Blog #75: It's hot, hot, hot in Vienna

June 23rd, 2022
Monika Weber-Fahr
Thirty. Thirty-one. Thirty-two. Yes, these were the numbers on the thermostat in my kitchen in downtown Vienna this week, and if I read the forecast right we’ll get to 34o centigrade next week. It’s hot in Vienna - even though summer only just started. Is this the changing climate or has Vienna always been that warm in the summer? I don’t really know; what I do know is that we just saw a full-scale heat wave across Europe and North Africa, with temperatures well above 40 degrees in Spain, France and Germany; the drought in Italy with unusually low water levels in the river Po is only part of that story.  Earlier in June, similar heat waves - there with temperatures well into the 40s -  hit North America, and earlier in the year India and Pakistan. Harvests are at risk and forest fires on the rise.
What to do? Here in Vienna, a major concern is everybody’s health: Many people - in particular as we get older - cannot handle extreme temperatures well. Staying cool and staying hydrated is critical! The city helps - with some 1,300 public drinking water fountains, 170 water fog set-ups and over 70 mobile wells, amongst other things.  All of them are are easy to find - at least when using the Cooles Wien app, available for free in your app store. There you can find - at the tip of your finger - how far you (or your dog!) are from the next water fountain, or where you can find other opportunities for cooling down, including parks and swimming pools.  And if you want to find out whether your area is particularly hot, do check out the Vienna heat map, listing parts of town that are particularly exposed. This is based on the temperatures typically measured in these areas and based on the share of young people and senior citizens living there.
Vienna has a few other great locations that might allow you to stay cool - without spending extra energy. Several Viennese churches have - literally - cool underground locations, including St. Stephan’s catacombes, the Capuchin’s Crypt, or the crypt in St Peter’s Church. And yes, it can get chilly in these underground places, if though they may not be for the fainthearted.  If you like things to be adventurous, you may even go on the Third man tour - remember that novel of Grahame Greene, a film with Orson Wells? - that takes place primarily in the Viennese underground!  Other somewhat odd places in Vienna that offer enjoyable coolness include the Salzgrotte Oceaneum and the Polardome in the Schönbrunn Zoo. 
Mostly though, when walking across town, a quick visit in any of the churches will offer respite from the heat.  What better reason to come for a visit to a holy place?  The catholic church is pro-actively using the cool temperatures in its churches as a way to promote its Refreshing Church campaign.  Not everyone knows what you know, though, so keep on the lookout for people who may be suffering from dehydration and offer them water or point them to places where they can find it. Vienna has some 12,000 + people without a place of their own - they need us to care, especially in the middle of the heat!

Picture: Check out the COOLES WIEN app (simply type COOLES WIEN in your appstore on your mobile): It will show you the nearest locations of water fountains, cooling areas, and so on....
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