Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Would you like some Schlag with that?


What the heck are Schlagobers you ask?

A delicious bomb of goodness...otherwise known as pure, whole {whipping} cream. It took my arm a total of 8 billion churns to make, but it's worth it.
{I added a bit of powdered sugar and vanilla to make it extra lovey.}


It's called Sahne in Germany and they put a dollop next to EVERY dessert here. It's way better than Reddi Whip and that 36% on the label just means "36% bigger arse by morning".

This reminds me of a time when I was about 5 or 6 years old, and my older and meaner siblings gave me a spoonful of something white and dollopy.

"Want some whipped cream Mom made?"

"Sure guys! Thanks."

I soon found out it was NOT whipped cream. It was some sort of rotten sour cream or mayonnaise.
My mom tried to help me retaliate but forcing them to eat something like ketchup (yeah, that's really the same, Mom), but, of course, without the desired effect.

So rude.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I May Not Speak Their Language...

...but they speak my lingo, and they kinda do it better than me.

I cordially invite you to the first annual:
{that's 'multicultural' if you're not fluent in this speak}

I ran across this sign downtown tonight on my first outside jog of the year. How I have missed fresh air runs!


This gorgeous weather is the reason for my lack of posts lately. The flowers are starting to show up and eggs and bunnies abound in store windows.



Monday, March 22, 2010

A New Girl in Town

(Last year in Spring; flowers not quite here yet)

Although my friend, Rachel, did not write this specifically for the blog, she said I could share it with you. She sent this update on HER LIFE IN GRAZ to friends and family last week. Rachel is originally from England and is getting her Masters at a university in the small town of Heidlberg, Germany. Part of the program is six months of studies in Graz.

She e-mailed me months ago after finding the blog and we kept in touch (via e-mail) until she moved to Graz and we finally got to go grab coffee and meet in person a month ago.
We liked the real life versions of each other too. Hey, you never know. And...Rachel has studied German for a long time and I am very jeally of her skills. {Although, as you can see below, Austria is a whole 'nother ballgame.} Umm, and her classes make my German class look like Torte. Tell me to 'shut it' next time I act overwhelmed.

(Last year again. I LOVE THESE PINKIES!)

So, I thought you might enjoy reading about someone else's experience for a change. {You will love how she says "winter woollies".}

Without further ado, I give you Rachel


It’s finally happened, after a false start a few weeks ago which saw people eating ice cream in the park in short sleeves one day and me unpacking my winter woollies and boots the next, the ice age is over, Spring has arrived! For the first time in months I’ve been able to leave the house without looking like I’m on a polar expedition. To top it all, I managed to track down my summer clothes which it turned out hadn’t been lost by Deutsche Post at all but had been sitting at the Post Office just round the corner for the past ten days.

I’ve already been in Austria just over a month and although it’s only four hours to Munich, I’m still feeling like I’m living not just in a different country but sometimes on a different planet. You might not think it but Austria and Germany are as different as chalk and cheese. Things are probably quite different in Vienna or Salzburg, but in Graz, as my friend Carolyn put it, you get the odd feeling you’ve somehow stepped back in time to the 1960s, and that’s not just because they haven’t got round to replacing the trams since then. The Austrian mentality and attitude to life is markedly different, as is the language. Hochdeutsch and Austrian German are as different as British and American English, if not more so. Dealing with people in offices, at the university or meeting other students is getting easier, particularly once I stopped opening my mouth in surprise that yes, they sounded really Austrian whenever anyone spoke to me. I have one seminar with some Ancient History professors though (the class that is, although the professors are pretty ancient too) and I don’t even manage to understand half of what they say which will be interesting when it’s my turn to write a summary of the lecture . . .

If Graz is still living in the 1960s, at the market you feel like you’ve stepped back in time to the 1860s. Headscarfed farmers’ wives bring literally what they’ve grown/slaughtered/baked that week. So you might get a stall that just sells apples and a few bunches of carrots or homemade cakes and a few joints of beef. Don’t get me wrong, the market is fabulous although I’m not sure selling raw meat that’s not refrigerated complies with EU regulations, it didn’t kill me but I’d be interested to see how they manage in summer. The main problem, again, is the language. The local dialect here is completely incomprehensible to me and sounds nothing like any German I have ever heard. Not only do I not understand them, they seem not to understand me. A request for four onions, for example, which in Germany, would result in my receiving and paying for four onions is met with blank looks of bemusement here.

As I discovered in Germany, although talking about being sweaty is ok, exercising in public is not. So I should have known really, when I set off for my first run on Austrian soil (in the pouring rain I would like to add) that running down Herrengasse, the chi-chi centre of shopping in Graz, as everybody was leaving work, was not the done thing at all. From what I can gather runners are relegated to the suburbs but as far as I’m concerned, what helps me keep going on a run is the opportunity to window shop. I used to do this in Oxford, whilst cycling, with obvious catastrophic consequences. I have since discovered the park, which amazingly, is free (Germans, take note).

