Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Open days

Since I have been back from the trip, I have had a mixture of days with nothing scheduled to do, and days with work in the evening, leaving my daytime hours to spend with that in mind. I have been getting things lined up and completing university-related tasks having to do with the end of my internship, but I've been agitated about finding a job and filling my time well. Today was a little different because I realize that there are going to be (hopefully) few days in which I have the luxury to have open time like this. I'm still being productive, but time is hard to spend well. I'm happy with the day thus far.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Anna Banana's

When I lived in North Portland, I frequented a coffee shop that I absolutely loved. I spent entire days there sometimes, working on school stuff or reading or doing nothing productive. I loved that place, and though it had a couple locations in the greater metropolitan area, the location in St. John's was by far my favorite.
I am in a job-searching phase, again. Though I am not doing school work, it sort of feels like it. I've been here at a coffee house that I'm trying to shove into the place in my head the aforementioned coffee shop inhabited, and I've been on the computer for hours-- looking for jobs, applying to some, drinking crappy espresso (thanks, Austria, for making things a little hard to handle here), and overhearing a (bad) blind first date. Yesterday, I tried spending the day at home doing this same thing (sans the crappy espresso and blind date), and I felt really badly about it. I was moderately productive, but I've concluded that even though I don't like socializing, I do like being in the company of other people. Maybe I am a city dweller at heart-- I can live closely among thousands of strangers instead of living in a small town or out in the country where, though my neighbors are miles away, I'd know each and every one of them (and even their family members, too).

Monday, January 17, 2011

Last night

Tonight is our last here in Europe, at least for a while. The friend of Thomas's with whom we're staying made us breakfast and then led us off to see more sights today. We were able to meet up with Thomas's cousin, who was free for most of the day.
We tried to see the Votiveskirche (forgive me, I'm not sure that's the right name), but it was closed. We did go to the Sigmund Freud Museum, housed in the apartment where he lived for "the most important years of his life." After this, I had my first taste of schnitzel here (I realize in an earlier post, I mistakenly wrote that we'd had schnitzel when in fact we had had only sausages). Schnitzel cordon bleu and bier for lunch, and then to the Belvedere for a few hours of (more) art. This museum is the home of the Gustav Klimt Collection, whose paintings I did not know aside from "The Kiss." I liked most of the collection, and the museum is gorgeous.
Thomas and I were considering getting standing-room-only tickets for the opera tonight, but decided against it as it would have meant we would have been standing in line for at least 90 minutes before the three-hour-plus performance.
Tomorrow our first flight is to leave at 10:35 local time and then get to Amsterdam. We may have lunch with a friend of Thomas's there before flying home.
I will figure out pictures soon.
Good night from Vienna.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Travel and food

