Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I Live in the World's Best City!

Today Mercer released their 2011 Quality of Living Index, ranking Vienna as the world's best city for quality of living. What's more, they scored fifth for the world's best personal safety. I can only hope my family reads this and can rest assure knowing that there's a reason why I don't need to carry pepper spray here.

Proud to call Vienna home away from home!

Friday, November 25, 2011

A Thanksgiving Miracle!

Although I was not in America yesterday, there was at least one thing (among the many) for which I could be thankful: I FINALLY got my residence permit after nearly four months after submitting my application. Yahoo! I can go home at Christmas and not worry about getting hassled at border patrol :)

Additionally, I was thankful that I could spend Thanksgiving with a group of great people here in Vienna. We had a Thanksgiving pot-luck last night at my friend Alex's place. The food was fabulous. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I even had the tiniest bite of turkey (I've been a vegetarian for two years), and I didn't like it at all. From what I heard from my meat-eating friends, it was a fabulous turkey. This confirms that my tastes have changed the past two years, and I no longer find meat appealing! Well, at least turkey; I haven't really tried anything else.

Lastly, in Thanksgiving tradition, I must share the other things for which I am thankful:

  • the opportunity to live and work in Austria for a third year
  • my loving and supportive family back home
  • my my friends home and abroad
  • a loving God who has made all of this possible
Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Questionable Anglicisms in Austria

Over the past couple of years while living in Vienna, I have come across English used in advertisements, commercials, slogans, everyday German language (especially in the realm of IT and business), and even in business names. Sometimes it's clever, sometimes it's just plain incorrect. The phenomenon of English used in German is nothing new, although it seems to be becoming more prevalent as the years go by-- or maybe I'm just more observant now. In any case, I've decided to devote one blog entry a week to the many anglicisms I come across here in Austria.  

This placard is an advertisement for Persil, a laundry detergent.  "Black bleibt beautiful" means black stays beautiful. I thought it was kind of weird, and somewhat incorrect usage, as the only meaning I know of "black is beautiful" is from the cultural movement. I'm not entirely sure what they were thinking in their marketing department-- maybe someone had just watched one of the many terrible American sitcoms that play here and heard the saying; maybe it is intended to be ironic. I guess Persil just wants to leave us in the dark... literally.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chestnuts!

Now that it's getting chillier in Vienna, chestnuts stands have been popping up all over the city, mostly around the Christmas Markets. I had never tried them until coming to Austria. In fact, I don't ever remember seeing them in Minnesota. They're currently in season here, so you can buy them for about 2 euros for 10 pieces at a stand, or simply buy a 500 gram bag at Hofer for 2,20 and get about 3-4 times as much as you get at a stand. And they're so easy to make. Just cut an X into the shell, pop them in the oven for 30 minutes, and enjoy. 

Chestnuts have a starchy potato-like flavor, are filling, and extremely healthy. My new obsession that everyone should try!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Christmas Markets Are Back!

My favorite Christmas Market drink: Heisse Liebe, alcoholic punch with strawberry liquor and whipped cream. Soooo good

The Best Time of Vienna is Here....

Vienna Christmas Season -- am Graben

Sunday, November 13, 2011

As promised, some pictures from the Halloween party in the castle

The village of Schwallenbach, church on the left and castle on the right

A view of the castle courtyard

Castle tower

Over-the-top American efforts of our costumes... zombie nerd and spider


Normally in castles, you can't touch anything. But no one was there to tell us to stand back...

No, this isn't a set for a photo-shoot. Just hanging out in one of the many castle rooms.

Cooking medieval style.

Halloween cake from Oberlaa

View of the beautiful Wachau from the castle doors. I love this time of year with all the Fall colors!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Best. Day. EVER.

We finally have Internet and TV!!!

After three months of living under a rock (aka using my cell phone's data sparingly to surf the web), I finally have high-speed wireless, in addition to cable TV that includes a wide array of Austrian and German networks, as well as networks from all over the world!

My plans for the weekend: internet and TV wellness weekend at home. I've got so many shows to catch up on from America, and I've got so many photos to post.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Just Dance--in a CASTLE!

This past weekend my friend Jesse flew in from Zurich, Switzerland. Since he lived in Vienna before, our agenda included few tourist attractions. Rather, we got drinks at my favorite underground bar, went shopping on Mariahilferstrasse, walked a bit around the city, and celebrated Halloween in a castle in Lower Austria.
   
Yes, a real standing castle in a tiny riverside village several hundred years old. Before the actual begin of the party, my American friends and I labored for a couple of hours covering (probably really expensive) statues with cobwebs, turning the dining room into a creepy science laboratory gone array, and trying our best to give the Austrian guests a pretty spooky castle for Halloween. It turned out perfectly; the castle felt uninhibited, left to decay and succumb to the “supernatural world”.

After decorating we got into costume, and of course the Americans overdid it with their costumes, whereas most of the Austrians either didn’t try at all, or slapped on a witches’ hat and called it good. Among the Americans costumes included: spider (me), nerd zombie (Jesse), cave woman,  panda bears, black & white swan, Indiana Jones, etc.
All night we snacked on catered sandwiches, drank pretty much whatever we wanted, chowed down on chicken roasted over the open fire (veggie burgers & lasagna for me!), and enjoyed Halloween cakes bought from Oberlaa, a fancy-shmancy Austrian bakery/café. We were well taken care of.
We made sure to take lots of pictures in the many rooms of the castle with all the cool antiques, since it was pretty much like being in a museum, except this time we weren’t told not to touch. After I looked at our photoshoot, I decided to title the album “hipster photoshoot in a castle”. It looked completely staged and outrageous.

When we weren’t taking hipster pics, we got our groove on, but only after the Americans somehow took over the sound system. Because Sunday was daylight savings in Austria (yes, a week earlier than in the US), we even got an extra hour to dance for free. Or sleep.

The experience was pretty surreal, to party AND have a slumber party in the castle. That probably tops the list of random and cool events thus far.

Pics to come soon, once I finally get internet at home.