Archive for September, 2009


September 30 2009
trees growing out of a building!

trees growing out of a building!

To the left is a picture of the Hunderwasser haus.  Hunderwasser is an artist who decided to take a stab at being an architect.  He avoids straight lines and level surfaces at all costs (except for windows and doors).  The sidewalk in front of this apartment building looks like waves of cobblestone.  I am looking forward to winter, when the trees no longer have leaves.  Then, I can see the building more clearly.

And, on another note: my favorite German word so far is “Putzfimmel” it means “rage for cleaning”.



September 25 2009
students in my Duetschkurs

students in my Duetschkurs

Currently, I am painted out of my house.  So, I decided to update you on my life.

The day of my last post, Bei and I went around Wien. We went to the Belvedere, and saw some of the work by Klimt.  I enjoyed the view of the gardens from inside the museum.  When you are at the garden level, you can’t see the overall design.  The end of the upper Belvedere had a room of sculpted heads in different positions.  One, entitled “rescued from drowning” had a striking resemblance to Herbert.  Then, we went to the lower Belvedere.  We weren’t as impressed with that gallery, but we did enjoy the orangenarie.  It was a small exhibit of modern art.  Very different from the rest of the artwork on display at the Belvedere.  Not to mention the half naked half human statues all over the place.  We also went to Stefansplatz to take photos of the famous church, and to the Hunderwasserhous.  Hunderwasser was a famous Austrian architect.  He doesn’t like straight lines … even for the flooring.

Last weekend, Bei and I went out again.  We started in Naschmarkt where we bought too many things.  Around noon, Karine (a girl from my Duetschkurs) joined us.  The three of us ate lunch, and continued shopping.  Bei and I thought it was a good idea to buy some fresh meat for dinner, and store it at Amit’s house.  So, we dropped off the food and walked around the city center: to Stefansdome (again), to the Hapsburg palace (outside only), and to the Rathaus (town center), where there was a circus.  We returned to Amits to collect our belongings and went to Klosterneuburg, where everyone had dinner together at a Heurigen.  (This is after I sent Bei alone on the bus with all of our grocery bags to bring them home).

A couple of weeks ago, we went to a party at the house of a woman Paul met on an airplane.  They invited us to the anniversary of her husband’s restaurant.  We went to that, and ate some food (for free).  It was a pretty good restaurant, but only open on Friday and Saturdays.  Afterwards, Paul and Amit went to Karlsplatz and Bei, Chao and I went to find a place to go dancing.  When we were unsuccessful, we settled for a furniture store that was also a bar.  There, we met two native Austrians (granted they were from the western part of the country, but they live in Wien now).  We actually have plans to meet them for dinner tonight.  Hopefully it will be something good!

So, I am finished my third week of my Duetschkurs.  To the left is a photo of my class.  Karine is the one standing right behind me to my left.  Regina (on the right of the photo wearing a pink shirt) was my coach at a basketball camp at SJU!  The world is too small.  But, I do see that I am getting better at speaking Deutsch.  Bei has been impressed at least.  Two teenagers were talking to us at the bus stop, and I held a conversation with them, until they asked us how old we were! haha.  I probably broke their hearts when we stopped talking to them.

Two days ago Amit made dinner for Karine, Paul, and me.  It was delicious.  He needs to do that more often!

Tonight, Darrell arrives, which means a loong day of sightseeing tomorrow!  (of course ending with a long stay at a Heurigen.

(an update on the first comment: somehow the front door to the apartment house was deadbolted from the inside … how that happens no one knows. Stefan climbed into a second story window to let us in)

Mountain House

September 13 2009

Along with Dmitriy and Jen visiting this week, Bei has arrived and Jeff was here for a few days.  Herbert decided to bring us to Graz Friday into Saturday.  We stopped at his mother’s house where we had a delicious home cooked meal.  Afterwards, we picked some blackberries and raspberries, and Bei ran through the cornfield.

