Settling in

It’s October! We’ve been here for a month now and I think this blog, like our French adventure is coming to an end.

We’ve unpacked our boxes and assembled all the furniture. We even built a house from two of the boxes and had the triplets over to decorate it. And eat cake inside it. In short: we are settling in.

Before decoration

We’ve had adults over as well and had real sit down dinners with real chairs and everything. Yesterday some of Gergö’s family came by for a visit. Gergö asked them to bring the boxes we had stowed away in the cellar. We didn’t remember how many there were. I thought maybe two boxes, so realistically four because that’s how my brain works.

In the end there were four boxes of mostly books, but surprisingly also clip on cat ears, plastic elf ears and my CueCat as well as a few pictures and a box of postcards and photos I apparently had wanted to keep. I also found a ziplock bag of cash – some Forint and 10 British Pounds, a Barbados Dollar and some old Slovakian currency that is no longer valid.

Now I really need to finish painting the Billy shelf that I got from my mum. It was a bit yellowed, so I thought I’d spruce it up a bit with some colour. I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching videos of cheerful people painting old furniture and then sanding it to make it look vintage. I have no intention of making Billy look more vintage than it is, I just found out that chalk paint is really easy to handle and even sticks to the plastic veneer. And while browsing in the hardware store I also bought chalkboard paint and metallic paint that makes magnets stick to the painted surface.

So far I’ve only painted the boards, not the rest.

We’ve started getting back in touch with friends in Vienna and already are regulars at a Thursday night pub quiz. We suck at music round, but won the quiz twice and somehow scored a ticket to the Austrian pub quiz championship.

Now that I have time to catch up with friends and family I get asked a lot what has changed and what stayed the same and what do I miss.

A weird thing I noticed is that I still have the impulse to get my ticket out of my bag whenever I get on a bus or metro. And boarding a bus via the back door seems wrong to me. I still have the urge to greet the bus or tram driver whenever I board. I had to get used to saying “Bonjour” all the time to everybody, now it’s difficult to stop.

There still are a lot of places where you can smoke in Vienna and it never stops to surprise me. The café in the shopping mall where we do our weekly food shopping has a smoking section. The Serbian restaurant that does delicious Pljeskavica has a smoking section and the one time Gergö and I had lunch there we were the only people in the non-smoking section. We were also the only people not saying “Dobar dan” when we arrived. I also was alone in the non smoking section of a coffee house on the green market that sells everything by the kilo. This week there’s a petition to sign at the magistrate asking to finally ban smoking in all cafés, restaurants and bars and I’ll certainly sign it.

 


Paris – Vienne – Balaton – Vienne – Paris

In the middle of our move we took a week off to spend it with my family on lake Balaton. We packed a small bag for the lake and a large bag with winter clothes and Gergö’s collection of cooking pots. My carry on bag decided that was the best moment to die on me, after many, many years of faithful service. For a while now the handle wouldn’t go back in unless you knew exactly where to push with both hands at the same time. Now it doesn’t even come out, so I had to carry it everywhere.

We arrived in Vienna late on Friday night. On my way to my mum’s place we saw two older men walking on the street. One had a walking frame with 20 cans of beer on it. I thought that was a very Viennese thing, but it got even better. They wanted to cross the street, but there was a car parked where it’s easy to cross. So they crossed between two parked cars and the walking frame toppled over and the beers fell to the ground. The man started to swear loudly and called the car blocking his way a whore. It can’t get any more Viennese than that, I thought.

Well, I was wrong. My mum texted to say she was still out but that there was a knuckle of pork in the fridge that needed eating. She also had cans of Ottakringer beer. So that was our extremely Austrian dinner.

We left Vienna on Saturday, stopping off in Sopron to buy Hungarian children’s books for my nephew and to acclimatise: pörkölt and nokedli for lunch. Nokedli are Nockerl or Spätzle in German. The English word is dumpling, but they are not like dumplings at all and there is no English Wikipedia page for this food. Anyway, they are delicious and you should try them.

I also had cold fruit soup. It’s a Hungarian thing and I love it.

We went back to Vienna on Thursday night, leaving behind family and flamingo. On Friday we signed the rental agreement for our new apartment and then visited it for real for the first time. Before that day we had only seen it on photos and on a whatsapp video a friend took, while she visited the apartment for us.

We dumped the contents of our large bags onto the floor (no furniture yet) and bought a fancy mattress and slatted frame (at least that’s what my dictionary says is a Lattenrost) on a whim.

