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HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRATER

250 years ago today, the emperor opened the imperial hunting grounds to the “common man” and “common woman.” Every Austrian child pays a visit to the amusement park after confirmation and at least twice in a lifetime (once as a child and once with their own children) every Austrian enjoys unparalleled views of Vienna from Prater’s “Riesenrad.” Personally, I love Vienna’s “green lungs” where the Fiakers go to sleep at night, the beavers build their homes and the attire of the chestnut trees reveal the season. Some of my favorite Prater pastimes include running, renting 4 person bikes and racing friends, consuming a greasy hunk of pork leg with freshly grated horseradish and frothing Budweis, and soaking in the beautiful Viennese sunsets from the Riesenrad. Prater is a required stop for all Vienna visits – no matter how old or young the visitors.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAUTIFUL PRATER!

Viennese Prater Map

Viennese Prater Map

Check out my story about what other surprising things you can find in Prater: http://www.kcblau.com/runninginprater/

 

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DECADES OF GRATEFUL WRITERS WISH CAFÉ CENTRAL A HAPPY BIRTHDAY

I know a parallel universe where a writer can be alone in the company of others. A place where the air is laced with the scents of freshly roasted coffee beans and the soft tones of piano music accompany stories-in-the-making. A place where the cell phone remains tucked away and the only interruption is the arrival of a slice of Apfelstrudel with a side of freshly whipped cream or a berry torte topped with a sliver of chocolate and a swirl of gold.

Café Central — inspiring writers, poets, artists, intellectuals, and countless more for 140

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

Cafe Central Coffee on a silver platter served with water

years! Franz Kafka, Arthur Schnitzler, Karl Kraus, Adolf Loos, Peter Altenberg – were all “Stammgäste” here – so-called “Centralists”. Sigmund Freud, Karl Popper, Gustav Klimt, all came here as well. Rumor has it that Leo Trotzki played chess here while preparing for the October Revolution in his homeland. Happy Birthday to a true Viennese institution!

Without you, Vienna would only be half as wonderful. Thank you, Café Central, for being you, and allowing writers the world over precious hours of in-between times and boundless inspiration.

In my historical fiction novel that takes place in the beginning of the 1900s, Women and Wild Savages, the Austrian poet, Peter Altenberg, describes to Lina

Cafe Central Desert

Cafe Central Desert

Loos the masterful skills of Café Central’s head waiter, Herr Ober Franz:

     “The third appeal of Café Central is Herr Ober Franz, the dominion of this empire of suspended time. Everything runs like clockwork and occurs only with his blessing. Astuteness is only surpassed by his ability to be discreet. A connoisseur of all drinks, he knows the rules to all games. Before the Herr Guest utters a syllable, good Franz addresses him in the appropriate tongue. In addition to German and English, I’ve heard Franz speak French, Italian, Hungarian, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Russian. From the 250 newspapers available in this coffeehouse, Franz knows each of our favorites. Once I even witnessed Franz, without a word, setting a Presse in front of a man who had been absent from Vienna more than a decade.”

                Franz’s slender figure glided through the labyrinth of marble tables. His

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

Cafe Central Apfelstrudel

upper body swayed as his coattails swung elegantly and his black bow tie aligned perfectly.

                “He presides, my dear. If we Viennese are half naked without a title, it is Franz, not the magistrate, who confers the honor. He masterfully ignores his guests to bestow us with the treasured in-between times: between the bank and the barber, the lectures and library, the firm and family, between today and tomorrow. He and His stand guard over our idle hours and never jostle us with a disapproving glance or unrequested bill.

                                                                                                Women and Wild Savages, KC Blau

And don’t miss on World Poetry Day!

MARCH 21 – PAY WITH A POEM DAY!

On Monday, March 21, Julius Meinl along with Café Central and other coffeehouses throughout the city are celebrating World Poetry Day by offering patrons the opportunity to pay with a poem by choosing their favorite Julius Meinl coffee or tea and “paying with a currency better than money: a currency of emotions” . Let your creative juices flow, be inspired by the ambience and enjoy the Mélange.

https://www.meinlcoffee.com/poetry/campaigns/pay-with-a-poem-2016/

 

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VIENNA’S EASTER MARKETS

Easter Eggs at Schönbrunn Easter Market in Vienna

Easter Eggs at Schönbrunn Easter Market in Vienna

Easter abounds in the month of March in Vienna. And I got you covered with over 10 different markets where you can eat, drink and be merry and – more importantly – finally find everything from lavender satchels to perfume his sports bag to the long-sought-after Kaiser Franz Josef egg – guaranteed to grant you instant Austrian friends-for-life at any Easter egg exchange event.
But be nimble – some of these markets are literally here today and gone the day after tomorrow.

