11 Days Until I Come Home...


and only 16 until Chris and Lindsay tie the knot! So perked.
I will have a fourth sista!


Vater = Father, but it doesn't sound like it...

Listen here to a Rosetta Stone snippet:

video

It's Design Month in Graz!



Yesterday, while Art was resting because he wasn't feeling well, I went to check out Lebensart...the home design show at the 'local George R. Brown Conv. Center' (just not quite as big of course).


"Way of Living" or "Lifestyle"
The Spring Fair for Home and Garden


Huge flower arrangements at entrance


and a really quite huge lamp

huge cheeses...


and huge lit pots...


and weird, euro couches

a normal looking kitchen

and some delectable treats as always...


Some typical gardening attire



and a kid section outside.  
this must be their version of a moonwalk.

and a clown show

Just Another Beautiful Day

We eat lunch together almost every day and this is the weather 95% of the time. We are lucky!
But we aren't the only ones enjoying it...it's quite crowded on Herrengasse.


Rodin's "The Thinker"


Friday night, we also went out with some friends. Yeah! We do have some friends. Thomas and Anya from Sweden and David and Amber from the U.S. (Stanford grads). To learn more about Sweden click here.


I Got a "Mom Do"



I've wanted to do this for awhile, but haven't had the guts. I really didn't like it at first, but I like it better now...and it is SO much easier to deal with.


I'm Official...



I finally got my residence permit today...took forever because we had to wait on our marriage license to come in from Texas.  Now I can legally work in Austria.  So, time to brush up the resumé and hit the language schools.  If anyone knows anyone that owns a company in Graz...ha.

No More Waschsalon!



We got our washing machine today!  Sadly, this is the highlight of my week.  Oh hello, Mr. Bosch.  I haven't had one in my apt. for a long time, so this is quite a treat.  Off to translate...


Come Visit Us!!

Graz: Austria’s hidden Gem

by Pamela Hruska at www.r4nt.com | 6.24.2006

One might compose a list of Austria’s greatest with the likes of Vienna, Salzburg and Innsbruck, but for whatever reason the gem of a city, Graz, is often left off, unheard of.

Put it on your list.

This place is amazing and has been nominated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1999. Set amongst some beautiful rolling landscapes, this vibrant city of 250,000 is full of everything one could imagine. You can easily entertain all age groups here, and satisfy any musical or artistic flavor sought. It offers such amazing versatility to the traveler at such a hospitable size. The ease for getting around allows minimal navigational frustrations, and you’ll find absolutely every experience is pleasing to the senses, from simply strolling around, to having coffee, to just existing in Graz.

Tourism Graz lays out one of the most welcoming and presentable array of pamphlets for the traveler. If you flip through them you can compose an itinerary to suit you perfectly. People are extremely helpful there, and you can truly fill up many days in Graz. The diversity! The pull for visiting Graz came out of the blue, and I’d never heard of this place until the opportunity to go there was presented to me, and I am so fortunate to have gone!

The SchlossbergThe Schlossberg

If you have time to make it to Graz, the city itself has some amazing features such as a volcanic mountain in the middle of the city which has caves, once meant for bunkers, that have been turned into venues for a variety of events. There is a glass elevator, a funicular, a clock tower, steep stairs, and some amazing restaurants all in & on this mountain called the Schlossberg. From its peak you can enjoy a panoramic view of Graz and its surrounding area. Immediately you will notice the Mur river which runs through the city. In, yes in, the Mur is an architectural cafe/lounge/park called The Mur Island. To walk across the bridge, or have a cocktail there at night when the structure illuminates in blue, is definitely a must. Gazing slightly up and to the left will bring your eyes to notice the ‘blue bubble building’, or what is correctly known as the Kunsthaus. It is like nothing you have ever seen!

Aiola Island (on the Mur River)The Mur Island (on the Mur River)

Of course there are the traditional European red roofed buildings everywhere, meticulously cared for, which house an eclectic assortment of boutiques on their ground floors. The mix of modern and historic design works amazingly well, and sets a tone for the visitor. This tone is one depicting elegant old culture that accepts the modern and new, and that strives to continue to develop a future of unmatched enriching charisma that pushes usual, ordinary limitations. That right there is what makes this place so special; it allows itself to evolve!

KunsthausKunsthaus

If you are curious about the attention to architecture and design, Graz tourism offers a guide called ‘Art in public space’. Glancing through it while you stroll around the city will give you insight into some of the works you will run into. One that struck me as amusing was an 18m high glass elevator in the city’s historic centre. If you pop on the lift, it will ascend you to the sky to change your perspective, and will help you get and eye to eye view of the 1670s Madonna statue. A more traditional art in public space which can be found in Stadtpark, is the Franz Joseph fountain. Here you will be able to see an example of how Graz mixes a traditional piece, such as the fountain, with a tilted metal umbrella like piece.

Fountain in StadtparkFountain in Stadtpark

The museums, parks and historical sites to be visited are numerous. The best recommendation is to go to Graz tourism office, pick up their array of pamphlets that appeal to you, enjoy a gelato (eis) off the Hauptplaz square, and compose an itinerary of things you would like to do. Be sure to check dates and times museums are open, and if it recommends calling ahead, it might be best to do so, as some museums may be in the midst of changing their displays and can be temporarily closed.

The ArmoryThe Armory

The Armory is absolutely remarkable. This museum offers a handout for the tourist in their native language that allows one to take in the pieces displayed, along with a write up for a most extensive understanding of what you will see on the 4 floors you meander through. Looking at these pieces of armory worn hundreds of years ago, while staring at the dents in the metal, forces one to ponder bravery, and question who were the many boys and men who wore these suits to battle.

