Monday, 21 July 2014

whereabouts: Donauinsel at km 8.3

A few years ago, quite late actually, I started to discover the hidden qualities in/within/around and along the Neue Donau (= New Danube).We used to stay at the Alte Donau (Old Danube), were public beaches attract thousands of people. In the past I did not feel comfortable with the idea of no shower afterwards, the idea of leaving my stuff on the beach, with no locker available, while I am off for a swim. And then there was the strong concept the Neue Donau as the place for white trash, including ghettoblasters and lots of alcohol, whereas academics stayed at the Alte Donau, reading the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in the shade. Shade is a big issue: choosing the Alte Donau over the Neue Donau for the past decades was due to the absence of shade. In the early years, the trees planted on the Donauinsel were still small and did not provide enough shade.

I am quite certain you have similar demarcations in home town. Now I sit here and shrug my shoulders, because I have to admit, today, in 2014, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the Neue Donau. 
The un-organised quality is appealing. Apparently you find a very respectful atmosphere, people know how to behave. The media tells different stories, the ones my parents read which makes them worry (including alcohol, gangs and knives) every time I tell them I am/was enjoying myself at the Neue Donau. 

You can tell, I am biased, so I let the pictures tell the rest of the story:
 The stream is actually a basin, designed for flood protection.
The Donauinsel (=danube island) was built to enclosure the water and approx. 40 years after its construction the plants conquered the island, leaving us with plenty of space for a Sunday chill out.  
Some of you probably would not want to spend a Sunday afternoon within the sight of a railway bridge. All I can say is this bridge was my personal highlight of the spot where we rested. I enjoyed every single train that passed on the bridge. I also don't mind the concrete slipway. The youngesters gathered on the slipway, nice to watch.
More industrial structures: a photogenic chimney for example. 
 RU = rechtes Ufer (right riverbank), km 8.3

8.3km further down the island the island comes to an end. I have been there! :-) ... not today. 
These km-numbres are very handy. With the numbers you can easily arrange a rendez vous with a friend. Just send the text message with the km-number, and your friend knows where to find you. As long as you check your mobile phone for new incoming messages. (harhar) 
This view reminded me of Dunkeld-Birnam, Perthshire, Scotland. Seriously!

Those, who are afraid of plans, stay away:
 Not the first and not the last eye candy during our stay.
The small "arch" was the perfect aid for those (like me) who used the ladder to get into the water.
 The path is in a mint condition, inviting for inline skaters and bicyclists. 

I had planned to take more photos of the structures and less nature. The nature was so inviting and the afternoon so relaxed ... structures have to wait. Except for one, dating back to the late 1980s:
 The rowing centres looks outdated.
 This recent structure might be outdated in a few years, just like the rowing centre:
Above thousands of cars drive on one of the major highways in Vienna, actually THE major highway. Below we cycle, on our way home ... the weather has changed and no one wants to get wet, at least not outside the water.
Not much later and we are back in the city centre, right before the rain set in.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

whereabouts: from Vienna to Giesshuebl

Once more, we are on the move.

I never felt comfortable with the idea of going somewhere for a meeting, a conference or a birtyhday celebration, driving an hour straight to the parking lot and after the event you go back to the car, bus or train and drive all the way home. All you have seen is the courtyard of a mansion, a terrace, maybe a view.
But why go all the way  - 1 hour or longer, when you don't make the most of the trip?  When I go somewhere, I seek for the full experience. 

The slower you move, the more you understand. Ok, this probably is not the most spectacular insight. Still, it is our concept of understanding, our concept of experience, our concept of life. When I say "our", I am referring to Mr Paula and myself. Mr Paula is at least as curious as I am. We both are not looking for the obvious - lets say the most scenic touristic spot, but for the unknown, that waits behind the corner, the place tourists ususally don't have the time to see. The second, the closer look.

Of course you get to see less, speaking in terms of coverage. We once even managed to spend full 3 weeks in the Provence without getting to see Orange or Nimes, because our path was slow. Our radius is a small one, even when travelling by car.

Could be Warsaw, could be Düsseldorf, could be Kaliningrad. An anonymous place so to say. 

Whenever we have the chance to go somewhere by bike, we go there by bike. Destinations within the radius of 20km are a nice distance for a sightseeing trip on weekend. 10 years ago our radius measured approx. 1 hour by bike. Going somewhere by bike for 1 hour was always special. But over time our radius expanded in the same way our fitness level has increased. Distance does not really matter anymore. Now it's a question about setting the alarm in the morning on the right time: an early hour makes us get far.

Long story short ...  (well, it might get long, since we move on a slow path :-): This time the destination was a Heurigen in Lower Austria. Lower Austria, the province surrounding the city of Vienna). The venue is  not far away, the village is close to Vienna, a classic distance to go there by car, for others. We chose to go there by bike. We knew the route from last year. This year I included extra 20 minutes for photo-taking.

We are not very familiar with the South of Vienna. This is how it works: In the South of Vienna the city layout is very generous. The square metre was cheap compared to better locations, closer to the city centre. The area is designated to industry and trade. Some areas would be perfect for housing developments: it's green, nice views. Business changed ever since the layout of this area has been designed. Companies change, merge, move, as a consequence you find deserted lots like the one pictured above.

