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Marathon Training, with a Viennese View

Marathon Training, with a Viennese View

There is a myth floating around, ever since the days of Pheidippides, that there is a glitch in the genetic make-up of a marathon runner. The sanity of a person who enjoys the mental and physical punishment of running 42km could be called into question. Granted, the pioneer did collapse and die after making it […]

Am Kahlenberg: The Sky’s the Limit – Literally

As a Grätzl, the Kahlenberg – the “Bald Mountain” that crowns the Wienerwald on Vienna’s western edge – is like no other.  Of course at 484 metres it’s not really a mountain, even for the English, and laughably not by the standards of the Alps. That’s just Wiener Schmäh – a bit of ironic exaggeration […]

Rites of Spring and Rough Edges

People have different methods of marking the changing of the seasons. British nature writer Richard Mabey says he has two specific ‘seasonal rites of passage’ to which he is sentimentally attached: seeing the first swifts of the year over the parish church from his study window, and walking in a particular corner of his own […]

To the Lobau

Though it’s only early September, autumn is already in the air. Over the Danube hangs a tinge of melancholy, fading, like an out-of-season seaside resort. Black-headed gulls, already arrived for the winter, sweep high and slow over the choppy-brown water. I follow the river south, away from the city, past empty bathing platforms and picnic […]

The Wilder Side of Vienna

Each February or March, after wintering in Africa, black storks return to the Wienerwald Biosphere Reserve. Despite their considerable size, they can be seen effortlessly riding the thermals and skimming low over tree-tops as they seek out the best nest sites ahead of breeding season. Their long, outstretched necks, impressive wingspans and thin, trailing legs […]

The Wilder Side of Vienna

Due to poor planning, I’ve been unable to venture to the Vienna Woods in search of what I hoped would be the subject of this month’s column. I’d been aiming to catch a glimpse of the handsome – but shy and solitary – black stork; a considerably less gregarious bird than its white relative. Living […]

The Wilder Side of Vienna

I’m walking in the manicured grounds of Schönbrunn with Thomas Bugnyar, Professor of Cognitive Ethology at the University of Vienna. It’s late afternoon; heavy thunderclouds have dispersed and a monsoon-like downpour has just rained itself out. Moments ago, shrieking schoolchildren ran for cover and mothers desperately shielded babies and toddlers with umbrellas too small for […]

The Empress’ Herb Garden

“One of the things we’re most proud of is our old trees,” says Michael Kiehn, Professor of Botany and Director of the University of Vienna’s Botanical Garden. We are standing near to the garden’s main alley, looking up at a majestic sycamore that is close to 200 years-old and perhaps 40 meters tall – its […]

The City’s Own Strand of the River

As we walk along the southern bank of the Danube Canal, I am reminded of how important this park-lined waterway is to the natural balance of life in Vienna; how integral it is to the city, while remaining a world apart. I turn to my companion Franz Essl, an ecologist with the Austrian Environment Agency, […]

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