Its end of year list making time! Don’t tell me you’re not excited at the thought. Rather than a list of my personal highlights (Bali, Tomatina, skiing with my family if you’re wondering). I thought I’d reflect on what my ‘Austrian Achievements’ have been for 2014, with an eye to keeping track of my progress for the next year.
So, in no particular order here’s a few Austrian skills I’ve adapted this year – if there’s something you’d like to challenge me to do in 2015 please do so in the comments!
I was never a great cyclist. I learnt on the bike paths of the outer Melbourne suburbs with my Dad and siblings on a mountain bike, but never really got the hang of being a ‘city cyclist’ back home. It seemed too intimidating and involved – do I have to know how to fix a bike chain? What shoes do I wear? More importantly, how flat will my hair be after wearing a helmet to ride to work? All of these factors meant I had no notion of the sheer joy of riding a bike everyday, helmet free in a well-equipped-bike-friendly city. Austria changed that for me and now, even in -3 degree temperatures bundled in gloves and scarves I love riding my trusty bike around the city. Austrian Achievement unlocked!
Bundled up to ride in my awesome Urban Legend cycling jacket which I looooooove
Supporting Winter Sports
Winter sports were always kind of an entertaining joke to me – like ‘Oh, they have winter Olympics, how cute’ with barely a thought given beyond that. Here in Austria of course its another story. Ski racing is watched religiously on a weekend morning (at least in our Tirolian influenced household) and the Winter Olympics are serious business. I graduated to all-out winter sports support in January of 2014 when we were lucky enough to get a hold of tickets for the Four Hills Ski Jump tournament in Innsbruck. We got to witness the absolutely batshit-crazy-insane ski jumpers launch themselves ridiculously high into the air and float down to earth with skis attached. Its mental…check out the video below:
It was terrifying, breathtaking and so so much fun. The crowd was rowdy but in a friendly way and, natürlich, we had to hike a wee hill in order to witness the event. Completely Austrian experience. I’ll be backing it up in 2015 by visiting the world famous Hahnenkamm race in Kitzbühel for the first time!
Uncovering the Indie fashion of Vienna
Just over a year ago, I bemoaned the lack of ‘fashion’ in Vienna in this particularly popular post. Just over 12 months later and I am pleased to say that things have definitely turned around. I’ve uncovered a few golden gems with a mix of nordic and local fashion offering an alternative to the High Street chain stores. A few favourites include Kauf die Glucklich on Kirchengasse, the stretch of indie stores along Schönbrunner strasse in the 5th district and the occasional indulgence from Massimo Dutti in the 1st. Definite advancement in Austrian fashion stakes this year – but I still need a fix of Black Milk tights every now and then. Lucky for me a generous soul got me some for Christmas!
Conquering Deutsch through Tatort
After some wonderful tips and advice from you lovely readers on this post, I started watching Tatort. The opening credits alone are worth it for their 70’s kitschiness, but the different accents, not-too-complex-storylines and social themes have really helped my German vocab and understanding. I don’t think i’ll be needing to solve any crimes in German anytime soon, but its been fun to muddle along in Deutsch on a Sunday night. I’ve heard there’s a Bar/Cafe in Wien that shows the episodes on a big screen to a huge crowd, so as soon as I get myself there I think I can rightfully claim to be pretty on track to Authentic Austrian status!
Nothing says ‘mystery’ like suspicious eyeballs
Es ist Wurst – Conchita Wurst!
It seems silly, but it took a ridiculous song contest to make me feel, even momentarily, that I was a true Austrian. When Conchita won earlier this year, I was screaming, whooping hopping and clapping for joy. Our little Aussie posse who got together to watch Eurovision in all its camp glory were thrilled to see it unfold and banded together in celebration. I walked home that night along the city streets ready to embrace anyone, to see people pouring out of bars with grins on their faces and felt there was hope for all of us in an Austria that supported Conchita, and dammit I was proud to be living in that kind of country. My gushy explanation immediately following the event itself is here.
