Tag Archives: Wien

Cemetery of the Nameless

Cemetery of the Nameless – Friedhof der Namenlosen.
It is a very small but special cemetery in Vienna. The bodies buried here were washed up by the nearby river Danube because of the strong currents of the river, however it changed when the Vienna Harbour was built. Most had drowned in it, many had committed suicide.
They could not be buried in the Zentralfriedhof because of religious reasons.
It has two parts, the old one is abandoned and completely overgrown today – it was flooded frequently, so they opened another part which can be visited today.

It has a special atmosphere and a little chapel. It is a little tricky to find, hiding in an industrial part behind a new dock and huge grain silos. It is definitely worth a visit. It can be reached by bus 71 from Enkplatz, until the stop Wien Hafen. Then it is about 10 minutes on foot, in the industrial area. (Please check the exact location before you go, we managed to get lost first time)

Café Hawelka – a Traditional Place

Vienna’s coffee house culture is one of the UNESCO’s intangible world heritages. Coffee houses have a very special atmosphere “where time and space are consumed but only the coffee can be found on the bill”.

Café Hawelka is a traditional Viennese place in the heart of the city, close to the Stephansdom. It was originally opened in 1939 but, due to the war it had to close. In 1945 it reopened and it is open since then – like time has stopped there, it is a piece of history.

We wanted to go there because there is a famous Austrian song about it which was very popular when he was a kid and even before. Well, I can’t say anything, I wasn’t in Austria back then 🙂
This is the song:

It is really traditional, the way it looks, the service, the old pictures on the wall, the magazines on the table, the simplicity of the menu. Coffee is excellent, the Sacher is delicious but I prefer it at Sacher 🙂 Service is quite slow but the atmosphere worth it. Take your time 🙂

A Special German Class – Our Visit in the Parliament

Two weeks ago on Thursday we had a day off because a religious holiday, Corpus Christi. It was up to us to decide whether we want to have an extra class on a Friday or just do something special together. We chose to visit the Parliament House on the Ring and we didn’t regret it.

First, a few words about the Austrian political system:
Austria is a democratic republic. It has 9 counties (one is Vienna) and people have the right to vote from the age of 16. Vienna is the capital so the ministries, the Parliament and a lot of important authorities are here. There are 183 representatives who are discussing the law. They belong to 5 main parties: the SPÖ, ÖVP, FPÖ, Neos and Die Grünen. The president choses the ministers, the chancellor and the secretary of the state.

Since December 2016 the president is Alexander Van Der Bellen who is the first green president ever in Austria. The elections didn’t go smooth though. Van Der Bellen won in May but the votes were counted too early so they had to repeat it in December – and he won again.

The building of the Parliament was completed in 1883 and has a Greek Revival style designed by Theophil Hansen. In front of it there is a statue of Pallas Athene, the Greek goddess of wisdom and knowledge. In the tympanum we can see Emperor Franz Joseph wearing a Roman toga.  The interior has the Greek style, too, with the statues, the columns, and the paintings. The doorknobs and the stairs are decorated with snakes, it means wisdom.

The guided tour through the building took about an hour and it was very interesting. We saw where the politicians are working, speeches are held and laws are made. It was in German but our guide tried to speak a little slower – it helped a lot. If you want to schedule a visit, hurry up, in the middle of July they will close, due to renovations, and will only reopen in 2020. Till then, they move to the Hofburg.

My Favorite Places in Vienna – Donauinsel

I’ve been running regularly for more than 6 years now. When we moved to Vienna, one of my first things was to find a great place for running. I checked on-line, and three beautiful places were recommended. First was the Prater, which is wonderful, but too far from my home. The second was the Schönbrunn, but it is always packed with tourists. (Don’t misunderstand me, I like tourists, but running around them can be a bit tiring). The third place was the Donauinsel. It’s a very narrow (only 70-120 m), 21 km long island. At the first time I fall in love with it. (And I also started to run on an island on the Danube).

The Donauinsel is not a natural island, it is the part of the city’s flood protection system. The works started in 1972 and finished in 1988. The Neue Donau is practically a long swimming lake, not a river. If you are on the island, you see the difference between the color of the water on the left and the right side. It can also be seen on Google Maps. It is a recreational area with a lot of restaurants, a water park and various activities on the water (windsurfing and boat rentals are also available).
You can lay under the Sun and tan from late spring till early autumn or just have a drink in the grass while watching the water. You won’t be alone, don’t worry 🙂 There are always a lot of people.

