Lower Austria 15km hike

I had a wonderful hike in Lower Austria over the weekend with an international group of very good, good and not-so-good (aka me) hikers.  When we got off the train, the hike leader laid out the map to show us the route we would take.  He showed us where the Roman Empire ended and the German speaking part started.  An Italian in the group corrected him and said “Barbarians, not German speaking”.  It was all said in fun and we laughed while having the impromptu short history lesson.

  1.  Shrine at the area we began the hike


2.  I liked the view at the area we started


3.  Walking by the stream was quite relaxing


4.  Some small horses.  There was a sign that the horses are for breeding with Arab horses.  Quite interesting to think that this establishment in the middle of nowhere (or so it seems) has horses for breeding internationally.


5. Totem pole at the falconry/bird place next door (maybe it’s on the establishment, I don’t know)


6.  There is a playground after the bird place and there were some sculptures like this one:


7. I have never been this close to donkeys and was surprised at how docile and sad they look.  In comparison, I think horses look like happier and more alert.


8.  I was informed that in ‘proper’ winter, people ski on these slopes.  There is actually  a ski lift beyond the trees on the right.

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9.  We had lunch at a restaurant which had a clock stuck at 12.40.  Not sure whether it was am or pm.


10.  Tree contributed by one lady 300 years ago.


11.  We once had lunch at this restaurant during an earlier hike.


12.  See that little tree house in the distance?  It is for ‘hunters’ to hide in and shoot animals that eat a trough.  I don’t think it’s a fair way of hunting.  I don’t know the proper term for such hunting, though….


13.   Just a beautiful view, especially in summer when everything is green or in the fall with vibrant flowers.


Vienna and the surrounding areas are beautiful for hiking.

I thought Russians were beautiful!

Talk about putting both your feet and an extra one in your mouth!  Misspeaking has happened to the best of us and unfortunately, even the most eloquent are not immune from it.

I was out for a hike with an international mix of people and had to take a one hour train ride to the starting point.  Introductions were being made all round. One lady was visiting on duty from Peru and was quite excited, this being her first visit to Europe.  She got chatting to one of the other hikers.

Peru Lady (PL):  Where are you from?  (Quite a common question when introductions are made).

Russia Lady (RL):  I am from Russia.

PL, looking shocked:  What?  You are from Russia? (All our ears perked up because this sounded like an interesting conversation).

RL:  Yes, I am.  You look surprised.  Why?

PL:  All the Russians I have seen are skinny, tall very beautiful with flawless skin.

RL:  Where did you see Russians who only look like that?

PL:  On a reality TV show in Peru.

The Russian lady was not impressed with the answer but was understanding that PL had not been exposed to other cultures and responded diplomatically that reality TV shows are not real and do not represent the real situation.  PL realized her mistake and stammered that she thought RL was equally beautiful, etc.



You put a burning candle in your ear?!!?

I went to the emergency room the other day and there were two receptionists manning the front desk.  My trip to the ER turned into a verbal adventure.

Me:  I was trying to clean my ears but the wax in my right ear is not coming out and is lodged deep inside.

Receptionist 1 (R1):  OK.  Let me have your ID card and then you will see the doctor.  You said you are a private patient?

Me:  Yes, I am a private patient.

Receptionist 2 (R2):  You have a problem with your right ear?

Me:  Yes, and I require an ENT specialist’s assistance.

R2 (making a gesture of clicking on a lighter and moving it to her right ear):  If you have a problem with your ear, why then did you light a candle and put it in your ear?

I did not understand what she was saying and confusion must have shown on my face.

R2:  You said you have wax in your ears.  It means you put a burning candle in your ear and ended up with wax in there.  Why would you do that?

Me: No, no!  I did not do that.  The dirt in one’s ears is called ‘wax’ in English and that’s what I am talking about.

R2:  Oh, OK.  I understand now.  I wondered why you would want to burn yourself.

R1, as she gave me back my ID card:  May I ask something?  For how long have you lived in Austria?

Me:  Four years.

R1:  That’s a long time.  How come you don’t have health insurance?

Me:  I have insurance through my employer, but not through the Austrian Government.

R1:  I see.  I am sorry for asking, but I am a noisy person.

I got my ID card and took a seat.

R1 (speaking to herself):  Noisy?  I am noise. I am nose. Aargh!  How do I say it?  Nose?  I am nose? Yes, I am nose.

