Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ein Ei für ein Ei

April 3, 2011

It’s springtime in Vienna (and it’s a pity that the song “Springtime for Hitler” from the movie “The Producers” is playing in my head), and the Viennese are indulging  their endearing pet passions: a love of ice cream and the outdoors.

Spring in Vienna
Ice Cream Line 
When we arrived at the end of July last year, it was miserably hot, and we quickly noticed these unusually long lines on certain sidewalks, whether in the village of Laxenburg or in Vienna. When we investigated, the explanation was unexpected: the lines were out the door and down the block in front of any ice cream and/or gelato salon. Everyone was indulging. Day after day after day. We chalked it up to the late summer heat but now realize that wasn’t the entire explanation.

This is our first spring in Vienna, and the moment hints of spring appeared, the outside cafes sprang to life, leading to a remarkable sight. It was still chilly a couple of weeks ago, and on the Graben in the First District, we stared in delight as women bundled in full-length fur coats and winter boots sat in outdoor cafes licking ice cream cones. 

Ice Cream Goddesses 

Today it was absolutely gorgeous shirt-sleeve and sandals weather, and Jim and I wandered for hours, first in the Ninth District, and then in the First, where the streets were bright with the colors of every flavor of ice cream imaginable being savored by young and old, denizens and tourists; even dogs and babies in strollers were in ice cream heaven. Our shared dish of basic vanilla and chocolate ice cream, boring as it might have been, counted as our baptism into Austrian ice cream indulgence.

April 10, 2011

Easter Market 
How did this happen? Now it’s a week later and one would think that time is flying because we’re just having so much fun. Not necessarily so. It’s one of those days when I simply can’t think or write, so despite my earlier promises, Jim’s the blogger of the day:

I read in the Austrian Times, an online tabloid in English, that a little market square in the First District was going to have a stack of 4,000 Easter eggs … setting the record for Europe.  It is becoming clear that Austrians love holidays.  Eggs are everywhere and, apparently, it isn't enough just to have eggs; you've got to have more than the rest of the European Union (the U.S. apparently doesn't count).

Agate Eggs
So, on the glorious day Misti mentioned, we headed for that market and, while I didn't find the promised mountain of eggs (there are still a couple of weeks to go, so it may happen), eggs of every size, hue, pattern and texture were hanging from various displays or tumbled together in bins.  And all of those Christmas Markets we visited and wrote about … they're back as Easter Markets.  Squares are filled with little houses from which everything Easter is being sold. 

We even came across a table where a guy was selling an antique cannon and very old artificial limbs -- literally an arm and a leg.  And right next to them was a little basket of Easter eggs.

More Eggs 
Vienna is known for miniatures … small bronzes of everything from famous people to dancing frogs.  Misti bought me a beautiful one for Christmas.  We walked by our favorite antique miniature store yesterday and -- surprise, surprise -- there were lots of little bunnies. In one display, the bunnies were sitting at desks, learning arithmetic.
Bunnies learning math 

As we haven't got anything profound to say this time out, I'm including some images Keiran has taken on his photo excursions around Vienna.  He likes shooting people and architecture in black and white, and here are some random samples of people around town.  The fisheye image is the Votive Kirche from the underground tram stop we use several times a week.


Market Closing
Book Buyer
Votive Kirche
We neglected to tell you in the last blog what the top image was.  We still won't, because we don't know exactly, but it is what remains of a painting on a wall inside a church in the First District. If I recall correctly, it dates back to about 1300.  I'll get more details next time we're near there. 

And today's top image is one we have walked by scores of times and never really noticed.  There is a building on our way downtown that has lilacs blooming out front and an inlaid arch around the rather normal looking doors.  The image at the top is just one section of the inlay.  

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