The last two nights, I've had fantastic food and wine. The friend of Thomas's with whom we're staying tonight and tomorrow night spoke tonight about re-inventing oneself at different stages of life. I could probably re-invent myself to be an international traveler. 
I loved the time we spent in Slovakia. We took the train from Vienna to Bratislava on Friday and had a sheep cheese gnocchi dish that is very common in Slovakia (I hope to provide its name in the future, I just don't have it on hand right now) before going to see Tosca at the new Slovakian opera house (complete with Slovakian supertitles). Our server at the Slovak Pub did not know any English, which I loved.
Slovakians are gorgeous, tall, and smokers. And drunk. We went to a couple of pubs following the opera, and there were groups of people -- men, mostly -- screaming drunk through the cobblestone streets. 
We went to the first few minutes of mass at a church in Bratislava. I think I confessed for sins I didn't know I'd made. Probably wise.
I believe I've taken close to 600 pictures. 
Last night, after making it back to Vienna, we went with Thomas's family to a therma bath. Then, on to have tapas and lobster at a Spanish restaurant. 
I've decided my new hobby is cooking; I will learn to do it consistently and well, damn it.
Tonight we went to a heurigen in the 19th district of Vienna. There was talk of having to dilute the wine with mineral water, but this was delightfully overlooked. I had only one glass and I'm still happy.
I hope I come back here.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Two things I've learned about Austrians: 1. They believe that eating or drinking cold food or drinks when the weather is cold will make them sick. The gelato place we visited yesterday is the only one open all year round because of this. Most of its patrons are tourists. 2. They believe that topfel (a kind of cheese) is a cure for many things. Apparently they tell their expecting mothers that in order to prepare themselves for breast feeding, they should smear (oh, I hate that word) topfel on their... areas..., cover it with foil, and let sit for an hour on a semi-regular basis. Curious. They also smear (what a sick, sick word) on their necks to address sore throats. I almost ordered topfel gelato.
Today was stupendous. I've taken many pictures, and I will upload them somewhere, I just don't have the ability to do that right now. We met Thomas's friend and his daughter for breakfast at Cafe Lutz. I found that I enjoy pistachio yogurt. We then walked to where the Lippizanner stallions were being exercised. Though there are many performances, one can see the riders work the horses for a couple of hours for much less money. Gorgeous horses, of course. From there, we went to what is referred to as the KHM Museum... the historical art museum, essentially is what it is. I was most impressed by the Rembrandts that I saw, but there was so much there, I probably got too overwhelmed to give enough attention to a lot of the paintings. Honestly, I like drawings/illustrations, sculpture, and more modern art, but I was really taken with a few of the portraits. That surprised me.
Let's see, from there Thomas's friend had to take his daughter on some errands, and so Thomas and I took a tour of the opera house. The crew was setting the stage for their production of Tosca tonight, which was pretty interesting to see. The auditorium seats 2300 people, and the house puts on 60 productions a season, being careful not to repeat any in the same week (I believe this is what the guide said). I was impressed. Thomas and I had schnitzel and bier at one of the outside vendors in the street after that tour. Though the weather is warm, it rained all day today, making tours and inside events more appropriate. We went back to Stephansdom for another brief experience there, and then on to the Opera Museum (admission included in the ticket for the tour of the opera house). I'd like to learn more about Gustav Mahler; when he was there from 1897 to 1907, he became known for being the first opera director to have full visual and artistic interest and taste in productions. Apparently the way the Viennese behaved as audience members changed when he was in charge-- they were no longer permitted to come and go at their leisure nor were they allowed, in a sense, to speak during performances.
After this, after all of that, we got on public transportation and slept all the way back to Thomas's cousin's, where we ate dinner and looked at pictures.
Tomorrow we leave for Bratislava, Slovakia. Yum.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I don't know how a person can walk down a cobblestone street in four-inch-high heels, but apparently this is a skill learned by all Austrian women. Not me. I wore my hideous Danskos that squeak with every step, but I didn't, and still don't, care-- we saw so much today; I'm exhausted but thrilled by this place.
I'm proud of myself-- I'm not succumbing to jet lag. I stayed up until 11:00 last night and got up around 8:30. My boyfriend Thomas, his cousin, her daughter, and I had breakfast at her place. The weather was nice here today, sunny and in the 40s. There was wind, but the sun was remarkable. My boyfriend and I went first to the Schönbrunn gardens (I just learned how to make the umlaut on the keyboard). We had coffee and goulash at the Gloriette, then took public transportation farther downtown (I think) where we saw some Roman ruins and went inside the Michaelerkirche. I am amazed by the Michaelerkirche. We did make it to Stephansdom, but we will wait to do a tour of it and its catacombs another day. We met Thomas's cousin and her two kids for ice cream (gelato) at Zanoni. The food has been fantastic. Then we simply walked around downtown until we ended up at a pizza place where we all ate. I was interested in finding some local live music, so with much digging, Thomas and I found a place that was supposed to have live piano/vocal music (the other stuff started much later). Unfortunately, the bar ended up to be pretty upscale and smokey, and the music was, well, lounge/piano jazz. Too bad I couldn't call my mom at that point; she loves piano jazz.
Tomorrow we're all planning to have breakfast with friends-- even though we're in Europe, Thomas knows people other than his family here.
Very excited. I love it here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

In Vienna

I am sitting at the dining room table of the cousin of my boyfriend, here in Vienna, Austria! I flew through Paris, but was not able to see much of the city as I didn't leave the airport. The weather both there and here is foggy and somewhat rainy, so I didn't see much from the airport. We had dinner here at the house with sachertorte for dessert.
Tomorrow: touring some of downtown.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Leaving on a jet plane

I am packed and ready and anxious to get on my flight to Vienna! As far as I can think, I have everything. I've been nervous over the past couple of days about traveling itself (I'm not nervous about being in Vienna), but I think I'm OK now. I just want to get on the plane.
My internship is over.
And I just have to say that my posting this was pleasantly interrupted by a call for an interview.
I'll be posting from Vienna!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I don't know that I've ever given much thought to transitioning into a new calendar year. I was so happy to have December 31 off from both of my jobs, so that I could do things that help me with closure. I'm really bad at closure, and I definitely don't think about it enough. I spent time doing that at the end of last calendar year, and I wanted quiet when this new year began. I got what I wanted.
I'm having trouble deciding on a word to use as a theme for this year. I came up with "relax" today, but "design," "create," and "plan" have felt important, too. I want to eliminate everything extraneous in my life this year. I want to gain focus and clarity. I'm trying to determine how many points of focus I'd like to have. Two? Three? Relationships and people are definitely one focus already, and I'd like to spend a lot of energy on music, too. What about spirituality, and how I feel about it? I want to hone in on a select few items. People, music, and... Three is such a good number. I want to find my third focus for 2011.
I have one week left of my internship, and one week from tomorrow I leave for Austria. Talk about transitions.