La tête dans les nuages

Last Friday I left work early to fly to Salzburg, for my grandparents birthdays. I took the metro to get to the train, to go to the airport where I took the plane to Salzburg, the bus to the main train station, and the train to Taxenbach-Rauris. There we were picked up by car by my sister. Remind me of that journey the next time I claim I don’t need a drivers license.

The whole family stayed at holiday apartments at a farm on 1200m elevation. We slept in downstairs, so I when I woke up I could hear the triplets running around a floor above us. In the mornings I would walk up to the other apartment through the finest drizzle. It took me a while to realise that we had been inside a cloud and the could was drifting up during the morning.


Vienne, Linz, Budapest, Styrie

Gergö joined my in Vienna last Sunday. Somehow we managed to turn a week in Vienna the most stressful of the year – we decided to visit friends in Linz on Monday, his little brother in Budapest on Wednesday, and now I’m in Steiermark.

It was good to visit Linz, but far too short a time, of course. I was playing Pokémon Go in Linz and I noticed that I take fewer pictures now. When the game is loaded and stable, I don’t want to quit it, just to take a picture. Especially now that there’s so much dust in my camera lens that all pictures have weird light reflexes. At night there’s fog clouding up the image.

You have to take my word for the lovely weather and surroundings.

We took the train to Budapest on Wednesday. A met us at the train station and we walked to his new place. It was hot and sunny and I had no internet, so I had plenty of opportunity to take pictures of Budapest without missing out on Pokémon ;-)


A’s apartment is in the 8th district, which is called Jószefváros, which is just like in Vienna (Josefstadt). There are lots of old pre-war buildings, many of them run down.

girls school in joszefvaros

There are plans and renovations taking place in Budapest, but for now this mural looks more like a promise than an actual plan for Jószefváros.

joszefvaros kolibri

A’s apartment building is one of those run down on the outside, but nice on the inside buildings. The courtyard has Pawlatschen – a word I couldn’t find an English translation for. It’s a word for the covered walkways surrounding a courtyard. Here’s a picture, feel free to chime in with a suggestion:


We wandered into town, enjoying the Budapest feeling.


We came past freedom bridge (I’m not even going to start trying to spell it), which is closed for traffic for the moment.

don't climb the bridge

And spent the evening sitting by the Danube close to a building called the whale.

Jonas in the whale

There’s a craft beer place inside the whale called Jónás (get it?!) and they sell a beer called Arany Jónás. Gergö laughed at the name, but it took me ages to understand the joke – Arany Janos is the name of a Hungarian poet. Arany is also the word for gold, so it makes perfect sense as name for beer.

The whale is part of the pricier night life of Budapest, so beers are only about three times cheaper than in Paris, not five.

The next day we woke up to a very loud thunderstorm. The temperature drop was a huge relief for me, but I had brought nothing against the rain. We walked through the covered market to avoid the rain.

rakoszi market

A wild fearow appeared

Sorry, terrible photo, terrible Pokémon Go joke. I couldn't resist.

Sorry, terrible photo, terrible Pokémon Go joke. I couldn’t resist.

Because the rain didn’t stop we ended up taking the new driverless metro line M4 to the train station and wandering around a shopping mall to avoid getting soaked. The driverless metro is nice, all shiny and new. What they saved on drivers they invested in random people with yellow vests and walkie talkies standing around on platforms instead.

After checking out the mall we decided on Hungarian fast food: I had cold fruit soup (gyümölcsleves (I only had one accent wrong on my first attempt this time!)) and Gergö noodles with cream cheese (Túrós csusza (copy/paste job)). The lady behind the counter asked something, Gergö said yes, and I saw her pick up a bottle of what I thought was mayonnaise and pour it over his noodles. She kept pouring in circles, while Gergö was grinning happily. Only when I saw the result I realised it’s sour cream not mayo she added to the meal. It should have been obvious from Gergö’s expression, really. “It’s not that much sour cream”, was all he said.

topfennudeln mit speck fruit soup, kalte obstsuppe

We returned home Thursday night. I went directly to Museumsquartier to meet friends. I packed up my stuff at 1 am and leaft today at 9. Right now I’m sitting on the main square in Bruck an der Mur, waiting for a friend to pick me up in an hour or so. I’ll join her for the weekend and return to Vienna on Monday.

