Saturday, October 16, 2010

Die Tschechische Republik

Hey guys,

Here I am once again updating you on my life here in Österreich! Last night I was out at a bar with my new American friends Heather and Erin along with Heather's italian boyfriend Paolo and my new austrian friends Marlene and Anna. At some point around 2:30 AM, Heather's boyfriend leans over and tells me that they are going to the Czech Republic and if I would like, I may come along. How can you turn down a free trip to another country?!?!?!!?! Of course I said yes!

At around noon today we all set off in Paolo's Fiat! After a fairly short but beautiful ride through upper Austria and into the Czech Republic we arrived Cesky Krumlov. What an absolutely beautiful town! To be honest we basically just walked around for a while and then got down to the real business at hand: EATING! We searched high and low for the perfect restaurant. Eventually we found a lovely pub near the Moldau. As it was a rather chilly and overcast day, we all opted for a Glühwein which is just a hot spiced wine and was absolutely perfect for the day! Next we had to have Goulash! How absolutely brilliant! It's kind of like a beef stew but served with dumplings.

After lunch we decided to go up to the Castle. PRETTY! Man, why can't I just have my own castle? The castle in Cesky Krumlov is actually interesting because instead of using masonry etc. they took the plastered walls and painted bricks and masonry and even a few fake windows on the facade! Our last venture in this stunning place was to go for a coffee and Palatschinken (don't worry it's just the czech word for crepes.) I also ordered an irish coffee that I'm not sure had any coffee in it...(eek). Well That's about all I know for the moment. Tomorrow I'm off to hear the Kabenchor in St. Florian which is apparently the second best boys choir in Austria after the one in Vienna! I'll be updating my pictures soon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wow, Wie kann ich alles sagen, dass ich wirklich sagen würde?

Wow! Sorry that's it's been so long every body! But the last couple days have been stressful, but also incredibly rewarding! I met with Jochen Rauber my Betreuungslehrer on Sunday and we had coffee and talked about my schedule for the coming year. On Monday I went to Enns and reported for duty! It was a fairly stress free day, I had to fill out some paperwork so that I could be paid (always a beautiful thing) and meet with some of the teachers for whom I'd be working the next day. I have to say that the staff in Enns has been really incredible! They're all incredibly helpful and it's even more wonderful that they're willing to put up with my German! I know that they're itching to practice they're English so hopefully we can work something out! More often than not, I speak Germish with them. A sentence in German here and a phrase in English there. I went home on Monday ready to prepare my first lesson and talk about myself, which as you all know, is one of my favorite past times!
       The presentation took a surprisingly long time to put together! It was strangely hard to sift through my family's and my Facebook pages to find the pictures that I thought best described me. I eventually decided that I would show them family pictures and of course on of our little wiener dog, Roxie. After my whole presentation or "spiel" was put together, I went out to have a beer with the other TA's and discuss our exciting new jobs.
      Tuesday was my first day of "real" work. It was definitely an "out of the frying pan and into the fire" moment! I honestly had no real reason to be afraid. More often than not, I had to coax the students into talking. I understand that I'm intimidating though (yeah right!). Although, my performance background comes in SO handy in this situation. Not only is teaching in front of a classroom truly a performance art, but you have to be able to present the same information multiple times without getting bored. We've also been talking about some american stereotypes and I think they're absolutely fascinating. The truth is they're the one's we've probably all heard before. But, it's still interesting to see why they think we eat McDonald's everyday! We also talked about Austrian stereotypes and they're generally astounded when I tell them that most of the world thinks of them like the Von Trapps in "The Sound of Music." Did you know that most Austrians have never seen the movie and rarely even know who Julie Andrews is! This is something that must be rectified in the coming year!
     Today (Wednesday) was another really wonderful day at school. After my classes, I had to go to Baumgartenberg, my other school, to meet with my main teacher there and clarify what they expect from me in the other school. They were also really incredible. They gave me coffee and we talked forever and ever about opera and where it's relevant in the modern world and how we can talk about the racism in movies like "Gone with the Wind." I also mentioned that it was going to be very expensive for me to travel from Linz to Baumgartenberg and back and they said that many of the teachers come from Linz every day and that I can carpool! After my wonderful meeting in my second school, I met with my austrian Aunt, Hermine! Hermine is the mystery woman from the very first post and we have since become pretty fast friends! She took me to coffee on a mountain overlooking the city! What a beautiful view! Then we decided that we should go to a concert at the local concert house on the 5th of November. The famous conductor Ricardo Mutti will be waving the baton and I hope that there's standing room left! She ended the day by giving me a edler Butter-Stollen from her recent trip to Dresden and some apples from her garden. I'm telling you, the hills really are alive with music.