Transforming a former industrial area into a housing area is a challenge. It is almost impossible as long as there are still companies around which pollute the environment. The main pollution of today is not smoke nor fumes, but decibels. And follwing to the high standards in Austria, this area will probably reamain as it for the next decade

The following building might become part of a series: Transformer stations.
Please forgive the moiré. Blogspot is not a big friend of details.

Transformer stations are buildings you probably don't pay attention to. You find them all over the city. What fascinates me, is the variety: they are never bland. This building for a example was designed with a mosaic facade and a modest grid. Ok, I admit: I see beauty everywhere.
On we went, and not much later we had left the city, passed Perchtoldsdorf and went up the hills to Gießhübl. Hübl is an old word for elevetion, so we knew what to expect. In the disctane you can see the tower of the Perchtoldsdorf castle.
See the dark green hill to the right? There is a high rise, peering from behind (you see it pointing out left from the middle of the dark green hill to the right): this is Austria's highest building. This is not the best shot of the building but since it is there I thought I'd point it out. What else can we see? A few vineyards and inbetween former vineyards, which have been given up by the winemakers.

On we went and entered the village of Gießhübl where this former grocer's shop caught my eye:
On a Saturday at noon (as you can tell from the sunlight), it was closed. Maybe it is open Mon-Fri?

Cute, cute, cute.  

This is what the village looks like:
On our way back, downhill, I probably missed some details. Enough said! Have a nice weekend and enjoy the water.


early Paula

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

whereabouts: Backyards and Housing in Vienna

I have a vague idea, what your backyards might look like. In Vienna you find all kinds of backyards, more and less green. This backyard caught my eye:

The setting is very minimalistic and not very cosy. Still I call it a romantic backyard. The painting matches the moss on the tiles matches and the moss on the concrete floor in the front quite well.

The house dates back to 1900. Houses with backyards like the one above are usually about 5 floors high. Almost all apartments are without balconies, terraces or gardens. For decades and centuries the backyards used to be an area where trash bins were lined up. In the 1980's bicycles started to inhabit the backyards. In the 1990's plants followed. And over the past decade tables and chairs and chains of lights followed and complete the setting. The mural is extraordinary, not something you find in many backyards.

The following residential building is located in the 20th district in Vienna, Winarskystraße. The architect Albert Wimmer is known for large projects: central station, housing complexes and hospitals. This building dates back to 2007:

Te next photo has nothing to to with a backyard. I just want to show it to you.

This very un-Viennese superstructure dates back, probably to the early 1990's? I could not find any information regarding the architect who planned this building.
The housing complex reminds me of the abandoned sanatoriums on the Crimean peninsula. I would like to see an apartment from the inside, what it must feel like to live with one of these boxes you can see righthand. (half balcony, half room)

Not very far away we came across new housing complexes with new designs. This is the entrence to an underground carpark. I like it how the street lamps' perspective correlates with the ramp.
Next day (after the rain), new backyards. This bizarre backyard is a corridor. A corridor you are not allowed to enter.
The neighbour to the left is not keen on the neighbour to the right. So many young trees planted on so little place.
The law in Austria says for every tree you cut down, you have to plant a new tree. Or pay. A lot. This might explain, why so many trees have been planted within this narrow green corridor.

What else? I keep on running in the evenings. I am lucky and even make it to Schönbrunn before the gates close. This evening a fox crossed my path. How elegant! What a special appreance. How does not like it when unexpected animals cross his/her path?

While I am writing this posting, a bat almost made it into our living room. Funny sound they make when the make a turn in the last millisecond before flying straight into the apartment, windows wide open at 84°F.

Good night!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

whereabouts: Schönbrunn Gardens


time for some new old whereabouts. Schönbrunn is nothing new on this blog. So I thought I might present a lesser known side, the one which is north of the palace.  

During the summer season Schönbrunn is quite crowded day in day out. In case you have been to Schönbrunn, you are probably familiar with a sight like this one:

The following sights a probably lesser known. It took us decades to discover these less familiar places North of the palace:
A barn, not what I expected!

The garden management is located at the periphery of the gardens. It looks like a village within the garden area:
above: road marking in Schönbrunn. Not quite symmetric as it seems.

This cottage looks nothing like Vienna:

In case you plan a visit in Schönbrunn gardens: no need to be afraid of the crowds as you can tell from these photos.
And in case it gets hot, I recommend a visit at the public pool which is also located inside the garden area. The gardens are free of charge. The public pool charges an admission fee, a fair one.

What else has been going on?
Last week I totally merged into the Bachmannpreis competition in Klagenfurt, Carinthia. 13 writers competed for the prestigious Bachmannpreis.

I picked up my passport which now contains a beautiful Russian visa.  I also spent a decent time in other parks, besides Schönbrunn.

While watching these sportive young men I wondered why on earth I need to travel 1000km to learn more about Russian culture, when I can find it around the corner, in central Vienna. Maybe this is not typically Russian at all, but a global phenomen which took longer to arrive in Vienna?

Speaking of sports: I successfully completed this year's round of Couch25k. I crossed the 30min limit weeks ago. Last run: 1h06min. And I am still enjoying every single step.

Enjoy your next steps, they await you!