Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Yellow Rose of Vienna

Almost every Saturday I buy flowers in the nearby open-air market from two of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. What a wonderful thing flowers are—and flower-sellers!

Golden Glow

While taking a recent twilight stroll around Stephansdom, St. Steven's Cathedral, in the center of Vienna, golden lights and colors seemed to hop out.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Growing through the tiny cracks in a brick wall, these plants exhibit a remarkable ability to live. If only my carefully nurtured plants were half as successful! This wall retains what was formerly the oldest English gardens in Vienna at Palais Rasumovsky.

The gates allow a glimpse into the Rasumovsky gardens of an age gone by. Perhaps, with the help of one enthusiastic person, one day the gardens will bloom again.

This neo-Classical palace was originally the home of the Russian diplomat, Count Andrej K. Rasumovsky and later became home to Austria's Geological Institute. The street on which it sits is also named for the Count. Heavily bombed in WWII, the palace has been rebuilt and is now undergoing some additional repairs.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Mug Shot

More often than not, these mugs can be found on Kärtner Strasse.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Short Stroll Down Lange Gasse

Home to Vienna's oldest bakery and, perhaps less historically but more importantly, our favorite Mexican restaurant, Los Mexikas, Lange Gasse is the street we walked down to reach the Austrian Folk Art Museum (Museum für Volkskunde).

Ah! A sign that warmer weather is returning and thoughts of ice cream can once again be entertained.

Once in awhile, you'll see buildings that cross the street in Vienna. I'm especially fond of this old garage.

The grand sight of the Baroque Piarist Church of Maria Treu beckons and on that far left corner is the delightful Pizzeria Il Sestante.

It's always a thrill to see signs in this old German Gothic font, called Fraktur, which dates from the early 1500s and was designed by Hieronymus Andreae for projects with the artist Albrecht Dürer.

Art Nouveau designs enhance this Schönbron Park fence and gate:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Gazing Through The Glazing

Entering the restaurant at Julius Meinl grocery store, one is treated with this view outside the far window. This feminine statue, gracefully bearing her burden, reminds me of my husband's philosophy that we don't get what we deserve; we get what we get. The strength, grace and beauty of this statue seems to model a positive way to handle our burdens, implying that how we handle what we get makes a difference. I love this statue, especially from eye-level.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Fine Folks

Creativity is a powerful force. I am delighted by folk art and the idea that hard-working people throughout the ages have found the time and energy to add beauty or humor to everyday objects. Seeing their craftsmanship and imagining the thought that went into creating them reminds me that I should be more appreciative of the things I have and more conscientious in caring for them. The Austrian Folk Art Museum in Vienna houses a splendid collection of such handcrafted items, including this ceramic peasant girl-shaped oven from Münzbach bei Perg, used for heating:

The ceramic tiles on this stove are a very efficient way to conduct heat. What a beautiful object!

Even window boxes were cleverly decorated:

I wonder how long it took someone to carve these chairs:

The museum includes this old room with its beautiful ceiling:

Even cooking utensils are decorated:

This lovely painted heirloom cabinet shows the great care taken by its owners:

Evidently this is an example of carved decorations added later to an plain cabinet.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Your Fan

I'm finding it difficult to think about putting out photos and little stories about life in beautiful Vienna when it seems that there are so many other things more important to think about right now. My heart is with people all over the world struggling to survive, rebuilding their lives and making the lives of all of us and future generations better. I am your fan.

May we truly have a kinder, gentler world, harmonious with this beautiful planet and each other. Starting now.

Nashmarkt fans manipulated in PhotoShop.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Sign

The Czech Republic is known to have some of the world's best beer ("pivo"). We found this billboard a number of times along the motorway and on smaller roads. Other than that, I'll not comment and leave you to your own thoughts.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Viennese Fiesta!

Coming from Texas, somedays the craving for authentic Mexican food is almost overwhelming and Los Mexikas restaurant on Lange Gasse gets our vote as Vienna's finest Mexican restaurant. Filled with anticipation, Viennese sights begin to remind me of Mexico as we walk there from the Volkstheater U-Bahn station. The bright colors in this underground entrance put me in a fiesta mood...

...then we walk through some golden arches (no, not those golden arches)...

...and past the colorful hotel across the street. We're almost there...

Bueños noches! Enchiladas verdes und a couple of Mojitos, bitte!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lollypop Shadows

No matter what the temperature may be, the appearance of sidewalk cafe tables is a signal that spring can't be too far away. And when tables and the sun both make an appearance there is, indeed, a reason to smile. Ahhh, Vienna!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan's Triple Crises

While I generally don’t discuss the events of the world on this blog, Japan' s 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which would have been a huge emergency in itself, followed by that tremendous, unforgettable tsunami, another catastrophe in itself, the ongoing aftershocks and the looming threat of a potential nuclear disaster are impossible to not acknowledge.

