Saturday, December 17, 2011

Living The Fairy Tale

            When I was a young girl, I wanted to live in a castle in some far away land. Now that I’m older I find myself living across the street from a castle in a one-hundred and fifty year old building complete with ghosts and so very, very far away from home. To be honest, I never thought I’d say I miss the desert but I do: I miss my children even if they are dependent upon me far past the time they should be, I miss my animals who couldn’t come to live with us in our far away adventure, and I miss seeing my grandchildren grow up.
            In May of this year as you all know, we said goodbye to our house and family and everything I have ever known to run away from home, moving to Vienna, Austria. Needless to say, I wasn’t happy about what was happening but I understood it. I understood that it was a fantastic opportunity to live somewhere and visit all those places I only thought about when I was a kid. I knew it would be great for my husband’s career. But knowing and understanding didn’t matter to my heart in the beginning and now with my first Christmas in my new foreign home fast approaching I can say this is still the case.
            First I would say to those who envy me, be careful what you wish for but that would be a lie because it’s all a matter of perspective. When we are young, everything looks cool because it’s different than what we have or where we are. When we’re older, we look at things differently like what’s the economic impact it might have on our lives. My thought process was ‘how can this make my writing better’ and a million other things concerned with writing. Then as in now, I am trying to focus on the positive though some days it is very, very hard. So let’s look at some of the basic reasons a move like this could make a writer better:
            1) A look at different cultures – Living in a place that isn’t where you grew up may be uncomfortable at first but it will also make you realize that the world is a big, big place. Here people watching takes on a whole new meaning as one can see things here they will never see at a big bike race on the main street with over three hundred bikes...or a political rally on the very street you live on. In any given day, I will see people from Indian, the US, Turkey, Greece, Ireland, Paraguay, and the Dominican Republic to name a few...those are just the ones who live in the same building as I do...imagine what’s outside those doors.
            2) Broaden one’s horizons – Living in a foreign country means I have to learn a different language to communicate to those around me. It means I have to understand a socialist system because that’s where I’m at right now. I also have to realize the way things are done where I come from aren’t the way things are done here. I also have to learn a public transit system, why Vienna is divided into districts and why people here don’t seem to change very much. This can be translated into some very interesting things for my stories.
            3) Teach my native language – I have been asked by several people if I would be interested in teaching English to upper level students. Boy, if this won’t make you hone your skills in writing, I don’t know what will. I really find it interesting that they want me to teach American slang as opposed to learning the Queen’s English. In order to teach here, I need to get permission to work and that will be a whole other adventure to address on another day.
            4) Make new friends – Now this has been the most difficult for me as writers are pretty reclusive and I tend to be that way myself. Matter of fact, as you all know I was so lonely I got me a puppy and in the process gained a whole new group of friends who own the same type of dog. People over here can relate to those with dogs better than those without or even those with kids. This is making me put myself out there and in some ways I cringe and in others I excel.
            5) The place oozes history – This place has an incredible history. Like I’ve said many times before, I live across the street from the Palace Belvedere and the Palace Schwartenberg. Belevedere was once a summer home for the Habsburgs and in particular Prince Eugene. I’m still trying to understand where Palace Schwartzenberg figures into all of this but I do know there’s a house on the grounds for rent. We’re actually thinking about checking it out. Now the street I live on is named after after Prince Eugene and called Prince Eugen Strasse. That’s just the start of everything: there’s the Hofburg, Schonnbrunn, Carnuntum which is a Roman ruin, Stephensplatz, Karlsplatz and churches like you wouldn’t believe. Early man lived here as did the Celts. Just reading Wikipedia to get the overview can be overwhelming...but...think of the opportunity for historicals, for contemporaries or for anything a writer can think up. Here’s a few more pictures to show you what I mean.
            While this is the view out my office window, I should make note that not only do  I see the guard quarters for Belvedere as well as part of the grounds, but history. If I look a little harder, I’m sure I can see the Emperors and Empresses of a day gone by, of kings and queens and their children.

