Posts Tagged ‘vienna’

16.1 km: fertig!

April 15 2012

The run today was quite an experience.  We started in a LARGE group.  When there was a slight hill, you could see nothing but people running in front of you.  When looking ahead, I though “I wonder how they run so close together” … then I looked around me.  At times it was quite a challenge.  We didn’t want to be rude and push people out of the way, so we just kept the pace with the people around us for most of the time, inching ahead whenever we had the opportunity.  Some people were a little rude and pushed others out of their way as we ran, but luckily not to us.  Wise decision on their part).  We had to look for an open pocket, then weave through some people to get to it, then repeat this process.  A few times we wound up in open pockets that were full of someone’s BO.  We didn’t stay there too long.

We were on the jumbotron at one point. I started flailing my arms in the air when I realized this.  When we reached the end of our leg, we forgot that we agreed to meet our teammates on the right side of the street, so it took us a few minutes to meet them.  They handed us our clothes and took off.  Just at this time, my knee started to malfunction.  Luckily, my knee waited until my leg of the race was over to start complaining.  I’ll just take extra glucosamine chondroitin today.  I usually take one of these vitamin a day as it is supposed to help joint pain.  It’s proven to help people with arthritis, but I heard that it is good for runners too from my friend Meghan.

Our time for the 16.1km was 1:29:16.  I would have liked to do it a bit faster, but I wasn’t used to running in such a big group.  We were running side-by-side for most of the run, but maybe the better strategy would have been one after the other.


One Last Run …

April 14 2012

Tomorrow is the Vienna City Marathon.  I am running in the relay as a member of team “IST Austria 2”.  (You can even look me up on the marathon website!)  Morten and I decided to go for a short run yesterday, nothing too long since we would have to run 16 km in the race 2 days later.  We decided to run for 30 min, then head back to IST.  We figured that we would be gone for at most one hour.

We began our run by running uphill (230 meters to 370 meters in about 2km according to the chart on  Then, we followed a path that turned into a loggers route which turned into the middle of the forest.  Knowing the general direction that we wanted to go, we decided to hike over a ravine and up a steep hill (it was almost like a mudslide at one point). Then, we climbed over some logs and prickly bushes until we finally came to a path, just seconds after Morten said “well, maybe there isn’t a path over here.”

We continued our run on one of my favorite paths in the woods over here.  We ran along a stream, on a narrow pathway.  The course winds back and forth a couple of times.  In general, it just feels good to be running along the path there.  Well … unless you accidentally slip on the rock and fall (there is a bit of a cliff at one point).  Then, we made it to the road.  Instead of turning around, we ran down into St. Andrä.  There was a small path that brought us down to the small town.  Again, instead of making a 180 turn and going back the way we know, I asked Morten how adventurous he was (with about 1 hour of daylight remaining).  So, we attempted to forge the forest.  We ran into the next town of Wördem (which is probably just a part of St. Andrä).

Then, I saw a path that led us into the woods.  Morten looked like he was a little worried, then he told me “this hill looks like it has an exponential increase.  We will never make it to the top.”   I told him we can find a way.  We get half way up, and then we see a sign for “private property”.  Since we were on a road but not in a car, we decided that this sign is probably intended for drivers not joggers.  So, we continued.  Luckily, before we would up in someone’s back yard, we saw a farm and ran around it and back into the woods.  From there, we followed our “sense of direction” which eventually brought us back to the main road back in Klosterneuburg.  The problem was that we didn’t recognize it when we reached it.  We took a good ten minutes debating which direction to go.  Then, we realized that we made it back to Klosterneuburg (well, almost), and we were on our way.  So, what do we do?  We enter back into the forest.  This time, we go up through the woods, then back down to the road again because it was starting to get dark.  In the end, we made it back alive.  And, I only had one wound that was bleeding (and only a little bit).  I’d say that’s a pretty successful run.

Now, wish us luck for tomorrow!  The hardest part will be getting up and remembering everything to get onto the 07:12 bus tomorrow.  yikes!

