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  • Day79

    Marathons (half), Music and Mozart

    November 17, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 13 °C

    On Friday we said goodbye to Budapest and travelled by train to Vienna. Vienna is a beautiful city filled with many, many baroque style buildings as well as numerous statues and monuments. It seems that whenever we turn a corner or wander down a side street, we are met with another beautiful building. What also makes Vienna more spectacular at this time of year are the Christmas markets, so many of Vienna’s squares are lit up and made even prettier.

    Upon visiting St. Stephan’s Christmas market, we were approached by a man selling concert tickets for the Vienna Royal Orchestra. Because Vienna is known for music, we felt this was not an opportunity we could pass up. The concert was simply amazing! Made up of soloists from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, it showcased many of Mozart’s and Strauss’ well known classical pieces. Some of the pieces also involved ballet as well as opera. I will never forget the look on Neve’s face when the pianist performed a solo and she remarked on how fast both of his hands moved across the keyboard.

    What better way for the girls to learn about Mozart by visiting his apartment where he lived for 3 and a half years. We learned that Mozart travelled across Europe at the age of 7 for three and a half years with his family to perform in various countries for the aristocracy. We also learned that he composed over 600 pieces of music and that on average, he wrote 6 pages, consisting of 12 rows of music per day. Neve was especially surprised to learn that he also had a serious gambling problem and squandered much of his money.

    Last but not least, when we heard that Eliud Kipchoge ran his sub-2 hour marathon in Vienna, David researched the route Eliude ran. Lucky for us, the route is about 1 km from the apartment we are renting. So at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday morning, David and I biked over, thanks to Vienna’s City Bike program, to run a half marathon following Eliud’s route. We started on the Reichsbrucke Bridge, just as Eliude did and followed his route through Prater park. The route also involved a small pedestrian 210 meter roundabout as well as an 810 meter roadway roundabout. The race course was completely flat and while David and I did not have 41 race pacers or lasers showing us where to run, I completed my run in 1:57:03, my first sub-2 half while David finished his half in 1:59:40 (the time it took Eliud to run a full marathon). We’ll have to work on our speed training some more.

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  • Day25

    Augarten Flugabwehrkanonen

    January 6, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    To spare the over-processing waste, here's some information previously prepared on these ominous towers in Augarten park, eerily surrounded by playgrounds.

    "Flak" is short for "Flugabwehrkanonen" in German – i.e. 'anti-aircraft guns'. They are gigantic bunkers, between 7 and 13 stories high, built towards the end of WWII as bases for heavy anti-aircraft gun batteries on the roof. The lower floors also served as air-raid shelter space for the city's population.

    These towers always came in pairs – one for the actual gun batteries, called the "Gefechtsturm", the other, the "Leitturm", was for radar and other tracking devices, which needed to be separate from the guns in order to work properly.

    Three cities in the Third Reich (on the territory of today's Germany and Austria) were thus supposed to be better protected from the increasing Allied bombing campaigns during the second half of WWII: Hamburg, Berlin and Vienna. The latter two had three pairs each. Only in Vienna, however, do all towers still exist. 

    The guns didn't do much to prevent the large-scale destruction from the air, but they did serve their second role well – that of providing air-raid shelter space for the densely populated cities. They also served a propaganda function, creating the illusion of safety despite the fact that this war already was as good as lost at the time these towers were erected.

    After WWII, the Flaktowers in Berlin and Hamburg were largely destroyed but those in Vienna remain.

    The pair in Augarten are almost 180 feet (55m) and rise from the open plain of the Augarten (the city's oldest park), visible from far away. The larger Gefechtsturm is also of a unique design: it's 16-sided, i.e. almost round. The tower within the army barracks is of the same design, but you can't see it from anywhere, at least not from street level in public areas. The round structure was apparently meant to be more efficient and economical – it was the latest of the three designs of these uniquely (Nazi-)German bunker structures. The Augarten pair was only finished in early 1945.
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  • Day3


    December 15, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

    Rich is pretty tickled by that photo of me with the currywurst. I think we're both in a better mood now we've had our first meal in Vienna.

    Salonplafond is the restaurant attached to a design museum, we both had a melange coffee, Rich got schnitzel with cranberries and potato salad, and I got a dense stack of wholemeal bread, avocado, bacon, a fried egg, and chilli mayo.