             Here’s some pictures of Carnuntum, the Roman ruins.

            And finally, one of my favorite places to see, Schonnbrunn.

            There’s the museums.

            These pictures don’t even begin to do the place justice. I’m going to be putting in things from my travels to other places as well. Like Italy. If we can get it all together, we’ll be trying to go to Italy between Christmas and New Year’s. We’ve already visited Bad Ischl and Salzburg, some of which you’ve already seen in the birthday weekend post. And I promise to bring you more and more of the historical perspective on living in Vienna, Austria.
            Yes, this place has plenty for a writer to learn, plenty for me to figure out and understand. Even though the perspective has changed a lot from when I was younger, living the fairy tale can and does have its own perks.
            See you all next time!


Friday, November 4, 2011

The Colors of Fall

            Just last week, I noticed the color around here was bursting at the seams. Coming from Nevada, we’re lucky to get any fall color as one day the leaves are on the trees and the next they are just gone. So I’ve been pleasantly surprised with each sojourn outside the amount of color I’ve seen. From greens to yellows to reds, the colors are fantastic and brilliant.
            I was pleasantly surprised when I looked at the pictures from the weekly walk in Hauptallee that I had managed to capture some of those wonderful colors. Another thing captured in the photos were the diversity of leaves and how they all color differently. Again, being from a desert and even though I live in an Arbor community, I am really not used to this type of diversity.
            I knew there were days in early fall, when all the leaves were still green, that I would just gaze out the window at the greenery across the street from our apartment. I’d not lived anywhere with seasons in so long, I find the whole process completely fascinating and new.
            I know many of you are saying that you think I’m crazy for wanting all the seasons but I’ve always loved the changes and the snow. There is just something beautiful about the glistening white substance that can never be replaced. We’ll see if I’m singing this song when it actually happens. LOL! But right now, it’s wonderful to fantasize about how it might be.
            Today, I have a series of pictures taken the last weekend showing the colors of fall. Many trees have already lost their leaves, so their bounty was spread on the ground everywhere. Pup Harry decided it was time to play in the leaves, tossing them up in the air he raced round and round, playing with them as we watched. It was a wonderful sight to see that he was taking so much joy from such a simple thing. I sincerely hope you agree.

            See you next time!


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Sunday Stroll

Life has changed a bit since we got our puppy but those changes are fantastic overall. One of the benefits that I have noticed is the fact that we’re more active on the weekends. Previous to puppydom, we’d stick pretty close to home or go shopping or do pretty much nothing. We’d read, we’d rest, we’d slounge. Since Harry, we are out and about more on the weekends.

For the past few Sundays, and probably at least until it gets really cold, we’ve started to go on Sunday walks. Make that Sunday strolls. It seems that everyone in Vienna is out doing the same thing. We even found that when there are holidays, like National Day which was mid-week, the strolling attitude still applies. People are out in droves and it’s a very interesting time to be had.

So far, our favorite stroll site is a place called Hauptallee in Wiener Prater. This place reminds me of grand European style and I can’t walk it without things about all the ladies and men moving about with parasols, long dresses and suits of the day. I can picture myself back in time and it has my creative juices flowing to say the least. The place is beautiful and seems never ending as we start on the end where we get off the train and walk to a little bit more than half way.

It is made especially more real when you hear the clip-clop of a horse’s shoe on the pavement. Turning, I find myself surprised as I see a horse-drawn carriage just feet from us. I can imagine many such hackneys, delivering the rich and famous or even the not-so-much-but-want-to-be-seen people of a bygone era. Here I can actually feel the pull of the city whereas in other places it seems no different to me than any crowded cityscape. Here I can feel the time of the Kaisers of the Hapsburg family, the wealth of a nation and the gentleness of the people.