On Saturday we put all the empty bags into one of the big ones and flew back to Paris. We’ve been clearing things out, packing and running errands for the last ten days. 5 more to go!


Vienne, tu me manques

We left for Vienna on December 24. We hadn’t been in Vienna for quite a while – we changed trains there in the summer but didn’t stay over night. We spent a single night there on the way to a wedding in June. But I think the last holiday in Vienna was a long weekend in March, when the triplets celebrated their second birthday.

So, as usual, we spent the week in a hectic blur of food and people. We met with my family on the 26th, Gergö’s family on the 29th and friends on all the other days. We were staying in the 7th district, very centrally and close to Mariahilfer Straße, which is a big shopping street. There were trams and the most useful of all busses, the 13A really close by. So I had the opportunity to play a lot of Pokemon Go during my week in Vienna. I could turn a lot of Pokestops on the tram and bus and hatch eggs and even put the occasional Pokemon in an arena.

I also went shopping – we found ourselves with a couple of hours to spend right on the biggest shopping street of Vienna. I bought a ridiculously huge dark red down coat. It even has fleece lined pockets! Several people commented on the size of it and how I look like Bibendum (the official name of the Michelin man, as I recently learned on twitter). I would have preferred it in black, obviously, but it was the red one that was 60% off, so I will be snug and smug in my ridiculous enormous coat.

Despite my declared dislike for Christmas markets, I managed to visit two in my week in Vienna.

Because we met with so many people we went to a lot of cafés and restaurants. And people in Vienna still smoke inside. We had brunch at a place that is non-smoking for breakfast, but it reeked of smoke from the night before. And even weirder: there are little stickers to show if a place is smoking or non-smoking or both and the non-smoking stickers are red and the “smoking is allowed” stickers are green.

When we visited some friends in the 14th district they told us that they have a Chinese restaurant around the corner that they’d love to try, but you are allowed to smoke inside. And as we walked past the restaurant we all glanced inside and there really were people smoking away at the restaurant tables. Very unreal.

I noticed two other things I apparently really got used to in France: When you enter a restaurant or bar or brasserie or café in Paris, in most cases you wait to be seated. Sometimes you are told: sit wherever you like but mostly you are seated. I went to a café with a friend and there were people waiting for a table that was about to become free and my friend suggested to look around for a table for two. I wanted to say something like “surely we’ll be seated right after them” when I realised: nobody cares where/if we find a place, it’s everybody for themselves in here.

Then I, the person to stop at red lights in Paris, found myself impatiently crossing at red in Vienna – with the exact same excuse as everyone here: There was no traffic! There’s really no point in waiting around at a red traffic light if there are no cars! And I promptly crossed the road in plain view of the police while looking in their direction. I didn’t get a ticket, though. Probably because it was in the middle of the night and there really was no other traffic. And today I almost got run over by a motorcycle because I was so busy avoiding Puddles (and checking Pokemon Go on my phone) I didn’t see that the light had turned red again.

I also noticed things that changed in Vienna: There are far fewer firecrackers before New Year’s Eve. When I lived across a playground in the 2000s, it felt like the teenagers from the school around the corner tried to blow themselves up every day of December. And it was still bad a few years ago, when we looked after Gergö’s former dog. Now it’s much quieter and I only heard firecrackers on the 30th and 31st. All that’s left to learn for Austrians is that the firework starts at midnight.

In a weird counter example to my experience in Viennese cafés, I saw a queue in front of café Sperl on Gumpendorfer Straße. People were actually standing outside in the cold waiting to have coffee in there. It seemed ludicrous to me. I remember Sperl as the place with the most worn down leather chairs and grumpiest waitresses and it was really smoky, too, though that may have changed since I last went there (in 2008 maybe?). I bet the café is mentioned in a guide book as the real Viennese experience and that makes people willing to queue for overpriced coffee.

Luckily we got to see a lot of my nieces, the triplets, as well. They love to sing right now and will burst into strange songs at any occasion. When we had a playdate with friends who have a daughter of the same age, two of them grabbed hold of railings in the hallway, dangled from them and sang “Hoch sollst du leben / an der Decke kleben / runterfallen, Popschi knallen / so ist das Leben” (“you shall be celebrated / stick to the ceiling / fall down, hurt your bum / that’s life” – I just checked, there’s a category called birthday songs on Wikipedia, but the original version of this song is missing, just like the children’s version).