Mit lieben Grüßen,


Saturday, September 25, 2010


Hey Everybody,

         So, as many of you know, I just got back from Vienna yesterday! It was a really wonderful trip! I stayed, much to my mother's chagrin I stayed in a Jugendherberge (youth hostel) in Vienna. For 20 Euros a night you get to stay in a large room with 7 strangers! But it ended up being completely fine. there were 5 Aussie girls and 2 German girl from Koeln.  I left Linz at 8:10 and was in Vienna by 9:40 and went straight to the hostel, where they told me it was too early to check in. So, I left my things and headed straight to St. Stephans Dom. One of the most famous cathedrals in Vienna. I went up to the top of the south tower which for hundreds of years was the tallest point in Vienna. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures from day one because I am a fool and didn't charge my camera battery before leaving! So, I spent the whole day in Museums and doing things that wouldn't require me to take pictures. I saw 6 exhibits in 1 and a half days! I started at the Hofburg, which is the former Imperial Winer Palace. I saw the Silberkammer or the imperial silver collection. For those of you who know about my love of fine china and table linens, you will know that I was in heaven! It's an incredible array of every thing from baking dishes to bronze and silver candelabras that almost certainly weigh more than 50 pounds. Do you think they would've minded if I just borrowed some?
        I then went to the Sisi exhibit. Elizabeth was the wife of Emperor Franz Joseph II and was a notorious beauty and champion of the people. I have long had a fascination with german/austrian musicals. There so happens to be a musical called "Elizabeth" about this incredible empress. I now have a much better and clearer understanding of her personality. Unfortunately she was assassinated in her early 50s. After that exhibit, I made my way to the imperial apartments which is always fun for me because I can always envision myself living in these lavish accommodations and feeling right at home! After I had spent hours in the imperial apartments I made my way to the Kunsthistorisches Museum that houses all sorts of paintings and ancient roman, egyptian and greek art. I was particularly interested in seeing a Dutch painting of Henry VIII third wife Jane Seymour. Luckily, it was still on display! My last Museum stop for the day was at the imperial Schatzkammer which houses the former imperial crown jewels.
       After a long day of Museum hunting I decided that when in Wien one should really eat Wiener Schnitzel. So, I went to a local restaurant and did just that! It was delicious. Although, I think I'd better reduce the amount of times that I eat traditional austrian food otherwise I might end up being really fat after a year! The food is delicious, but generally fried or coated in butter! After dinner, I went back to the hostel and talked to the other people staying in my room. the Aussies had to get up the next morning, but the germans said that they were planning on going out. So, I went out on the town with these two fun loving crazy girls from Koeln! We didn't do anything too crazy, We went to a bar or two and drank beer (what else?) and then came back and met a bunch of other germans in a Kneipe (a dive) and at four in the morning, I couldn't think in English let  alone German! I finally had to say good night and went back and crawled into bed.
       The next morning, I got up at 7:30 and went down to have the free breakfast at the hospital while all of the girls stood in line for our communal bathroom. I came back, took a brief shower, charged my camera and was set for another day of exploration. I set out for Schoenbrunn the Habsburg's former summer palace. I challenged myself to take the self guided audio tour in German and it didn't go half badly! The palace is simply wonderful and the grounds are gorgeous. Afterwards, I came back to central Vienna and busied myself taking picture of myself in front of places I had gone to the day before. I also made it my mission to find the original Sacher hotel and eat Sachertorte, a decadent chocolate cake filled with Marillen (apricot) jam and covered with a smooth layer of chocolate ganache. Those of you that have lived with me will know that last year I made it my mission to try and perfect the art of Sacher torte. I made 7 attempts at the well known confection and I'm sad to say, didn't come close to the original! I also had a Kaesekrainer which is a Sausage filled with cheese! The stand where I bought it also offers it in a "hotdog" bun. Unlike our hotdog buns, however, this is a loaf of bread with a whole bored in the middle! My last confection for the day was the ever popular "Kaisersmarrn" which is a sugared pancake that has been cut up into bite-size pieces during the cooking process. It includes raisins and a side of "Zwetschke Marmalade" (plum marmalade). After having eaten more than one person ever should in one day, I finally decided it was time to get back on the train and head back to Linz. What a wonderful experience! I hope you guys enjoy the pictures below.