All these little pieces are helping to build my Austrian lifestyle – but I couldn’t do it alone. This blog and our little community here have done more than you can imagine to keep me excited about my emerging Austrian life. Thank you to anyone and everyone this year who shared a post, told a friend about the blog, Tweeted about it or to me, shared my posts on Expat forums, liked it on Facebook, left a comment, mentioned it in a bar, wrestled their partners to read it or generally got involved. I really appreciate each and everyone of you and cannot thank you enough. Let the madness and growth and love and sharing continue in 2015!
With continued growth in mind, what Austrian activities should I challenge myself to achieve in 2015? I think trialling Latella is definitely up there, along with improving my skiing and maybe mastering the fine art of baking a Guglhopf…tell me your best ideas and I’ll rally to the challenge in this new and exciting year…Guten Rutch!!
Exciting blog community news! I’ve been nominated by the lovely Thom Kuntz from The Smile-IT Blog to participate in the Liebster Awards. As the name might imply, its a German thing, but don’t worry, I’m most definitely going to be writing in English (new Deutsch course starts next week – might be a while longer until I can write auf Deutsch!!).
The Liebster Awards are a fun way to find out more about some of your favourite bloggers and see their answers to curly questions about why we play this whole blogging game anyway. The rules of the game and my nominations are below – but first, to the questions as asked by Thomas:
1. Who’s reading your blog and why are they?
Funnily enough, I have a lot of Austrians following my blog, which is lovely, as I write about my experience of Austrian life. There’s also a decent number of Americans, British and Aussies mixed in. As for why – well, I like to think they enjoy my unique perspective on all things Austria, but it may just be they get a kick out of my naive struggles and confusion! Probably a mix of both.
2. What are you gaining by producing content for your blog? What makes it worth it?
I started the blog initially as a way to channel some creativity when I first arrived in Austria. I was completely broke with no visa, no job, absolutely no ability to speak Deutsch and no friends. Writing about my positive experiences and the funny things I noticed gave me an outlet and some purpose. Now, its worth it because even though my life here got much much better, I still love having a creative space and way to chronicle the crazy experiences of being an expat, travelling and generally getting through my twenties and beyond.
3. What do you love the most to write about?
The adventures I have with my mister – whether its a travel adventure to Bali or just a new brunch spot we found in the city. Discovering something new with someone you love is so much fun, you can’t help but share that enthusiasm in writing.
Added bonus – photos are better with people in them
4. What are you reading?
I just finished Khaled Hosseni’s ‘And the Mountains Echoed’ along with Lena Dunhams ‘Not that Kind of Girl’. I’m a book maniac and can pretty consistently be found with a novel in my handbag and another one on the bedside table – my bookshelves are jammed full.
5. How much in your blog is “private” life? How much is job life? How much is mixed?
The blog is definitely my private life – sometimes my travels will be due to work but I’m always writing from a personal perspective.
6. What other public appearances do you maintain (like e.g. facebook or TED talks)?
I have a Twitter feed @carlyhulls and Instagram account which is open to follow. At work I host regular On Air video Hangouts (checkout the TourRadar Youtube channel) and I’m trying to get off Facebook as much as possible. My dream would be to host a TEDtalk one day…feel free to pitch me!
7. What was the most embarrassing thing that ever happened with or by a blog post of yours?
I cringe at my early posts – the pictures are embarrassing and the writing isn’t great, but I think its important to keep early, mildly terrible posts online because when I first started blogging I checked the early posts of some of my favourite blogs and it gave me hope!
8. When was the last time that you sang a song (in the shower or on a stage)?
I tend to turn regular sentences into a song at any given time, I don’t even know I’m doing it, it just suddenly becomes an Aria or silly tune. I think the last time I did it was about 40 minutes ago!
9. How many devices do you own and which?
Samsung S3 mini phone although its soon to be replaced, shared household iPad 2 and my beautiful shiny new desktop Mac that I adore using for all things blog related.
10. Do you only use the web interface on your PC to blog or do you also use your mobilephone, email-2-blog, …?
In a pinch I’ve posted from my mobile but I much prefer writing on a bigger screen and getting an overall feel for the post.
Snapshot of my desktop at this very moment…little slice of heaven
11. Joker: Are you on your own, live with your Love, have a family or still reside at your parents’?
Living with my lover-boy in Vienna, in the 14th district.