Unlike in Germany where shops open until 8 o’clock so it’s actually worth going shopping after teatime, I was unpleasantly surprised to discover shops here close at 6 o’clock! Presumably this is so that everybody can get to mass on time (6:15pm) but it already seems as if everyone simply uses this curtailment of shopping time to meet for an aperitif (the continental version of heading to the pub). Sadly I won’t be joining them for a while as in complete contrast to last semester I actually have quite a lot of work to do like prove I can speak Arabic before Easter, teach myself the entire history of Ancient Egypt and attempt to sound like I’m some sort of expert on Jewish burial rituals. Still there’s only a week until the much-needed Easter holidays begin, when I’m randomly (or perhaps not so randomly) off to Romania! More on that then . . .

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Elsie Go Bragh!

Elsie's not Irish, and I'm kind of glad she's not because she could be this:

Photobucket Photobucket
Irish Wolfhounds

I can not even imagine. She can pull me a little down the street as is.

But don't you think if she was Irish, she'd really be one of these?

Photobucket Photobucket
Adult and puppy Irish Setters

We love her English Cocker self as is.
(Even if it means mop paws that require frequent bathing.)


Happy St. Patty's Day....a bit late!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gestank: an odor

Just a random notice. My gym STINKS. to the max. I know...it's a gym, of course it kinda smells. But, I'm talking smells like I have my nose right in Awnold's armpit. I hadn't been in a week or so, so maybe I had become un-immune (or to use a real word: sensitized) to it all over again, but jeez Euro worker-outters!

Is it because there's no air conditioner? I'm thinking there's probably not. Is it because I think 35% of people here don't wear deodorant? {Statistic gathered from a year of tram riding and whiffing.} I think it's actually a horrific combo. Or I could say horri Kombi. You know their word for combo is Kombi? I be lovin' that.

A couple of words about the "Fitness Studio":

- my gym is called Fit Inn and there's a brand new gym, McFit, across the street. It's important to be fit, k?

- my gym is pretty dang cheap. 19,90 euros/month.

- nobody here goes to the gym in his/her gym clothes already (except me).

- you can purchase a membership to the TrinkBar (drink bar) for 2 euros a week which allows you to fill up your bottle with a variety of fountain drinks...including Fanta and Red Bull, but I have yet to find a water fountain anywhere. Seriously.

- Apparently my favey workout shorts (the Nike ones every girl in America has in 8 different color varieties) have not yet made their debut in Austria. In fact, wearing shorts while working out gets you plenty of stares and double takes. (It could be your glowing white legs as well.)

- Stretching is NOT cool, here. I'm always the only one on the mat. But I just think to myself "have fun with your sore, tight muscles Austies!" {But I do it after I work out which might be really quite dumb.}

- Ellipticals are the favey machine BY FAR. I can't remember...is this true in the States too? But people who keep the resistance at 3 or lower are not doin' much.

- We have the girls that come in blow-dried hair and full on makeup here too. They are 2 resistance-ers no doubt.

- When I wear my black spandexy pants and walk by the full wall mirrors, I can't help but notice "baby got back". (Yes, I sometimes look at myself in those mirrors as I walk by...I'm one of those..but, I have to gauge my progress...and it's slow goin' folks)

{Sorry for the pictureless post, but did you want me to bring my camera to the gym or what?}

Update: I thought this was kind of a dumb, silly post, but look at these long comments it's garnering from my fellow expats. If we all lived closer to each other, we could start our own Gestank-free running group!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

You Speak a Little German too

I feel like my family has always liked words. I'm not sure it always comes from a true desire for learning and knowledge, but sometimes just so we can feel smart. You see, we like to bust people up when they use a word incorrectly, make a spelling error, or use poor grammar.* We are canty like that.

One of my big pet peeves is "I could care less". In case you didn't know...the phrase is "I couldn't care less". I think 80 - 85% of people (my own verifiable statistic) say "I could care less". Let's think about this for a second here. You are trying to convey that you just don't give a dang, right? Then you care SO LITTLE that you could NOT care any less. And, Art doesn't like when people misuse the phrase "begs the question". I promise he didn't create this website though...we are not that feisty.

My older brother is a Scrabble dominator and many fear a round at the board with him. {I will refrain from gloating about my first time playing Scrabble EVER and beating him. (And we are not the kind to let others win)...although, I admit it was mostly luck...I have never played him again as I probably won't have the same good fortune come round 2.}

My grandfather, father and older brother are all crossword puzzle lovers as well. Some of my most vivid memories of my late grandfather are of him at his kitchen table working on the daily crossword and asking me about my softball pitch. {I did the windmill kind of pitch where you wind your arm up and throw...and mine usually went lobbing up into the sky and dropping on home plate.}

My brother even churns out his own self-made crossword puzzles. This is not easy folks. He made one for his wedding and it was passed out to family and friends beforehand. The answers were then revealed at the actual wedding in the form of fondant icing on his groom's cake. This is true love of the written word.