For running, it can offer different distances, remember, it’s 21 km long so it’s only up to you! I usually start at the Neue Donau station at U6, then head to the south. I’ve already met rabbits, baby swans and ducks.

This weekend there is a huge, famous and FREE festival, don’t miss it! I will be there 🙂 www.donauinselfest.at

This Danube is really “blue”


Swans with their babies

Our Class

Vienna is an international city, and you can see this in the Deutschkurs, too. People are from Romania, Iran, Indonesia, Japan, Spain, Mexico, Ukraine and Hungary (me). Different cultures and habits meet every day. Last month there was a woman from Tanzania. I love to hear the stories from all over the world like what their motivation is, how their hometown is or how they met their loved one.

People are studying at the university, writing their PhD, or just trying to find a better job. German is not an easy language and takes hard work to improve.

This is the second week of the course, it started a week later, but at least we had some time to go over everything again. At B1.1 we practice and talk even more, German started to become the part of our lives. I don’t use English anymore in the city and that makes me feel more confident. Though last time we went to a spa the waiter in the restaurant didn’t understand my “school German” so I had to ask for help 🙂

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Why did I chose to learn German?

When I married to a handsome Austrian man it became clear that, some time, maybe not in the very distant future I will have to learn German. Just to be able to communicate with the family or raising kids together.
Well, we were living in California, so I wasn’t very motivated. I wanted to show him that I’m interested in his culture so I started an on-line course but, I didn’t get further than the basics.
The city where we lived was founded by a Swiss man though, and a lot of German people moved there to find their luck during the gold rush. It has a huge German community (from first generation Germans to German descendants), they have an official beer fest, most of the women own at least one dirndl (sometimes more) and Heidi is a really common name. The local Turnverein offers German lessons and they are sold out fast.

When my husband got his new position in Vienna, I was shocked. I knew that without speaking the language I won’t find a good job and I didn’t want to sit at home. So I decided to learn German in all my free time but, I was too worried so I drove to San Francisco instead 🙂 It calmed me down, our moving date seemed far enough. We had only two months left…

So I came to Vienna with a very basic knowledge (level A1.1)
which of course wasn’t enough for anything. We started to look for courses. I wanted something very intensive where I can feel motivated and we practice a lot. My husband found DeutschAkademie, it had really good reviews so we decided to give it a try.
I had to write a test to see which level I could fit in. In March I started A1.2. I knew most of the things already but I couldn’t use them, I recognized the words but they didn’t come to my mind in everyday situations, I mixed up the articles and the “Personalpronomen”.
Our teacher was wonderful. Patient over all 🙂 We were practicing a lot, we were forced to talk, create sentences, use the proper articles.
I absolutely loved it! Slowly, my German started to improve. First I was too shy to talk, what if I mix up the articles or use dativ instead of akkusativ? Well, who cares? Just talk as much as possible and it will get better.

Last week we visited my mother in law again and we could have our first real conversation! I was very proud of myself – also my husband. Hard work really pays off 🙂

Find someone who can support you while studying:

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Backup Options to Getting Around Wien

Getting around Wien is not usually a lot of sweat, thanks to the excellent public transport system here. Most residents and students in particular in the city are hooked on to the system to go about their tasks as much as millennials depend on their mobile phones for meaningful social interaction. Although the cost of the services is a bit on the higher side, commuters get to choose from the fast U bahns that trundle quickly through tunnels and over bridges to get you to your destination in a jiffy or Strassenbhans (trams) and buses that lumber through roads and make for a good alternative for those who want to look around at the beautiful city. However, its a large, complex network and every so once in a while, something does go wrong and while the highly competent staff at Wiener Liener get about to setting it right, we the people generally have to wait and watch.

It is quite interesting, that its exactly because the system is so reliable that so many Wieners are unprepared for transport system stoppages. Recently, I was stuck near Florisdorf for almost half an hour as a problem somewhere was forcing trains on both sides to use the same platform. Most other people around me had to just stand and wait as well and by the looks of it, some were being kept from important engagements. This got me thinking, what are the options that we have to deal with such black swan events?

The white knight arrives to save stranded passengers!

