Friday, 31 December 2010

Lake Side

There are scenic cultural highlights around, but it is still nature that catches my eye

On our way home from the mall we passed a lake which is frozen, horray!

The car shoveled the snow from the lake, the car is famous in Austria: FIAT Panda. The 4x4 version conquers every mountain! Isn't it cute what such a small car can do? I mean the lake is not so small ...

People leave their shoes on the shelf and put on their skates.

The skating Club provides a smooth surface and the shelf, skating is free.

Oh, the two houses in the background, we go and check them out!

The moment we got close to the shore a group arrived, carrying boxes with foods and drinks for tonight. The chimney was smoking, perfect winter wonderland!

I imagine this property being very privileged, away from the village but wait til the lake is frozen, then everyone can come close and take pictures ;-)

Shadows on the lake, black G-bag with Paula

During the sommer months, people walk here to get to the other strand.

You probably get the idea how enjoyable our visit is. I went for a brief walk, saying hello to nearby neighbours (everyone in a circle of 1km is considered being a neighbour here).
On my way everyone greeted, wishing a Happy New Year and wishing health, everyone was so happy! Adult sons with their parents on the balcony, saying goodbye to the old year. It's this sunny attitude that amazes me everytime we return to Carinthia. We, coming grom the big city feel so grumpy. It is like a scene in 30ROCK where Liz Lemon is really grumpy and meets all those nice people from the countryside and she wants to be like them, she hates herself for being so grumpy. I can identify with Liz. Even though this episode has been made up in my mind.

Well, back to the sunny Carinthians. On the other hand, the people in Carinthia vote for the right party. The very right party. Which troubles the rest of Austria.

Mr Paula might be troubled when he gets to hear what the neighbour told me: her sons are very excited because they are going to shoot tonight. Mr Paula's soul is probably the soul of a dog: he hates noise. Tonight is going to be really loud. And next week there will be a Perchten event. 600 Pertchten are to be expected. They cut off braids. The neighbour recommended tucking the braid under the shawl and jacket.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Just do it!

Just do it - I loved this slogan during my time as a student. It was so motivating. Especially since I tend to overanalyze many things.

I just did it, again! I started ski touring at age 37.

Today on the mountain I met an elderly lady with a silver-grey bob and a wide smile on her face. I did recognize her from yesterday when I saw her on her skis, too. Tomorrow she will be up on the mountain on her skis, again.. 30 years from today I want to be just like this lady: happy, healthy and strong enough to go on a ski tour, walking up the mountains and enjoying a lovely winter day.

Winter used to be the time of year, we wished to be over soon. Not anymore!

No, this is NOT the elderly lady but me!

There are many elderly people ski-touring. Retired men and smiling elderly ladies. Mr Paula and I kicked off this new hobby in our 10th year. It is a hobby we can grow old on together - ignoring global warming 20 years from today ...

PS: the sparkle of the icy snow is intriguing for anyone who falls for sparkling like I do :-)

PPS: right now there is discussion going on about ski-touring:

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Sore Muscles vs Chairlift

I am so used to these markings. Are they common all over the globe?

Mr Paula suggested we walk the second mountain by foot. Since the snow is frozen it is easy to walk there without sinking into the snow.

The ski-region we discovered today reminds me of the mountain where I started skiing in ground school. Calm and at ease. No loudspeakers outside the mountain huts, contaminating the air with trashy music. I was surprised to find out calm ski regions still exist in 2010.

We left the chairlift out and when you leave out the chairlift, you get to see a lot!

More eye candy: more frozen water

We made 800m up and down, 1600 in total. *backslapping* That way we did our best to wake up with sore muscles by tomorrow.

This was not the only animal that surprised us. Deer crossed our path, they jumped from one side to the other, one after the other ... it is fun, looking at the traces in the snow.

In case you know the movie "New in Town", I have been thinking about that movie lately, since everything around here seems so familial!

Around 4pm, before sunset

At the bottom of the mountain aprés-ski gets usually crowded with tipsy and drunken tourists. Around here the locals gather inside and around the small hut. No noise but a homely atmosphere.

Good night!

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Frozen Water and Copper Pans

Beate, Vix and Jeanne commented, how much they appreciate the tours I offer here, online. I am not so sure if you also appreciate cold, basic tours, showing rarely any culture but lots of nature.

Here we go:

View through one of the kitchen windows

For the first time in my adult life I left Vienna after Christmas and went on a vacation. I usually spend the weeks between Christmas and January 6th (a holiday in Austria) at work, organizing everything and getting ready for the new year. Not this year!

This is the view towards the kitchen winows to the left

We stay at Friend B's house in the Carinthian country side and it is the first time we visit her place during holidays. We expected everything to be really crowded but it seems quite relaxed which is good.
My favourite photo of today: A relaxed parking lot in the neighbour-valley.
This is how I imagine Alaska to be.