SCHÖNBRUNN EASTER MARKET
Schönbrunner Schlossstraße, 1130 Wien
March 9 – 29, daily from 10 am – 6 pm
www.ostermarkt.co.at
Public transportation: U4 Schönbrunn

OLD VIENNESE EASTER MARKET AT THE FREYUNG

Kaiser Franz Josef Egg - yours for the taking - available for purchase at a Vienna Easter Market near you

Kaiser Franz Josef Egg – yours for the taking – would I steer you wrong? Available for purchase at a Vienna Easter Market near you

(Freyung, 1010 Vienna – near Schotten Church)
March 11 – 28, daily 10 am – 7:30 pm
www.altwiener-markt.at
Public transportation: U3 Herrengasse or U2 Schottentor

ART HANDICRAFT MARKET AM HOF
(Am Hof, 1010 Vienna – on square in front of the Plaza Hotel)

from March 11. – 28, Mon – Thurs 11am-8 pm, Fri-Sun & Holidays 10am -8 pm
www.kunsthandwerksmarkt.at
Public transportation: Herrengasse

KALVARIENBERG FESTIVAL
Kalvarienberggasse, St. Bartholomäus Square, 1170 Vienna
March 9 – 27, Mon – Fri 10 am – 6 pm, Sat & Sun 9 am – 6 pm,
Live music every weekend starting at 4:30 pm
www.kalvarienbergfest.at
Public transportation: U2 to Schottentor and then tram 44 to Frauengasse OR an insider tip from a helpful reader: hop on the 43 at Schottentor and get off at Elterleinplatz and it’s right across the street (many thanks, Sandy!)

PRATER EASTER MARKET

Wooden Easter Ornaments at Schönbrunn Castle Easter Market in Vienna

Wooden Easter Ornaments at Schönbrunn Castle Easter Market in Vienna

Prater
March 27, starting at 11 am
www.praterservice.at
Public transportation: U2 Praterstern

EASTER MARKET AT FRANZ –JONAS PLATZ
February 19 – March 27, daily from 9 am – 9 pm
1210 Vienna, Franz-Jonas-Platz

EASTER MARKET IN ALTE AKH
Spitalgasse 2, 1090 Vienna
March 17 – 28, daily 12 – 9 pm
Public transportation: U2 Schottentor and then tram 38 or 40

EASTER ART MARKET AT CASTLE NEUGEBÄUDE
Otmar-Brix-Gasse 1, 1110 Vienna
March 17 – 20
http://www.schlossneugebaeude.at/
Public transportation: U3 to Simmering and then bus 73A

EASTER IN THE FLOWER GARDENS OF HIRSCHSTETTEN
Quadenstraße 15 oder Oberfeldgasse, 1220 Vienna
March 26 – 28, daily from 10 am – 6 pm
https://www.wien.gv.at/umwelt/parks/blumengaerten-hirschstetten/veranstaltungen/ostern.html
Public transportation: U2 to Hardegggasse, then bus 95A

OLD VIENNESE MARKET IN FRONT OF PALACE HARRACH (by Freyung Easter Market)

Happy Easter Chickens

Happy Easter Chickens

Freyung 6, 1010 Vienna
March 11 – 26, daily: 10am – 7:30 am
Organic Farmer Market Freyung
U2 Schottenring or U3 Herrengasse

EASTER MARKET AT SCHÜTTAUPLATZ
Schüttauplatz 24, 1220 Vienna
March 18 – 20, daily from 8 am – 8 pm
Public Transportation: U1 to Kaisermühlen-VIC, then bus 92 A

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FOR THE BIRDS

These two avid bird watchers do not qualify for work on the bird census

These two avid bird watchers do not qualify for work on the bird census

For the seventh year in the row, the great tit comes out on top! Both throughout Austria and in Vienna. Get your ornithological-ignorant mind out of the gutter. The great tit is a chickadee (OK – fair enough, I admit that I didn’t know either so enlighten yourself with the Wikipedia tit entry ). Our Austrian

Great tit

Great tit

friends had the sense to call the little critter a Kohlmeise. But what makes the chickadee this year’s champion (again!)? He/she happens to be the bird who most frequently showed up for dinner at bird feeders throughout Austria for 4 days at the beginning of January.

