Heat day

We did go to Paris, and we had a wonderful time.  I’ll write about that soon, but for now, all I can think about is how hot it is here . . .

Except for a few weeks of the year, I love the weather in Vienna.  Winter — great.  Spring and fall — amazing (and they actually exist here as entities separate from almost-summer and nearly-winter).  Even the summer here is typically pretty lovely.  But when it gets really hot, we get miserable.

We live in the 6th floor of a 6 story building, in what used to be the attic until it was converted into an apartment about 20 years ago.  The elements add up to an uncomfortable situation:  a) heat rises, so we get the heat, b) we don’t get the fantastic insulation of the thick stone wall construction typical in most old Austrian buildings, because that isn’t how they built the attic, c) we can’t really open the windows properly because we’re 6 floors up and there is very little preventing one of the kids climbing out one of the windows and d) even though this apartment was (relatively) recently constructed, it still doesn’t have air conditioning.  So, we’re on the top floor, poorly insulated, little window ventilation and no air conditioning.  It is not nice in this apartment when it is hot outside.

It’s not brutally hot in Austria most of the time.  Our first summer in Vienna we had one week of 90+ temperatures (30+ if you think in Celsius) and it wasn’t until the end of July.  I freaked out about the heat, and we bought an air conditioner, but that really was the only week of awful hot weather we had that summer.  Last summer, we skipped most of the hot weather in July and early August by being in the US (although we had plenty of hot weather there) but still got about a week and a half of 90+ in August.

We’ve never had unpleasantly hot weather before in June.  But when we woke up in Paris yesterday morning, it was unpleasantly hot.  And when we landed in Vienna yesterday afternoon, it was hotter.  After we got home, opened the windows and aired out the apartment, it was 91 degrees in our house.  INSIDE our house.  Using our window a/c units, we got it down to 86 this morning (it was as low as 78 in the boys’ room — they have an a/c unit just for their room, and the other one is attempting to cool the living room, and we just leave the rest of the house as it is).  I’m hoping, hoping, hoping that this streak of hot weather in June means we’re done with it for the summer, not that the entire summer is going to be like this.

I’ve said it before, and it’s true — it’s not the hot days that get to me, it’s the hot nights.  91 degrees in the house is really not comfortable, but I find trying to sleep in an 88 degree bedroom pretty much impossible.  Being hot, without a break, for so many days in a row (it got hot here on Monday — we missed the first day because we were in Paris — and it’s not supposed to cool down to reasonable levels, during the day or the night, until Friday night) is grueling.  It drains all of my energy and makes me pretty crabby.

And so, I’ve declared today a “heat day” (like a snow day, but in the summer).  I have no intention of doing anything or going anywhere today.  I’m not going to try to clean the house or accomplish any of the tasks on my to-do list (which is looking pretty impressive, considering we just got back from out of town).  I’m going to play cars, watch tv, and drink as much iced coffee as possible.  (And I’ll try to post some of our Parisian adventures over the next few very hot days, too.)  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the weather forecasters are as wrong as they usually are, and that we wake up tomorrow to the low 80s with a nice breeze . . .

Nope, still summer

A week or so ago, I wrote that things felt chilly here, and that I thought maybe fall was upon us.  Nope.  Still summer.

It has been HOT here this week.  It’s been in the 90s all week, and before everyone from home hits me with, “Bah!  90s?!?  It’s August!  We do that in our sleep!”, I will remind you that no, in fact, you don’t.  When you go to sleep, it’s cool and pleasant — nice temperatures and not too humid, thanks to lovely air conditioning.  Most Americans venture out into the 90+ degree heat for only a few minutes at a time — until they get to their car, until they get into work, or a shop, until they get home.  (Hey, I’m with you — that’s how I like it, too.)  Inside, it’s 72-ish all the time.  If you really want to cool off, hit a movie or the mall — it’s often even colder in there.  (Last summer, when I was pregnant with Liam and suffering in the heat, I used to go to the mall and just walk around in the lovely, cool air conditioning.  Ah!)

This is 80, 85, 90 degrees 24 hours a day.  There is no respite.  Our houses don’t have air conditioning (or, if they do, like mine, it’s in a single room), the shops don’t have air conditioning, the movies and malls are barely air conditioned (if at all), only the most modern of trains have air conditioning.  (At least, if you’re riding the U-bahn, some of the stations are underground, so that’s pretty pleasant.)  Last night, in my air conditioned living room, it got down to 80.  That was the coolest room in the house.  Liam, in particular, feels about the heat the way that I do, and even Benjamin, who usually asks to be bundled up on the warmest nights, woke up at 3 in the morning and asked that I remove all of the blankets from his bed.  No one in the house got much sleep last night, and we aren’t due to see relief from this until Saturday.

I am hot, I am sweaty, I am not a fan of this weather.  I can live with it, but watching my kids suffer through it is really hard.  Benjamin gets so sweaty when he runs around and plays.  I’ve put all of our mid-day park trips and excursions on hold until the weather breaks.  Liam gets unhappy when the indoor temperature goes above about 75, so I actually can’t sleep at night for worrying about him in his 80+ degree room.  He wakes up screaming and sweaty and there’s little to do to comfort him, since holding him just makes him hotter.

Our living room air conditioner is set to 78 degrees.  It has not shut off in over 72 hours.  If things don’t improve tonight, we’re all going to have a sleepover around the air conditioner tomorrow night.  80 degrees might seem like a really pleasant sleeping temperature after the past few nights.