The parking lot at 1000m above sea-level. Can you see the three people walking on their skis? That's how we do it, too! Since Mr Paula and I started ski touring in February 2010, we decided to burn some kcals after the holidays and walk up the hills!

Ski touring is like alpine skiing without the lift: you walk up the hill and ski downhill, slowly and safely. The whole experience is not about speed like carvers experience but nature.

In case you did not notice yet, how thoughtful Mr Paula is: Today he suggested, we might just walk and check out various routes before hitting them on skis. Which was a brilliant idea since it left my with plenty of time to take pictures, both hands free.

The test-run proved, we could easily WALK the tours by foot, without skis, since the snow is frozen and we would not sink in too deep. The reason you would still chose to put on the skis is simply because you burn way more kcal with the heavy skiing boots and skis on your feet. Haha.
The reason, why would put on the skis, is because it only takes you a few minutes to get downhill which leaves you with more time for a hot chocolate before dinner time.

Passing this pond, my mind wanders, too:

I did not know how much like water in any winter scenery.

It is very peaceful and inspiring to look at.

On our way back to the car, we passed the skiiing-school:

A bear! And adults, dancing with their hands in the air.
And lot of tiny helmets with kids underneath.

This scene reminds me a lot of
the group in Schönbrunn last week. You can meet the bizarre everywhere, but it was cute to look at and fun!

Now I am off to the kitchen which is actually the place where I am sitting right now, typing this, farmer's houses kitchens are huge! Two tables, 2 ovens ... heaven!
I brought the jamie Christmas-magzine with me and today I bought red beets. I have never cooked red beets before. Small adventures so to say.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Ease and Uneasiness

Looking at this pattern I get a feeling of unease.

The pattern on the bag is just a mirroring of the logo. Theoretically, this could be fun to look at, but somehow it disturbs me. Does this pattern touch the John Forbes Nash in me? Never mind! The bag will soon be history, since I will tuck the Advent wreath in it and throw it in the dust bin. Shoo! Shoo!

Earlier the same day I've caught employees, leaving a big department store at the back door, just a few minutes after the closing hour. Some women immediately light a cigarette, their boyfriends welcome them, they chat and relaxe. Ease. I like to catch that moment, when the sales people leave their universe and become humane at the end of the day.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

What Else Could You Wish for?

I've just returned form Christmas Eve's family reunion. The pink flower on my head accompanied me throughout the day, we had a good time and bemused quite some people. Colour is rarely spotted late december.

I took these two photos right after returning home. Not so long ago, I asked Lisa/LPC for advice on fake pearls other than "white" and she gave pinkish pearls green light. Here they are, I found them under the Christmas tree:

Christmas Eve already starts around noon at friend B's home, where the elective affinity meets year after year and continues with my family late afternoon. Today we hugged, we sang, ate, kissed and smiled a lot. I could not wish for more.

I wish you a joyful Christmas!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Pieter Bruegel Revisited - Schönbrunn

I probably shoo away prospective readers because I write postings that are beyond the average attention-span of 96 sec/blog.
Hm. Since you are far from being average, I dare posting another long posting. hehe.

Beate from Sunday in Bed commented how she likes to stroll around Vienna via this blog.
Beate, diesmal kannst du dich tief unter deine Decke kuscheln, denn es wird kalt!

Today I take you to the most visited tourist attraction in Austria and one of the most visited tourist attractions in the world: Schönbrunn. Schönbrunn is a Palace, a park and a fountain.

Me, faking a fir tree

Not an installation by Christo but simple mantles which protect the statues from the cold.

We don't support joggers...

... but rather take our time and reflect on the cold while watching ducks.

The Chinese group kind of scared us. They took pictures of us, especially from the kids:

... but on the other hand: we took pictures of them, too!
The waving lady was singing, she actually had a great voice.
Can you see the red spots in the back? The whole group was wearing those red scarfs with stichery "Christmas Vienna"

Ok, so there I am, at the major tourist spot in Vienna, taking pictures.

It is very very rare to see the whole ground covered with snow, for days.

*** I guess this is the moment, the average attention spam is over ***

On our way home we pass the Palmenhaus, a magnificicent glasshouse:

This was the moment I was on cloud nine. I loved the sight so much. Sun, snow, family and Schönbrunn. All I need!

Can you see the sparkles in the snow:
The circles in the snow mark the pattern of the flowerbeds!

Why visit Paris, if you can have all the old laterns, imperial parks and everything else for half the price? (Vienna is said to offer the cheapest hotel fares, compared to other European capitals).

Time to leave the park and prepare the Kaffeejause for our relatives who came for a visit.