I didn't want to caption too many of these pictures for fear of boring you, but this was in a subway station in Vienna and just proves that Starbucks really IS everywhere!

Vor der Wiener Staatsoper! This is the state opera in Vienna. Maybe next time I can actually see something!

Sachertorte!!!! Chocolaty Goodness. So good in fact, that I had two!!!

I know this is a heinous smile, but my camera was running out of batteries! Anywho, that's the giant Kaeserkrainer in a "hotdog" bun!
In front of St. Stephen's Dom in Vienna

I saw these KitchenAid stand mixers in  store in Vienna and the colors immediately made me think of my Mom. Many of you will appreciate the irony. I doubt even these fanciful colors could entice her into baking! (Love ya Mom!)
Me in the lawn in front of the Kunsthistorisches Museum.
Last but certainly not least, Kaiserschmarrn!

Sorry about all the one handed photos guys!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Hermine....or the mystery lady!

           So, as promised I did meet the mystery lady from my flight to Austria for coffee today in Linz! (to let you all know she's about 55 or 60) Her name is Hermine and she's a very warm and kind-hearted person. She brought her niece along and the three of us set out into town for coffee! What a wonderful afternoon. We spoke entirely in German (which was absolutely wonderful for me!) and we talked over the differences in our culture and Austria's and everything from the weather to what people do in Linz on the weekends. Her niece is at University in Wien and is studying Business Administration and I think probably has very good English, though we didn't test it much! During our conversation about Oktoberfest in Munich (which I plan on attending btw!) a lady from another lady at a table behind us joined in and told us more about this famous, if expensive, city! After about 2 hours of quatschen (or chatting) it was finally time to go our separate ways. Before I left however, this saintly lady said that she had baked a "Zwetschkekuche" or plum cake and brought along a couple of pieces for me! How incredibly sweet right! It's absolutely delicious, I just tried some while writing this post! She also said that she's in town every Wednesday and as often as is possible we should meet. I quite agree! Ok, that's it for now, I'm off to plan for my trip to Vienna tomorrow morning! (More info and pictures to come!)

Liebe Gruße


Monday, September 20, 2010

Sorry it's been so long every body!


          Here's my update! I've been busy today! I went to the bank to open my Gehaltskonto so now my work checks can be directly deposited. I had a lovely conversation with a lady (and by that I mean I think she's my age) by the name of Ede. I then went to get my Vorteilskarte so that I can now travel anywhere within Austria for half price! Which means that when I go to Vienna later this week (still undecided as to when) that roundtrip it will only cost me 30 Euros on the train! Not quite the bargain it would be if I had a car...but I don't care to test those waters! I then went to the Linz Lentos Kunstmuseum and saw a lot of modern art. I like to think of myself as a free thinking and accepting person, but when you but a trash can in the middle of the room, don't tell me not to use it because it's "art"! Otherwise it was a perfectly lovely day here in Linz. I had a good austrian lunch at a local restaurant. For 6.90 Euro you could eat as much as you wanted! They had Cordon bleu, spinach soup, pommes frites and salads! I also had a little beer (I am in Austria after all!)
         I was finally awake enough to go out on the town here in Linz. On Saturday I went to a club here in Linz and was not too astonished to see that there weren't that many people there when I showed up at 11:30. The club is open until 6:00 AM and therefore the real party doesn't start until about 2! I did have the chance to speak to a couple of guys from Germany and they were really nice. At about 2 o'clock I was fading and had to say goodbye to the Germans and go to bed.
I don't have that much more to say other than I love you all!

P.S. the picture below is for my friends who can't stand pigeons (a.k.a. Vicky and Catherine!) It seems that you can never truly be away from them!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Scenes from a day in Linz!

Was gibt es zum Mittagessen?

That's right, today I ate delicious Bratwürste und Sauerkraut!

I'm slowly adjusting to having to use German in my daily life. I learned a lesson yesterday, one should always have coffee before attempting to speak foreign languages! My problem was, that to receive the coffee I had to speak in a foreign language! I had a serious "deer in headlights" moment when she told me how much the coffee cost. She said, "2 euro 25 bitte," and all I heard was "2 euro" and then I stood there staring for a minute before she finally had to hold fingers up. The saddest part of this story is that this problem also happens to me in English!

