Sunday, October 30, 2005

Ein Steirischer Tag

"A Styrian Day"
Ingrid an Alois invited us over for coffee and home-made apple strudel Ingrid's Apfelstrudel Next we headed to a block party on Andrea and Jakob 's street for some Sturm (a "young wine" best described as somewhere between a juice and wine. It is in season for September and October) and heiβe Kastaine (another name for Chestnuts, Kastaine are grown in Austria and are smaller than the Maroni which are grown in Italy)

After plenty of Sturm (pronounced "schtoo-uhrm") we went to a local AIDS fundraiser with multiple performances. The chorus that Alois and Jakob sing in performed twice. *David is going to join the chorus as second bass!
This particular performance fell under the "so bad, it's good" category.
After the concert we ate Belegtes Brot, drank beer, and chatted in "Germ-english." Jakob then lead a 4-person yodele session. It sounded so amazing! Ingrid was the soprano and David was the bass. A photo just could not capture the moment, what a unique experience!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Mobile Landscape

My dad originally sent me this article about how researchers at MIT have collaborated with a major cell network in Graz to map cell phone usage. Now that I'm more familiar with the city I know where the the huge red bump on this map is... the university dorms. That tells you even more than the article about the age of the cell phone users!
The map is oriented with East at the topThere is an exhibit at the Stadt Museum mapping the real-time use of cell phones in Graz. If you stand and look at this screen long enough you can see how the degree of usage is changing all over the city.
This image is oriented with North at the top.

Signs of improvement

Our German has improved over the last month. We've been exercising our listening skills by renting our favorite movies dubbed in German! It's quite effective.
Now we hear sentences like: gekfjdife-dfkd-dkjoiwewei-nvnvie-fiei-difjeijirfjn-fjdwoeoieun-fnvnie-slei-kjnei-znne
Where as before it sounded like: gekfjdifedfkddkjoiweweinvnviefieidifjeijirfjn-fjdwoeoieunfnvniesleikjneiznne
Krieg der Stern: Neue Hoffnung (Star Wars: A New Hope)

We are taking a German class at the University. I can appreciate why Austrians have difficulty understanding us when we speak German. The students from Spain and Italy have such heavy accents that I can't even understand their German! Of course, speaking is the most difficult, listening and reading is getting a bit easier.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The hills are alive...

We were invited to join Ingrid (the administrator for David's lab), her husband, Alois, and her brother, Werner, for a hike. We climbed up "Rote Wand" which means "red wall."
It was a gorgeous fall day: clear sky, bright sun, warm breeze, with the crisp scent of leaves. The trail we took up is called...

We come across an animal called a "Steinbock." I don't think we have them in the USA, it is a relative of a goat, and the English name is "Ibex." It is the animal that the zodiac sign Capricorn is named after.

After going to the top, we stop at a hut to relax

Everyone else ordered "Diperl" so we figured we would try it too. It is dry and slightly sweet with a little bit of alcohol. The atmosphere at the hut was great! People of all ages relaxing in the sunshine after a good workout. Some people were playing traditional Styrian music with a guitar and an accordion.

After our hike we went to dinner at the Gasthaus Willingshofer in the small village of Gassen and met up with more of their friends. The atmosphere was friendly and it was fun to communicate with the natives. The food was comforting and we tried several local wines. After dinner everyone sat around chatting, including the owner of the inn, for hours. We finally got home around midnight... and today as I write this, we are pleasantly exhausted.

Friday, October 21, 2005


Of course, David found peeps to kick footbag with in Graz. It's been quite chilly lately, however today was a balmy 60 degrees! A friendly shred in the park was the perfect ending to the week. Some things in life have no language barrier.

People, Places, Property

Scenes from around Graz:
Heiße Maroni (roasted chestnuts) are in season.
There are little stands all over the city. I'm familiar with the Christmas song "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire" but never had one...
I think they are a bit of an aquired taste. Better the second time, but DO NOT eat them without water, they're very dry! I think the idea is more romantic than the reality, but peeps sure love them around here.

Robin's favorite alley in Graz

Six mornings a week there is a farmer's market

NYC is not the only place peeps breakdance in the street for money
A clever way to advertise olive oil

The Kunsthaus is described as "a giant sea slug"

The Mur Insel has a performance area and a bar