We are back in Reykjavik after a wonderfully relaxed and snowy trip up north. Bjarni used to spend most summers as a child in Sauðárkrókur with his grand parents, and it has become my favorite destination in Iceland with stunning nature, lots of horses and the always loving grand parents Alda & Egill.
We made it to Reykjavik two days ago, where it smells refreshingly of ocean. Ahh, I like it! It's cold; the sun rises around 11.30 and sets at 15.30. So far we have been eating Icelandic hotdogs, which I have been craving for in quite a while, buying the last christmas presents and napping. Today we are heading up north to Saudakrokur to spend Christmas with the grand parents. We will be offline until returning to Reykjavik, so this is the time to wish you all a very merry Christmas!
I'm not really the most frequent blogger at the moment, which I appologize. School has been a little crazy lately, but yesterday I finished the last lecture before Christmas (the professor brought snacks, soft drinks and a bottle of VODKA to celebrate! Haven't experienced that before.. ) So now I have slowed down a bit (there are still a couple of papers I should work on), and I enjoooy having a little more time to do christmas related activities: Today I'm baking and I finished a sewing project with a couple of christmas girls I started earlier in the month. Temperatures has dropped to below zero and turned puddles into ice. It snowed over the weekend. It's perfect for the season and the Christmas mood around here. We are heading off to Iceland on Monday, and are very excited to spent two relaxed weeks in good company up north.
I very rarely watch TV here in Austria, because almost everything is in German, which I can only take in a limited amount of doses. After weeks of not watching anything but occasional CNN news I turned it on last night to find a program about Danes, the supposedly happiest people in the world. I was switching between finding the whole phenomenon a bit overrated and missing home.
It's not even December yet, but Vienna surely is already dressed like it. They have turned on all the Christmas lights, put up Christmas trees on public squares and last weekend the famous Christmas markets opened throughout the city. I'll be back later with more explanation and for sure more pictures, but these were some of the impressions we got when visiting the Christmas market in front of the city hall (the big building in the first picture) the other night to get a glass of the steaming hot punsch and soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
When living in the US I developed a strange fascination for country music and the whole culture surrounding it. Actually this might seem odd considering the fact that we stayed in a bustling metropol like LA and not Nashville or the like. Anyhow, we would drive to these country themed clubs outside of LA, where they were serving cheese burgers and Budweisers while big crowds wearing cowboy boots, cowboy hats and fringe leather jackets were line dancing. It was an amazing insight into a culture that affirmed some of the stereotypical images one (read: I) had about Americans. And the music somehow slowly growed on me. We would come across it when roadtripping and flipping through the radio stations. Also we once attended a party for international students at USC with square dance, which was so much fun.
After arriving to Vienna I knew I had to sign up for some kind of activities to meet people and to do something FUN. I remembered my friend Christina back in Copenhagen, who joined a line dance-class and always talked vividly about it. So after considering other activities, I thought, oh what the heck, it's time to give it a try. And so I signed up for a linedance/square dance course and started about a month ago. Every Thursday night I show up to Kopetsky's Tanzschule, where I'm joined by women, who are about twice my age and one guy (who by the way is always wearing rolled up jeans, tight and very shiny cowboy boots and a toupe..). When not dancing the women are smoking cigarets - and lots of them - in the lobby. The teacher or rather the caller is a man in his 60s wearing a cowboy hat, who make the ladies giggle. I don't understand his jokes in German... He is teaching us to dance line dance to this song. Now when I listen to it, I can't even understand how it's possible to dance to it. It's SO slow!! But somehow it works out.
When dancing we can look across the street into the building on the other side, where a pilates institute is located. There we can see young women sliding elegantly back and forth. And then I'm thinking: what am I doing here with all these chain-smoking ladies and a man with a toupe, dancing something I remotely connect with line dance? I do spend a great deal of time when I'm there those Thursday nights laughing inside myself of the whole situation. If anything I guess I could have told myself that a Wiener walzer class might be more appropriate in Vienna.
Now check out this video for the world's longest line dance. Yehaaaw!