I am happy to
a) own a car
b) own a driving licence
c) have the courage to drive through the snow

Thanks to a), b) + c), I managed to bring along punch, cookies and a Bûche de Noel! I arrived safely at my sisters place, not without speeding up on the way. Speeding up feels good. Pushing down the gas pedal. I know, I should not be pleased. But it is a pleasant sensation after all!

The classic soft-focus imitation ...

... this picture was taken a bit too soon after returning from the cold with the lens still foggy.
My younger niece "ordered" the cake for Christmas Eve. Her wish is my command. ;-)

Later, clear sight, soooo comfy

No, this liquid in the front to the left aint a bath additive but punch-essence!

Now I am going to finish the final Christmas project:

Christmas envelopes ...

... to enclose Christmas cards

The motifs on the envelopes are clear stamps, I either fluff the motif with a powder that melts as soon as it gets hot (pink device to the left is made for that use) or I simply stamp them with black ink. Plain black japanese ink, nice!

I don't expect to post a lot until Dec.27 since I will busy and offline. I'll see. Thank you for staying in touch !

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Home Stretch

Zielgerade. Home Stretch (thank you Vix for the introduction to this term!)
Only 6 more days until Christmas Eve. I am glad I opened the Christmas season early this year. Because I enjoy every single day and I guess I will be a bit sentimental once the season is over.

One more candle to light!

Though I already caught myself pinching a bit from the herring salad which is traditionally a dish AFTER Christmas. I will stop praising this season since some of your are not in the mood or don't find the time to get into the mood.

This is inside the largest pawn shop in Vienna. Can this be called a shop? I'd rather say it's a pawn palais since the shop it actually is located inside a palais, founded in 1707. The palais as seen has been opened in 1901:

"Kaiser Franz Joseph selbst nahm die feierliche Eröffnung vor. Die Räumlichkeiten entsprachen bereits damals allen Anforderungen eines großen Auktionshauses; in den weitläufigen Schauräumen und Salons traf sich die elegante Auktionsgesellschaft. "

Mr Paula is running errands (thanks to Janet, who lives in The Gardener's Cottage, I picked up this term on her blog). The streets will be very busy, later this afternoon.

Several bikes prove: I am not the only one riding it these days

So much I adore their products (LUSH), I keep them away from my skin since they do nothing but harm to my skin:

This is what works for me!

In the supermarket I finally spotted this gift:

Can you imagine the love, peace and happiness, you bring to your sister's or brother's house on Christmas Eve when giving this saxophon to your niece or nephew? I doublechecked: this is an actual saxophon, not a PS III-device. *hooot*

I am off to the kitchen, tomorrow a 11pax tea will take place at my sister's house, I am bringing cookies and cake. I will listen to my favourite radio programme and later on I will start my 3rd attempt for lasting curls. Gambare!

I hope you are all well and leave the sore throats and cold to others this year!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Snow and Icicles

Every endeavour has been made to present ephemeral highlights of the day to you. It's good to be prepared!

Yesterday evening my patient bike awaited me, ready to take me to my 2nd job's company's Christmas party.

Friend A. already awaited me. We share our passion for riding the bike all year round. She already touched ground twice this winter but I can assure your: when she falls, she does it like a karate-queen. No blessings and many people gathering around her.

She curiously watched how other people were working on their timbre, that kind of rough woman's voice:The image of a cigarette is somehow disturbing, no?

Believe me, I was the only one taking pictures during the party. Sort of uncool behaviour. In moments like this (taking tourist-snapshots among colleagues), it helps connecting with the internalized Japanese-self or, lets say, with Friend Y, who would never ever leave her camera at home!)

The party took place in a recording studio. People were standing there, everywhere. It was crowded the way I imagine an airport when flights get cancelled. I was not able to take pictures without showing their faces so I rather not publish them. But next to the venue was a deserted recording studio. Calm. Quiet. Deserted. The wallpaintings date back from the 1930's, I guess.

Neat detail: the stool on top of the piano and the clock on the wall in the back.

Back to the party ...

Fogged up white wine glasses in pink spotlight.

As you can see, the wines were served at correct temperatures. Speaking of temperatures: Cold weather (-0°C) + lasting snow is a rather rare event in Vienna. Usually it is either cold + dry or wet + warm which means snow usually wont last longer than a few hours in the morning. That's why I can't stop taking those pictures:

While Friend A. and I enjoyed our wine in the warmth, other people met outside last night:
This is the place I visit during my lunch break, the Gastgarten (outdoor restaurant area) received a prize this summer for the best designed outdoor restaurant area. I can assure you, the place doesn't lose a bit during winter season:

Speaking of colours: white, red and ebony, how good can you go!

This is exactly the spot where my feet were covered with powder snow (first picture on top!)

Let me close with a close up:

EDIT a few hours later:
Greetings from my favourite hour, l'heure bleue (captured today at 4.20pm). The small white spot is the moon.