Anyway, everytime they sang “runterfallen” they let themselves drop to the floor. Songs seem to be a way to get them to do stuff – as long as it’s not being quiet. There’s a song about a bear sleeping where they will immediately lie down and pretend to be a sleeping bear. They even include the snoring noises sometimes. The trouble is it goes on: the bear wakes up and then hops, hops, hops, or stamps, stamps, stamps, or dances, dances, dances all day long.

The apartment complex where my sister lives has communal spaces. We took the kids’ new train set and went to the “theatre”. It’s just a big room that could be used as a stage. Not half as fancy as the cinema room or the communal kitchen. The theatre just had the problem that the lights went out every 5 minutes. Whenever that happened H. would scream, get up and run towards the sensor, while I. spontaneously started to sing Bruder Jakob / Frère Jacques. She even sang it in French, well, an approximation of it.

We also went to the climbing room. The girls would have preferred the slide room, but they are still a bit too small to climb the ladders alone and we wouldn’t fit in the slides in case they got scared and needed support. The climbing room is mostly interesting for the big mat that covers most of its floor. While two of the kids ran around playing catch and doing summersaults, A. rearranged our coats and played with my handbag. I gave it to her thinking there’s nothing in there that could break. She promptly took out the USB cable and stuck the micro-USB end into the regular one. “That works?”, my sister asked. “Only with force.”

I showed her how to plug it into my external battery instead – I figured it might save her hours of time if she learns early on how to plug in a USB cable the right way up.

When it was time to brush their teeth before bed, they weren’t impressed my by rendition of “Zähneputzen, zähneputzen, das wird deinen Zähnen nutzen” though. I didn’t think anybody else knew this song. We had to sing it in kindergarten while the other kids brushed their teeth until it was our turn at the sink. Now I googled it and apparently it’s a thing to motivate kids to brush their teeth. Well, it didn’t work.

Later in the week we met with Gergö’s family, including his two nephews. His brother was impressed how much more experience we have with little kids now (“please sit down on the chair to drink”, “use both hands to hold the glass!”, “Ok, I’ll walk up and down the stairs with you, but you have to hold my hand!”). It was also the one and only occasion for me to impress someone with Pokemon Go. The 5-year-old was interested in the game, and duly impressed by my Pikachu wearing a Santa hat and my strongest Pokemon, a Tyranitar with over 3000 CP. He even caught a Sentrett while we waited for the train and only needed 5 or 6 Pokeballs to do it. Most grown ups’ reaction is “Somebody is still playing this?”

We also met his other brother’s fiancée. But Gergö didn’t get a chance to talk much or ask about the dress code for the upcoming wedding because his crown came loose. So we spent the evening at the dentist on weekend duty.

the smile of a real princess.

It wasn’t really how I wanted to spend the evening, but it could have been much worse. Across from us in the waiting room was a girl with her parents whose horse had kicked her in the face. Her dad carried bits of her front teeth in a tupperware container.

While I was waiting for Gergö to finish two young men showed up – one had a toothache, the other came to help with translation. When they struggled with the information form I offered my cell phone as a dictionary. They had brought their own, but readily introduced themselves – (Hello, I’m XYZ from Syria!) And while the translator’s German was pretty good, they were happy to have some help with words like Herzschrittmacher/pacemaker, Spritze/injection and the like.

The doctor glued Gergös crown back into place and most of the visit was spent waiting for the cement to dry. And it was also fairly low on bureaucracy for Gergö: He filled out two forms with the data on his European health insurance card and didn’t have to pay anything. He reckons there will be a bill from his French insurance at some point.


À l’enfer et de retour

We just returned home from holidays in Austria. When I last saw my family in Salzburg in May I asked them if they wanted to go on a holiday together. My office closes for two weeks in August, so I had to take the time off anyway. And I wanted to see my family, but I also wanted to do something that feels more like a holiday than hanging out at my mom’s and my sister’s place.

They agreed and so we went looking for a place to rent for a week for 6 to 8 adults and 4 small kids. I’d have loved to go to Croatia, but the triplets aren’t up for long car rides. In the end we decided on lake Neusiedl. It’s only an hour from Vienna. I didn’t find anything on Airbnb but I got some recommendations from a friend so I found apartments in Podersdorf. It’s the only beach of lake Neusiedl, all other places have the Schilfgürtel (a belt of reeds around the lake, sometimes several kilometres deep).