A lady face placed atop the entrance of an apartment building around the corner and the Danube canal in beautiful fall colors. The last picture is a couple of weeks old. These days we have mostly grey skies and rain.
Next Tuesday is St. Martin's Day, which is celebrated in Denmark by eating goose or duck along with some traditional Danish side dishes, which, among younger generations, are not eaten very often. I haven't celebrated the day for years (much like a lot of other Danes), but this year we decided to do something about it, and invited a couple of Danes over for the traditional dinner. It was a crash course in the making of all these traditional dishes that I otherwise have very little experience with, and I felt much like a house wife wearing my apron stuffing the big goose and timing the potatoes with the red cabbage and the sauce. Oh the sauce! Very important part of the meal. It was impossible to find the brown coloring, which is ESSENTIAL to getting the proper color of the sauce, so it didn't look quite right. But otherwise I think everything turned out quite good, and it was fun hanging out with the Danes for a change.
Remember Lola? Well, Ines left for a conference in Scotland for a couple of days, and hence we have the enjoyable company of our fetch crazy four legged friend. Lola is quite a cosmopolitan dog, who have lived in Germany, Denmark, America and now Austria. In spite of her international exposure we are confident Lola is a German-thinking kind of dog, so this turns out to be an excellent chance for us to practice our German. Lola is not frowning upon any mistakes. No, her strategy is to wipe her tail, which makes us feel like native German speakers...
And on a dog related note, check out this video :)
Greetings from an incredibly lazy Saturday afternoon in Vienna, where Bjarni is napping, and I should be working on a paper with an upcoming deadline, but keep procastinating (blogging included).. But hey it's Saturday, and we have a long weekend ahead of us, since Monday is Austrian national day (hence everything is closed). So taking it slow, should be completely fine, right?! I went to our local farmers market in the morning. Being in one of "immigrant" neighborhoods the market has a Turkish/Eastern European flair, which is quite neat. I happened to fall into conversation with the guys at one of the stands, who insisted that I should not pay for the avocado, I wanted to buy, when they heard I was "visiting" from Denmark. "No no, let me please pay for it." "You want some bananas? Take some bananas!!". I kindly refused, but couldn't resist when they offered to pose for a picture. Nice guys.
What's great about living in Vienna, is the fact that I can jump on a plane and be back home within an hour and a half! It's so ridiculously easy compared with the pain of traveling from the American west coast to Scandinavia. So, Friday I went back home for the first time after moving to Austria to meet my new nephew and to spent some time with the whole family for two and half intense days. It was GREAT to be see everybody again, and reflect a bit on life in Vienna from a distance. Weather was great and the fall colors amazing. Vienna is not so colorful - yet. I am definitely going to take advantage of the fairly cheap air fares again, so I can visit soooon.
Last week we had a couple of days with 27 degrees (80F). I was sitting outside at a cafe at 9pm in a T-shirt. And then all of a sudden temperatures dropped with what 20 degrees?! Today I have been wearing my hat and gloves. Talk about weather change! They even predicted possible snow fall next week, but now it seems like they have downgraded it to showers. Thank you for that. I'm not quite ready for winter yet.
Today our LA friends Cynthia and Tom made a stop in Vienna, and it was so much fun to see them again. We know them through USC, where Cynthia was my English teacher. They are of course also Ziggy's parents; our all time favorite golden retriever, which we have been taking care of some times when Cynthia and Tom have been out of town. We spent the day walking though the city, eating cake and drinking melange, and catching up on USC matters such as football and the spouses' club. They were so sweet to bring us nice presents: Bulgarian wine, a USC keyring, stickers and a beanie for Bjarni. The latter especially was an immediat hit for poor Bjarni, who has been hit by an evil cold. They brought me a very nice necklace with a Sacagawea dollar coin, a California magnet and cute earrings from Spain (now I just need to get my ears pierced..). So sweet of them! They also brought along a package from Harry and Kiss, who took over our old apartment, with our last mail and a book. Turns out I'm scheduled for a dentist appointment later this month... I suppose I have a good excuse for not showing up. Anyhow, we hope to see Cynthia, Tom AND Ziggy again back in LA before too long.