Sunday, January 31, 2010

Amaryllis Season

A very, very nice friend of mine gave me this gorgeous Amaryllis. I think it's called "Candy Cane." What a thrill it is to watch the bulb sprout, grow and bloom so quickly into these magnificent flowers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lederleitner’s Snow-Kissed Topiaries

Vienna has some incredible florist shops staffed by extraordinarily creative people. One always-interesting, often surprising garden shop is Lederleitner’s. I visited there yesterday and was delighted by the snow-kissed menagerie of topiaries that lined the entrance steps. Swans, squirrels, teddy bears, peacocks and chickens were among the animals sculpted out of boxwood.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lights Out for Vienna's Street Chandeliers

For the beautiful chandeliers that grace Vienna's Graben, it's lights out and time for bed until next winter's holiday season.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Drogerie Eveline

An Austrian apotheke is like our pharmacy or drug store where prescriptions are filled and various other health and beauty preparations are sold. But an Austrian drogerie is historically where a specially-trained herbalist mixed herbs, oils, chemicals and other ingredients together to create a concoction that enhances a customer’s well-being. Friends told us that Eveline at Drogerie Eveline on Wassergasse had created a mixture of ingredients that was gentle and very beneficial in alleviating their family’s insomnia. I visited Eveline and Andrea, the friendly and helpful mother-daughter team that owns and operates Drogerie Eveline. Eveline’s father had founded the shop some 60 years ago and named it for his daughter. As she grew he taught her all he knew about the business and he sent her to the university to learn even more.

I was amazed at the drawers full of fragrant herbs (the mint was powerful from across the counter), the brown bottles and glass jars of chemicals, essential oils and even one large but empty jug labeled “Rum” on the shelves. It was almost like stepping into another era.

Some of those containers were beautifully painted:

The short, gray days of winter can take it’s toll on one’s mood and energy and I’ve experienced this effect more this year than ever before. Thank goodness the days are getting longer! Eveline quickly mixed a concoction for me that appears to contain rose petals, some sort of grasses, perhaps dried fruits, different flowers and other ingredients. She placed it in a lovely little white bag, gave it to me as a sample, and instructed me to let a spoonful steep in a liter of water for ten minutes before drinking.

I tried the tea and must report that I do feel better. Some credit surely goes to the tea but some also goes to Eveline and Andrea for their friendliness and kindness as well as their knowledge and talent. Human kindness can, indeed, replace the sun on a gray day. Vielen dank, ladies!

The next time I visit I’m going to ask Eveline if she will share the secret of her great, thick, healthy hair....

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Ice Skating at Vienna's Rathaus Platz

One of the reasons Vienna is such a great place to live is the number of activities, particularly free or low-cost activities available all during the year. The Rathaus Platz, the area in front of Vienna’s magnificent city hall, it the site of many of these activities. It seems there is always something happening at the Rathaus. In late January an incredible series of ice skating rinks and trails are installed for the enjoyment of Vienna’s residents and visitors until the end of February.

It is here my husband fell on the ice and broke his arm a few years ago.

Beginners can get the assistance of penguins to navigate the ice. This child hardly seemed to need help. She was skating back and forth with impressive agility and speed. You can see the wide-eyed fear in the penguin's plastic face as he clearly is pushed past his comfort level.

Skaters glide along a trail that points them toward Vienna's beautiful Burg Theater.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Roses Cloaked in Coffee Bag Coats

I took a walk through Vienna's Volksgarten today and was surprised to find hundreds of rose bushes cloaked in burlap coffee bags. Even the roses are part of Vienna's coffee house culture! They are looking very stylish and international; I hope they are warm enough. It is quite cold here today.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More of the Lake Balaton Area, Hungary

Following are some more photos from around Lake Balaton, Hungary, starting with lovely reeds in this shallow lake:

Charming rooftops and stone walls:

This pretty village stole my heart:

The graceful Tihany Cathedral on Lake Balaton:

And beautiful trees:

This shot of a snowy woods was taken from a moving car; I like the way the camera recorded it. 

Lots of mistletoe here. Kisses....