The Polly, The Slug and The Dog

Trip Start May 13, 2011
Trip End Apr 28, 2012

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Flag of Austria  , Vienna,
Wednesday, August 3, 2011

This week, I realized that almost a quarter of our journey is coming to an end.  We will be in Vienna for only 19 more days, excluding our upcoming trip to Prague, so we decided that we wanted to make a list of what the remaining adventures we wanted to have.  One of the places we wanted to see was Lainzer Tiergarten.

As it has been raining for the last week on and off, we decided to get out of town and go hiking.  I had read about the private villa of Maria Theresia since we had been here, and we wanted to see where her royal highness escaped from the pressures of ruling.... if it is good enough for the Empress, we figured it was good enough for us.

Being without a car in Vienna is freeing, yet does not come without challenges.  Although the Lainzer Tiergarten is only 22km away by car, it took us an hour and a half on public transport.  We left at 8:30, hoped on tram O, transfered to U4, transfered at Hietzing to tram 60, and then attempted to wait for a bus to the reserve.  Well, the bus only left every 30 minutes, so we decided to huff it the mile to the entrance, being impatient as always to start.  We even found 5.01EU walking on the road to the park.  We decided to use the money to buy some food for the local homeless dude who hangs out on the street corner near our house, we have affentionately named the Billa dude, after the store we frequently see him stand in front of.

We met a friend we met at the entrance, Lisa and her two boys, to begin our journey.  The word tiergarten translates to animal garden, or zoo.  But, this was a preserve, so the animals mainly were without enclosures.  The grounds used to be the villa and city escape of Maria Theresia and Franz Joseph, but now is used as a hiking refugee and animal sanctuary.  The kids first had to stop at the park, as all good Viennese outdoor areas have a playground:  ).  Across from the playground was an enclosure for some Roe deer, some sort of sheep and elk.  It was a large enclosure, but we felt sad for these roaming foragers anyway. 

After another set of friends joined us, with two little ones in toe, we were off to explore the woods, well, sort of.  The little people that joined us had another idea in mind.  We came upon a small pond with ducks and large carp that all of the people under 6 really enjoyed.  Well, the 9 year old in my life enjoyed the ducks, for um, 22 seconds, then repeatedly requested we continue our journey. 

We parted with our new friends, explaining that the itchy people in my life would enjoy a hike, and agreed to meet up again.  We wandered down a paved lane, and encountered a cool slug we met before.  Little did we know, this species of slug is imported directly from a distant neighbor, Spain, and that is has become an invasive specie.  Since we had done investigations about the invasive species in San Diego, we understood how unwanted these little guys were.  Still, we could not instill the punishment of the guillotine.  Instead, a Polly Pocket named Annie and a puppy named Charlotte decided to befriend the invader.... we are spreading peace to all!

After we said goodbye to our friend slug, we followed the signs down the path coming finally upon a map.  The map said we had two choices: one, to go back the way we came to be able to catch the bus, to the tram, to the Ubahn, to the tram, or meander through the woods to another entrance, Nickolai Tor and catch one Ubahn all the way home.  We choose the meander. 

We wandered past the villa of Maria Theresia and beautiful butterfly bushes, wild boars, wood peckers and amazing insects, meadows and valleys, playgrounds and a pub in the middle of the woods, trees that were as straight as a line and ones that created the alphabet, mushrooms and wind, peace and tranquility.  Little did we realize our wandering took us almost 8km in the woods.  Inclduing the mile we walked to the tiergarten, along with the walk to the trams, buses and Ubhans, we estimated we walked about 6 miles today... way to go little people!

I hope on this journey, the girls take away many experiences, but this one I hope they take into their hearts.  You can look at pictures to remember where you were; you can also keep memories in your soul, draw upon them as a source of comfort and peace, to gain strength, to create ambitions, to create community.  I hope I am instilling in them activisim in anything they deem important enough to stand up for, respect for the Earth, an ability to be still and reflect deeply, an appreciation for the music that comes from the natural world, a desire to walk on the unmarked paths they encounter.  I believe if they walk away with a sense of these things, then I have passed on my ability to give them the ideals I value in life.  I am excited to see them become the women they will mature to be and see what they wil adopt and what they will reject as their own truths.

As for the Polly, the Slug and the Dog, my hopes are not as high for them, oh, except the slug...., I hope he took our advice not the mess with the Austrian slugs.... they are bad ass, though not as much as those Jersey ones, so we have heard.

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