The Kunsthaus will display various works that change all the time. Just being inside the building is a treat, let alone appreciating whatever displays it is you manage to see. The museum of perception is like physics made fun! The interactive approach is a warm welcome after all the look only, don’t talk type museums. The Hans Gross kriminal museum, if you can stomach it, is intriguing. Hans Gross’s work, the father of modern criminology, is displayed: you can take in case studies, try to wrap your mind around the thought patterns of various perpetrators, or just eerily eye up photos, tools, and weapons used to torture and kill. It might remind one of the thriller Hostel. Pleasant activities after that might be needed, and there are various beautiful parks or gardens you can explore. The stadtpark is well visited by local residents, and you can often see friends and family enjoying picnics and each others company there. The botanical gardens are something most notable as well.

Inside the KunsthausInside the Kunsthaus

Do experience the tram system in Graz, as it is most efficient to travel on. If you need a place to take the tram, try for a sunny afternoon excursion to the baroque palace called the ‘Schloss Eggenberg’. It has everything a palace could offer; courtyards, a planet hall, impressive frescoes, resident peacocks, and well groomed gardens. All the strolling around on cobblestone streets will build an appetite, but don’t fret; you’ll find great food anywhere. Interestingly enough, Italian cuisine was fabulous! Forno oven pizzas, gelatos, and pastas galore! Clearly if you are in Austria, you should indulge in some schnitzel. There seems to be a bit of an unwritten contest there: the bigger the schnitzel, the better. Aiola upstairs is a restaurant on top of the Schlossberg which offers great ambience. If you find that all you get is fizzy water, and that you are desperately in need of an English retreat, do hit up our friendly Canadian’s place called ‘the office,’ it rocks.

Schloss EggenbergSchloss Eggenberg

If you have a little bit longer to spend in this charming city, there are many day or weekend trips to surrounding areas you can investigate. These excursions are also a wide range of activities from visiting castles, ruins, parks, monasteries, to hiking, caving, boating, swimming, golfing, cycling, and the one I must go back and do: Paragliding in Austria! If you would prefer a more laid back approach, the Styria region offers specialties such as vineyard tours, visiting the famous Lipizzaner stud farms, or dabbling in cuisine made with locally produced pumpkin seed oil. And if what you need is a complete rest and relaxation retreat, there even exists a ’spa region’, which you can soak up and enjoy!


Quellenhotel & Spa in Styria's Spa Region

So there you have it, Graz, Austria. It really is a best kept secret.

A Day at the Waschsalon

I had to do it. She was standing there like that for a good 20 minutes, so I went over, not even sneakily, and snapped a pic of her with my iPhone. Can you find 8 things wrong with this picture?



We Miss...We Don't Miss...We Love...

We Miss:
* FAMILY & FRIENDS!
- Food gets its own section:
- Fajitas, queso & tortilla chips (anything mexican!) Cyclone's, Escalante's, Lupe's
- Lunch meat other than ham or wurst or schnitzel
- Cheeses other than different kinds of swiss
- Big grocery stores like HEB
- Fountain cokes
- Ice
- Avocados
- Softer breads
- Regular mustard (they only have dijon)
- Ranch dressing (or any dressing other than oil and vinegar or yoghurt)
- Ty
- People speaking English
- TV: HGTV, Brothers & Sisters & MadMen
- Nordstrom
- Target
- Mass in English
- Having a car (sometimes)
- American magazines
- A disposal in the sink!
- Internet and e-mail service on our iPhones
- Big trash cans (and not having to sort recycling to an absurd degree) sorry, i'm not so green
- Being able to read signs, menus, product labels and websites without Google Translate
- Walgreens or CVS
- Starbucks (there isn't really 'take-out' coffee here)
- My Almay eye makeup remover wipes (dumb thing to miss, but they're so wondey)

We Don't Miss:
- Houston traffic
- Humidity from hell
- Ikea (bc we have one and are there quite often)
- Paying for gas or insurance
- Hearing about the economy ad nauseam (Art prob. does though)
- USPS (the post office is fast and easy here!)

We Love Graz because of:
- It's history
- Our apartment
- The public transportation
- The perfect weather we have 90% of the time
- The culture
- The gorgeous churches
- The Eis (ice cream) everywhere
- Our proximity to so many great European cities
- The scenery
- The bakeries
- The fact that it makes us walk a lot
- The classic German looking neighborhoods
- All the dogs everywhere (Carolyn appreciates this most)

Picnicking with our friends from England

The Monday after Easter is a holiday in Europe...something we didn't know until we went out into town and it was dead and everything was closed. We went out to Mariatrost, the nice suburbs 20 minutes from downtown, to meet our friends that moved here from England 4 months ago. I met Rachel in my English ladies club and her husband, Julian, is an engineer so he and Art get along well. They have two boys, Joseph and Ben.

Their house...

Rachel and Art

Mariatrost Basilica



Every inch of the ceiling is painted

There's a Best Western up there...kinda random.

Our walk through the mountains.


And the beautiful view. I felt like singing "The hills are alive..."


Art and Julian

and some geese and goats




What I Missed....

This is what I missed out on back in Houston. It kills me. An Easter egg hunt at my sister, Amy's, with the whole fam. Ceci, Ana and their cousin Isabella...and my 1 year old nephew Sam..who is getting so big. Look at those Easter outfits!


Our Easter Sunday

We spent the whole day outside walking around (and eating).


After morning Easter Mass we went downtown and had lunch at one of our favorite spots, Sorger. This place has some delicious bread and pastries.




I even take pictures of the menus sometimes so I can go translate it later.
Knowing the food terms is crucial. Knowing the different ice cream treats is top priority.

Then we went to Mur Island and just sat in the sun on the bleachers there.


And Art spotted it...a climbing wall by the Mur under the bridge.
But, it's for major beginners....must find another.


Fancy hotel...Hotel Weitzer.