I mapped our run on as best as I could.  The paths (especially the ones in the woods) are approximate, but pretty close to what we actually ran.  Just 30 mins out … and the return.

A Really Good Route

A Really Good Route

Birthday Celebration

March 23 2012
We surprise Herbert on his birthday

Herbert's reaction to us singing happy birthday at the Prater

For Herbert’s birthday this year, we threw him a small surprise party.  And, he was quite surprised when we came out of no-where and started singing “Happy Birthday” to him as he was walking around the Prater with Letta.

For the party, we spent 2 hours at the amusement park, where we rode bumper cards and went for a ride on the Riesenrad (ferris wheel). From the top of the wheel, we could see all of the familiar sites in Vienna. Somehow Herbert managed to get a discount on our ride (from 16 Euros down to 8,50), which made it even more enjoyable.

I'm getting ready to go go-karting

The helmet is on!

Finally, we made our way over to the go-karts.    We went for 10 minutes with “super speed”.  This was the first time I had been on a go-kart, and unfortunately, I think that I hurt my back.  After watching from the sidelines, Chao and Morten say that I am a lunatic at go-karts — but do you really believe them?

We ended our evening at the Schweizerhaus, a brewery at the Prater.  These types of breweries are typical in Vienna, but this one seemed to be a bit more touristy than the ones with which we are familiar.  When I made the reservation, I asked if we could have a cake with candles.  They told me that I can buy a cake (45 Euros) and candles (1 Euro each) from our waiter.  When we asked our waiter, there was neither a cake nor candles that we could buy.  In addition, they ran out of the Stelze (pork knuckle).  In the end, Michael, Michaela and I ordered three  entrees and soups.  The food was good, and the service was so-so (I never expect good service in Vienna anyway).  I was quite disappointed in the lack of Stelze.

For more photos of the event, check out my Picasa album.

Fitness Goals

March 16 2012

In April, I will run a 16.1k as part of a Relay team at the Vienna City Marathon.  Luckily, there are two teams from IST Austria, and Morten will be running the 16.1k for the other team.  We will be running together, which will make it more enjoyable.  As I was running into Vienna last week (just under 16km), I decided that I wanted to run in a marathon.  Perhaps I can be ready for the Philadelphia Marathon in November.  Anyone want to join?

A second goal came about when I was at the gym on Sunday evening.  I discovered that I can not do a pull up.  So, my goal is now to be able to do a pull up.  I spoke with Rudy, the trainer at IST Austria and expert fitness coach sponsored by Activia, who gave me a few pointers on exercises to build up strength and muscle memory.

I will share one of my feeble attempts at a pull-up.  The video is side-ways because I do not know how to rotate it.  Sorry about that!  Hopefully soon, I can share my successful attempts too.


Domaene Wachau: a winery near Vienna

November 4 2011

A few weeks ago, my research group decided to research a winery near Vienna.  We went to Domaene Wachau for a tour and tasting.

Austrian mushrooms

A forkful of Eierschwammerl

We started by going to lunch at  Wachaurstuben, per recommendation of the winery.  Olga, Daniel, and I had eierschwammerl (yellow mushrooms) and it was delicious!  Filip and Morten had a half of a duck each I believe.  Others had schnitzel or spinatknödel.

After lunch, we walked over to the winery.  The landscape is beautiful, with vineyards everywhere you looked!  The winery tour was also great.  They took us into the castle, and we saw beautiful hand drawings (some hundreds of years old) and ornate ceilings.  Unfortunately, my camera ran out of memory at this point, so I wasn’t able to take as many photos as I would have liked to.  I went through to delete some quickly, and took photos sparingly after this point.

playing with the dirt

Then, we went down into the 300 year old baroque cellar.  There, we saw very large oak casks, most with amazing carvings on the front.  We also had fun playing with the dirt that was cleaned off of the grapes.  It comes off on this giant wheel like a sheet of cloth.  Next, we saw the stainless steel casks.  One was filled with a rose, and we could see the pink indicator running to the top of the giant tank.

