Two pictures from the streets of Vienna today. A cute little shopkeeper at Schwedenplatz, and a badass window cleaner on Lerchenfelder Strasse.
I’ve been wanting to write something for a while now about what it’s like here at the moment, with all eyes directed at Central Europe because of the stream of refugees. When I read news stories from abroad, I get the impression that foreigners think we’re being overrun by refugees and that all our streets are full. Well, that’s not the case here in Vienna. To be honest, I think if I were a nice old lady who didn’t read the news and who only went around town on my errands, I wouldn’t have any idea that something this big was happening. At all. But, ther are a few ways that we notice. A few.
For example, the picture of the post is from Westnbahnhof late one night earlier this week. It’s not a clear shot but then I did feel that I was imposing big time just by snapping a quick shot, and I’m happy that it’s probably too crappy to identify people by. But it hits you if you take the trip down to Westbahnhof (which I wouldn’t recommend unless you’ve actually got business there). There are people sleeping on the ground, all over the train station, because they want to continue the next day or whenever they can catch a train. If you go 50 metres away from the train station, you’re out of the refugee zone and you notice nothing. The rest of the city is working just like normal.
Another thing is that border controls are back, and trains North and East are not running regularly. In fact, some are not running at all. Going to Budapest, which can be a nice break away from Vienna, is not recommended nowadays. At least not if you want to go there and make it back here by train…
I’m reading the papers every day to see how the situation is changing, and it is changin a lot. People in Vienna have also done a fantastic job at taking care of the refugees, suddenly everyone wants to help. But, there is a lot of superficial stuff happening (clearing out the crap from one’s wardrobe without being too critical) and news are coming from Hungary about their way of solving the crisis…which is to fence off the countries that pose the biggest problem. Serbia to start with, and now they’re considering Romania. Funny, because Austria realised early that these people want to go through and not stay, and so the borders were opened to allow that. One would think Hungary could do the same. But as of yesterday that’s also over in Austria. Now it’s border controls and the works, for the first time in many years. Companies are complaining that they are losing revenue because of hour long queues on the borders etc…
There are good ways that one can help though. Here are a few web sites if you are in Vienna and you want to do something:
http://refugees.at/ (Which tells you what is needed in terms of supplies)
http://www.trainofhope.at/ (What’s happening at Hauptbahnhof in Vienna)
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Vienna.EAAR/ (Facebook group for Expats in Vienna, where you can get info about what you can do)
http://www.fraubock.at/aktuelles/ (The homepage of Ute Bock, who helps homeless people in Vienna, and now also refugees).
Vienna Würstelstand, which is an excellent magazine from Vienna about what is happening around the place also posted an excellent post about what you can do to help in a meaningful way.
So, there is much that can be done to help. There are MANY that want to help. Which is good, because there are MANY that need it.
But for those who would rather close their eyes and get on with their lives and try not to think about what’s happening, that’s also possible. That’s what it’s like here now.
In spring, there is a team of bicycle repair men/women that travel around the city to help people get their bikes ready for the summer. Bless them! This is the team in action in my neighbourhood two days ago. To check their schedule go to http://www.radrettung.at, they drop by every district in the city!
Today is the day when most Austrians make their way to a graveyard nearby, and light candles in remembrance of their departed. I decided to take my camera and tripod out to see what could be found at St. Marx Friedhof, which is one of the nicest ones (imho) in Vienna. Without a remote trigger though, I was very handicapped…..
The centre of the graveyard was full of lights that were put down by people. I’m fairly certain that Zentralfriedhof would have been more impressive, but this one is quite intimate, and holds the remains of Mozart. Somewhere.
Seeing as Mozart was put to rest in an unmarked grave, they have put up a stone in his honour. So, we don’t know exactly where he was put down, only that it was at this graveyard. This wasn’t because he was a baddie or anything, it was just the custom of the day.
As you can see, he was far from forgotten today. I went there equipped with some candles, as I didn’t want to count on other people’s generosity.. So I did put some candles on strangers graves. And yes, it wasn’t only because I wanted to celebrate them… camera in hand I realise that my putting candles out served more than only the most humblest of purposes. But, all is well that ends well. I really like this custom. The year before last I only made it out to Zentralfriedhof as they closed the doors. I didn’t want to miss out this year as well.
A lot of the photos didn’t turn out that great, especially since I had to press the trigger on the camera. I could probably also have spent more time adjusting the aperture and shutter.. But still. Better than nothing! I left a lot of the photos really dark, as it was really dark there after the sun went down.
