Monday, November 9, 2009

Bicycle-Free in a Cycling City

I would definitely describe Vienna as a "cycling city" in term of its infrastructure. There is a good network of bike lanes, a bike share programme, many cyclists on the streets, and a decent system in place for integrating cycling with public transportation. All the more frustrating to be here bicycle-free! For a number of reasons, it was not practicable to either bring my own bicycle here or to rent one. I will express my Bike Rental Lament in a separate post. But for now, I give you a few images of night time Vienna - on foot.

For the purposes of sight seeing and tourism, this is not the best time to be in Vienna, as it is in between seasons. Scenic Autumn has ended, while the Weihnachten (Christmas) exuberance has not yet begun in earnest (On the photo above you can see that they've installed the holiday lights, but have not yet turned them on). Lucky for me, this matters not a bit, as I am working all day almost every single day that I am here. But don't feel too bad; I have been living in Vienna on and off for the past two years, and have already done all the sight seeing possible.

In some parts of the city center, the famous Viennese Christmas markets have already been set up. Those are the little lit-up tents you see in the foreground of the church.

Inside one of the tents. The Christmas markets sell everything from traditional foods and handmade toys, to Christmas decor, leather goods, and clothing.

Here is a stand with sausages and Glühwein (mulled wine).

A vintage roadster graces the cover of a detective novel.

For those with a fetish for fine gloves and tights (you know who I speak of, ladies!), being in Vienna around this time is especially difficult: lots of fine products by local designers are on offer. Thankfully, the high price of these prevented me from buying them - even if I did try to justify it to myself as a "cycling expense". No no no.

A traditional Viennese café: marble, dark wood, red velvet upholstery, dim lighting, waiters in crisp black and white, tiny silver trays, sugar cubes in crystal bowls, the works! If you have a chance to visit Vienna, plopping yourself down in one of these after a day of walking (or cycling) around the city, is a real treat.

I leave you now with an image of a Vienna Citybike station. Not many takers at 5:00 am!

10 comments:

  1. We all miss you and your bicycles are saying hi.

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  2. Vienna looks very chic in a wintry kind of way. I'm sorry you're not able to cycle, but it sounds like you've had plenty of good times there already.

    I need to find one of those jobs where I'm in Europe off and on! Need an assistant?

    thanks for sharing Vienna with us despite being busy with work!

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  3. MDI - ♥ ♥

    Mike - This probably sounds spoiled, but this kind of work only seems fun and special because of the American association between "Europe" and "vacation". I partly grew up in Europe, so being here is no different to me from being in the US. Sure, Vienna is beautiful - but so is Boston. Oh, and research shows that expatriate employees have extremely high levels of stress, personal problems, depressive illnesses, etc. - so you may want to rethink being my assistant : )

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  4. Fair warning, Filigree... Although if the assistant's duties include occasionally riding your bikes to keep them exercised, I may risk the depressive illness and the rest!

    My reincarnated bike (post frame-bending wreck) is to come home tomorrow! I'll ride for both of us, shoulder permitting.

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  5. Do the Viennese go in for roast chestnuts this time of year as the English do?It's something you just don't see around here.

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  6. oh yay a post!

    I'm a city-holic and as a young adult wanted to live in as many cities as possible for as long as possible. And it seems each year I age I just keep adding cities to the list!!!

    I would imagine being so far away from the co-hab would be hard.

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  7. Can you sign up to participate in the citibike program, or do you have to have a permanent address there to get a membership?

    When I was in Vienna ( a long time ago now) I rented a bike at the train station and used it for several days until I left again. I have this recollection of the train station being uphill and we were running late- pushing that beast of a single speed city bike as fast as I could to get there!

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  8. Steve A - Yes, I would say even more so than the English. There is a roasted chestnut stand on practically every block of the main shopping streets in Vienna and Salzburg. I will try to post some photos.

    Vee - much easier now that it's only 2.5 weeks as opposed to months at a time!

    cycler - You don't need a permanent address, but either an EU bank card ("Maestro") or a credit card from any country. Sometimes the system randomly malfunctions though and will not recognise foreign credit cards. I will write a separate post describing the CitiBikes in detail, with close-up photos. The Vienna train station is not on a hill, so was probably a different city!

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  9. I really like the warm, inviting atmoshpere of the café you settled yourself into after your long day. Nice.

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  10. Dang, Fil, just steal a bike, you gotta have wheels!

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