This Week’s Wander

After about three weeks of below-freezing temperatures alternating with various kinds of horizontal, semi-frozen precipitation, we woke up this morning to a balmy 40-degree day, and it wasn’t actually raining, snowing or sleeting yet.

So, since we never like to miss an opportunity to get outdoors, we pulled on our boots and went for a hike on the Donauinsel (Danube Island). Obviously, this is not the best time of year for a hike by the river, but after driving over the island for months, we just wanted to see what was down there.

The Donauinsel is a man-made island created as part of a massive flood control project. Basically, the Danube was dredged to make room for more water, and the resulting sludge piled up to make a long (21 km) skinny island running down the middle of the river. In the summer months, there are bars, cafés, and concerts on the island, along with nude “beaches” because you know how these Europeans are about taking their kit off in public. In the winter, only the extensive network of walking and biking paths remains open (unfortunately we discovered the public toilets are all closed, too…)

The general idea, from a tourism website.

Despite the gray skies and the relatively early hour for a Sunday, there were a lot of people out biking, hiking, roller-skiing, and walking large packs of very happy dogs. This is something I really like about the Viennese. Getting outdoors and “wandering”  is practically a religion here. So, I’ll cut them some slack on not ever talking (and rarely even returning a smile) to anyone else on the paths—this is something I’ll never understand, as a southerner. But whatever: at least they aren’t actually glaring at us, as the older Czechs often did.

We hiked for about 90 minutes, finishing up just as the first raindrops started to fall. My photos actually turned out OK, despite the lack of sunlight.

These knobby hills run along the river on the north side of the city.  That's the Leopoldkirche on top of the hill.
These knobby hills run along the river on the north side of the city. That’s the Leopoldkirche on top of the hill.
We saw lots of fishing boats, and a couple of people carrying tackle. I'm not sure I would want to eat fish caught in this river!
We saw lots of fishing boats, and a couple of people carrying tackle. I’m not sure I would want to eat fish caught in this river!
This is what most of the island looks like.  Great for biking.
This is what most of the island looks like. Great for biking.
Winter foliage.
Winter foliage.
Swans fishing in the icy water.
Swans fishing in the icy water.
A thousand cherry trees donated by the Japanese.
A thousand cherry trees donated by the Japanese.
Yeah, it's a little windy in Vienna!  The trees are now permanently tilted downwind.
Yeah, it’s a little windy in Vienna! The trees are now permanently tilted downwind.
Ice pack on the narrower side of the river.
Ice pack on the narrower side of the river.
Seagulls fishing.
Seagulls fishing.
There is some pretty interesting graffiti under the bridges.
There is some pretty interesting graffiti under the bridges.
This one is really elaborate and signed by the artist (graffitist?)
This one is really elaborate and signed by the artist (graffitist?)
Penguin gangsters?
Penguin gangsters?
Not so much style, but points for clean execution.
Not so much style, but points for clean execution.
The crows here are HUGE.  This one is about two feet tall.  They hang around in gangs plotting heists and assassinations.
The crows here are HUGE. This one is about two feet tall. They hang around in gangs plotting heists and assassinations.
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5 comments

  1. Glad to see that you have gotten a break in the weather and some outside time. I’ll bet it is even more exciting in the summer…. nude beaches or not.

    I wish we could have a nice bike ride now, but the most excitement I am getting now is having a moose spooked out of a driveway and next to me while walking my dog off lead. Having no other choice, I continued to walk without changing pace or making eye contact. Moose decided that the bushes were more interesting than us, and Dog is so deaf she didn’t even notice the moose (thank God!) I have no early death wish for either of us. (No, a moose is not just a big tame horse. They have cloven hooves, and they know how to use them.)

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  2. What a wonderful outing! I think visiting this place would be a regular for me, even on overcast days.

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  3. I am becoming very excited about seeing Vienna and of course the three of you. I especially want to see the Lippazaner (sp) show and eating Sacher torte. I haven’t had a sweet in over eighteen months, but for that I can break a rule. I loved the fish and penguin grafitti. Does the city decide which to leave and which to remove? What is their criteria? We love looking our at our small lake as well. We aren’t walking around it at the moment (as Edmund’s gout has recurred) but the last time we walked we greeted or were greeted by twenty seven people. Only one frowned and picked up speed as he passed. Edmund has adopted Mr. and Mrs Duck, who quack us up for breakfast lunch and dinner, small, now obese squirrel, assorted confused sea gulls who think this is the Atlantic, and one minute chipmunk. All are becoming obese as the rest of America from too much food designed by the Nature Store just for them. We miss you all. Love, Pam

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