We arrived here in early April of 2011, amid the persistent wind and intermittent rain that characterize what is still early spring here. I remember standing outside of the airport in a cold drizzle wondering what I had gotten myself into and feeling slightly mystified that I had truly moved my family to another continent.
That feeling of mystification returns every year when the anniversary of our arrival passes. Each time I have to double check my math — we’ve been here HOW long? And this year was the same. The weeks leading up to our “Viennaversary” were spent stressing about whether Dan’s new contract would really be signed, so then, suddenly, it was the beginning of April and I was again counting years on my fingers to ensure I hadn’t fumbled the math. We really have been here 4 years.
This year, our “anniversary” fell on the Monday after Easter, so Dan had the day off of work and the boys were out of school, so we were able to do something to mark the occasion. The weather was a bit chilly and breezy with lots of big, fluffy springtime clouds, but the sun that was getting through was bright and we had recently had temperatures which were some of the warmest we’d seen since the fall, so we (I) decided we should mark the occasion with a hike in the Vienna Woods to a part of Vienna we had yet to visit.
We had done the first part of this hike last spring, so the plan was to catch up with the trail (by bus) where we had left off and to complete the rest of the route, which was largely downhill. To get to our starting point, we had to take the bus up to the hills overlooking the northwest of Vienna, and it would take us nearly an hour to get out there. The kids were less enthusiastic than Dan and I, (when I say “hike”, the whining usually starts right away), but they, too, were suffering from a bit of Vienna winter stir craziness and were complaining more out of habit, I think, than actual objection. They packed a few toys and supplies (i.e., candy from their Easter baskets) and dutifully suited up for the day’s adventure.
I had made a slight miscalculation, however. While it had been breezy, sunny and warmish in the heart of the city, it was windy, solidly overcast and quite cold at the top of the hill. We had brought hats and gloves, but we were dressed for 50 degrees and breezy with sun, not 30 degrees and windy with no sun. We were all pretty cold, but wanted to make the most of our trip. On the plus side, we were able to sneak a few peaks through the leafless branches, views that would have been obscured by greenery later in the spring or summer. We were looking for crocuses and daffodils among the leaves, and attempting to keep the kids interested, which worked relatively well. But by the time we’d been walking for 20 minutes, it has begun to snow.
I love being outdoors, and I’m up for a hike in almost any weather, but even I had to admit that this wasn’t quite what I’d meant to sign us all up for (nor was it what we’d come prepared for). We trekked on down the hill to Kahlenberg, with a beautiful (though cloudy) view over the city, and made it about another 100 yards before Liam began stridently complaining about his frozen face, and we all decided that perhaps this battle would best be fought another day.
In all, we lasted only about 45 minutes and about 1.2 miles before we gave up and headed for home. We had walked the distance between two adjacent bus stops.
But, it was, as so much of this adventure has been, at least memorable. I learned my lesson that marginal hiking conditions at 500 feet above sea level do not necessarily reflect acceptable hiking conditions at 1600 feet. And, though it was brief, we did, indeed, see a part of Vienna we had not seen before.
We all went home to thaw out, and I was undaunted in my wish to one day finish the hike. As for our 4th Viennaversary, however, we finished the celebration cozy at home.