Then, he took us to the mountain house, about one hour from his mother’s house.  Half of us stayed in a cute little inn, and the other half in the cabin.   After we checked in at the inn, all of us went up to the cabin.  Within minutes of arriving, the hunters stopped by to say hello.  They invited us in for a drink.  They didn’t speak english that well, but we were able to have a few laughs with them.  Then, they brought us to the top of the mountain.  We were a little scared that they were just going to use us as target practice, but there was a small bar at the top where we had some Gosser and a LARGE plate of ham, bread, and horseraddish … fresh horseraddish!  This snack came out on a large cutting board that was four feet long (ok, maybe only three).  The top of the mountain also had a spectacular view!

When we returned to the cabin, we had to turn on the lights.  I was watching Herbert struggle with the one (it was a gas lamp .. no electricity in the cabin).  And all of a sudden, there is light from the other side of the room.  Chao had somehow set the lamp on fire .. and not the right part of the lamp either.  Then, Chao realizes that something is wrong and says “I think it’s not turned up all the way”, to which Herbert responded “No, I think it is turned all the way up.”

On Saturday, those of us who stayed at the inn had breakfast there, and then joined the rest up at the cabin.  Since they were hungry, they went down to get some food, and Bei, Paul, Chao, and I went to pick some mushrooms.  We climed up a mountain picking what we thought were good mushrooms, but when we found our hunter friends, they told us that most of them were posinous.  Whoops.  Then, we went fishing int he fish pond … without a fishing pole.  We tried using a bucket to catch them and a rake to spear them.  When that wasn’t working, I got into the pond to try the luck with my hands.  I wasn’t quick enough for that.  And, you should have seen Herbert’s face when he came up to the pond and saw me int he middle.  It was priceless.

I should have some amusing pictures up shortly.  As soon as I find a cord to connect my camera to my computer.

Styria & More

September 6 2009
inside the cave

inside the cave

So, we went to S. Katherein in Styria for a workshop.  We met many people from the Technical University group.  Chao is splitting his time between IST Austria and TU.  There were others from Spain, Germany and France at this meeting, so it wasn’t only the Vienna groups.  Styria (a part of Austria) is very beautiful.  Where we were was also a higher altitude than I was used to.  When I went running, I became out of breath very quickly.  One of the evenings, we walked over to a local Schnapps maker.  Schnapps in Austria is closer to a Brandy or an after dinner drink in the US than the sweetened Schnapps that we get.  We had a tasting of five different schnapps.  I knew very little about what we were drinking, because the explanation was given almost entirely in German.  Some were made from fruit, including one made from the little red berries that we saw everywhere in Styria.  I ate one off the table, and I would not advise anyone else to do the same.   Another was made from a tree.  And, yes, it did taste woody.  Another fun activity at the workshop was our visit to the cave.  On the left, I have a picture of one of the stalagmites in the cave.  The story the tourguide told us about this one was that a rich American visitor tot he gave tried to buy it.  Most of the cave was made of limestone, so there were not many colors showing through.  And yes, there were talks at this workshop too.  Some were about AT-models and pyramids … somethign that I hadn’t seen before.   See more pictures from the workshop.

Dmitriy’s brother came to visit for a day last weekend.  Paul, Amit and I walked around Vienna with him.  We went through a tour of the Mozart House.  The tour went through three floors of the building.  The top floor gave a a background of Vienna at that time.  The 2nd floor gave information about some of the Operas and compositions, including Requiem.  The first floor was his actual living quarters, although there was no furniture from when he lived there.  The museum was tiny, and I did find it interesting.  An audio guide came with the tour, but sometime I found it too distracting to listen to.

Dmitriy and Jen arrived on Friday.  They’ll be here for 10 days.  Yesterday, we showed them NashMarkt and walked to the Hapsbug palace.  Jen is a vegetarian, so eating for her must be difficult in this carnivorous country.

Bei & Jeff will be arriving this week.  When they do, our group will be about one third of the IST Austria campus.  IST Austria is looking to expand to 50 research groups by 2014.  (I think that is what Paul told me).  It is hard to imagine right now though.

I start my German class tomorrow!