Students will more often than not lack the budget to buy their own vehicles and cycling is not everybody’s thing. Also, as much as one would fancy it, getting a boat and paddling your way though the Donau is not very practice. So what do we do when the good old lines do not function? Turns out, your phone can come in handy (yes! finally I know enough German to come up with some pun!). Here are some apps that can help you move around should the need arise.

  1. Uber: Although not as ubiquitous as in the US or some other markets, Uber seems to be a good option for commuters in the city. Functions exactly like in other places and the rates are reasonable (although rush hour price spikes can and will happen). Internet feedback over the app is generally positive, so just tap that app when you have to!
  2. Car2Go: A car rental app, Car2Go is an option for students with a valid driving license. Pick up a rental car from a close convenient location and use it. Internet reviews I came across for the service were a bit mixed.
  3. MyTaxi: A rather famous taxi hailing app in Europe, MyTaxi services are available in Wien and let you connect directly with taxis nearby. You can also pay for the ride using the app and have favorite drivers and other useful functions that make this a rather interesting option.

I do hope that readers will find the post useful. Please comment and let me know if you think something else should make it to the list!

Eine kleine Vorstellung

Hallo, liebe Leute!

Ich heiße Irene, aber ich bevorzuge mit dem Name “Irena” genannt werden.
Tatsächlich komme ich aus Görz, eine Stadt getrennt in zwei Teilen: ein Teil liegt in Italien und der andere in Slowenien. Die zwei Bevölkerungen (die Slowenen und die Italiener) sind so gemischt, dass es unmöglich ist, sie erkennen. Zum Beispiel spricht meine Mutter slowenisch und mein Vater italienisch (und ein bisschen Deutsch, weil er aus Südtirol kommt).
So ihr könnt mich sowohl “Irena” als auch “Irene” nennen. Beide sind richtig!

Meine Freunde aus Görz und ich haben Weinachten in Wien gefeiert!

Seit Oktober wohne ich in Wien. Ich bin hier gekommen, um Deutsch zu lernen. Das ist der Grund, weil ich DeutschAkademie besuche, aber leider für die letzte zwei Monate könnte ich nicht!
Ich hoffe, dass ich in dieser Zeit nicht alle vergessen habe. Es ist wichtig zu praktizieren, deshalb habe ich entscheidet, im Blog zu schreiben.
Glücklicherweise gibt es in dieser Stadt so viele Möglichkeiten, auf Deutsch zu sprechen und Leute zu treffen. Wir werden zusammen sehen, wie man machen kann.
Außerdem am 8. Mai beginne ich noch den Kurs. Ich kann nicht mehr warten darauf, die Stufe B2.2 zu ergänzen!

So fordert mich in diese “Wanderung”! Genießt mit mir das Leben in Wien!
Bis nächstes Mal!

Liebe Grüße,

Eure Irena/e

Some popular indoor getaways in Wien

Although, we have had one nice sunny morning this past week, I thought I would play it safe this time around and stick to some indoor recreational avenues in Wien. Almost all the districts in the city have shopping centers and theaters, but some of them make for better evenings than others depending on your preferences. In making this list I have also prioritized places that are easier to access using the U Bahn network, so you may see some popular names missing.

  1. Lugner City: Among one of the most popular shopping destinations of the city, my first tryst with Lugner was way back in 2009, when I visited the center regularly to visit a really reasonably priced, all-you-can-eat restuarant, which has since shut shop (probably because of gluttonous clientele like me I imagine). However, the place is located close to the inner city (the station next to Westbahnhof on U6) and has a variety of shops, which feature good offers quite regularly and a great food court. Lugner City also has a kino for all you film buffs. Definitely a top destination to shop for some clothes and electronics! Do note that the place can get quite crowded in the weekends.

    Lugner City: Great choice of shops and activities

  2. Wien Mitte: Billed as the largest shopping center in the city, Wien Mitte is conveniently accessible by U, S and regional train networks. The place boasts of multiple supermarkets (some open even on Sundays), fast food, coffee houses, shops, restaurants and a multiplex. It does not matter if you are looking for books, hats, consumer durables or just a nice place to dine at, this center has it all.
  3. Millennium Shopping Center: Located in the lower floors of the Millennium Tower (next to Handelski Station on the U6), this is one of the quieter, more relaxing shopping areas that I have been to. Its right next to Neue Donau, so the view from most places within the center is spectacular. The place boasts of some upmarket coffee houses, a spacious and well maintained food court with a really good variety of cuisines to choose from. As with the other places listed above, this center has a multiplex thrown in as well. It also has a great recreational center for gaming and a disco.
  4. G3 Shopping Center: Located at quite a distance from the city, you will need to hop on to the U6 and go all the way to Florisdorf and catch a free shuttle that will take you to the G3 center. While the place is quite far from almost everything, it is quite popular with people looking to do their shopping on a budget. You find a number of brands selling clothes and other merchandise at good discounts and a few coffee shops when you want to take a break from the shopping. It also houses a couple of big supermarkets.