The land was originally purchased by Emperor Maximillian II to be a hunting ground. There was the problem of poaching on royal land and Emperor Rudolf II forbade entry to the Prater. In April of 1766, Emperor Joseph II declared that the Prater was free of royal constraints and therefore for public enjoyment, allowing for the establishment of coffee-houses and cafes. Hunting didn’t cease in the park until 1920.

The previous mentioned Hauptalle is the main avenue of the park and is lined with horse chestnut trees that are just beautiful. It is closed to motorists and people can ride their bikes, take casuals strolls, jog or any number of things to propel one’s self through the pleasant scenery. It is home to the Liliputhahn, a narrow gauge railway now used for the entertainment of children. The main park has roller coasters and a variety of adult rides. Also there is a planetarium and the Prater Museum.

The most interesting thing that I saw was Republic of Kugelmugel,  a spherical micronation started by artist Edward Lipburger in a dispute over building permits with the Austrian government. It’s become a tourist attraction and sits behind a barb-wired fence. I found it utterly fascinating that it supposedly has 389 citizens.

Personally, I don’t care about the particulars of a lot of the history but it does certainly contributes to the overall vibe of the place. As long as I can stroll here on any given afternoon of my choosing, I’ll certainly be happy.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Foggy Morning

It’s been a while since I’ve updated this blog and I must apologize. It’s not that nothing has happened has...I’ve just been working on other things. Like writing and editing, after all, it is what I’m supposed to be doing with all my free time. <Snort> If you believe that...then I have a bridge for you...LOL!

First, puppy Harry has been occupying a lot of my time. By a lot I’m talking about daily walks on the order of one to three a day. The dear husband gets morning duty because he can jog him and tire him out. This is very, very good. The pup is just like a kid or the energizer bunny, he goes and goes and keeps on going until he drops. Naps can be anywhere from one to three hours.

There are many benefits to this. One, I feel energized myself and the walks are getting easier and easier. Two, I am losing weight slow but steady on average of about one pound per week. This was happening before we got the puppy but is now on the fast track it seems as I’ve lost one to three pounds each week, depending upon the week, the walks and the food. I see this as a win-win situation for me.

Today, though, when the DH woke up I hear an ‘oh dear’ from the bedroom. I’m thinking something is wrong and get up. By the time I get to the living room he’s already in the bathroom with Harry in tow, so I’m left to figure out just what was wrong. It didn’t take long as I turned to look out the window. The world is blanketed in fog and I can’t even see across the park as is the normal thing. The only things I can see are the building immediately in front, the wall next to that and the few trees behind it.

DH comes back and we compare how this is so much like San Francisco and or the central valley of California. Now, I’ve seen gray days here and was told that it’s not really gray but a fog hanging high in the sky. Right. It looked like clouds to me and I begin to wonder just how many days like this we will be having.

Add on to the weirdness of the day, but there is no traffic. You know you’re in a religious country when All Saints Day is a national holiday. People are in slow mode as they enjoy their time off. However, the DH does not have the day off and we don’t get to enjoy this quite day together. The holiday schedule is so odd here that we’re not sure just what he’ll have off until it happens. I’ve been making note of them as some are national holidays, international holidays and religious days. We won’t be having any US holidays off, that’s for sure.

I wait a couple of hours to see if any of this is going to change. The outside is getting better and the traffic is finally flowing. Still, it’s strange to have moments of silence in a town where I haven’t noticed much silence at all. It’s even more strange to not be able to see across the park and watch the people coming to see the sights.

Until next time!


Friday, October 14, 2011

The New Addition

Yeah, there are a few more blogs to post from the old ones but I wanted to get this one up so you’d understand just why I haven’t posted for a whole week.

A few weeks ago, my dear husband had made a comment that he would be traveling off and on for his job in the upcoming months. The days without him stretched ahead of me and he wasn’t even gone! Getting into the society here is not easy because most of the people I met have nothing in common with me nor do many of us live in the same district, so visiting can be hard.

