr Paula got slightly distracted ... 
... and I immediataly followed his eyes and went into details:
 It did not take long until the fountain was blanked out and I had only eyes for this:
Matrasses in the centre of Rome!
Inside there is a man sleeping, he hangs from the ceiling!
How peculiar, how nice, how interesting! 
This was by far not the worst photo I brought home from the trip to Rome.

You find the worst photo at the end of this posting. It is my souvenir from the "Campo de' Fiori".

It somehow forms an antithesis to all the Campo de' Fiori pictures that flood the internet. I strongly oppose to the image a typical Rome tourist bears in mind, when thinking about the famous market in the historic centre of Rome.

Everything in this photo is wrong: there are no flowers anywhere. The bakery is closed. There should be dozens of people gathering and queuing up, buying Budini de Riso, still warm from the oven. Instead two trash cans and two phone booths are the centre of attention.  
No Budino di Riso for me. My face and my posture should say it all: I am heavily disappointed.

This is the only photo I brought home from the Campo de' Fiori and it only exists, because at the time we got there and took the photo, the bakery was closed. Every other time, there was sugar and grease on our fingers from the most delicious Budini di Riso which can be bought at the Forno Campo de' Fiori, which hindered my from touching my camera.

I love this photo. It was a special moment during our vacation, one of the moments you want to keep, because it makes you smile. Maybe because of the pointlessness of being there. Maybe because by that time we knew what we loved about the Campo de' Fiori and why we wanted to come back.

On that very Sunday morning we knew what we were going to be missing, because we had the chance to get to know it. Isn't this what getting to know a place is all about in the end: to know what you are going to be missing - before you've even left.

A close look at the Vatican: Vatican Museums

Which photo to choose as an introduction for the Vatican Museums?
This one fits perfectly, because it delivers the right atmosphere: RUSH
You rush ...

... until you are stuck in a crowd

It does not take long and you become Vatican-smart and find your way around the crowds.
Nothing is going to stop us ...

... except for:
Etruskan Gold!


During our first visit at the Vatican Museums, a few days before, we had been way too rushy to care for the Etruskan collection. How foolish!

How lucky we were to get a 2nd chance and correct that ignorant mistake. The Etruskan collection turned out to be a if not THE highlight. imho.

I had no idea know how cute and funny the Etruskan society was - from looking at their pieces of art I get the impression that they were adorable.
Visiting this collection was absolutely refreshing! 

Since one one else was caring for the Etruskan collection, we had all the space around the show cases and fooled around the magnifying glasses on display in the show cases:

You find the Etruskan collection is on the top floor in the museum. Turn your head by 180°,  and you see this:
One of the many hills, one that we climbed with our bikes a few days alter

This looks nice, too: If I am not wrong, then this must be the Prati-district. 

 Can you see the laundry hanging on the washing lines?

Another soothing view:

You remember, at the same time, the rest of the museum looks like this:
Group + group + group  crowd

Everyone is here for the same reason: the Sistine Chapel. In the museum's gardens, tourists from all countries group in front of the sign poles, where the paintings in the chapel are on display. In every corner of the garden you could find a group with a guide, getting trained for the chapel.

The golden "ball" was a good piece of art. I am not sure how it works for the artists and for the Vatican: artists make a piece of art and propose it to the Vatican. The pope either accepts or refuses the piece of art.

The Vatican once refused a piece of art by Joseph Beuys. It came with some empty blood bags.

The artist of the "Death Star" (I know, an el cheapo comparison) was successful. His masterpiece became a big attraction.

A tiny detail, next to a window:

There is so much to see, you will never manage to see it all. 

And if it hadn't been for Mr Paula, I would have missed Sir Peter Ustinov's ancient bust:

What did shock me was the obviously very, very relaxed approach towards climate control. The guards opened windows rather mindlessy, no matter if rain or sun or wind, they even opened the windows in the "Raphael rooms"  - it was raining outside!

Ok. They seem to have a relaxed approach in general.

To calm my nerves, I decide to return to the place where it all begins: The hallway at the entrance of the museum. 99% of the visitors take the escalator and skip the slope.

We walked up the slope and on our way we did discover a quite peculiar little piece of beauty.
They have ancient boat models on display along the slope, like a walking gallery. 

This one got our attention:
This looks quite familiar, no? like an ancient iPad.

Lets not forget, why we are here in the first place. Back to the track. The Sistine Chapel.

All over the Vatican Museums signs remind you why you are here:

"Shortcut to the Sistine Chapel" 
"Alternative way to the Sistine Chapel" 
"Sistine Chapel via Stanza di Raphael"  

etc etc. You get the picture, right?

Right before you make it to the Chapel, this gets in you way:
Modern art!

Paul Klee, Dali, ... you can not not look at it. We stopped, took thorough looks and discovered good details:

Enough with modern arts. I'm almost there, just a few more steps ...

tadah ... there we are.


This was the Sistine Chapel. Hundres of tourists, penned up inside the chapel. A weird, almost gross situation. It is worth to go there twice, because facing the absolutely soulfree atmosphere hurts less when visiting it the 2nd time since you know by then what to expect.

What's next?

It looks quite promising outside. Spots on: time to mee some walls and stones. More to come!