    Spotted another dog under the table, they are very pup friendly here which is brilliant. Kick off at Generali-Arena is at 2.30 so we aren't in a rush...
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  • Day215


    January 20, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 1 °C

    A wonderful stay with Verena and Albert in Vienna.
    We met this lovely couple in Italy many months ago when we started chatting in a restaurant. With great generosity and heart they gave us their details and invited us to stay in their apartment in Vienna, at any time. We were delighted to take up this kind offer and we were treated to an amazing home cooked feast. In fact we sat down at this table at 11 am and spent the next 13 hours talking, drinking and eating - such a memorable afternoon and evening with wonderful company.Read more

  • Day82

    Cafe Central -- Vienna

    November 20, 2019 in Austria ⋅ 🌧 8 °C

    On a allé a plusieurs boulangeries et cafés, mais hier on a allé a ma préféré. C’était un café/restaurant très fancy. Ils avaient beaucoup de desserts avec du gâteau et du chocolat qui ressemblaient délicieux. On devait marcher une demie heure dans la pluie pour arriver, et on a attendu dans une ligne dehors pour 15 minutes avant qu’on pouvait entrer.

    On a eu une grande pièce de strudel aux pommes avec du crème glacée et du crème fouetté. Moi et Neve ont aussi eu du chocolat chaud avec du crème fouetté dessus. Le strudel était la meilleur strudel que j’ai mangé et le chocolat chaud est aussi un des meilleurs chocolats chauds que j’ai bu. Ma mère nous laisse jamais mangé ce montant de sucreries, alors c’est un bon chose que mon père était là. Après, on devait marcher 40 minutes à la maison dans la pluie, mais je pense que ça valait la peine.

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  • Day38


    June 20, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    Die Busfahrt nach Wien führt uns durch Serbien und Ungarn. Als wir wieder in der EU sind, wissen wir das Schengen-Abkommen sehr zu schätzen, das uns einen schnellen und problemlosen Grenzübergang ermöglicht. In den Balkan-Staaten hat die Prozedur mit Passkontrolle oft sehr lange gedauert.
    Wien begrüßt uns mit einem heftigen Sommergewitter samt Hagel, aber zum Glück holt uns unsere Freundin Veronika mit dem Auto ab. Wir verbringen den Abend am Donaukanal, wo viele junge Wiener in entspannten Bars in Liegestühlen den Abend genießen.

    Am nächsten Morgen machen wir uns auf den Weg zum Road Junky Festival nach Tschechien. Mit der Bahn geht es von Wien über Linz nach Rybnik. Von hieraus klappt das trampen wieder super! Nach fünf Minuten nimmt uns ein netter Anwohner mit, der uns sogar direkt aufs Festival Gelände mitten im Wald fährt. Wir freuen uns auf die nächsten Tage, die wir mit verschiedensten Workshops, Lagerfeuer und Gitarrenmusik in der Natur verbringen werden. Ganz ohne Elektronik.
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  • Day3

    Jet lag!

    December 15, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ☁️ 3 °C

    It's 3.30am and we are done trying to pretend to sleep. Going to enjoy a bit more of Branna's amazing surprise and wait for sunrise (four hours) 😍🥂

  • Day4

    Sonntag in Wien

    February 23, 2020 in Austria ⋅ ☁️ 14 °C

    Begonnen haben wir, nach dem Frühstück, mit einer Fahrt auf dem Donaukanal. Es gab eigentlich nicht viel zu sehen, lediglich das Fernheizwerk von Hundertwasser war bemerkenswert. Aber eine Schifffahrt ist immer beruhigend und gehört auch zu einem Wien-Besuch.
    Jetzt sitzen wir im einem Heurigen, dem österreichischen Nachbau einer Besenwirtschaft. Ist mitten in Wien in einem tiefen Gewölbe. Die Location ist toll, der Wein und das Essen könnte besser sein.
    Danach sind wir durch die Altstadt geschlendert und haben noch einen Kaffee getrunken.
    Nach einer Ruhephase im Hotel sind wir jetzt im Gasthaus Kopp. Es gibt hier riesige sehr gute Schnitzel. Kann man wirklich uneingeschränkt empfehlen, wenn auch der erste Eindruck eher etwas abschreckend ist.
    Wir sind nach diesem sehr guten Abendessen bis Wien-Mitte gefahren und sind dann durch das nächtliche Wien spaziert. Dabei kamen wir an der orthodoxen Kirche St. Nicolaus vorbei.
    Das letzte Stück dann wieder mit der S-Bahn. Nahverkehr klappt toll hier, wir mussten noch nie länger als 5 Minuten warten.
    Jetzt sitzen wir zum Abschluss in der Hotelbar. Urda trinkt Cocktail und ich Einen (2) doppelte Whisky. Zeit zum Schlafen.
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  • Day4

    Cafe Diglas

    December 16, 2019 in Austria ⋅ ☁️ 3 °C

    Gorgeous, tasty. I'd seen Cafe Diglas in a video about cafe culture - we ordered a cliche yet delicious melange and apple strudel and sat for a while.

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