While we were coming home on the tram one day, I happened to see lots of people staring in the direction of a young woman. On her lap, she had the sweetest little puppy I had ever seen. I knew it was some sort of Jack Russell Terrier. I made the comment to Gordon on how cute the dog was and that I missed mine. Our dog, Jasper, can’t be crate trained as it terrifies him and according to the vet, it probably will be detrimental to his health therefore he won’t be joining us as planned. This left me in a quandary as I was planning on him being my companion when my DH was gone. So seeing the puppy had really, really tugged on my heartstrings.

When we go home, I started to do some research to see what type of small dogs I might like to get because I didn’t want to get a dog so large that I couldn’t have it as carryon luggage. This caused quite a few days of me and the DH going back and forth because he felt a dog would limit us. Then I wondered why he even agreed to bring the dog in the first place. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got as he’d told me when I first discovered we were truly going to move, he wanted to bring all the animals.

But I did what I always do when he’s being unreasonable: I ignored him and continued my research. After many days, I found a group in Vienna that not only told me about Jack Russell Terriers but another breed called Parson Russell Terriers. The dogs were fairly small and could actually be carried on a plane. This made me leap for joy and I went to my husband with my findings. It took me a couple of days to convince him just how lonely I was here without family and friends. He finally came to grips with the fact that the people he knows here, he’s known for almost fifteen years or at least some of him he has. He’s got a good support base here for himself but because I had never come here with him, I am far, far behind the curve.

Now that doesn’t mean I won’t catch up, I probably will but until then I’ll be a pretty miserable person and alone every time he travels. It finally dawned on him just what I was talking about and he got it.

Last Sunday, we went to a town near Salzburg to look at a puppy. Not just any puppy but one named Harry Potter. After spending an hour with the pup, my husband was as enthralled as I was. Yes, this is a puppy and it will take six months to a year to get him to be everything we want but I’m betting it will be much sooner than that. The pup is box trained, similar to a cat but not quite, which makes it very nice on rainy days and the fact we’re in a flat. No mad dash to the grass for us while he’s little. Just point him in the direction of my office and the majority of the time, he’s perfect.

But the best thing about this little dog is the fact that he brightens our day and makes it a little easier to be so far away from home and everyone and everything I love. I’d like to present you all with the newest family member, Harry Potter. You’ll be hearing lots about him in the coming months as he’ll be teaching me all about Vienna and how they handle hounds. To give you a little overview of how things are first, dogs are allowed on all forms of public transportation though a muzzle is required. They are allowed in all restaurants, most parks and hotels. We don’t know about the licensing yet but have already found a vet. Another cool thing is that I’ve made more new friends in the last few weeks than I’ve made in all the time I’ve been here. This is one special dog!


Friday, October 7, 2011

The Wild Ride

First, let me apologize for the quality of the pictures. They were taken from the car window during our ride. I’m only sorry I didn’t get any when we were on the freeway. Second, last weekend was fabulous and I think I’ve recovered. LOL! But the weather has changed here in Vienna and winter is definitely on the way. I’m only happy that we got to see fall in the countryside.

Written September 26, 2011

The DH and I decided to rent a car this past weekend so that we could purchase some book cases from IKEA. I don’t know if any of you are familiar with IKEA but overall they have good furniture that you put together yourself. We had purchased our new beds from there and were very pleased with the quality but not with the cost of delivery. At $89 euros the delivery fee weighs in at over $125 US and the DH wasn’t please with the service nor the cost. 

So, to appease the Scotsman, we rented a car. Now this isn’t a bad thing. Quite the opposite as it will let us know if we’re suited to driving in this city. This time we were prepared as last we had a credit card snafu the first time we tried the weekend before. The whole thing went very smooth until the moment we started driving. Or rather I should say, the DH started driving. Need I say more? 

Those of you who know me understand I have control issues and love to drive. Here, there’s not a chance in hell I’ll do it first. This means I have to relinquish all control to the man who has let me drive for years. That combined with the fact the car’s a stick and I’ll let him have it as long as I’m the navigator. But a navigator must have their bearings and needless to say, he got me off on the wrong foot from the moment he pulled out on the street. He went a different way than what we’d planned, so I was immediately off kilter. 