I am very grateful to have access to a variety of satellite television channels here in Vienna. In addition to the Austrian news channels and CNN, it has been very informative to watch NHK World, a Japanese news channel. They have broadcast many more videos and have shown in-depth interviews with survivors, rescuers, and a variety of experts, all adding to the understanding of the events in Japan today. Here's an image from NHK World describing the difficulty in distributing electricity throughout the country due to differing frequencies used in the country:

Many of my former colleagues and friends live in Japan and I am concerned for them, their families and am sympathetic for all the people whose lives have been changed by these events. My husband and his colleagues at the IAEA have been working around the clock to monitor the situation, collect and disseminate information.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Doctors Here Make House Calls!

Austria consistently ranks among Europe’s best in health care. Part of the reason must be patient accessibility to doctors. It has been our experience that when we’ve called a doctor, often he or she will answer the phone. When we make an appointment we rarely have to wait more than a few days and many times the doctors have seen us the same day. And this Saturday morning, we were grateful for a doctor’s house call! The charge was 100 EUR, which we thought was probably cheaper than we would have paid for an office visit in the States! What a great idea!

(The sign was spotted near the underground passage by the Opera.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On War, Peace and Cement

Not far from Brno, the Carin of Peace, the world's first peace monument, overlooks the Austerlitz battlefield where Napoleon had his greatest victory. This Art Nouveau memorial commemorates the 15,000 soldiers who died in the 1805 "Battle of the Three Emperors"—French, Austrian and Russian.

The battlefield:

One side of the monument holds a small chapel...

This statue at the door almost makes me cry...

...and this one is really beautiful. The carved details on the girl's dress are amazing.

An unusual ceiling in the chapel:

The man and shield representing Austria:

Not far from the battlefield and peace monument, it's hard to not see this enormous canon and three soldiers (three Emperors?). Our curiosity drew us off the road we were on to get a closer look at this humorous integration of local industry and history. At first we assumed it might be a museum, then as we got closer, we thought it was perhaps a water park, and finally discovered it is a cement mixing plant. To get a sense of its size, that's a large shipping container in the foreground. If you Google Zapa Beton images you'll see other examples of their creative, colorful plants and trains.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Brno: Another Czech Gem

Brno, CZ, less than a two-hour drive North of Vienna, is perfect for a weekend excursion. We were pleasantly surprised at the many sights and the relatively lower prices in Brno (two coffees for less than 2 EUR vs. one coffee for 3 EUR in Vienna). They also have one of the best city guides we've seen anywhere.

While taking a walk, we were greeted by friendly actors, publicizing their upcoming production...

...cheerful paint colors and lots of windows...

...a white and gold porcelain chandelier dripping with crystals in a shop window: on a tower...

...a fancy light standard and sign before Brno's old city hall tower...

The town hall portal, carved by Anton Pilgrim, who also carved the ornate pulpit in Vienna's Stephansdom, sports a jaunty—or some might say crooked—center spire. The story is that the carver, knowing he would not be paid the agreed wage, intentionally bent it for spite.

The peaceful courtyard at the Capuchin Monastery, near the crypt with its naturally-preserved mummies.

Reminders of war exist all over Europe. The Air Cafe honors the participation of Czech pilots who flew for the British Royal Air Force in the Battle of Britain. They are part of The Few, memorialized by Churchill's statement, "Never before was so much owed by so many to so few."

A statue of a young Mozart commemorates the 11-year old's Christmas Day performance in Brno in 1767.

And a painted window celebrates an idyllic winter village scene:

The oriels of Klein's Palace were the first in Bohemia made of cast iron. Finished in 1848, with flush toilets and underground stables, this was an ultra-modern building for its time.

Next door stands the wonderfully decorated House of Lords of Lipa, built in the end of the 16th Century.

Dusk in Brno:

A cool beauty shop mirror caught my eye:

As did this large fruit mural over the sidewalk:

Door detail at The Church of the Assumption. This is an amazingly beautiful church but, unfortunately, photos were not allowed.

Nearby is the Johann Gregor Mendel museum, the priest whose study of bees and peas made him the father of modern genetics. Photos were not allowed in the museum, either, so here's what is left of Father Mendel's greenhouse foundation.

Other famous residents of Brno include Kurt Gödel, philosopher, mathematician and physicist, and Adolf Loos, architect, who was one of the leaders of the Vienna Secessionist Movement.

I like the whimsical flowers on this gate...

...and the great design of this gazebo overlooking the city... well as this star-carved door: