Sunday, September 29, 2013

Weekly Interlude 17: Let's Take a Walk

I've had another one of those in-between weeks again. It seems like something is almost always on the verge of happening -- getting paid, visiting friends, going to Oktoberfest -- but these events are always scheduled for sometime in the (near) future. Honestly, not much has changed since last week, except that I'm perhaps a little more comfortable with the idea of doing nothing/vegging out (now that my free month is winding to a close, of course).

Beginning of the Wanderweg
Last Sunday, Eliza and I went hiking in the Vienna Woods. Vienna has nine Wanderwege, or hiking trails, that wind up to various peaks; we took Wanderweg 1 up 1,588 feet to Kahlenberg (Bald Mountain). The last time I went hiking (not counting Mt. Untersberg in Salzburg), a friend and I climbed Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire. To get to that summit at 3,165 feet, you have to get a little creative sometimes, as there isn't always a clear foot path; it's as much a climb along steep rock face as it is a distinct walking path. I expected this same challenging course as I geared up to climb Kahlenberg. Eliza and I looked like serious hikers in our under-armor running wear, sweatshirts, and light backpacks.
Vineyard along the Wanderweg

Along the Wanderweg
But the Wanderwege are mostly paved paths filled with bikers, joggers, and older couples in cargo pants using walking poles. It was more a scenic tour through the green Vienna countryside than the rigorous hike I'd imagined. We began by taking Beethovengang, or Beethoven Walk, and soon found ourselves at the corner of Beethovengang and Eroicagasse. Very cool. Soon, though, street signs disappeared, and the path became steeper. Vineyards stretched up along the mountainside in orderly rows, and grassy fields swayed below us. Little houses occasionally dotted the landscape, nestled behind some trees or hidden at the foot of endless rows of grape vines. The sun emerged early on, and I kept stopping my power-walk to take photos and marvel over the city's beauty. (The Vienna Woods begin within city limits and then stretch beyond. In fact, more than half of the Vienna metropolitan area is "green space" -- parks, woods, etc. Kahlenberg lies in the 19th district.)
Along the Wanderweg

Along the Wanderweg
When I studied abroad in Vienna in 2012, the host program organized a bus tour of the city the first week we were there. I remember towards the end of the tour, the bus drove us all the way up to Kahlenberg, and we saw the most magnificent view of the city. It was freezing at the time, the frigid January wind whipping our faces, but I distinctly remember taking beautiful photos of the Alps in the distance and of the Danube Island below. Visiting Kahlenberg is one of my first memories of being in the city.
St. Josef's Church

Returning to Kahlenberg after a year and a half seemed symbolic somehow, as if I had come back to gain closure. (I may be back in Vienna, but it's very different than the last time I was here.) The pale yellow St. Josef's Church -- a Baroque church finished in 1639 and rebuilt between 1683 and 1734 (50 years!) after the Battle of Kahlenberg -- still stands, welcoming you to the mountain as you emerge from the hiking trail. Souvenir shops sell the same products every few feet. This time, though, people lounged outside in chairs, enjoying the mild weather and drinking coffees, rather than huddled inside the restaurants. It was beautiful and crowded, and I felt like I was in the thick of it all.
Danube, viewed from Kahlenberg

Behind Leopoldsberg
Eliza and I decided to hike an extra 25 minutes to Leopoldsberg, the neighboring hilltop looming at 1,394 feet. This part of the walk was quieter but no less beautiful. We rested for a bit at the summit, then took the bus all the way back down -- down Leopoldsberg, down Kahlenberg, along steeply winding roads, through Grinzing, past a Beethoven house, all the way to Heiligenstadt, where we picked up the U-Bahn and went home. All in all, a lovely afternoon spent in the city. I'd recommend a walk through the Vienna Woods to anyone who comes to visit.
Yes, Autobushaltestelle = bus stop

Yesterday, I took another walk (without my camera; shame on me!), this time over to the Danube, which is only about 10 minutes from where I live. I sat along the river -- which is not always blue, as Mr. Strauss would have you believe -- for a while, talking to Eliza and watching motorboats bump gently along. (The Polizei have a motorboat, too!) I miss the ocean terribly, being stuck in a land-locked country, and while a river or a lake is definitely NOT the same thing, it was still refreshing to sit along the water and think.
View from Leopoldsberg

The days in between and after these two walks have been cloudy and cold. Could it be that I'm in for another winter like the four I just had in Ithaca, NY?! I'm sensing that's a yes. That's okay. As always, I will survive. :)

1 comment:

  1. So pretty! And there's something poetic about hiking trails being called "Wanderweg"s. Sounds like fun! :)