I knew R1 wanted to say she was ‘nosey’, but I did not feel like running an English lesson at that time and so I left her to her conclusion.

15km Vienna walk

My favorite hobby is walking/hiking – be it within the city or in the hills somewhere.  I find walking very refreshing and it helps clear my mind.  Therefore, I went with some friends for a 15 km city walk, only that it was not within the city on paved sidewalks as I thought, but mainly out in the fields.  I still had a great time, though.  It was foggy throughout the day so we could not admire any views, which I was told were out there somewhere.

  1.   Some parts of the route had plenty of snow/ice as on this patch and we had to take care not to fall.


2.  We passed by an outdoor gym and had a bit of fun on the machines.  We found one guy who was showing off exercising and seemed very fit. He is the one doing the press ups from the table. What a show off!


3.  As usual, we had to pass a church and this time it was a Catholic one in the tenth district.


4.  We lamented about  some brussel sprouts that had not been harvested.  I love brussel sprouts and would have enjoyed them on the gardener’s behalf 🙂


5.  We passed by an Asian restaurant that had a pagoda, which I learnt should only have odd numbers  of ‘layers’.


6.  Outdoor chairs which look like Bhudda’s hands, or so we thought.


7.  Vineyards were looking sad and dead, but I know that come summer, they will be full of life and juicy goodness!


8.  Several times my boots felt as if they had a bucketsful of mud and I had to clean them in the wet grass throughout the walk.  My jeans ended up with mud as well.  I did not wear proper hiking gear since I thought we would walk on paved roads in the city.


My friend back home never understands why I enjoy walking.  I used to take walks around my neighbourhood in Zambia because there was nowhere to hike.  This left me frustrated since some areas had no pavements and I had to walk on the road and take extra care when cars were whizzing past.

I am glad I found like minded people here in Vienna to go walking/hiking with.  Ah, the simple pleasures of life!

Chip on some blacks’ shoulders?

I am a black woman who has lived in the west for many years.  I like it a lot here – there are more of life’s conveniences and there are no electricity black outs.  I appreciate and enjoy the lifestyle I live.  There are also some disadvantages of living in a country which is racially different from you, in spite of all the good things offered to me.  One of those things is racism.  I have written about racism before in this post.

However, sometimes I think that some of us blacks tend to suspect any white person who does something out of the ordinary to be racist because of our previous experiences.  I will give an example.  I went to the main public library today where I regularly borrow books.  When I got off the train, I decided to take the elevator up along with others.  One elderly white man came to the elevator but for whatever reason, did not enter.  An elderly black woman in the elevator asked if he was coming and he did not respond.

The lack of reaction from the man annoyed the woman who started saying some interesting things as we were going up – “You don’t want to take the elevator because we are blacks, Africans, N Word?  So you can’t stand us?  You think you are better than us?  You will see!  I will catch you.”  Let me mention here that there were six people in the elevator in total – three blacks and three whites.

I wondered how the woman could have known that the man was racist.  Did she have a previous encounter with him?  Had the man said something racist that I did not hear?  Maybe the man just did not want to share the elevator with many people.  Who knows?  I assumed that the woman just had a chip on her shoulder and so her first thought about the man was to scream “Racist!”.  Fortunately or unfortunately, the man of course, did not hear this monologue.

I have seen similar reactions from some of my fellow blacks who always assume that they are being targeted racially.  I find it really tiring because sometimes the non-blacks either really don’t know something (e.g. someone said she hadn’t known before that Africans’ palms and soles of their feet are lighter colored that other parts of their bodies) or are trying to help (e.g. one Viennese warned an African to watch out because the part of woods she would be going to had snakes).  In both cases my African sisters were offended, but I personally did not see any issue.

One thing I have learnt is not to assume racism unless it is either blatant otherwise I will not live a happy life.  Maybe I am just being fussy over nothing or not fully tuned to racist vibes, I don’t know.  I just think we should take it easy sometimes.

Say “Thank You”

I invited some friends for dinner on Saturday and we had a great time.  We always laugh a lot with this group of friends.  One of the couples brought their four year old daughter and  also brought me a beautiful bouquet.  I thanked them accordingly and we settled down.