The apartments were in an area from Podersdorf that time forgot. Dark red curtains, weird green couches, balcony tables far to large for the balcony. My sister thinks they just put everything that’s no longer needed in the nice hotel in these apartments. It was cheap, though, and there was a Spar with excellent air conditioning only 200 metres away. And a little playground (a swing, a plastic house, and a slide) in the yard right underneath a tree. My sister had even packed an inflatable pool for the kids.

Apparently they are really proud of their heating, not that we ever needed it.

I mention the air conditioning, because it was really very hot. I’d happily run all shopping related errands just to check out the supermarket’s drinks department, separated by a door and extra cool. When I booked the apartment I was a little worried what we’d do with 3 cranky toddlers if it rained for an entire week. Summers in Austria are no guarantee for sunshine. They can go either way. But instead of rain we had a week of 32 – 35 degrees celsius. The lake had the temperature of a bathtub.

The cool thing about Podersdorf is that the lake doesn’t get much deeper than 1m there. Even I can comfortably walk all the way to the buoys. It also means that when we went into the water with the triplets my shoulders were rarely under water and despite the SPF 50 I got a sunburn on the first day.

The kids have just started to enjoy the water more – they have been visiting my dad’s partner’s family and their pool and I think their step cousins left a big impression. A. mentioned their diving several times (“auch untertauchen!”) and wanted to try as well. She only ever let the water cover her mouth, swallowing a bit of sea water, but on the last day she wanted to go without the floating tyre, to practice.

The other cool thing about lake Neusiedl is that with the apartment you get a card that lets you use the bus and the Strandbad for free. I misplaced mine about 2 days in and posed as my brother in law for the next several days. I blamed the loss of my card on the kids – they often showed up in our room before 7 am to watch youtube videos or photos. Sometimes I could keep them busy (and let their parents and sisters sleep a little longer), but sometimes the videos just didn’t cut it and they went back to their room to ask “Mama, mama, mama!” until she woke up (“Oh, she woke up!”). I still have the earworms from all the children’s songs in my head and they will never leave me (“Daddy finger, daddy finger weh a yu.”)

A few years ago I was at a friends party and somebody there kept saying “Lieb sein, nicht zwicken!” to their kid all the time. He never tried to pinch me, so I found her constant reminder more annoying than his interest in his surroundings.

With the triplets, my sister had to be more specific on occasion: Don’t pinch, scratch, bite or push your sister!” They could be extremely cute, all three of them on a tire swing on the playground, singing “happy birthday to you, marmalade im schuh” for every person they know. But they can be grumpy little beasts when they get tired and hungry and nothing is more tiring than a day at the beach.

We also went on a carriage ride in the nature reserve. Two mares pulled our carriage and impressed the kids. We got to see white donkeys, which are bred there. We saw herons and geese and cows. And we saw very little water – the summer has been so dry that a lot of the marshland that makes up the nature reserve has dried up. The coachman kept pointing out the places that are usually water.

An old drawing well and a tent like structure for sheperds

The lack of water meant that there were fewer mosquitoes than usual, but Gergö is still covered in many, many purple welts. Normally it’s me with the giant swollen mosquito bites, I don’t know why they went after him this time. I appreciate it, though. They even stung him on his ear, the soles of his feet and inside his belly button.

I’m a giant hypochondriac, so I immediately assumed Lyme disease when some of the stings developed a red circle. Then the red cross called and asked for blood donations and we found out that visits to Lower Austria get you banned from donating blood in France for 4 weeks, because there’s West Nile Virus.

It turned out to be an allergic reaction, of course, but now that I read up on West Nile Virus I have an entirely new disease with vague symptoms I can imagine having.

On Saturday my dad visited and we went on a boat ride. It was just families with little kids, a lot of “Arthur, be careful!”, “Leni, don’t lean out of the boat.” We went past Hölle, the hottest corner of Austria, apparently.

Then, in the afternoon we rented a pedal boat. We got one that looked like a beetle car and had a slide down the front of the boat. I imagined it would be dangerous, having these difficult to steer boats with kids sliding down being squished between them. But the lake is so shallow everyone but the kids could just stop the boats and even steer them from the outside while we were waiting to catch the sliding kids.