I never knew Enzis (the things people sit on in Museumsquartier) are exported to other towns these days.






Sans frontières

My french course has some really great moments.

In my Friday conversation class we recently had a librarian visit and read a story to us, just like they do to kindergarten kids. The story itself was a strange little fairy tale by a Swiss woman. A little man with a glass violin brings feelings to a village where everyone had been bland and same and boring.

From the vocabulary we started a dicussion about wrinkles. “Ride du lion” apparently refers to the wrinkles on your forehead that come from frowning. The fact that there’s a word for that, led me to ask what they call crow’s feet. In french they are goose feet / pattes d’oie. My chinese colleague added that in they are fishtails in Chinese. And it makes sense, these words all perfectly describe the shape of these wrinkels.

And I love these little differences and similarities. When our teacher asked the librarian what she thought of the story, the librarian explained that she often visits Germany and Switzerland, and the story reminded her of these countries. Everyone following the rules she said, and gave “not crossing the red light, even if there’s no car” as an example. I laughed and agreed. In Germany and Austria you don’t cross a red light, just because there’s no car. I mean, sure, people do it, but as a rule, you wait.

I vividly remember being shouted at by a German woman in Munich as I crossed the red light one Sunday morning about 5 seconds before it turned green, because there was no car in sight and I could see that the light would change very soon. Unlike shouting at strangers, you just don’t cross the street at a red light in front of little children. That story pretty much sums up my six months in Munich for me.

People are fined sometimes for crossing, my teacher interjected – I agreed. I know of at least two people who were fined for something ridiculous like crossing at a red light. My colleague said that’s completely unthinkable in Portgual. In Japan, apparently, and Hong Kong, fines are a possibility as well.

There is a five way crossing on my way home from the train station and you can’t really see well into one of the streets. So sometimes, I wait, because I’m not sure if there’s a car that will come around the far corner. And I can sometimes see the drivers waiting at the red light right next to me and look exasperated, not understanding, what I’m DOING HERE, when I have to wait as well. It’s pretty funny for my Austrian brain to see that happen.

The week after that the vocabulary discussion lead to our teacher listing body parts and I actually forgot a perfectly normal German word. I just couldn’t for the life of me remember the word for “la plante du pied“.  I knew what the word referred to, I just couldn’t find the right German word for it. All I could think of was Fußfläche. But that didn’t seem right. We don’t call it that, do we? Via the English word sole I finally arrived at Sohle, but that was a weird couple of minutes. And I mean, it’s Handfläche and Handgelenk, why isn’t it Fußfläche? (That train of thought reminded me of my Pilates teacher in Linz who kept saying Fußsäulen and Schulterplatten. I still understood her, so it won’t bother me too much, should I forget plante).

thierrytheprickAnd à propos the cover photo: In March, I posted this on facebook:
“I found Thierry and Emilie. The morning after writing about them (, I woke up remembering the name of my French book: Espaces. You can browse the first pages on Amazon, but only in an edition from 2005. They updated the storyline, but not the drawings. Thierry is smug as ever, wearing a sweater vest. Now I’m contemplating ordering the book, just for hate reading.”


On my way to class this week, I walked past an unofficial bookswapping shelf and two of the books offered were German school books. It turns out their school book graphics were just as terrible as ours:






Joyeuse Nouvelle Année

After Christmas, we boarded a plane to Austria to spend some time with my family and friends in Vienna. I almost froze my butt off – not only because it was cold (down to minus 7°!) but also because I only noticed in Vienna, that I had forgotten to pack any underpants. That was an absolute first for me. A suprising number of people told me they made the same experience once. I also brought the wrong SIM card, so for the first few days I had to stay really close to Gergö, who opened up a wifi for me. He thought I took the sim card news worse.

