We brought the children to Europe for the first time in 2003, a scant week after the horrific heatwave that saw the deaths of 35.000 Europeans due to lack of air conditioning. Vienna didn’t get that memo, apparently, and over a decade later the concept of technological innovation is still lost on these poor overheated souls. Temperatures here have been over 30ºC for at least three weeks, with some days reaching 40ºC. We more or less manage well; Jack is in Germany, herding cats Webelos through BSA camp and doesn’t really notice the heat because everyone smells bad anyway; Anna Grace spent two weeks in the Balkans, alternating between her friend’s home and her friend’s parent’s beach house on the Adriatic, oblivious to the heat; and Tony spends the weekdays in slightly air-conditioned comfort at the office. Clayton Theodore has his own approach to staying cool, as well.
If anything is a challenge in the hot weather it is the proper exercising of a middle-aged Foxhound. On many recent mornings we have greeted the city worker opening the gates to Türkenschanzpark at 06:00, and we are not alone. Runners and fellow dog walkers are lined up and ready to go.
The shaded route often takes us past this bust of “Schmid Hansl,” the “Last Master of the Viennese Song.” He is the only Viennese of import to be recognized in this manner before his death. Now you know.
I, of Eastern European descent, am not terribly bothered by this weather. I’m not out sightseeing in the heat of the Inner Stadt so much; though, I did spend one particularly warm afternoon shopping. At the Vespa dealer. Yes, I bought a Vespa! It’s the Italian Classic PX Touring model, and for the last week it has been waiting for me at the dealer. Why? Because, of course, I am the lowly Dependent Spouse, and the Bank Officer requires Tony’s “authorization” for my purchase. As the Grade A Viennese Asshat said to me (translated), “Mr. Breadwinner earns the salary. He should have a say in how it is spent.” Tony is out of the country on travel until this weekend, so I have to make do with this photo instead. Wien by Vespa. Soon.
Somehow I found myself with a €20 savings card to a new grocery delivery service called, “Hello Fresh!” Each week three menus’ worth of groceries arrive at the door, along with the recipe cards. For fun I gave it a spin one week, and was rather pleased with the quality of the grocery items; everything from the meats to the produce to the spice packets was fresh and of the caliber I would purchase myself. The problem? Neither Tony nor I were in the mood for the prepared menus! The steaks intended to be pan sautéed with herb sauce became fajitas; the chicken for the Jamaican skewers was combined with some shrimp for a Pad Thai, and the flatbread that was to be topped with spinach and fennel became a potato pizza (with the potatoes and rosemary from the steak menu). Oh, well. A fun experiment nonetheless.
Not only is my new kitchen beyond culinarily-splendiferous and our location ideal, but our garten is bursting with lavender, too! One afternoon I prepared a few bundles of the fragrant bloom for the other families in the building and left the basket in the entry. As I came and went that day I noticed the bundles were disappearing. On my last outing for the day, returning with CTF after his evening constitutional, there appeared a lovely “thank you” note and a jar of Quince preserves for me. How terribly sweet! This would not have happened in the old ‘hood.
Anna Grace has returned from the Balkans with her friend, and they wanted henna tattoos this week. In researching a clean and organic salon for them, I came across this guidebook provided by the city for its youth. I do not think one such guidebook exists in America. For the record, the girls passed on henna tattoos out of concern that the summer heat would react with the henna dye. They’re now sporting metallic “press on” tattoos of similar ilk.
Though I do not mind this heat, I do have limits. One day I was in need of an essential ingredient that only the “exotic supermarket” nearby, but well out of walking distance, could provide. Alas, the fastest public mode of transport involved the U6, Vienna’s dirty little secret underground line not so frequented by tourists. Almost never air-conditioned and almost always sardine-tin crowded, I could not bear to travel the few stops to reach my market. Only the brave, and those who must, ride this line any time temperatures rise above 10ºC. Even one of the local online news sources makes riding the line a bit of a dare as part of a summer “bucket list.”
|Photo courtesy of viennawurstelstand.com
Desperate times call for desperate measures. I hopped into my air-conditioned car, parked illegally, and made a mad dash into the store for said item. This would have been so much easier on my Vespa.