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

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Running along the river bed - from couch 2 5k

Sunday evening, time to recollect the temporary newpaper stands. It seems I am not the only person who fancies a run. Only that I am not a runner. Every spring I start from Zero. I leave the couch and follow the "from couch to 5k" programme. The programme gets me from 0k to 5k in 9 weeks. No weakened immune system. No hurting joints. Success guaranteed. A mild winter and early spring allowed an early start, so I already arrived in week 4 by mid April. 

I have been following the programme since 2011. Every year I experience the fun and satisfaction of constant progress. Over the years a group of Couch25k postings gathered. 

Today I walked the route I would normally run/walk. In the evening the late sunlight creates nice lights. At the moment this is my favourite route. I enjoy the route, despite the polluted air, caused by heavy traffic. 
The route runs along the metro line 4, along the Wienfluss river and leads from Schönbrunn to Margaretengürtel. You will notice: there is a lot to see. Especially when you run on a slow path like I do.
Lets start!

U4 station building Schönbrunn. Design: Otto Wagner, late 19th century:

Looking East, tracks of the metro and the river bed to the left (the river is so small, you can't see it):

 Some parts of the route are a true challenge:

The Jugend&Volk publishing house building:

 You have to take a close look to find the plants along the route:

 A junction. We choose to turn left:

 The route is busy throughout the day:

 Buildings across the river bed:

A common setting:

 Backyard along the route:

A peek through the fence:

The rear view of this building:
 Mozart makes it everywhere.

 A look back. In the distance you see the station building of Schönbrunn:

The only unpleasant part of the route is where they overbuilt the river bed with a multy storey car park.
The building also hosts a fitness studio.
Every time I run past this bus stop, I see people waiting for the bus to come:

The nice light sets in:

 When I am lucky, the green lights await me:

Time check. Here you see the cause for the bad air. Traffic. Constant traffic. :-((

The closer to the city centre I get, the greener the route becomes:

Social housing from the 1930's across the river bed:

Running past the U4 station Längenfeldgasse:

Fountain in Vienna. Well ...

Another look back:

Yay, the bird is in controll!

A new hotel, not quite impressive. The traffic lane can be tricky to cross. 
8/10 times I am lucky and no cars get in my way:

A peek inside/through the metro station Längenfeldgasse:

The neuralgic spot: there the bicycle lane makes a 90°-turn and the promenade shrinks by 50%:

A popular shortcut:

This is where cyclists test their skillfullness (see the gap in the rim?):

Danger zone: Please don't hurt your head:

Another danger zone: please don't run/cycle into me! 90°-turns are awful. 


An urban park was built in the middle of a former no man's land:


White men can't jump? ;-)

A workshop underneath the metro tracks. 

You almost made it. 1 more km.

An urban scene:

One of my favourite views along the route:

Where the Wienzeile meets the Gürtel. Surprisingly green.
The last station building, Margaretengürtel makes its first appearance:

Main fire station Mariahilf:

Another shortcut:

Tram tracks heading northwest:

A ridiculous bicycle lane. Please let us use the streets instead of this. Thank you.

A not so impressive river in an impressive river bed:

Colourful signs along the route:

Playgrounds for the masses:

The magnetism of bicycle lanes ;-)

I would guess that 11/10 people don't know Wackenroder-Brücke in Vienna.

To prevent any misunderstanding: I DO find this route very attractive. The rough charm is exactly to my liking. What I also like is how populated the route is. There is almost always something going on.

Ahem. Those, who were bored beyond belief during the tour: I get to see these sights 3 times a week, twice! (return). ;-)