The final part of the winery tour was the tasting.  There, we tasted 9 different wines.   I asked her for two more at the end, and she complied.  This allowed us to taste two Grüners at the same time.  Daniel tried to get us two Rieslings more, but the tour guide cut us off.

At this winery, there are three qualities of wine: Steinfeder (translates to stonefeather, a type of grass), Federspiel (flacon), Smaragd (emerald).  Steinfeder is made from the earliest picked grapes.  It is the lightest of the three qualities of wine.  Smaragd is the sweetest (although still a dry wine), and also considered the best quality.  The grapes for the Smaragd are picked last.  Federspiel is the in-between wine, and the most popular of the three.

walking through vineyards

In addition to the three qualities of the wines, the label often says which winery the grapes come from.  Domaene Wachau operates as a co-op, so most of the vineyards are owned and run by private families.  If the family produces enough grapes, the family name can appear on the label.  If not, the grapes from different families are mixed with the grapes from the terrace to produce Terrassen wines.

After the tour, I bought a few things from the winery: some schnapps, apricot jam for David, a bottle of smagard Grüner, and a bottle of sparkling wine for Diana & Lisa to share with me.

More photos can be found in my Picasa album.

Jazz in Austria?

October 24 2011

Dave used his jazz magic to find Porgy & Bess, a jazz venue in Vienna.  Last week, Lisa, Diana, and I went to see the Monty Alaxender Quartet perform there.  We were actually joined by three people from IST Austria.  The venue was a small jazz club.  At the last minute, we switched our standing room tickets for (the last three) seated tickets.  We were, of course, in a corner of the club.  The minor annoyance was the two young lovers who decided to stand in front of Lisa and start making out.  We got rid of them at intermission though (maybe they found a room).

The concert was great, it was really neat to see how the musicians connected while playing.  I’ll be going there again.  Thanks for the good find, David!

Before the concert, we went to Magazin for dinner.  The food was traditional Austrian food, but it was done very well.  They had a large wine selection (they are also a wine shop), so I asked the waiter for a red suggestion from Austria.  He brought out a Blaufränkisch from Burgenland (By asking for a suggestion, he heard “bring me anything”).  It turned out to be quite nice, and not too expensive (18 Euros for the bottle).

Long Night of Museums in Vienna

October 2 2011

Tonight was the “Lange Nacht der Museen” (long night of museums).  And yes, I had a long night.  Morten and I were in Vienna, and (almost last-minute) decided to check out a few museums.  We started our museum tour around 10:00 p.m.  We purchased our 11 Euro tickets (gives us free admission to almost any museum in Vienna from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.).  I suppose we started a little late, but we were determined to make the most of it anyway.

We started at the Albertina.  The first thing that we noticed was that there were streams of people moving into and out of the museum.  Luckily, despite the plethora of museum-goes, we were able to have our own space to view the paintings and pictures that we wanted to see.  We first saw a photograph exhibit, which displayed photographs as far back as the 1800s.  It was pretty incredible to see.  We also saw a photo of the first real photo exhibit in Vienna.  It was in a private palace, with photos crowding the walls floor to ceiling.  The information written on the wall next to it said that even the floor was covered in photos and chemicals for developing photos.  Really crazy.

woman under the sun

Do you see "pi and a circle" or "a woman under the sun"?

Then, we saw the “Monet bis Picasso” (Monet to Picasso) exhibit.  I liked this one, although I thought that it should have ended with Picasso.  The modern art that followed this exhibit was rather boring in my opinion, and with titles like “Untitled Number 7”, I think it must have bored the artist too.  Morten had a particular grievance with the photo entitled something like “woman and the sun”.  Instead, he thinks that it should have more appropriately been called “pi and a circle”.  (Sorry, the photo of the painting is sideways and I couldn’t figure out how to reorient the image in wordpress’s editing environment.  Instead, just turn your head a bit).