A selection of expat ladies’ blogs
And two pretty well known blogs – but I’m a huge fan and would love their responses!
Rules to go by:
- Start with saying thank you and linking to the blog having nominated you
- Add the award plate image
- Answer the questions given
- Chose 5 – 11 other blogs – the intention is to make little known blogs known
- Formulate 11 questions of your own to challenge your nominees on. No boundaries and limitations on creativity whatsoever …
- Repeat the rules nicely at the end of your blog
- Send a nice little eMail to your nominees adding a few explanatory lines
- That’s it. You may wanna add the optional “rule” to leave a comment at the nominator’s blog – it’s like a nice little virtual bouquet and another way of saying “thanx”
Why did you start your blog?
What’s your most popular post and why do you think it is?
When/how do you fit in blogging around your everyday life?
Are you a chocolate or lollies (candy) fan?
What is the blog that inspires you the most?
Do you have goals for your blog? What are they?
What’s your favourite thing to write about?
Which social media profiles are you most active on? (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr…..)
What time/day of the week do you normally post?
How has your blog improved your life?
What’s the number one piece of advice you have for fellow bloggers?
Looking forward to seeing their responses – go check out my nominees blogs now, they are all delightful fun. Big thanks to Thomas for the nomination!
I’ll be back to regular posts shortly after a quick trip to Tirol this weekend (wish me luck its bloody snowing up there already!!)
So, you’ve had a taste of Schönbrunn Palace, a swim on top of the city and enjoyed the heights of Prater Park. If you missed it, check here.
Now for the seriously cultured side of Vienna.
Head first to the Museums Quartier, or MQ as it’s known to the locals. A hub of Museums surround an enclave of cafes and comfy hang out spots within a gorgeous courtyard. This place is always energetic and inspiring.
Official photography from MQ site http://www.mqw.at/de/presse/pressefotos/das-mq/
To fuel the next few hours of looking at art, its imperative to indulge in good coffee. I’m sure that’s why MQ has so many funky cafes, the better to fortify yourself for artistic discoveries!
Artistic Prep time in the Leopold Cafe…good to go!!
The Leopold Museum is currently housing a magnificent exhibition of Schiele & Klimt, two big names of the Vienna Secession art movement. An artist friend of mine (http://sarahmasson.com.au/) was in town recently so it was the perfect excuse to finally check out the famous works.
Klimts art is pretty unavoidable in Vienna – he’s a hometown sensation, born and raised in the 14th District of Vienna. Consequently, all souvenir shops are plastered with cheap reproductions of his most famous paintings.
Pretty sure he never envisioned his work on Tins of Tea
The exhibition in the Leopold is a fascinating exploration of Klimt & Schiele’s lives, well worth spending a few hours exploring. Personally, the Schiele piece ‘Couple Embracing’ was my favourite, with Klimts ‘Life and Death’ a close second. If paintings aren’t your thing , MQ also has museums dedicated to Dance, Architecture, Musical Theatre, Modern Art and even a KinderMuseum for children.
After such a stretch of time inside, you’ll be in need of some sunshine & fresh air – head to the skies my friends. There is a wonderful rooftop cafe about 5 minutes walk from MQ where you can see across the entire Ringstrasse of Vienna. Dachboden comes with views over some of Vienna’s most famous monuments: the Natural & Art History Museums, the Rathaus, the spire of St Stephans, Hundertwassers’ Heating Tower, the WWII era Flak Towers…
Stunning blue skies not guaranteed daily!
The bar itself is very comfy, lots of cosy couches, big communal benches, the terrace is glorious (if you can get a seat) and they serve excellent local cocktails – try the Kaiser Spritz or a Hugo!
The first of many family rooftop reunions – even Dad is stoked!