And, I've heard that my mother has become addicted to a new iPhone app called Words with Friends. It's like Scrabble and you can play with other people that have the app on their iPhone.
I've been informed by a little birdie, ahem..a blonde one, who lives with Mom that no venue or time of day is exempt from a quick round of WWF. And often in the middle of serious conversation, instead of an "Oh my gosh, that's terrible...I can not believe you lost your job" you get an "dang thing! {shaking of the phone}, I keep getting vowels!"

So, what was my point? Oh yeah, I like words (and fonts!) too and that helps when learning this language. It's sometimes such an 'Aha! moment' to finally look up a word in my nuggie, Elsie-bitten dictionary after seeing it over and over. Now, there are some English words that are actually German. This .00000005% I already know and don't have to spend time flippin' thru the yellow book!

Take a peek at some:

Doppelganger - someone that looks like you. Doppel means "double" and gänger is "walker". This word was floating around Facebook recently as everyone was scurrying to find their celebrity look alike. And sorry, just because you're blonde, doesn't mean you look like Charlize...maybe get some cinnabons for breasts and we'll let it slide:

Gesundheit - we say this when someone sneezes. It doesn't translate to "God Bless You", k? It means health. So, we're just saying "health" when someone blows snot. K, it works.

Kindergarten - meaning children's garden. Here Kindergartens are like preschools for kids from 2-5...it's not a grade level like in the States.

über - meaning over and above, we all know this.

Poltergeist - we all know this movie. Was extra freaky for me as I am Carolyn Ann...come to the light Carol Ann. It means "noisy spirit".

zeitgeist - zeit means time and geist is ghost and that's exactly what this word means.."the spirit of an era".

wanderlust - a strong impulse to travel. wandern is the German verb meaning to hike. Lust just means plain old "desire" and not only the sexual kind.

angst - means the same thing. Common phrase "keine Angst!"...Don't worry!.

delicatessen - "delikat Essen" which is "delicious food". Essen is also the verb "to eat".

hamster - from the German verb, hamstern, which means to hoard or to store.

kitschy - inferior, tasteless, low quality art? used often in describing decorating...hard to explain. look here.

There are obviously more, but I'm done playing Webster for now. Peace.

* {That doesn't mean I think my writing, grammar and spelling are perfect...the blog has unfortunately highlighted all of my flaws. I KNOW my sentences are run ons, I use way too many parentheses and an absurd amount of dot, dot, dots. Entschuldigung! I hope you are a nicer bunch of people and couldn't care less.}

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Jimmy Visits!


My brother, Jimmy, made a speed visit Sunday night through Monday afternoon while on his world travels. He had just finished skiing with buds in Mayrhofen, Austria and was on his way to London and then Geneva for work. We managed to fit two Austrian style meals in and a coffee morning. I also managed to take him around Graz yesterday morning (thankfully it's small) showing him a day in the life of big sister while we enjoyed the freezing, but sunny day.

Being only two years apart, JImmy and I did a lot of our growing up together. I think almost every one of my friends had a brother Jimmy's age, so even when I went to a friend's house or on a trip with a friend, brother Jimbo was usually there too. I acted annoyed sometimes, like a big sister's supposed to, but it was always fun. Since I'm on my old school photo kick, I'll show you what I mean...

we dressed alike

we took baths
um, there are TWO other siblings in this bath as well I have cropped out. One is far too old to be in there with us, k?

and I sometimes made him cry (and seemingly happily so)
{Bowl cut lasted many years}

We picked him up at the train station Sunday night and hopped on over to Der Steirer (a suggestion from my teacher, Marlies..thanks!). It was great...recommended to my Grazer readers. He met Elsie afterwards and was not left alone until we had to lock her in our room away from him. She whined for 30 minutes to go see him.


At one point he said "You know, I read your blog and talk to you about it, but I really appreciate it more now
after actually being here how hard it must be sometimes with the different language and culture." It was his
first time out of North America. Thanks, Jim, for feelin' us, dawg.

It was too short, but so fun to have my brutha with me, sipping on cappucinos and walking through the park. He says he'll come back next year for the skiing and to visit longer. Elsie's marked it on her calendar.


Bye Jeem!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Just for fun...

Before we were Herr Doktor and Frau V. living in Austria, we were...

uneven bowl head girl:

and Herr Doktor was basically just a mini version of his older self with a red lunchbox:


{I'd put big bucks on there being a homemade lock by Artie himself on that box.}

Thursday, March 4, 2010

You know you're in Austria when...

...the local grocery store is sportin' this front page sale..


Echt Leder and nice front pocket detailing too. Which design do you want on your Trägerlatz?