Here are some more pictures from my life in Linz thus far:

This is the Hauptplatz or center of town where all the action happens!

Der wöchentliche Bauermarkt!

Shelly would appreciate this. It reminds me of New York's Farmers Markets only in miniature!

Bunte Blumen auf der Straße!

I did have an Eliza Doolittle moment and thought about breaking out into a rousing chorus of "Wouldn't it be Loverly," but I thought that the Austrians might find it a tad odd. Maybe I should translate it first? (just joking, I only break out into song on the streets of New York where nobody cares!) (I also only translate songs from Wicked...)

I LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE this photo! It's the austrian answer to Bounty! I saw this in an Apotheke and laughed a little hysterically! I hope you all find it as gratifying as I do.

I took this one for Dad...I feel that I need say no more!

I love you all and hope to talk to everyone soon!

Liebe Grüße!


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Die Reise fängt an!

      I'm writing this post as I've just gotten in to Linz, Austria and have no idea what day it is or exactly what time it is in other parts of the world. I'm hyped up on caffeine and the delicious chocolate they gave us on my regional flight from Frankfurt to Linz! The journey began sometime yesterday...(or was it three days ago?) when I clumsily finished packing after only three hours of sleep. (Damn Netflix and my obsessive need to have as many of my Harry Potter books on tape as possible in my iTunes library.) After bidding my family adieu and carting my three (miraculously less than 50 pound) suitcases downstairs, I left for the Springfield Airport!
        I then made it to Chicago and spent the better part of four hours there. I bought some noise canceling headphones ate some moderately tasty salmon at the "Chili's To Go". Knowing that airlines require you to be at an international gate 2 hours before departure, I got myself to the gate 2 and a half hours early (take that family who believe I am incapable of punctuality!) I began to get nervous when I had been sitting at the gate for over an hour and there still were no flight attendants or even a screen saying "Frankfurt" at the appointed gate. It turns out that the german flight attendants of Lufthansa are so efficient that they can load 700 people in a 767 in under an hour! During my search for this glorious information, I ended up in line behind a very, or "wery" as she pronounces it,  nice lady from Austria. The two of us were pulled out of line because our bags apparently looked too heavy to be allowed as carry ons. We both looked at each other in astonishment as they declared that both would have to be checked and that we had better get what we needed before they abruptly and unceremoniously took our bags. Computer, books and my copy of Details Magazine now stuffed into my pillowcase, I boarded my 8 hour flight to Frankfurt.
          The flight to Germany proceeded as all of my trans-atlantic flights do: sleeplessly! Unfortunately, this particular 767 did not have individual screens in the back of each seat. So, I was relegated to watching a terrible british film called "Street." It was a cross between Center Stage and Save the Last Dance. My friend Patty might just be the only person I know who would have enjoyed the lack of plot coupled with overt sexuality. By hour 5 of the flight, I grew desperate and started listening to the "Relaxation" channel on the in-flight radio. This was a rousing 40 minutes of breathing in and out, imagining Mountains and fields and flexing and unflexing every muscle in my body. In my desperation I listened to it again in German, which was thoroughly unrelaxing because I spent the whole time trying to figure out the words I didn't know. In hour 7  Lufthansa threw me a bone and put on an episode of "The Golden Girls" before turning on "Air" robics. All in all, a successful flight, decent food, and completely free alcohol!
        My time in Frankfurt was short and was spent mainly in a passport line because they only staffed 1 officer for 300 people?!?!?! As I began to board my flight to Linz, I noticed the same lady whom I had met in the Chicago airport. I introduced myself again and we chatted (this time in German) about where she was from and why I was going to Linz. I'm sure I made a million mistakes, but it felt good to at least try to make myself understood. The flight to Linz took approximately 40 minutes and at the end my austrian mystery woman and I had a final conversation. It turns out her name is Hermine. She gave me her card and told me to call her for coffee whenever I was settled in. She also gave me a euro for the luggage cart and bade me adieu. What an exciting day! I got to test my German in real life (for better or worse) and I made a friend.


I never believed my german friend Jennifer Jakob that austrian German truly is unlike any German one would learn in a book! It hit me like a wall trying to converse with the taxi driver. I was left to simply nod and hope that I actually knew what he was saying.

A big hug and thanks to everyone!