The little girl came to me after about ten minutes and said “Say thank you to mummy for the flowers”.  We all had a good laugh, but I did thank her mummy again.  Apparently, the little girl (like all young children) is always reminded to say thank you when she is given something and she thought of passing along the lesson to me.


Flowers from friend

Flowers from friend – I have no vase size suitable for a small bouquet 😦

Smoking indoors in Vienna

Some colleagues invited me to a restaurant when I just moved to Vienna a few years ago.  It was very nice and the food was delicious.  I was, however, surprised that people were smoking in the restaurant.  Apparently, smoking in public indoor spaces was banned in Austria some years ago but this law has been ignored.  I was informed that patrons refused to follow the non-smoking law and proprietors refused to follow it lest they lose business.  People in Vienna smoke quite a lot and I can see them having clout in the whether or not the law takes effect.

I don’t smoke but that has not stopped me from visiting establishments where patrons smoke indoors.  I come out smelling of smoke along with my braids and clothes, but I still go back.  I was surprised about the smoking indoors practice as the other countries I have been to do not allow that.  Well, I will wait and see whether we will have a smoke-free indoor Vienna soon.  Wish me luck!

Welcome to Lobau, Nudist Beach

A friend, Hilda, took me to visit Lobau Park in Vienna over summer.  It was nice to take short train and bus rides to somewhere green and quiet place.  We walked around, chatting and stopping to see the flora and fauna in the park.

One thing that surprised me was seeing snails climbing plants – all snails I had seen before moved on the ground and none had ever shown off by sliding ‘slimily’ up a plant.

Snail on a plant

Fuzzy photo – the brown strips are the snail.

We continued to a small lake and saw plenty of large fish.  I am not sure if they were carp, so I will just call them “Large Fish”.

Big fish. Is it carp?

Large fish

We walked further up the lake around a bush and found another type of ‘fauna’ – people sunbathing in the nude!  We looked at them, they looked at us then this happened:

  • Hilda continued walking and chatting
  • I stopped, stumbled on ahead and then said “Hilda….”,
  • Hilda paused and looked at me
  • I shifted my gaze questioningly to the sunbathers
  • Hilda said “oh, you want to look at the fish some more?”
  • Hilda then guided me nearer the lake to see more fish, right between the sunbathers who were be now ignoring us

We watched the fish for a couple of minutes and then continued on our way.  When we were out of earshot, Hilda apologized for not having warned me about the nudist beach.  Yes, I had heard of nudism before, but unexpectedly seeing the real thing was  a shock.  I just never expected nudists to be out in public like that.  I had always imagined that there would be signs alerting people about what to be expected.   I was also amazed that all these were elderly people with elderly looking bodies and no six pack in sight – at least I did not see any in the brief moments I looked them.

I know I have written about some Americans being surprisingly prudish, but that was in saunas and when with friends.  I found the Lobau experience more than interesting because the nudists were not protected from strangers’ eyes and they are freely out in public.  Hilda informed me that I would have seen a more interesting sight – nudists riding bikes in the Lobau!

I should have taken a photo as a souvenir, but of course it was not the right thing to do and I do not think the objects of my curiosity would have been pleased.

Sculpture Garden, Vienna

One thing I love doing is taking walks along the Donaukanal in summer.  Nature looks happy and is beautifully green and there are a lot of people out and about.  Walking there really relaxes me.

There is a sculpture garden that features different pieces each year.  The sculptures this year are a bit too abstract for me to even try and decipher what they are.

1.  Silver piece – I liked this one a lot

One piece

2.  Pink piece – it reminds me of a small dog


I did not see any explanations of what the pieces portray.  The sculptor is Hans Kupelwieser.

3.  Silver/pink and more colours – is this a millipede?


4.  Lilac/fuschia/pink/silver and I don’t know what else


Landlord has foreign accent

I rent an apartment through a management company.  I will call the representative I deal with, Landlord. Landlord’s accent was very strange – one that I had never heard before and I knew instinctively that was a foreigner.

I could not place his nationality no matter how much I tried, so I thought that maybe he was from  one of the neighboring countries.  I then noticed that many people at the office and around Vienna had a very similar accent.  It then dawned on me that Landlord was not a foreigner, but I was!  I had not been able to place his accent only because I was not used to an Austrian German accent.  I felt very silly for thinking others as foreigners in their own country.

The moral of this story is, is …… OK, there is no moral to this story.  I felt silly at the end of the day…

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