Once again we headed out, Vienna Cards handy. So far, nobody has checked our tickets or shown the least interest in collecting our fares, even when we are the only passengers. However, we do notice that from time to time people put their tickets into the metal boxes in the trolleys and buses. The machine stamps the tickets; but is it for transfers? for ticket validation? It will probably remain a mystery. Climbing down Leopoldberg
But one mystery that was cleared up is the Doppelhaltestelle. We had thought about this one; the German language likes to run things together. Double -- stop -- place. This was a sign at certain street car stops. First we thought two different street car lines might stop there; this is right, but only partially right. The doppelhaltestelle refers to the fact that the place where the street car is to stop is long, so two street cars can be stopped there at the same time, one in front of the other. The purpose of the word is to let Austrians know they might have to move ahead or back some in order to get on their intended streetcar.
Another lovely German word we learned today is Lautsprechendurchsagen, a public address system; literally loud-speak-through-say. Now all we have to do is the-art-of-putting-the-verb-at-the-end-of-the-sentence master!
But anyhow, this morning we started out on streetcars and went to the Vienna suburb of Grinzing. This is a beautiful older part of town known for its attractive buildings, narrow streets, flower gardens, and wine bars, where the Viennese gather in the late afternoons to drink wines that are not properly aged.
From our reading we got an explanation of the tiny garden plots we have seen both in Austria and Switzerland. The governments have seen fit to provide Roofs of Kahlenberg below each person with a small plot of land for garden purposes. Of course people take advantage of anything offered by the government! Since we have (a) seen many buildings erected on these little garden plots, some of which are quite elaborate, with a little patio and table and barbecue; and (b) always seen a little bit of garden on each plot, we think we can figure out something about the law. We guess that the citizen, in order to qualify to obtain the free garden plot, must do some gardening, but is then allowed to build a building, too!
In Grinzing we got off at the end of the trolley car line. This was because the road starts going up hill, more steeply than an electric trolley can negotiate. So we changed to the bus, number 42A for Leopoldberg. We shared the bus, at least to start, with a group of about a dozen boys, aged 10, and their teacher. As the bus powered up the curvy road to the top of the hill it swayed to left and to right, and the boys swayed and giggled. They got off at the first stop, on the top of one hill, for their field trip. We continued, with the bus all to ourselves, to the end of the line.
Soon we were far above the Danube and the towns, and surrounded by forest. The trees are slowly beginning to change color, and there were already fallen leaves, but the thick foliage gave us tantalizing glimpses of the scenery on either side. This is the Wienerwald, made famous by Strauss' Tales From the Vienna Woods.
Leopoldberg is a hill about 1500 feet high overlooking the Danube. The location is famous for its role during the siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683. The Habsburg armies held out on the Leopoldberg, while the Turks were tunneling their way up, until the reinforcements from Germany, Bohemia, and Poland came south to turn the Ottoman army back. Plastered on the walls of the little churchyard are maps of the fort and the positions of the troops, along with pictures of weapons and uniforms from the battle. But in 2000, it just looks like a peaceful hill with vineyards part way up the sides, and a church and restaurant on the top. Danube firemen training
There's a paved path winding down the hill to Kahlenberg on the river, so we decided to walk. It turned out to be a little less comfortable for Bob, who had on leather-soled city shoes, which tended to slip on the rough stone pavement covered with wet moss and leaves. Fortunately there was a handrail all the way down. (Elsa had on sensible rubber-soled shoes.) A man in his early sixties hiked up to the top and jog-stepped back down while Bob was slipping along. When at last we reached the town and the train station, we looked up and could just see the church steeple, but no sign of the path on which we'd just spent more than an hour.
This time we got to ride the S-Bahn. This is a commuter train system which surrounds many European cities, and the Eurail pass is not valid, but the Vienna Card was. While we were waiting for the train, we saw some firemen training on the water, paddling long shallow boats which we guess can be used for flood evacuation. We also watched four swans flying in formation with slow, graceful wing beats, gliding lower until they eventually landed on the Danube.
The train sped us back to one of Vienna's many rail stations, where we changed to street car D, and then again to street car 1, along the ring. We got off for a lunch of bratwurst, piping hot and spicy, with rye bread and a large dollop of mustard. You dip your bratwurst into the mustard with your fingers, and munch the bread on the side. Napkins provided. In the distance we saw the ferris wheel at the Prater and remembered the movie, The Third Man.