Next year, I’ll try to get hold of a remote trigger!
And check out Zentralfriedhof.
Cycle ways are actually quite good in Vienna. And as the city is relatively flat, it’s also an ideal way of getting around which doesn’t take much time compared to the subway and other public transport. I see many that can’t be bothered wearing a helmet in traffic though, which always makes me wonder whether people care at all about what’s inside their skulls. Even companies don’t seem to care here. In Norway everyone cycling for a courier service would most definitely wear helmets… And in NZ it is illegal to cycle without a helmet.
Lately the weather has been quite shifty. Today it is really beautiful though, with cotton clouds and nice sunshine. 🙂 Perfect cycle weather.
Just a small shot from Alte Donau, where people go swimming and also rent those paddle boats that you see in the back of the shot. Alte Donau is the part of the river that’s closed off, and the water there tends to be warmer than in the main river. There are also many artificial beaches along the old river bend, most you have to pay to enter, but Arbeiterstrandbad is free. 🙂
today was the day of the 4th annual RadparRADe around the Ring in Vienna, held at the weekend of the Bike festival in front of Rathaus. This was however my first time participating. I took a fair few photos of fun cycles, so today is a bit of a picture special… 😉
My bike, pimped out with a MU flag, and the free flowers we got to put on our handlebars.
Someone advertising for Critical Mass
I did notice these tags around the place, probably because I thought they were quite crappy, and sprayed in places where graffiti shouldn’t be… Like on clean walls, doors, monuments etc. Like someone who really just doesn’t care that he is destroying property. Well, turns out this dude really doesn’t care, and he was finally arrested about a week or two ago, to the relief of many Viennese. Apparently he wanted to become ‘public enemy nr.1’ or something, and seems he has succeeded at least to some extent.
I like a lot of the graffiti that you can see around town. There are some amazingly talented people out there, who can do wonders with spray cans. But I really dislike seeing tags on buildings and doors, especially when they are just tags with no substance.
As someone who aspires to live sustainably (though failing because of my addiction to travel), I was fascinated when someone told me that there was a bicycle transport company in Vienna. Heavy Pedals is a company which specialises in transporting goods around the city, up to 250kgs. 250kgs! These guys are not afraid of some serious work. I almost want to apply for a summer job there… lol. 😀 They’re also located across the street from Caritas, which means you can get your furniture pre-loved, and then have them cycled to your home, completely carbon-free!
He’s always looked somewhat ok, I reckon. Definitely mayoral. But one thing that is common for all the shots of him that end up on billboards, is that he looks like he’s been made to smile for hours, and he’s always wearing a lot of foundation. Well, that’s what it looks like. Herr Dr. Häupl has been the mayor pretty much since I moved to Vienna.
In the suburbs, people have to rely on the train to get to school/work every day. I snapped this a while ago, showing the daily commute for the schoolkids that live in Schwechat (out towards the airport).
I’ve been sick as a dog for the past two days… gotta say, I’m really happy to be back on my feet!! 🙂
Today’s post is dedicated to my former colleague and fellow blogger Kristen, who passed away last week. She was the author of Sushi and Strudel which is an excellent guide through the jungle of restaurants in Vienna, and I hope this blog will stay up and running for a good while longer even if no new posts will be published.
After she quit working up at the uni, she slowly drifted away from us. She would occasionally show up at events though, sparkling and beautiful, telling us new stories about her beloved dog Bode, and whatever she and her husband had been up to lately. She was an inspiration to many of us… smart, beautiful, newly-wed and on her way to becoming the model home maker she seemed destined to be. But then news came through last Wednesday that she had passed. As I went to the memorial service this morning it was raining, and mostly grey. How appropriate…
It’s the first time that I’ve known someone at my age (or younger even!) that have passed away. It’s quite eye-opening, and scary at the same time. I still can’t come to grips with the fact that I’ll never bump into her again… anywhere. Ever. It’s funny to me how time seems to have stood still every time you meet up with someone you know, but as soon as you know you’re never ever going to meet up with them again, all that time seems to come rushing back and create an abyss, that you can’t ever cross. And then you wonder why you let time pass so easily, without resisting it…
Goodbye Kristen. May you rest in peace.
I’ve been a bit of a tour guide the last couple of days, and yesterday was one of those days where you just stumble across one marvelous thing after another, making you think to yourself ‘yeah, who wouldn’t love this city??!’ These guys were in the park just outside of TU, having some beers and playing together. Right there, spontaneous concert! 🙂