He got very upset when I made him pull to the side of the road so I could get my bearings. Yet I patiently explained to him why I was feeling that way. Soon, he understood my dilemma and we were back on the road very quickly. It seemed as if the cars here in Vienna were just whooshing by but in reality, they were probably going at slower speeds than what is normally seen in the states. While it’s true that they have things like the autobahn in Europe, people overall tend to drive at a much slower pace. It’s almost like each of them is a Sunday driver or something. Matter of fact, in all the time I’ve been here I’ve only seen the police stop cars for speeding only once and that was in a speed trap they set right in front of my own home. 

Eventually, we ended up on the right road and had a laugh as IKEA had signs everywhere on how to get to their store once we found the freeway in its direction. Off ramps were the same but getting into the parking lot was a convoluted series of turns. We were thankful that we had known about the entrance as the first time we’d come here by bus, we ended up walking totally the wrong way then having to back track.

Finally, we’re in the parking lot and my DH is practically tittering with excitement. No, IKEA didn’t do that for him but the store next door did. It’s called OBI and it is equivalent to a Home Depot in the States. I’ve never seen the man so beside himself as he does woodwork at home to relax. Now he couldn’t bring any of that with him to Europe but he certainly could purchase an electric screwdriver...but first...the reason we’d come, bookshelves at IKEA.

We wander through the store for a few more items that we discovered we needed and find the bookshelves we want. We go searching through the warehouse portion of the store for them only to discover that it won’t matter that we have a car as we needed a van! LOL! The boxes are too long and too heavy. The DH decides that maybe delivery is worth the charge because we can’t fit them into our small station wagon nor does he want me to lift them either. I am grateful that he’s worried about my back but I’m just as worried about his as we don’t have a chiropractor here to adjust us when needed. 

Soon, we were in the OBI store and the man was oh-ing and ah-ing about all the power tools. What is it with guys? Sigh. I told him to get whatever he wanted as he can afford it. After an hour or so of deliberating, I informed him is wasn’t rocket science and went to see if I could find anything I needed. After another thirty minutes, he finally came to find me, proudly bearing a new power tool. Needless to say, he’s used it quite a few times since he brought it home. 

Now, it’s time for the ride home. Oh, boy, I’m not sure if I’m ready for this as he wants to go out a different exit. Frankly, I should have deferred it all to him as he seems to have the system down just by driving here. The exit from the parking lot goes directly to the onramp of the freeway. As he goes whizzing out of the parking lot, the discussion immediately begins about where to get off. We tussle a little bit because again, I’ve lost my bearings but the DH seems to have found his and knows where he needs to go. I decide I’m just along for the ride and close my eyes when someone gets too close or they think he’s an idiot. Not that he got too many honks or anything, but drivers seem to get more irate here on occasion. 

The exit he picks is fantastic as it is only two blocks from our flat. We manage to get through the construction and go to the grocery store around the corner. Finally, we’re parking in front of our flat and our adventure of the wild ride has ended. I’m sure there will be another one around the corner, sooner than I can imagine!


Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Birthday Weekend

Yes, this one is written today but I’ve still got a few more to catch up. And this might be the last for a few days as it is the husband’s birthday weekend and we’ve already started celebrating. 

I’ll be post more on the whole trip later but wanted to leave these impression for you. First, we decided to go to Salzburg on Saturday, October 1 as we’d not taken a train trip nor been away from the city. So, off we go. When we get there, we realize the error of our ways as it is in no way like Vienna. There isn’t a hop-on-hop-off version of a tour bus, so we felt out of place immediately.

What we ended up doing was our own walking tour. Here you’ll see a few of our photos that we took and believe me there are a lot more. You’ll see the castle high on the hill, the inside of a church and a monastery  that is built right into the hill. I’ll give all the details later when I do the research but right now, I’m off to catch another train to a place called Bad Ischl. Bad means bath and this is somewhere the Romans were.

