After 2 weeks of intensive German class, our last session ended with Paul (our Lehrer) giving each of us a piece of chocolate. I’m going to miss him. He wore classic rock t-shirts, blue suede shoes, and one of those smiles that made everyone else smile. I certainly won’t miss the homework,
but I will miss the atmosphere of our cultured classroom: 2 Australians, 2 French, 1 Ethiopian, 1 Iraniain, 7 Americans, 1 Spaniard and 1 Finn. Starting with no knowledge at all, 40 hours of class later and I can greet, say how I’m feeling, conjugate a few verbs and most importantly ask, “Sprechen Sie English?” Haha just kidding, but it has been challenging to force myself speak in German. Surprisingly though, I find myself more than willing to speak Deutsch after a few beers 😉 Speaking of beer, one of this week’s TO-DO’s is to visit the Ottakringer brewery. It’s my favorite beer so far, and I can’t wait to spend Wednesday afternoon chillin’ and swillin’ with an Ottakringer.
One day before German class last week, my friend Colleen and I decided to take a walk to the Schonnbrun Palace. The Schonnbrun Palace was originally built as the summer residence of the royal Habsburg family during Imperial times. It was also the place of meeting between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. Apart from the buildings, the area was sort of ugly. With Spring just around the corner, I plan to return as the palace is known for its vast display of flower gardens.
Later in the week, we hit the town for some good ole’ ice skating. IT was AWESOME. Though my skates were slightly small and strongly resembled what storm troopers wear, I had an awesome time. We were near the City Hall (also called The Rathaus. It’s a building in in the center of the city which serves as the seat of both the mayor and city council. Directly in front of the hall was where we skated on a man-made series of ice canals. It reminded me of the cars carpet Jack, Joe, Mary and I had as kids where the streets wound around each other to form one heck of a good time. There were lights, music (Michael Jackson, Johnny Cash, (Australian hip-hop according to my Australian friend, Olivia), hot chocolate, and a range of skating abilities. I convinced two of my French friends (who had never been ice skating) to give it a whirl. Haha, like I can skate that well myself ? We held hands, and Astrid told me numerous times to slow down. I couldn’t. The weather was perfect—sweatshirt, jeans, ponytail. I was on an ice-skating high.
Friday morning was tough. I wanted to skip the “Welcome Days” program, but I dragged myself out of bed to meet up with the group. Glad I did. BOKU’s campus is split into two campuses. After a tour of the first part of campus on the previous day (they sent us on a campus treasure hunt….lame), we spent the following morning touring the serious science stuff. I signed up for the tour of the Food Biotechnology lab—Naturally, because it was the only one of the options with the word ‘food’ in the title. We soon arrived at the coolest machine, the machine where they brew Schnapps and beer. Can you say, samples?!
Oh, and no high heels in the laboratory, please.
Time to get touristy: Feeling a bit buzzed from the samples, I was filled with excitement for the city tour. Not even the “Tourists are Terrorists” spray-painted décor on the side of an old building could bring my mood down. Our tour guide was great, a little peppy blonde woman. She told us the history of every building we saw:
- St. Stephen’s Cathedral, (the building discoloration you see is the result of the weathering limestone. According to the tour guide, it is a continuous, and costy battle to restore what has been worn away)
- the Spanish Riding School, (shares a wall bordering the Hofburg Palace which has housed some of the most powerful people in Austrian history: the Habsburg dynasty, rulers of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the current President. It also served as the Habsburg’s winter residence.
- the Roman Ruins,
- a famous coffeeshop,
- the best place to get a Schnitzel (which originated in Italy!),
- a balcony from where Hitler spoke to Austria about the Third Reich,
- Mozart’s apartment,
After 2 hours of touring, I was hunngrrrrrryyyyy. For an appetizer, I bought a few roasted chestnuts. Surprisingly good, but a bit chewy—they tasted like bland sweet potatoes. Then, my friend Andrea came in with the win! “Want to go to a Pakistani place where you can eat as much as you want and pay as much as you want?” “Um, yeah!” This was definitely one of those “off-the-map” places. The place was packed. This confirmed my “This is a gem of a spot” thought. I still have no idea what I ate, but it was delicious. There was bread, a potato dish, vegetables, a curry-esque meat dish, rice pudding, and something that looked like mashed potatoes but tasted like a brownie. I paid 5 euro and wore a grin for the rest of the day.
Friday night was spent in a Viennese restaurant with all of the other international exchange students. Free food and a free drink. It was perfect for my little social butterfly soul. After ditching the game they forced on us to get to know eachother, I went to the bar, bought a beer, and met other students who were also not so into the 12 year-old game. New friends and a night well spent!
Saturday morning a few of us decided to head to Bratislava (the capital of Slovakia) for the day. After paying 14 euro for a round-trip train ticket (great deal!), we were in Bratislava one hour later. Though none of us spoke Slovak, we managed our way into town. We didn’t do any tours. We just wandered. It was perfect. We ventured to lunch off the main street, a massive-stair climb to a castle, and a trip to the local Billa grocery store for Bratislava’s finest beer and chocolate. Again, the weather cooperated wonderfully. We caught a glimpse of the setting sun before heading to a pub for dinner. Not the kindest waiter, but the social commradery among our group made up for that :D.
What’s up for the next week?
- Brewery tour
- Hike on Saturday
- First week of class