the Key to the Opera House

By the time we left the Albertina, it was already after 11:00, so we did not have much time left.  (The last bus leaves Heilengenstadt at 12:47, and I was getting tired, so I was hoping to make the 12:05 bus).  So, we made a quick stop in the Staatsopermuseum before leaving.  This museum is quite small, and has a lot of text to read.  We didn’t really have the time to read through about the lives of all of the opera singers and composers.  So, we looked at the few (but neat) items they had in the museum.  The first thing that caught our attention was key to the opera house.  (If you look at the photo to the left, you’ll see Morten’s green shoes and my silver necklace in the reflection).  It is just a neat looking key, so I took a quick picture of it.  The next thing we noticed were the elaborate costumes on display.  Some were very elegant looking, some were quite comical, and none were simple.  Then, we walked into a little cove to see a mosaic (I think depicting one of the opera singers).  And finally, we concluded our visit in the Ballet section, where we attempted to put our feet in the five ballet positions (it didn’t quite work).  Feet were drawn on the floor to help you figure out how to stand in the positions, but I think we are helpless as ballerinas.  Good thing we are PhD students instead.

on the Roof of Karl Marx-Hof

on the Roof of Karl Marx-Hof

Alas, by the time we got to Heilengenstadt, it was ten after 12.  (Maybe we spent a bit too much time in the Ballet section of the staatsopermuseum.  Luckily, there was another museum nearby, Das Rote Wien im Waschsalon (the red Vienna in the washroom).  First, I will explain why it it is in the washroom.  The Karl Marx-Hof is an enormous housing complex across from Heilengenstadt.  It was built in the 1920s and is to this day the longest residential building in the world.  It is a testimony to the socialistic ideals that characterized the politics in Vienna in the early 20th century.  The waschsalon is where the baths/showers were found.  Each apartment had a kitchen and a bedroom (and a large closet), but the showers were located centrally (I think the toilets also).  It is in this part of the building that the museum is located.  Since the writing was in German with no translation and we only had 15 minutes in the museum before we had to leave for the bus, we probably did not get the full experience of the museum.  It gives the history of red Vienna.  It was neat to see old uniforms and socialist propaganda.  The floor was marked with the life-size layout of a typical apartment in the Karl Marx-Hof.  This is how I realized that they have large closets.   The door to the roof/fire escape was open, so I of course took the opportunity to step out on the roof.  This came with great joy since I had tried to get on the roof another day, and failed to even get in the building (I guess you don’t technically need to get in the building to get on the roof though).

So, that was my long night of museums in Vienna.  I saw three museums that I have not been to before, and now I also have this handy booklet that tells me all about the >100 museums in Vienna.

First IST Austria Poker Night

June 10 2011

Morten and I bought 500 poker chips online. Then, we organized a poker game. We had a 5 Euro buy-in and 1 cent / 2 cent blinds. The game started at 19:00 and just ended (around 00:00). We has seven people in total play. We wanted to keep the game “friendly” so we never raised the blinds and we had a pot limit on the raises. Of all the people playing tonight, I was the biggest winner. I left with 13 Euros (+8 Euros)! Go me!

On another note, today I was working from coffee shops in Vienna. First, I was at Cafe Ritter on Mariahilfer Straße. The tea came in a pot and the Goulash soup was pretty good.  The only problem was that you had to go through their smoking section in order to get to their bathrooms.  Then, we went to Akakiko on the top of a tall building, again on  Mariahilfer Straße.  The food we decent, and the view was very pleasant.  The removal of the smokers on the rooftop terrace could have made this experience a bit nicer though.  Finally, we attempted to go to one of my favorite bagel shops, Bagel Station.  However, this place has closed and Campus Suite has opened in its place.  Although they don’t serve bagels, their iced tea was decent.  I was also eyeing a caramel apple torte, but I did not try it.  Perhaps next time …