At the moment stand up paddling is all the rage and my brother in law recently got a board. I thought you just stand on a surf board, but the SUP is in fact inflatable. I tried it out as well and promptly fell on my butt. With a little instruction from the resident paddler, the second attempt went okay. It’s really not that difficult and my sense of equilibrium isn’t bad after all these years of yoga and pilates. But sports in a swimsuit on a reflecting surface must be the worst idea for someone with my skin color.

On the weekend Podersdorf had a Feuerwehrfest, the equivalent of the bal de pompiers in France. We dropped by for a cheap beer and terrible oompah music. It turns out there’s a Hungarian version of Rosamunde and my brother in law knows all the words to it.

Feuerwehrfest traditions

On Sunday it finally cooled down and it was windy. The lake was covered in the sails of kite surfers.

We had to get to Vienna to catch out flight, so we packed and left by bus. Then we took a train to Vienna, and Gergö forgot his suitcase on the train. He noticed 5 minutes after leaving the train but it was already gone when he went back to check. We spent a few hours trying to get it back, but the lost & found is closed on a Sunday and all we could do was write a message to get it delivered to France.

The ÖBB will send the suitcase to France for 30 €, that’s the same price as booking an extra piece of luggage for a cheap flight by Austrian Airlines, in case you were wondering. The one thing I’m concerned about is the damp towel I wrapped my damp biknis in before packing it in Gergös suitcase. I’ll find out if polyester molds soon enough, I guess. Maybe this means Gergö will stop making fun of me for the time I forgot to pack knickers for a week in Vienna. Probably not.


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.

 


Retour de Vienne

I returned from 10 days in Vienna yesterday morning. I managed to get sick again, just like last time I visited. I blame flying and dry air and these things.

I only met with a few people this time, mostly because I was sick and tried to not overdo it. But also because I had inadvertently chosen another long holiday weekend for my visit. The October 26th is a national holiday, and so is the November 1st. A lot of people went away for the weekend. I only booked the flight because it was very cheap. I splurged all the money saved on a taxi to the airport in the morning, because 6:40 is just so damn early to fly.

Most days I thought I’d stay home and recover and ended up getting bored and restless and decided to visit the triplets or meet someone after all. I also went to an afternoon Amanda Palmer concert. I was too slow to buy tickets for the evening show. Because it sold out so quickly she scheduled a second show at 4 pm. It was so early, she brought her son on stage. And being Amanda Palmer she breastfed him for a little bit while playing Eisbär on piano in a lullaby version. People to the left and right of me were pretty incredulous. I think not because of the exposed boob. It’s Vienna after all, where there are nude bathing areas on the danube island. I think they thought it odd she would bring a little kid on stage, where it’s loud and bright and just not particularly kid friendly.

The concert was great, but it didn’t help with the recovery. Neither did the Sturm I felt I had to drink. It’s the season after all and it’s not something we get in Palaiseau.

All during my coughing and sneezing time I visited the triplets and helped my sister taking them home from kindergarten. She said they are sick all the time anyway, so my cold won’t make much of a difference. They are still adorable and very lively. With their identical rain suits they get a lot of looks from passers by. “Are those twins? No triplets!!” My mum calls them turbo girls. They are in the phase were they often don’t want to get in the pram, don’t want to walk, and want to be carried. I can lift them onto my shoulder now, but it’s hard work. They don’t really hold on and tend to lean back a bit. Add to that the fact that there’s an empty pram to push, the walk home from kindergarten usually ended up in sweat (mine) and tears (not mine). No blood though, so that’s something.

On one afternoon I met up with all my siblings for coffee. The four of us took the triplets home and it was noticeably easier when there were as many adults as there are kids. We had fun this evening, we danced to a ram sam sam, because my niece loves it. We looked at books and practised saying at-se (cat) at every animal. The nieces were really fascinated by their baby cousin and were really sweet with him (most of the time). We had spaghetti and cleaned off spaghetti off every surface and a lot of body parts afterwards. They can’t say my name yet, but they say Ena, which is good enough for me :-D

I took lots of photos and even video skyped with Gergö once. One video I took I shared with my family: It’s of one niece helping her sister put on pants. My sister still doesn’t want to raise YouTube stars, which is understandable. But also a bit of a pity with material like that.


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 ;-)

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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:

pawlatschen

We wandered into town, enjoying the Budapest feeling.

trabant

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.

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Mon père nous a rendu visite

My dad and his partner arrived on Ascension Thursday by car. They had visited family in Germany before coming to us, so the trip wasn’t as long as it sounds. For the record: our address doesn’t appear to be in his satnav, though you can find us on google maps. They both had been to Paris before, so there were no urgent tourist needs to take care of, just a couple of days exploring.

