Monday, March 22, 2010

Athens Part Two

I had a fabulous long weekend in Athens. I arrived back in Braunau last night after a long day of metro travel, flying, train travel and finally riding my bike over the border back into Austria. Four days in Athens was plenty of time to see the things I wanted, enjoy the warm temperatures, wine and dine Greek style, and get my shop on. The remainder of my trip consisted of finishing seeing the ruins, shopping some more, and watching the Changing of the Guards at Parliament. It was also great to get to know my aunt more, since we see each other only a couple of times a year.

My time left such an impression on me, that I can't wait for the next opportunity to head back to the beautiful country-- but this time I'd like to island hop.

Photos to come in the next post when I'm not feeling so lazy!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Greetings from Greece

Just a quick Hello from Athens. I arrived yesterday afternoon and was greeted by lots of sunshine and warm temperatures. So far I must say that I am quite impressed with the city; Athens truly is a place where modern meets antiquity. The city itself seems quite posh, and the people seem to be more concerned about appearance rather than comfort. Of course I have really only been in the city center and my Athenian encounters have been few-- I'm just making some observations.

Last night I met my Aunt Tammy at the hotel and a bit later we walked around and I oriented myself with the city surroundings. We ate dinner at a trendy little restaurant, and somehow I ended up with bright pink pasta (pictures soon to come).

Today has been non-stop sightseeing beginning of course with the Acropolis, then the National Archaeological Museum and then the Temple of Zeus. We took a break and I enjoyed a fabulous Greek frappe with Baileys.

The sun has been so intense that I had to buy a pair of knock-off Prada sunglasses from a street vendor. I'm not that in to labels, but these sunglasses might fool the unsuspecting eye.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Somehow in the last five days I was able to watch the entire first season of Gossip Girl. Although the show never struck me as something that would interest me, I have quickly become addicted to the show. Honestly I have no idea how I was able to watch 13 40-minute episodes when I had lots going on during the last few days: a full day of skiing, church, lengthy work-out sessions, tutoring, class and night class. Perhaps it was because I have gradually been weaning myself from the internet?

In other completely unrelated news, tomorrow has become my Friday. I'll cram in five hours of class, and then once 16:35 rolls around, it's a long weekend for me. Tomorrow is also St.Patrick's Day- a holiday under-celebrated in Austria. I plan on pulling out my green "I [shamrock] NY" shirt which I bought last year in NYC on St.Patrick's Day. These Austrian kids need to learn a little bit about the jolly Irish spirit (as if I have a right to say anything about it-- but hey, my grandmother's maiden name was Murphy!). I plan to kick off the weekend sipping on some Guinness at the Irish Pub clad in green. But I can't stay out too late; Thursday morning I'm leaving the nasty Innviertel weather and heading someplace warmer and sunnier: Athens!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Snow Annoyed

I must say, I am utterly appalled by this weather. It snowed again this morning, leaving a disgusting layer of slush on the road for me to navigate my bike through. Honestly, what happened to Spring? It's warmer in Minnesota than it is here and that's just sad. Thankfully the weather should shape up towards the end of the week, just in time for me to fly off to Greece :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Forever a Teacher?

On Thursday in class I had a revelation: maybe I should really become a teacher. I mean a real teacher, not just an assistant in Austria. As the students of the third form (equivalent to the 10th grade in America) of the HLW were busy working together in small groups on a lesson on supermarkets, the thought crossed my mind that perhaps I really should become a teacher. After all, I am good at what I do, I receive positive feedback from both the teachers with whom I work and my students, and I genuinely enjoy what I do.

Now the question is, if I am actually serious about teaching, should I go back to the US and become a high school German teacher? Or should I go to graduate school and try to teach at a college? Or maybe I should just bum around the world for a few years teaching English? I suppose I would need to start that Online TEFL class that I've been meaning to take...

Thankfully I will most likely have a second year here in Austria to sort out my thoughts.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My Fear Was Overcome

Just got back from skiing and am happy to report that I have no injuries! Skiing was quite challenging, much more than I thought it would be... especially when you're "teachers" are native German speakers and trying to overcome language barriers to explain that after you make the "pizza" with your skis to turn, that you need to lift up on your other foot so the skis don't cross. After an hour or so of trial and error, I finally figured out the proper way to do it. And I even did quite well with the heights-- I only somewhat was a bit nervous at the very top of the mountain (Mooskopf-1918 meters). The only problems I had were when I kept falling down multiple times in a row, and this lead me feeling quite discouraged and frustrated, feeling that I simply couldn't do it. And it's such a mental thing, because when I felt I couldn't do it, I didn't do it. But 10 minutes later on another slope, I did it quite well and didn't fall once.

I'm glad I was able to provide a bit of comic relief to my more-than patient Austrian friends who stuck by me during my slow and careful skiing, or my many wipeouts. After some wipeouts, I often took the easy way out by walking down the hill in my boots or scooting down on my butt. They thought it was quite hilarious.