From here you can round out the cultural day with a wander into the city centre, known as the 1st District. Stop by the historical Hofburg Palace en route for the must-have photo opportunity. The Hofburg was the winter palace and seat of power for the Habsburg dynasty, and the modern day President of Austria still has his residence here. Its grand, imposing and still as stunning today as when the Kaiser was in power
Spot the symbol of Imperial Austria up top – the double headed Eagle holding a crown
Maria Theresa – mother of modern Austria & Marie Antoinette – will give you her benediction on the way by
Then get up close with some statues, fountains and spectacular architecture in the 1st District
...looking at this view all day must be exhausting for him…
The 1st district is full of historical buildings, cobbled streets and ‘Fiaker’, the traditional horse & carriages of Vienna . Wandering up little alleys is the best way to find hidden treasure bookshops, cafe’s and artisan stores. More about my favourite stops to come in a future post! Wrapping up your short weekend in Vienna with a leisurely stroll through the historical centre is the best way to soak up the spirit of a city hundreds of years in the making.
Eight months ago I was kicked out of Europe. Told in no uncertain terms that I had to leave and my continued presence in Austria was illegal. This was all told in Deutsch so the only things I took away from an intimidating meeting in a 1970’s era building was the words ‘nein’ ‘no’ and ‘illegal’. There is nothing worse than being completely helpless to control your own life.
Since then it has been a long, frustrating, confusing, emotional and stressful series of efforts to get me back here and able to live in Vienna. First I had to clear 3 months outside of the schengen zone, kicking around in London, working the UK & Ireland tour route 3 TIMES to wait out the allotted 3 months. Once we did get into the nitty gritty of getting my paperwork together and trying to figure out the contradictory information given by the Austrian government and Australian embassy it was a constant battle against misinformation and racing against time. Aussies are only allowed 90 days in the schengen reigon. Not a lot of time to meet all the requirements. The deadline provided a constant ticking clock of doom everytime we experienced a setback; My documents were originals, but not official enough. Our appointment was booked 2 weeks ago but not locked in. S had his passport as proof of citizenship but not his birth certificate. An endless round of roadblocks not outlined in any dot-point guide of how to apply to stay here.
To say it was stressful was an understatement. The process and chance of failure, the vision of being denied again, to be sent home and seperated haunted us both.I don’t think either of us had cried as much as we did in March when we realised there was absoloutely nothing we could do about my needing to leave.
The worst was the complete lack of concrete information, the feeling of helplessness, the sheer blindness with which we negotiated this process. We’re Gen Y kids, used to being in control, presumptive of our own importance in the world and right to a Happy Ending. The kicker was, we weren’t doing anything wrong, but at every turn it felt like we were in the wrong for proceeding to apply. Maybe it was my not understanding German, the intimidating buildings and endless forms that created this but it felt like we’d fallen down the rabbit-hole of Beauracracy, with no one to tell us whether what we were doing was wrong or right. Or crucially, whether it would work.
8 tortuous months. Days upon days of uncertainty, and limitation on the things I could progress with here – being unable to work sentanced me to days at home, researching jobs I can’t apply for.
Finally, today, I got the phone call. 11:09am. Requested to return to the magistraat office with passport and money. Building shuts at 12pm. Fastest shower of my life. S was at work in a meeting but this was too big to restrain from calling him. I gathered our coin collection – not knowing how much they wanted me to pay, and S having all our credit cards. Literally last person to enter the building at 11:47. The same blonde young woman who had collected my documents and created my file with all its difficult requests sat me down and (in German) explained the forms I was signing, checked my passport and finally, thankfully, miraculously, handed me my Red-White-Red card.
I thought I was relieved when Obama won. This was a different kind of relief. The months of stress, hard work, worry and endless unanswerable questions had led to this moment. Finally, finally I was free. Free to work, free to stay, free to start my integration meetings, free to travel, free to learn German, free to celebrate this with the man I love and did it all for. I still can’t quite believe it. To top it off, Vienna is shining today, the winter fog has lifted and the sun has been out for the last few hours.
I left the building after thanking this nameless woman for the mercy of letting me stay, and was last out as they locked up for the weekend. 12:03pm. In less than an hour my life had turned round. The despair I felt this morning about what the hell to do with another empty day had gone, to be replaced with endless opportunity and thankfulness at this chance. To learn, to be a resident of two great countries, to grow, to work, to change and embrace all the challenges coming my way.
But for this weekend, before the stress of finding work and learning German begins, I’m only going to enjoy the sheer relief of it all, and revel in the hope that it has given me. Aaaahhhhhhhh…….