The cold really threw me. I wasn’t really equipped for minus 7 degrees. The weather forecast for Vienna had been less dramatic. Last winter was also much milder, so I kind of hoped to be able to avoid it all this year. Nuh uh. It was freezing, it was windy and there was snow. My friend Eva called my being ill-equipped and in complete denial about the possibility of snow “The Wiener Linien Syndrome”. I love it!


Gergö and I are sad because of the cold weather, the snow, and the wind. Also, we really need to work on our selfie game.


Snowmargedoon on Mariahilferstraße. Not pictured: my bag of new knickers.

3D glasses give me headaches, because they are so heavy. 3D glasses for Imax give me an terrible headache because they are ginormous. Without the snow, wind and cold, the selfie is much better, I notice.

3D glasses are heavy and therefore often cause headaches. 3D glasses for Imax cause terrible headaches because they are ginormous. Without the snow, wind and cold, the selfie is much better, I notice.

I spent every single one of these ten days meeting at least one group of people, sometimes two. I managed to see my grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins in Styria for one day and get a Schnitzel-fix. We saw two of Gergö’s brothers and went to a pub quiz with friends. I met former colleagues from fachhochschule. I spent new year’s eve with my sister and her triplets, hoping they would sleep through what sounded like war outside. I actually saw someone hand a handgun to a kid who couldn’t have been older than 11. He shot sparkly crackers from the presumably gas pistol.  We even managed to squeeze in a big meal and traditional Austrian Christmas biscuits with my dad’s family. Oh and we finally saw the new Star Wars film and then spent two days discussing it in depth. All those things involved food and drinks and it’s a miracle I didn’t need a seatbelt extension for my flight back. I do need to recover from my holidays, though.

The first few days we spent at a friend’s place who lives really close to my sister with the triplets. So we had a few chances to drop in, get them all excited and then slink off to let the parents deal with getting them to sleep. I feed them and bathed them as well, which was great fun, and both involved some splashing.

Our host returned from his family a little earlier than planned, but as luck would have it we scored an awesome apartment. Gergö’s friend Sebastian renovated his old apartment after moving in with his partner, and rents it out on airbnb. It has the best matress I ever slept on in my entire life. I cannot recommend this place enough. Should you ever need somewhere to stay in Vienna, check it out. It’s right around the corner to where Gergö used to live, 5 minutes from the metro (U3 Hütteldorferstraße) and tram (49). The kitchen is pretty well equipped and the shower has a ledge on which you can sit down, should you end up hung over and tired on new year’s day. Also, the couch is identical to the one we used to have, so for sentimental reasons, I like it even more. The only down side is that there’s no door between the bedroom and the sitting room. So there’s room for four people, but they have to really like/know each other. Oh and it’s all official and above board, so Sebastian actually charges visitor’s tax that he has to pass on to the city of Vienna.

— end of advertisment

Before we left Austria in August, we stored some boxes in Lower Austria, that we ended up having to move. We managed to squeeze that into the 10 days as well. With the help of my dad we brought them to Vienna. He also reminded me of another, final box of my stuff at his office. It’s just some old fabric/clothes I want to use to crochet another carpet with. I made one for the triplets and it turned out to be the most useful and least ugly DIY project I ever made.

crocheted carpet made from thirts

I was convinced that after emptying our luggage of our souvenirs there would be plenty of space to transport it all back, but it was a very close call in the end. Not so much for the luggage but for Gergö who kept complaining. Now that my dad announced he’ll drive up in May for a visit, I regret it a little. (By the way: if you ever want to get rid of old tshirts or fitted sheets or anything made from cotton jersey: I will cut it up and crochet a big fat carpet with it. Doesn’t matter if they have holes. There just might be a way to transport it all up to Paris in May…)

Which reminds me: come visit us! Our couch is not as awesome as the one in Basti’s airbnb, but it will do. Also: heated floors! I keep repeating the invitation and most people reply: We will! But then, nothing happens. So my new plan is to put a calendar up here on a separate page that shows when we are away or already have visitors and when we are free. Maybe that encourages people to come. I count on you for sightseeing and touristy things!