Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The hills are not really alive.

The title of this post refers to a conversation I had with a student today, who was describing a festival held in Austria on the 30th of April. 
Student: Yes, so there are fireworks and ships on the Donau... er, Danube, and the hills.... the hills are...
Me: Alive?
Student: (annoyed) No. They are beautiful.

Clearly my Sound of Music reference went unappreciated.
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Not to make anyone in the Pacific Northwest jealous... but the weather here is fantastic right now. It's been hovering between 60 and 75 degrees for the last couple weeks, and every day seems warmer! I'm not the hugest fan of hot weather, but sunshine and warmth are things I depend on.

Not to sound like a real Sound of Music freak, but I'd like to list of a few of my favorite things... from Austria in the spring. I really like lists - they're organized and you can skim! So, apologies for all the blog posts that contain lists.
Window shopping, at night.
  • People! J and I live near Meidlinger-hauptstrasse, a long, busy shopping street. Meidling, our district in Vienna, is mainly full of apartments. There are many people from all different cultures, meaning we have an Asian grocery store, a Turkish grocery store and our usual Austrian stores within walking distance! Anyway, as the days warm up, people are hitting the streets in droves. It's wonderful to see people of all different ages hanging out on the same street. Families playing together, kids playing with other kids...  I feel like as a teenager I would avoid anywhere that adults were, but here they all play together. It's heartwarming!
  • einen Schaufensterbummel machen, or window shopping - The stores in Austria close obscenely early, around 7 PM. As the days grow longer, this means that the sun is still high in the sky when they shut, leaving everyone to find other activities to entertain themselves. The stores often set up elaborate displays (especially shoe and clothing stores) which people look at at all hours of the night. I've seen people window shopping at 1 AM - no joke. Anyway, as a former business student/human, I can't help but wonder, wouldn't it be effective to have the stores open later hours? There are customers literally standing outside the shops admiring the goods! Ah, Austria and your traditions...
We scream for ice cream (in Krems!)
  • Ice cream - Have I mentioned how much I love ice cream here? The flavor options are fantastic, though I usually just choose nutella and banana. Or green apple. Or pineapple. Anyway, I literally fight the urge to stop and buy an ice cream cone daily. They're so cheap, and everyone walks around rubbing their delicious ice cream in my face (okay not really, but it does seem that way...).
  • Long days - I go to bed around 930 and the sky is just losing it's finally lightness. I woke up at 4:45 this morning (standard procedure) and discovered that the sky was already blue. It's pretty nice to be able to be outside basically during all of my waking hours and discover that it's still light out and not scary.
  • Sch├Ânbrunn - I know I talk about this park all the time, but it's the best. I've discovered a new hidden area only accessible by climbing through a bush, where I can read my book in peace while listening to the sounds of people walking around me. Also, a squirrel touched me of his own free will. Kind of gross, but mostly cute.
Finally, let me describe one of my favorite little moments I've had: today, while walking around 9 PM, I passed an elderly man listening to some great Austrian music from a boombox. Only in spring can one jam so publicly. 

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