Admit it, Americans, you laughed just now.
I bike the whole Ring these days, that grand circular collection of streets that marks, in spots, the location of the old city battlements. Mornings, I ride south along the canal to the observatory and come back up the hill, turning onto the Schubertring (different parts of the Ring are named for different people or locations, and the great Lied composer gets a chunk to himself). The walls along the canal are filled with graffiti and art, and the city is setting up the decks and roofs of the summer cafes and stages that will open along the water next week. After breakfast this morning with a friend at a small konditorei, we walked along the cobblestones and promised to meet in May at one of these cafes.
I hop on my trusty steed and head south, then west. The Schubertring is the less direct way to work from my house, but in the morning it's less crowded, fewer tourists and therefore fewer people who aren't used to bike traffic. I can cruise relatively uninterrupted with other people on their way to work. We all tend to ride quickly but not enough to get s serious sweat going. A canopy of trees arches over our heads, dark green leaves bursting from the branches and still surprising us.
If I'm lucky, there's a space to lock my bike at the racks outside the Operngasse stage entrance; otherwise I take it to my office in the freight elevator. People greet me as I lock up. All of us are different now that the sun is out. Next February, if I forget, please tell me just to wait a little while, until April when everyone will come outside. The pedestrian street that snakes away from the opera house is filled with chairs and tables, people drinking coffee and eating ice cream in the bright air. Where did they all come from? Like the leaves on the trees, it seems they all just arrived.
After the evening coachings with the windows wide open, I unlock my bike and pedal off on the other half of the Ring, past all the monumental buildings, the former palace and the art museums, Parliament and City Hall and the University. Here's where the combination of visitors, students, and people waiting at tram stops can make maneuvering a challenge, and it's easier at night. The Rathaus is a riot of spires and lights, but the architectural bloat is nothing but an impressive backdrop for the story on the ground, strolling and laughing, drinking and gossiping, observing and keeping track.
The sun is just setting these days at 8:45 as I turn north along the canal. Joggers, dogs, lovers, stoners share the route with me. Upstairs is my jetlagged MtMn on Skype, dishes to be done, a suitcase to pack, sleep to cherish.
Tomorrow goes around the circle again.