This is going to be fun! Hope everyone had a great weekend like I did!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

The British Bookstore

Originally started July 7, 2011 with a September 4, 2011 update.

Since my first visit in February 2011, I have passed this store. Every time I noticed that it had a going moving sale where everything was 10-50% off. I felt sad because I just knew this store would be closed when I returned to live here as we never seemed to be near it during the hours it was open.

Imagine my surprise when upon my return that the store sat in the same place with the same sale. I didn’t know if it were a ruse or not but this time I had a legitimate reason for going in as I needed a German/English dictionary. I thought while I was there I’d check out the other books as well. Geez, I should have known that it doesn’t matter what country but a bookstore is dangerous for me. I walked out ninety-four euros lighter than when I went in but I found some very valuable resources.

The item I went in for actually turned into two as I found a picture book that was about three inches thick. It had almost every word one could think of in both German and English right along side the picture. What could be more easier than that? Now at least I knew what things were but it really won’t teach me how to speak the language any quicker. That will be a whole new learning experience. The other German/English dictionary was another easy find.

Now it was time to just peruse the store. One of the items I went in for was a Gaelic dictionary just like I had at home. I didn’t find one there but I did find a couple of new resource books on Scotland I’d never seen. Of course those went into the basket as well.

I also needed a new reading book and I was happy for find a huge fantasy section as well as a romance section. Both appeared to be fairly up to date as my son pointed out, so I spent a few moments looking at all the selections before picking out  a new-to-me author, Daniel Abraham , and a book called The Dragon’s Path. More important to me was the fact that I had wanted to check out Orbit Books for a long time and this was my chance.

The last item I found was something I knew immediately I had needed before I got here. It was a series of books called Living in Vienna series of books. It consisted of a boxed set of three books, Living in Vienna, Exploring Vienna and Exploring Austria. It is compiled and edited by the American Women’s Association of Vienna for people like me. It tells one everything they should do before a move and once they’re here. The second item under the ‘Essentials’ section is that a laptop and a wireless card is necessary as it will take weeks to get internet up and running.

These books would have been vital for us to have prior and I’ve recommended to the UN that they tell every American family coming here to get them. They tell you how to get your electricity, gas and water transferred to your name. They tell you how to search for a home, get your work permits, your residence permits and on and on. Things would have run a lot smoother if this resource had been available to me in the States. When I searched online, I got some websites but no books. Now that I know about them, you can bet I’ll be telling anyone coming here to get them.

The visit to the British Bookstore was very productive but the main thing I noticed, not one person there was actually British. It gave me a laugh as I put my purchases in my backpack, heavy as they were, and trudged my way back to my apartment. I couldn’t wait for my next visit.

September 4th Update – Alas, there will be no more visits to this fantastic bookstore as while I was in the States, they closed their doors. There is a sign that does say where they did go but it is all in German and the dear husband can’t quite translate it. I can’t wait to find it though as they were the only store I’d found here that has all English books. It was a great addition to my living experience here and I miss it already.


Friday, September 30, 2011

The Surprise Race

Written July 3, 2011

One Sunday afternoon, while our youngest was still with us in Austria, we decided to go to one of the many museums around the city. I’ve been to a few but am always up for more and since the one he wanted to go to was the Natural History Museum, I was all for it.

As our usual Sunday morning style, it is mid-morning when we all get up and start preparing for our foray into the place we now call home. After a huge breakfast, we all fight over who’s going to watch the movie, The Return of the King, and actually get showered, dressed and be ready to leave. My husband went first as he always does then because we were so into the movie, he decided to clean the bathroom with some cleaner that made it so I would be last as I tend to have an allergy attack when around the smells for long.