Despite overcoming my fear, I think I'll stay on flat ground for a while, at least when there is snow on it. Perhaps whenever I'm back in Minnesota, I'll try again on Buck Hill. There they actually have bunny hills ;)

Friday, March 12, 2010

Overcoming My Fear

Today is the day, the first time I will ever attempt skiing. (Okay, so that's note quite true; I did try skiing once in the sixth grade at Buck Hill in Burnsville, Minnesota, a place where any Austrian would scoff off as an actual ski resort.)

In order to prepare myself mentally, I went to the Pharmacy the other day and asked for any over-the-counter remedies to fight my persistent fear of heights. Mind you, we have no mountains in Minnesota, and my first time ever climbing a mountain to the very top in September was nearly a paralyzing experience. But now I have my "all natural" calming remedies to make this a great experience.

I'm only curious to see how small the "bunny hills" are. Better yet, do they even exist in the Alps?

Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm so sorry about bringing Minnesota to Braunau

It's a strange sight to walk through the city center of Braunau and see outdoor tables set out on the patio completely covered in snow. We mistakenly thought that winter was over when we had a sudden meltdown and increase of temperatures that lasted well over a week. Then boom! The temperatures plummeted once again, and I awoke on Saturday morning to find six inches of snow blanketing my garden. On the bright side, fresh snow does make for better skiing- a feat which I plan to take on this upcoming Saturday. I'm completely terrified and I keep mulling over the negative possibilities of what could happen. Mind you, I broke my ankle snowboarding when I was 16 on a "hill" in Minnesota.

And where will I learn to ski here? Better yet, do bunny hills even exist in Austria? NO! I'll be learning to ski on a 2000 meter mountain. That's about 6500 feet. Gulp. Someone please send me some Valium right now!

On a side note, it's even warmer in Minnesota right now. How pathetic.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


You know, I've been living in Braunau for six months now, and I don't believe I have ever blogged about where I am actually living. Here is a map so you can see the town-- it's so close to the border, and the Inn river separates Austria from Germany.

View Larger Map

I don't live too far from the border there... only about a ten to fifteen minute walk. Braunau looks like it's in the middle of nowhere, but it's actually the biggest town in this area until you get to Salzburg, which is 60 km (38 miles) south of here. It's really convenient to live so close to the border, because I go to Germany at least four to five times a week. Things are cheaper there, for example the fitness center I visit there is much cheaper than in Braunau, and I have a couple of friends in Simbach that I hang out with.

Braunau isn't really famous for anything, except it is the birth place of Hitler. That's why a lot of people say they are actually from Salzburg when they are traveling, so to avoid any prejudices. But I mean, it's not like Hitler was brewing up any terrible plans at the age of six months old. He left Braunau I believe at the age of three or four anyways. But there is a stone in front of his birth house to denounce fascism.

Other than that, there isn't really anything to note about Braunau, other than it was part of Bayern (in Germany) a couple of times. Braunau was part of Germany, then Austrian, then Germany, and finally Austria.

This year the city is celebrating turning 750 years old.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

False Alarm!

After carefully searching my house and the surrounding streets, I have found my camera! It turns out it was indeed in the mesh pocket where i had left it, but only it was covered up by a water bottle that I shoved in to the same pocket, consequently covering up the camera.

Here are some pictures of my bike ride. The mountains are in the distance, but I still think it's cool. After all, the nearest mountain range to me in Minnesota is at least a ten hour drive...

Monday, March 1, 2010

And The Award Goes To...

I am losing it, literally. On Friday I spent hours vigorously cleaning and reorganizing the house, and in the process I lost my headphones and the pin number for my new phone, which is necessary to enter when I turn on my cell phone, otherwise it doesn't work.

Today I may have lost my camera. I was so excited to blog about my wonderful day and to upload the photos from my random bike adventure, and when I went to retrieve my camera, I couldn't find it. Either it fell out of my backpack tonight at my conversation course, or it somehow fell out of my backpack while biking earlier today. Or I am totally losing it, and it's actually somewhere in the house.

This afternoon after a very successful day of classes, I decided to enjoy the warm and clear day and take a short bike up to a hill nearby where I thought I could see the mountains in the distance. After discovering a fabulous bike route and taking pictures of the amazing mountains in the distance, I headed back home, bought my ticket to Athens and headed to the night class. A wonderful day which I only hoped to blog about. And now my night is ruined, because I lose everything. I am the Queen of losing things.

But on the bright side, I just booked a ticket to Athens for a long weekend in about two and a half weeks. My aunt is flying from the States for a vacation, and we will be able to meet up and explore the ruins of Athens. I really look forward to the opportunity to not only enjoy the warm weather and see a new place, but to also spend some more time with my aunt.

In the meantime, I need to take deeeeeep breaths and perhaps retrace my bike route tomorrow :/