Yes. From Wednesday, January 6 (a holiday in Austria – Three King’s Day) until Saturday, January 9, over 8000 Austrian bird lovers heeded the call of the wild and became official census takers for the Austrian Bird Protection Organization – Birdlife. Dedicating themselves to an hour’s watch at a bird feeder at a time and place of their choice, participants agreed to count how many birds visited the selected feeder within the hour and then take the point in time when the most birds simultaneously visited the feeders — how many were there and which birds they were.

House sparrow (Spatz)

House sparrow (Spatz)

 The 8062 participants submitted 5699 reports which recorded a total of 243,499 birds. Somehow that amounted to an average of 43 birds per Austrian garden, which was up from 39 in 2015 and 34 in 2014. Apparently the birds showed a distinct preference to Styrian (50 birds per yard) over Salzburg (last year’s seed distributor of choice) cuisine. But is it any wonder that our feathered friends choose to hang out with the green-hearted, bird-loving Styrians who can boast 2,014 bird-counting participants? The Tiroleans obviously had better things to do this year (watching skiers in flight?) and can bow their heads at the embarrassing 49% drop in participants.

Blackbird

Blackbird

The siskin seems to be attempting to steal the great tit’s thunder this year by endearing the Austrian media with its incredible jump in rankings from a miserable 29th place in 2015 to sliding into this year’s top 10 at number 10. Not to be outdone, in press coverage, however, is the greenfinch’s uplifting tale of overcoming incredible odds with an apparent come back after a parasite outbreak depleted its numbers (2.4 per garden up from 1.9 last year).

Vienna had 567 bird lovers who submitted 405 reports that indicated 10,691 birds had been spied in the country’s capital city, averaging to about 26 birds per bird feeder. More surprising than the siskin was the rank of the street pigeon sightings in Vienna. The Columba livia came in 10th in the Vienna bird rankings. Or maybe they missed the BirdLife memo and were all too busy collecting leftover kebab and pizza scraps at Schwedenplatz to be bothered with bird feeder visits in Prater.

Don’t miss out on the action next year. Be sure to mark your calendars now for the 2017 winter bird census (Thursday, January 5 – Sunday, January 8, 2017) because as the old, wise Austrian saying goes, a sparrow in the hand is better than a pigeon on the roof! (if only cats understood German)

Just a side note, if you came to this website because you entered “great tits” into your search engine and ended up here: “If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, we have to consider the possibility that we have a small aquatic bird of the family anatidae on our hands.” (Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency)

The top 5 birds in Vienna?

Carrion crow

Carrion crow

  • Great tit (of course)
  • Rook
  • House sparrow (is it any wonder that the Austrian near equivalent for “sweetie” is “Spatz” which is the nickname for the house sparrow?)
  • Carrion crow (raven)
  • Blackbird (my faithful, feathered friend who sings me through the Viennese summers)

Top 10 Birds sighted in January 2016 in Austria

  1. Great tit
  2. House sparrow

    Siskin - the Austrian media darling

    Siskin – the Austrian media darling

  3. Field sparrow
  4. Blackbird
  5. Blue tit
  6. Chaffinch
  7. Greenfinch
  8. Goldfinch
  9. Brambling
  10. Siskin

Because you know you’re dying to learn more about the birds:

 Austrian bird website BirdLife that conducts the annual bird census

PDF of 2016 Registration form with instructions and bird images at BirdLife http://www.stunde-der-wintervoegel.at/img/sdw2016.pdf

Results from 2016 – click on map to see more exact results and whether there was an increase or decrease in sightings: http://www.stunde-der-wintervoegel.at/index.php?id=auswertung

Some fun with a bird quiz in German – do you know the bird? http://www.news.at/a/quiz-wintervoegel

Hear the great tit in action: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Parus_major_15mars2011.ogg

My personal favorite and most frequent visitor to my summer sanctuary: the blackbird answering another bird’s call: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EB1lgjg9e4Y

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