Vienna 3: May 10, 2007 -- The three Danube Rivers in Vienna -- notes from Bob and Sally

Bob Corbett's note:

Back in 2001 I taught a full year in Vienna. It was my final year of teaching, and I had been to Austria for the full year of 1972-73 along with my wife and then 6 children under 8. Then I was back teaching in Vienna in 1983 - 85 - a visit in 87 - teaching again in 89 - 96 and 98 before the final year of 2001.

In 2001 the campus had moved to the Donauinsel (Danube Island). There are three rives in a row. The Danube proper, main shipping lane of Europe, then the quiet Donauinsel in which there are no boats at all, but lots of great recreation. The school is right on that. Finally, and very little known to anyone, is the Alte Donau, the Old Danube. This is a river and does allow small boats with trolling motors and other sorts of row boats and canoes. It has the north bank filled with old looking camping and vacation places that looked like the 1930s and 40s in the U.S.

On the south bank there were, in 2001, some very lovely beer gardens along the river. Since these were only about 6-8 blocks from the campus I held many of my class meeting there on the Alte Danau. It was just awesome. We would get some food, some beer or wine, sit outdoors along the river and the frogs were as loud as we were talking and discussing the material of the day. These classes, normally scheduled for 1 1/2 hours would often go on for two or three times that long.

Few people seemed to know about the Alte Danau. I wanted Sally to see it. Today is very sunny and warm after two days of showers and overcast skies. Off we went. I showed her the Donau Insel and the university, then we took off for the Alte Donau and I was really excited. My favorite beer garden, the most lovely of all and very large (could seat over 100 people) was Zum Fischerhutte -- The Fishermenís Hut. We got there and I was so disappointed, nearly choked up. It had been deserted, windows broken out, the garden in total ruin of high weeds and junk all over. None of the gardens or businesses have survived. It is just a vacant and deserted area on this simply gorgeous stretch of river RIGHT IN VIENNA CITY!!!!!! I am really shocked and so very disappointed.

But, Sally and I are flexible folks and just got on with it. We rode the U- Bahn, the subway, back into the heart of the old town and went to Zanoni and Zanoni, my view of the greatest ice-cream store in the world. It is just one block down Rotenturmstrasse from Stephensdom (St. Stephenís Cathedral) the most famous site in Vienna. We sat in the lovely huge outdoor seating with awesome people watching. Sally had two sorts of berried ice-creams, blue berries and raspberries. I had banana and cherry. We each got a lovely cool glass of pinot grigio white wine, and it was simply heaven. The disappointment of the morning was and is forgotten.

It is mid-afternoon and we are headed back to Schwabl, the marvelous local restaurant very close to our hotel, and then, after we eat some incredible meal, we will head the four to five blocks over to Schonbrunn Place again to walk some more in the lovely gardens out back of the palace.

I worry at times Iím walking Sally too much. We have done 6 miles already today and with the upcoming visit to Schonbrunn we will no doubt hit over 8 miles for the fourth time on this trip, but the first time in Vienna.

She is a trooper however. Never complains except to tell me now and again to slow down. I do tend to get excited and walk about the pace some people jog at and have no idea Iím doing it. So little time, so much to see.

In 2001 I taught a course called Turn of the Century Vienna and Coffee House Culture. It was all about the role of the coffee house in the great intellectual and artistic revolution in Vienna at the turn of the 19/20th century. In teaching that course, which met most of its meetings in the coffee houses under discussion, I got to know them very well. I took Sally today to see my most favorite of all -- rightly named Klines Cafe (the tiny cafe). It is in a square of the Franscanier Kirche (Church of St. Francis) and has only about 7 tables out on the street. Sally asked me how many tables inside and I donít think I have ever been INSIDE. I have been there 50 times I would guess, at least that many, and I donít believe I have ever been inside.

Again, I did have a disappointment. Someone rented out what had for years and years been a dress shop right next door to Klines Cafe and opened ANOTHER coffee house and they too have put tables in the square. That just didnít sit well with me. This ancient coffee house, so tiny and cute, and some fancy place opens up next door. Yech!!!!

Getting hungry, thinking about some outrageous dinner of roast pork today with dumplings and all that. Iíll definitely need those few miles we will walk in the gardens of Schonbrunn later on.


Sally's note

Hi Everybody,

We had a beautiful day today!! No rain, just a few clouds and I have no idea what the temp is, but it must be around 70 because even though I brought it with me, I donít need to wear my jacket.

Bob and I had another fun day, starting with a very nice ride on a local bus, the 10A. Its a bus that runs right by our hotel, along a one way street. So Bob has been wondering where it goes when it turns around. Itís one of a very, very, very few things he doesnít remember about being in Vienna.

So, we got on it and rode, and rode and rode. Turns out it goes out to the outskirts, and up to a lovely little town that we were going to visit anyway. The reason that we were going is because Bob wanted to show me what they call a heurigen itís where not only food is served, but good old fashioned cooking and, some of the local wines, homemade wine that is served by the pitcher.

As you might have figured out, we have feasted almost every day since we arrived in Vienna. Hmmmm, make that every day since we arrived in Europe! The only thing that saves me from having to buy another size jeans is that we have walked our 4-6 miles each day.

But truly the food at the various restaurants that Bob has chosen has been marvelous. Yesterday it was a wonderful Persian restaurant, and today we will go back to the same restaurant where we ate the first day. After which we had to walk for an hour before we could go back to the hotel and collapse!

Anyway, today after we rode to the end line of the 10A, we then changed direction (somewhat, though I leave the route taking to Bob, who knows most of this city like the back of his hand.

Bob asked if I wanted to see where he taught at the Webster Univ. Campus. I said yes, Iíd love to see it. It turns out that the Webster U. building is in another quaint little town called Kaisermuhlen. Its in a very interesting section where we needed to cross over two or maybe three versions of the Danube River.

Bob will talk about it in his note Iím sure, and will explain how there is a smaller river, then a runoff river, and then the actual river. In some order, sorry, you will have to read his note to get the exact order of the three bodies of water. :)

But it was a lovely day to walk, and though we never saw the Webster U. building itself, we did walk around it and even took a longish walk to find one of the offsite places where Bob used to hold classes, outdoors along and with a great view of one of the bodies of water.

Sadly, when we got there, Bob found that the place was closed, and for some time. But luckily it had been open for him and his students when he was teaching here.

I asked Bob if we could get some ice cream. It was getting warm, and we had walked quite a way. He seemed to be happy to do that. We had stopped at a post office where he picked up some postcard stamps and he said he could stamp the postcards that he wrote this morning on the way to the ice cream store.

He has a favorite called Zinoni and Zinoni and if ever you get to Vienna Austria you just have to try it. They have more than just ice cream and in fact its Italian gelato, not actual ice cream. But they have the most wonderful flavors!! And so many of them!! Bob had banana and cherry, and I had raspberry and blueberry with a small glass of white wine and I was in heaven!

We tried to go to the British Airways office to see about seat assignments today, but their office was closed. The sign referred us to their website. So we might be able to do that from here.

It was a beautiful day, and we are looking forward to our dinner when we finish here. Then we may take another walk around the Schonbrunn gardens in the sunshine before we go back to our hotel.

We did hear on the English version of CNN which we can get here, that there are not only tornados in the mid-west, but fires in California, a first hurricane in Florida or along the east coast and now flooding along the Missouri River. Yikes!!

Sure hope all of you are high and dry, and safe and sound!!

Sally Ryan Sharamitaro




Bob Corbett