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It was cold and late in the evening. We only intended to go for a short, quiet walk, to catch some air.

We ended up at the famous Schloss Schönbrunn in the 14th district of Vienna. Its garden house stood empty at the top of the hill, alone except for us breaking its silence.

We were fascinated by details of the old structure and by the contrast of the darkness and the yellow lights.

The palace and gardens illustrate the tastes, interests, and aspirations of successive Habsburg monarchs.

We ended up being there for a long time.

So, this is downtown Vienna, kind of. Meanwhile, it’s still a ten minute walk from Stephansdom, which for a European city, is really the ‘downtown’. That is, it’s hard to define a real downtown like many, newer American or Asian cities.

The Hofburg Imperial Palace opens to the Volksgarten, and is surrounded by the Austrian Parliament, the Art History and Natural History Museums.

As busy as it is, this is the scene in front of the Hofburg Palace in the morning hours. If you want to visit during an off-time, the weekend is obviously not ideal.

But there’s still enough room for the rascal kid to be skateboarding through…

One of les petites allées in the Spittelberg neighborhood of Vienna, where the opening of the Weihnachtsmarkt have spiced up the air, literally.

Below, the kind proprietor of this Glühwein und Punsch stand drinks himself contently to oblivion — before our very eyes. The first two spiced-wine drinks were €6, and a mere fifteen minutes later he went down to €2 each. His friend eventually stepped into the stand to monitor him.

Few would believe this is in Vienna, let alone in the Bobo, 4th District neighborhood; This scene could be directly from some Sicilian side street.

The shop is on a beaten path, where we commute daily — morning and evening.

What’s the specialty? In the past few days it’s been clementines, whereas the barrels of olive oil, jars of olives, and cold cuts are permanent items.

In the morning, the lounge room located through the left door is filled to its capacity with readers of the daily news, while evenings are reserved for clientèle rushing home after work.

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Sometimes ‘going out’ has to include bubbles. It must be just for that reason that the Sekt Comptoir exists in Vienna. For a place that resembles a hole-in-the-wall, it’s luxurious. It attracts folk of all varieties, simply for the reason that they enjoy the drink.

Sekt is a sparkling wine and compares to the French champagne or the Italian prosecco, yet differs in a pleasant way. Not to offend connaisseurs of these fine drinks, many of these sparkling wines offer a slightly more refreshing texture — maybe because of the sugar content, or delightful wetness as it touches your tongue.

It was just about one year ago that I first visited the half-circle counter, and sampled a bottle of the 20-or-so types of Sekt (€12-18 per bottle). At that juncture, I was hooked. What got me then must have been one of the Pinot Noir Rosé selections.

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The types of Sekt here are limited to only one brand, i.e. Szigeti, which comes from the Burgenland region of Austria, on the Eastern border of the country, bordering Hungary.

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The Sekt Comptoir, Schleifmühlgasse 19

Mid-weekend again. As time seems to pass so quickly, I start to complain, but then I catch myself. The truth is, I like these long nights, and the slippers and soup that come with them.

Now it’s 10pm, and dinner has just been savored. Salad for starters. Butternut squash soup aux poires, with bread and garlic-butter to go with it. Mmm… Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” played somewhere in the background while finishing touches were put on dinner.

I heard “This Land is Your Land,” originally by Woodie Guthrie, last night and the tune has continued to play in my head. I keep humming it.

Meanwhile, I’m amazed at the aesthetics of this indian corn. Through a bit of research, I’ve learned that Native Americans used every part of the corn plant (a philosophy of sorts). Nothing was thrown away. The husks were braided and woven to make masks, moccasins, sleeping mats, baskets, and cornhusk dolls. The cobs were used for fuel, to make darts for a game, or were tied onto a stick to make rattles for ceremonies.

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For more indian corn photographs, visit [vice versa]

Slate gray sky.
It’s funny how colors stand out on a day like this.

lindengasse flowers 1

An afternoon walk that smelled of Glühwein, fire, wet foliage, wind, and us. Standing on the corner talking; five minutes with a banana snack, and sips of water.

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Afterward we were off to make chicken soup (and found ourselves in a kitchen that was comfortably warm from the simmer). Side note: It’s time for an apple pie one of these days — I think that I could live on an orchard.

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What we saw today — we all should see that from time to time (whatever it is) and be reminded that no matter what our struggles are, we are fortunate to be alive.

Who’s going to make butternut squash soup with that pumpkin? I mean, really. Hanging around with those other pumpkins and, god forbid, a deer! But alas, this is just one moment in time. This ‘shop’ was an afternoon discovery in the sixth district of Vienner, on Gumpendorferstraße, around #23.

The handwriting on the door in the first photo — a specific sans-serif typeface with tall, compact letter — is written in English. This is not a common phenomenon in Vienna, particularly in colloquial terms.

Juxtaposed with this, is the vintage bookstore next door, with blaring signage above the vitrine. The typeface is a grotesque (yet common) old-time Germanic one, with a black/red/white scheme common to the Bauhaus-era design.

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Busy lives so often tend to skip past these parts of society. Here on a Friday evening, in the center of Vienna, teens and drug addicts hang around on the métro staircases, tourists come and go on the Straßenbahn, and business folk flock from meetings to the streets.

These photographs were inspired by those details of the city that we encounter on a day to day basis, but rarely think of as we do so. The location: the corner of Kärntnerstraße where Kärntnerring and Opernring butt heads.

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oper corner 2

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Accompanying the hustle and flow, is a plethora of signs, their presence screaming for attention. In fact, the branding placed on nearly every light post or wall, influence their surroundings in an indirect, yet targeted way. Starbucks coffee has one of the best spots in town, a Burger King sign peeks around the corner and the LG sign resembles a crooked face.

When standing at the corner of the intersection however, one primarily, and fortunately notices architecture of the city and the impressive Staatsoper mounting over the Ring. It’s a beautiful scene, though interesting to see modernity juxtaposed with the neo-Renaissance architectural style in the area.

Viewing these photos, the objects of interest are the ordinary, e.g. the teenagers hanging around in front of the stairs, the kebab stand’s florescent lights, the myriad of pedestrians mingling around the horizon of taxi signs.

What captures your attention?