Thai Restaurant in Vienna

May 28 2011

The other day I shook hands with David Mumford, a Fields medalist.  This is the first person who actually won the Fields Medal that I have met.  (I met Andrew Wiles a few times, but he was too old to receive the Fields Medal at the time he proved Fermat’s Last Theorem).  Mumford’s talk was about diffeomorphisms of maps.  At the end of a talk, he focused on an ancient Chinese map that was very detailed (and etched in stone).  They had parallel horizontal and vertical lines.  Due to the curvature of the earth, these lines do not correspond to lat/lon lines.  He said that it is amazing that they did not realize the world was round after making such a detailed map of such a large area.  Perhaps they recognized it but refused to acknowledge it …

After the talk, Filip and I went to myKai, a Thai restaurant on Franz-Josefs-Kai.  Neither of us had been there before, but it looked good.  We sat outside.  He ordered a calpico to drink, since neither of us knew what it was.  I think it had coconut milk and lemon juice and water.  Sounds strange, but it was quite delicious.  I was jealous that I only ordered a Soda Zitrone.  We shared two entrees, the chicken a la mykai and the Knuspriger Entenbrußt.  We liked chicken a la mykai dish the best.  It was quite delicious.  We picked it because the dish shared the name with the restaurant, and so we figured we couldn’t go wrong.  The name chicken a la mykai is quite funny to me actually.  I was in a Thai restaurant in a german speaking country ordering a dish with the english word chicken and the french phrase a la mykai.  For dessert, we tried to order Maronitasche (tasche is the german word for bag.  maroni is a nut), but the waiter said that we should get Bonnentasche (bonnen=beans) instead since it was better (although it wasn’t on the menu).  Sounded strange to us, but we ordered it anyway.  In the “tasche” was a bean puree and some fruit.  The dish came with a scoop of ice cream and was drizzled with chocolate and raspberry sauces.  Quite good!

Right now, I am sitting at Cafe Drechsler.  This is one of my favorite places to come to do work.  Today, I am just drinking a Soda Hollar (hollar is a flower), but I might soon get my 1 euro 80 glass of wine before I head out.  Usually, you sit at a cafe until you can grab someone’s attention to pay the bill.  At times, this is harder than you’d expect.  But, if you are here and the shifts change, the former waiter/waitress will come over to ask you to pay.  You don’t have to leave then, they just need to settle their checks before they leave.  This just happened to me.  It reminded me of how you pay for things in Austria.  When you pay, they tell you the cost “3 Euro 80”  then you give them money.  If you don’t say anything, they give you exact change back and it is assumed that you will not give them a tip.  If you want to give a tip, you say “4 Euros bitte” when you hand them the money.  At first I was a little confused about this process but now I understand.  Sometimes I’ll see someone try to tell the waiter how much change they want instead, and this just creates a confusing scene.

NY Philharmonic

May 22 2011

The other night I saw the NY Philharmonic perform in the Großer Sal of Musikverein.  This is the golden room, best known for “the new year’s concert” that takes place there every year.  It is gorgeous. Alan Gilbert was the conductor, and Lisa Batiashvili played on the violin.  Although I liked the violin + orchestra piece a lot, I think I liked the second half better (they performed Beethoven).  Of course, there was an encore as well … after far too many times of the conductor coming on/off stage.  In the end, my back was hurting from standing for so long, but it was defiantly worth it.  🙂

Michael, a visitor at IST Austria, gave me his standing room ticket for the event.  I arrived about 45 minutes early.  Early enough to be among the first half of the people there, but not early enough to be able to lean against the railing.  Luckily I met a guy in line who was a music student and was meeting a large group of people there.  I spoke with them before the concert began, but they disappeared after the intermission (perhaps they only came to see the violinist?).  Anyway, after they left I notice that someone was reading about topology.  So, I asked her what she was reading and why.  Then, I learned that she was finishing her PhD in algebraic topology and wanted to learn about Homology after attending one of Herbert’s talks.  Small world. Now I have a friend to go to concerts with, so I will probably go to many more in the next two months that I am here!

(On a side note: it amazes me that the English and German versions of Wikipedia are not just translations of each other.  They can say very different things, and even the pictures are often different!)