I suggested the fabric stores that are on the was to Sacre Cœur. Sacre Cœur is one of the things Gergö hadn’t yet seen, and Greta sews and does upcycling. Besides there is a street with lots of guitar shops nearby that my dad was going to check out in the meantime, accompanied by Gergö, who still claims he really wants a trumpet.

We had impressed our visitors with the cheese selection and resulting smell of our fridge, but on our wander around Paris, we smelled a fromagerie with even more impressive stuff, sitting outside in a showcase. We were all convinced that most of these wouldn’t/couldn’t be sold in Austrian cheese stores.

fromage

After an extensive stroll through Paris we had a little rest in jardin Luxembourg and afterwards walked to the quartier latin by way of the Panthéon. It’s a couple of streets surrounding a square with street musicians. Every place is full of tourists looking for food and beer.

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street art in quartier latin

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interesting façades at the bottom of rue mouffetard, which is the french word for skunk and *exactly* sounds like it.

Last time Gergö and I visited the street we went to a Chinese restaurant that serves noodles. The ones that are made by pulling and rolling dough. You can have them in a soup or fried. That’s it. You choose an entrée, and what kind of meat you want to have with it (or the vegetarian option) and that’s it. Like a lot of places it was tiny and full. To my surprise we were sat between two sets of French people.

When Gergö and I went there last time, we decided for our next visit we were going to try either the Armenian-Persian restaurant or the Afro-Caribbean place. The Afro-Caribbean place had outdoor seating, so we went for that. In a long standing family tradition we all ordered different kinds of dishes to get a maximum of tasting options. I think all of them contained peanuts. The waiter impressed us with his english skills, but wouldn’t tell us the secret ingredient to the coconut pudding.

It’s something that Greta dearly misses from Austrian patisseries, but that I proudly showed of in my regular café: You can order a café or thé gourmand and get your hot beverage with a selection of tiny cakes or pastries. No need to choose a single one, you can try them all. It was the only time she took a photo of her food. Dad asked if I’m embarassed by this behaviour, which seems odd, seeing that he claims to read my blog…

I have no shame whatsoever where photos are concerned. I only hold back if there are signs.

For Saturday we went to the great big flea market of st ouen. They both had been before, but with a group of friends who claimed to know their way around but actually didn’t. So they mostly saw the stalls selling cheap t-shirts and jeans, and not the actual flea markets.

We went to marché Dauphine, which has the Ufo, the antiques, the books and music and vintage clothes. It’s all very pricey, but interesting to look at. Also, there’s a Lucky Luke cardbord cutout.

Luck Horst

Luck Horst

We wondered about this item for a while:

mystery antique

One guess was that it’s for combing raw wool. It turns out, that when I go to this market with serious looking grown  ups, the dealers don’t just grumpily ignore my presence. A very friendly antiques vendor explained that the tool is for making latex balloons. There are lots of small colour spots all over the wood from the balloons and it’s coated in the powder that is used to keep the latex from sticking.

Marché Dauphine is more for looking, marché Vernaison across the street also has antiques, but more small stuff, more junk. It’s easier to take photos, too.

We didn’t buy doll parts, but Greta found a silver spoon she is going to forge into a bracelet. It’s the third time I visited the market and I still haven’t schlepped home any furniture, I’m really proud of myself. I bought linen trousers though, on my way out. The vendor never even interrupted her phone call, even while she was trying to upsell. It was impressive to watch.

My dad wanted to leave really early on Sunday, so they’d manage to avoid the traffic jams they encountered on their way to us. The plan was for them to get up at the ungodly hour of 6:30 (I think, my brain refuses to memorise these times) and to leave right away, getting breakfast on the road. I really wanted to say goodbye and make coffee for Greta. She is not a morning person and it seemed the least I could do, if she was going to have to get up at this time.

At some point in the night I woke up and was convinced I had overslept and they were up already. Even though it was still dark outside. Well, how would I know if it’s light or dark at 6:30? I was so sure of having overslept though, that I didn’t even check my phone for the time. I staggered into the living room, only to be told to go back to sleep by my dad. Next time I woke up it was because of the alarm my dad had set. I can inform you that it’s light outside in May at 6:30. But I don’t know what to do with that information, to be honest.


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!

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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.

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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!