Soon, I paused the movie and got into the shower then quickly dressed so we could be on our way. I thought it was great it only took us four hours for breakfast, showers and getting it together. We’d got up late, lounged around and watched a movie...what could be better? They weren’t amused with the whole thing as they had wanted to be out of the house at least by one. So, we were an hour off schedule according to them. But then again, I knew the museum would be open till six-thirty while they thought we’d be kicked out by five.

Finally, we’re at the train stop, waiting for our ride. It seems as if the wait is becoming longer and longer the more I stay here. Today, it’s about fifteen minutes and while it’s summer now during winter, I know I’ll want it better timed. We talk as we wait about going to Harry Potter, how it would have been a great day to start heading for home and a variety of other things.

The train arrives and we hop on, surprised we’re the only ones in the car when my husband comments that it’s only going to Swartzenberg Platz. This is much less than half our journey and I’m concerned as just the wait has made me overheated due to the high humidity. I tell him we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

Sure enough, the police tell us we all have to get off here and it’s then that we notice the road called the Ring Road is bare of all traffic. This includes walking as well. Surprised, we decide to wander down to the next station and pick up an underground train for the Museum Quarter. Our walk will consist of a long city block and I’ll stay in the shade as much as I can to keep my heat factor down.

About half way there, we hear the police coming and decide to look at what’s coming down the road. Proceeded by no less than five motorcycle police and half a dozen patrol cars, we notice three lone bikers coming our way. It’s then we realize that there must be a city bike race of some sort. Most of the time, there are notifications at every train stop but we either missed it or this time, they didn’t post one.

Thinking we’d seen what there was, we turn to our youngest who has asked why we’ve stopped. At that moment, we hear something we’ve never experienced before and all turn to see a pack of nearly two hundred bicyclists coming our way. The noise was incredible as all those wheels are turning in sync and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. We face them the whole time, our bodies turning with their route.

All too quickly, they are by us and I start laughing, stating we weren’t likely to see that where we lived in the States. Suddenly, we’re all abuzz with what we’ve seen and heard, each of our tales slightly different. We talk about other races and wonder how many times around the ring this one will go. Soon we’re at our next stop and as we head underground, I realize that here I will be experiencing things I’d never ever thought I would.

Next time, maybe I’ll be a little more prepared with a camera in hand to snap pictures. Yet, I’m sure this won’t be the last race I see while living in Vienna. The picture is what I would have taken if my camera were ready. It all looked like a blur.

Hope you enjoyed this look into my Vienna life!


Thursday, September 29, 2011

For The Love of Mickey D

Written June 29, 2011

I have been in Vienna for almost six weeks now and almost every single day I’ve been to McDonald’s. Is it because the Viennese version of the Big Mac is better than home? No, that doesn’t even come close. You can believe me when I say that myself and hundreds of other Vienna citizens have this same love affair going.

The two main reasons I come, one out of necessity, the other out of like, have become a mainstay for me. Here in Vienna, it is difficult to get a good ole American cup of coffee. Every cup they make is a form of expresso, which I’m not so in love with at all. Mainly because it’s way too strong for me but I will admit, the flavor is good. The McCafe gives that too me as well as a free internet hotspot.

There is a phenomena that I have seen here I hadn’t noticed in the States. McCafe’s are on almost every corner it seems here in Vienna. I know that’s an exaggeration but it seems so. In one place in the Graben, the major shopping area in downtown, there is one particular spot you can see two McCafe’s and one McDonald’s.

From what I can tell, the McCafe’s are trying to compete with all the other cafes here. Places like Café Central, where every mainstream writer of the 1800s was likely to be spotted, or Café Swartzenberg, who is known for their desserts. These places are old and have some great architecture while the McCafe is a wonderful combination of new yet trying to build in some old world charm.

I have been amazed at the people I’ve seen there: school kids, college kids, dads bringing their children, teachers bringing their classes, friends, people like me who need the internet services and so many more I can’t begin to describe them all. And they all have a story to tell. One day, we stayed almost three hours and I have tons of notes with possible story lines.