Hope you find the list useful! Please use the comments to add your suggestions to the list!

Taking Wien’s temperamental weather in your stride

It would neither be particularly interesting, nor fair to say that this spring has not been all that conducive for some sun and frolicking. After all, Wien is not known for sunny beaches and warm weather. Its a central European city, situated very close to the Alps, which make for a cooler, unpredictable weather.

This aspect of local climate was brought to the fore last week, when people were somewhat surprised by snowfall in the middle of April. Most days of the month saw cloudy or slightly cold weather and it did feel like winter was not really ready to loosen its grips on the region and make way for spring. So, personally, my earlier blog on a spring outing location may have been a bit optimistic. But take heart, not all is lost! Out of season snowfall is a pleasant surprise and life goes on as usual. However, I thought that a few wardrobe tips may be appropriate for students or backpackers planning on coming over.

  1. A raincoat is in order – It does rain quite often in the city, so be prepare yourself with a raincoat or an umbrella. I suggest both!
  2. Have a mix of clothing – while it can get quite warm in the summers (Austria is landlocked), the weather can take a turn for the worse pretty quickly thanks to the mountainous terrain, so make sure you pack both light and heavy clothing. Since its not very humid, people don’t tend to perspire much, so you don’t need too many sets of clothes as long as you manage your laundry well.
  3. Stock up on warm accessories – the cold weather does mean that you may be needing thermals, think hats, gloves and earmuffs. Summer season travelers can ignore this tip
  4. Take it in your stride – rain may temporarily ruin your planned outings, but rest assured that a bright sunny day is right around the corner and the city has some great places for memorable excursions and outdoor activities!

I hope you find these tips handy and useful! Let me know if you have any tips of your own in the comments section below!


Where there is smoke, there is fire – A look at the smoking culture in Wien

Wien is widely regarded as one of the best cities to live in globally. It is clean, surrounded by natural beauty, has excellent recreational facilities and has many excellent restaurants and cafes. It has a pleasant night life and you often read that the city also has great cafes and restaurants. However, for a nonsmoker like myself, going to a cafe to relax for a bit is not as straight forward as it seems. Austria is one of the few remaining countries in Europe that still allows smoking in cafes, and well let’s face it, I cant really go to many good rustic cafes without having passively smoked a few good swigs of tobacco every few minutes I spend there.

Wien’s romance with smoking is a bit of an enigma to me. Why do the otherwise health conscious people here tolerate public smoking, disregarding the substantial and ever increasing research pointing to the harms of active and passive smoking? The problem is in fact darker than what it seems at the surface. The country already has one of the highest smoking rates in Europe.[Source] In Austria, lung cancer, which is one of the most direct and harmful consequences of smoking accounts for 6.8% and 3% of total deaths in males and females respectively. Central Europe (including Austria) lags behind the US and countries in Western Europe in terms of decline in the prevalence of smoking. More worryingly, prevalence of smoking seems to still be on the rise among women and this has corresponded with an increase in lung cancer rates among females. So, we must admit that the problem is more than just skin deep.

For years, protesting lax regulations on smoking seemed to be just as pointless as donning expensive Calvin Klein perfume to one of the smoke filled pubs, cafes and bars of the city. However, finally there has been some good news for anti-smoking activists after their long, commendable fight. In 2015, years and years after similar measures in other countries, the Austrian government finally decided to bring about a complete ban on smoking in pubs, bars and cafes by 2018.[Source] So we can hope for clearer, healthier breathing for coffee lovers, employees and visitors who just want to sip their cup of delicious cocoa and watch the city walk past without dabbling with carcinogenic agents swirling around, eagerly looking to ensnare their next unsuspecting victim.

Since late is better than never, we must wholeheartedly welcome this progressive step to limit smoking in public areas as it will definitely help Wien become a healthier city for everyone living here.