Ok, I get, it Austrian summer:  you’re not over.  Point taken.


We have air conditioning.  Dan went out and bought a one-room air conditioner with a big tube that vents to the outside.  It’s awesome.  Before it arrived, it got up to 91 degrees inside my house today.  It’s now down to an amazingly comfortable 84 — it’s 88 outside, at 11 pm, as a comparison.  (And to think, I used to feel so hot when I would visit my in-laws in Florida and they would set the thermostat to 78!)

There was record breaking heat in Vienna today.  The boys and I made plans to meet a friend and her son (Benjamin’s age) to go swimming and try and beat the heat.  Just getting all of our stuff together and getting out the door took just about all of the energy I had allocated for today.  Then we took the wrong bus, had to walk a long way in the sun and the heat, and then, of course, when we got there, Benjamin wanted absolutely nothing to do with the water.  Sigh.  So, we stayed about 20 minutes and went back to my friend’s house (with air conditioning!) so the boys could hang out and play.  By the time we got home, I had a coating of salt on my face from sweating.  (Ick.)

We had a very nice (if very hot) day.  The heat doesn’t last here the same way it does at home, though — less than 10 days ago, we had a high temperature in the 50s, and by tomorrow night, it will get down to almost 60, so I think we’ll be able to give our new a/c unit the night off.

Hot and tired

I know, I complain a lot:  it’s hard work being here, I can’t communicate with anyone, it took forever for us to get our stuff, I hardly ever get a break and it’s really hot.  All of that is true, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t having a good time here.  Generally, things are going well, and we are having an amazing experience.  Most days, I’m really confident that we made the right decision, and I spend most of my time truly enjoying Vienna and my kids.  Right now, though, I’m exhausted, and that’s making it hard to think about anything other than that.

I think part of it is that I’m still recovering from having house guests last week.  I think part of it is the 4-5 hours of sleep per night that comes with having kids and staying up too late.  And, I’m sure part of it is stress.  Whatever it is, I’m really tired.  I’m trying to take it easy on myself right now, but that’s not a strong suit for me.  I’ve found myself alternating between listlessness and irritability over the past 36 hours or so — which I think is mainly from the fatigue, but made worse by the heat.

I’m used to it being 72-ish inside pretty much everywhere.  At home, you only have to endure the heat for the duration of time it takes to go from your front door to another front door, or if you do something outside for a while.  Admittedly, cars can get pretty hot inside, but the a/c knocks that down pretty quick.  I’m not accustomed to the temperature being 85+ inside, all day, everywhere.  It’s hot in here by 10 am and it doesn’t cool down until after 9 in the evening.  There’s just no escaping it here.  Most places don’t have air conditioning, and the places that do typically set it on about 85 and leave the windows open (which, admittedly, is cooler than anyplace else, but still, not like the US).  Being in my apartment, in the heat, all day, really wears me down — I’m not sure if it’s exacerbating the exhaustion I’m feeling or helping to cause it, but either way, me no likey.

Also:  Dear Dan:  please get an air conditioner.  Seriously.  That is all.

The heat

I can’t stand the heat.  It’s driving me nuts.  I’ve never been one of those people who longs for the heat of summer — I’ve always been someone who would rather be too cold than too hot (my philosophy is that you can always put more layers on, but there are only so many you can take off).  I hate being sweaty when I’m sitting still — not my style.  It’s not super hot here . . . 85 or so during the heat of the afternoon, but it varies between 5 to 10 degrees hotter than that in our apartment.  I’m used to setting my air conditioning at home at a max of 72, so this is rough for me.  Benjamin seems unfazed by it, but Liam is sweating all day, and we’ve started going out in the afternoons just to get out of here at the hottest part of the day.

We have huge, beautiful windows which, when opened, allow a great cross breeze and really cool everything off.  But, these windows are about 5 feet tall and open like French doors — each has a radiator positioned directly underneath it, so even though the sill is 3 feet off the floor, it is not out of the reach of a 2 year old.  And we live on the 6th (also top) floor.  So, we can’t open the windows when Benjamin is awake.  They actually have a funny design that allows us to open a single pane of the window about 4 inches, which allows the air to move a little, but we’re pretty stifled up here.

The whole attitude towards heat is different here — no one has air conditioning, and the Viennese alter their dress very little, even when it’s very hot outside (3 piece suits, dresses with tights, jackets and even scarves are common to see).  I don’t know how they do it.

I think that it’s similar to how we deal with snow in the DC area.  We don’t get a ton of snow (winter of 2010 notwithstanding) so when we do, we close everything down, do our best to get it out of our way (kind of) and move on.  We’re really just gritting our teeth, closing our eyes and pushing through:  we’re surviving, we’re not thriving.  Besides, it’ll be gone in a few days.  We don’t invest a lot in dealing with snow, because it’s just not a space we need to live in for very long.

I think the heat is the same here.  It’s about the same here as it is at home, temperature wise (although a lot less humid) but it won’t be as hot for as much of the summer as we experience at home.  So, rather than adjust their surroundings to be something they can thrive in, they just grit their teeth and push through.

I can appreciate the Viennese (and, I think Europeans in general) being steadfast in the face of the heat — I can see that if it isn’t bad for too long, they don’t have the requisite motivation to alter their homes or their wardrobes significantly for it.  (Although I do wish they at least put ice in the drinks.)  I also hear it’s something you get used to (I hope so).

Dan brought home a fan today.  I think it may be the best gift he’s ever brought me.