Physik und Kaffee in beautiful Vienna

I had the pleasure of spending w/c 18th of April 2016 in Vienna at the European Geophysical Union (EGU). I recall first visiting the picturesque city back in 2004 towards the tail end of my Phd. I say tail-end, it was the rough end of trying to finish everything! I have a lot to thank my Phd and subsequent postdoc career for in terms of travel. I passionately believe in the value of travel and exposing yourself to the sheer magnitude of history that sits across all continents. The inspiration garnished from those decadent cities can be just what the doctor needs. It certainly can benefit the wandering scientific mind. Europe has so many gems; Vienna is one I particularly love to visit.

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Rathauspark in the early morning sunshine

I decided to pre-empt this particular trip by reading about the influential history of the Habsburgs, a family that helped shape the power base and culture of central Europe. The beauty of having this sat at the back of my mind was that visiting some key cultural sites fit into a wider picture. For anyone who might be interested, the book of choice was Danubia by Simon Winder, given to me by my parents one Christmas.

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Danubia, by Simon Winder. Very interesting!

Besides the Habsburgs signature, one cannot visit Vienna without delving into the kaffehaus culture. Good grief, what a culture! The Viennese have a distinctly different approach to coffee than, say, the Italians. For me, it’s almost like a full desert in a cup rather than a bold espresso. There are many good places to go, but one deserves a mention. Cafe Griensteidl located at Michaelerplatz 2 across from St. Michael’s Gate at the Hofburg Palace is a favourite. Walk through the doors and double check that you haven’t taken a trip back to the 1940s. I didn’t realise on my last visit, but this café is famous for its links with literary icons. You can easily imagine walking into a smoky atmosphere long ago, with discussions taking place in dimly lit corners over half eaten Sachertorte and freshly brewed coffee.

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A quick cappuccino in Cafe Griesteidl before the city woke.

Vienna has much more to offer, if only I had more time. Hopefully I can rectify this next year. On that, I was there for a conference of course, and a busy one at that. I previously commented on the value of conference attendance here. For this trip I managed to squeeze in the following:

  • 3 poster presentations [to be discussed in a focused blog on the specific topics]. One was regarding a new community software package for atmospheric scientists you can check out, called UManSysProp.
  • 1 talk
  • Co-chairing of a session
  • Poster judge duties
  • 3 project meetings/lunches
  • Plentiful cake and coffee!

The great appeal of the EGU is being able to conceptualise where your own work fits within the grand, burgeoning field of research that is earth science. I find that people are thinking about wider linkages these days. An appreciation of all-important linkages is important, as is thinking outside of the box, provided the quality of the science does not suffer in the race to publish ‘high impact’ studies. For more of my thoughts on conference attendance, please read my other blog.

Thank you Vienna, I had a wonderful time.


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