The possibilities are endless here and again, I’ve just scratched the surface. You can bet that a McCafe will be in my future as there I’ve found some of the best people watching ever.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Queen's Home

Written June 27, 2011
One of the things I haven’t done much of so far since moving here to Vienna is visit museums or palaces. Not that I don’t want to, I really do, it’s just that I’m living still in a totally male dominated world that wants to do whatever they want. Sigh. I want to have my fair share and was surprised when they agreed to go to Schonnbrun Palace.

This place is huge with a zoo, a labyrinth and a variety of other things normal people can only dream about. The palace was built by Empress Maria Theresa in the late 1700s as a home for her family. She had eight or so kids and wanted a more roomier place. Never mind that she had Belevdere as one of her country estates, she wanted something more grand to accommodate her brood and to provide for their every need.

And grand it is. This is one of those places it is better shown than told. When you arrive you enter through the front gate and go directly into the courtyard which is immense with a circular stair leading up to the main entrance. Here is one of the two fountains located there. The low buildings are where all the guards were quartered as well as some of the servants.

This courtyard is huge and could easily provide parking for hundreds of carriages in its day. Now, the palace itself is huge and really made me wonder just how would anyone use all one-hundred-eighty rooms of the place. True, some were used as personal quarters, some were used for balls and other entertainment, and there were those places used strictly for affairs of the state. Still, there were more rooms than anyone had a right to have much less use. Here’s a picture of it from the back, so you can see the immensity of the place.

One thing to remember is that this was in the country when the palace was built. As far as the eye could see was green, whether forest or meadow, I don’t know but I do know there were no buildings whatsoever except for maybe the church. Since this place has been here since the late 1700s, the church might be that old as well even though does have some sort of chapel inside as do all the palaces. As each ruler thought they were ruling by divine right, they made sure they kept God close at hand.

While it’s impressive, it’s in no way, the best the place has to offer. One of my favorite places is the fountain that was built in the back of the gardens. In the picture above, it would be just before the trees closet as the path up is a long, winding, sometimes steep path. I walked it very, very slow and will show you in another picture. Now, we’ll look at the fountain.

See...isn’t that impressive? The first time I ever saw it, it was iced over and the water wasn’t running. My husband assured me it was beautiful when the water was on and he’s correct. It is a lovely fountain and I’m sure happy that more than just royalty can enjoy it now.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Love Desk

Written June 21, 2011

When preparing for the move to Vienna, there was one thing immediately apparent: I would not be able to take my desk with me. My desk was built into the room and completed by my husband about the tenth year we’d lived in our house. It had huge built in bookshelves that held all the research books a writer could want, a desktop that rounded a corner of the office as well as tons of other storage. It was a writer’s dream and I couldn’t image writing anywhere else.

The day we picked out our flat, I knew which room would be my office. Each room had huge windows and there were only four total, five if you counted what they called a hall. They don’t even count bathrooms in the place but if one did, then there would be an extra three rooms.

The room I chose was the smallest of all the rooms and was on one side of the living room. It was directly opposite from the master bedroom and had its own bank of storage closets. There was plenty of room for a desk and whatever else needed to be put there like a sleeper sofa.

The one thing we didn’t bring with us at all were beds, so off to IKEA we go to pick out sleeping accommodations. While there, I convince my man we need to be looking for my desk as well since I want to start writing as soon as possible. He balks but my youngest agrees, so we start to look at the office furniture. Of course, this is after we’ve picked out our bedroom furniture. I walk slow through the office furniture when Gordon calls me over to a section across the aisle.

By this time, I’m grumpy and don’t think we’ll ever find anything when he points out a glass top. I look down, amazed by what I see. All over the glass is the word love in every language imaginable. Kyle, my youngest who I felt never had paid attention to my writing, tells me that he thinks it will be perfect for me. I am simply awed by this statement. My husband agrees and he goes off to purchase this fantastic desk.

Today, I’m looking out at a cloudy day, working on the desktop that reminds me it’s all about love.