Saturday, 28 January 2012

One Word: Amazing.

How lucky we are!
The weather-forecast said clouds, snow and wind, but we had blue skies, no wind and sun til it set.
Now we are off to a Cocktail, so I will have to leave you with the pictures, but trust me: they tell the story very well.

Like last weekend, no snow in Vienna, green fields around Vienna and tons of snow behind the Semmering-Mountain.

Kreuzschober/Mürzzuschlag: 2,5 hours of schlepping up the mountain, 30 min skiing downhill. Not included: all those moments where I stopped to take photos.

Comfortable starting time: 10.30 am
Cozy soups are being served in the mountain hut.
The pit latrine. Idyllic ;-)

Skimountaineering experiences a renaissance in Austria, every year more people leave the alpine ski ressorts and visit the woods and quiet slopes.

Have a nice Weekend!

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

7 Weeks Later

And so my hair grows, and grows, and grows ...

Not that I have a bit of a problem with the fact that my style varies from wild to plain. Isn't that what good models are all about: slipping into a new identity every other day?

7 weeks after the initial haircut, my hair almost touches my shoulders. The next appointment with scissors is due in 3 weeks. My colourist/hairstylist did NOT cut the initial short haircut – I had to leave him for that, but I return for the colour. (Yes, it's complicated.)

Now, that the initial cut is done, I will let him do the maintenance. He said my bob is too plain. He has an idea what works for me. This is what my hairstylist has in mind: (this is the photo he showed me on his smartphone)

I guess I will have to dissuade him from cutting this mess into my hair.
Firstly, because this is not Madonna's hair but a wig and secondly because I actually like my "TV-News-Anchor-Woman-Me".

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Another World Behind the Mountain

Hello again!

We are back and everyone is safe and sound, including the car - conditions where quite slippery.
We arrived Saturday, 8am, these photos where taken around 7/7.30am. A beautiful morning.
More january skies here!
Icy road!
This region is called "Styrian Siberia", because it is colder than other regions nearby.
Since this winter has been really mild, the streams are far from being frozen
Styria is known for its forests and timber
Shortly after we arrived we got ready for our first tour. Since we are repeating the course for beginners, I did not listen too closely but rather paid attention to the residents:

And up we went. Last year Mr Paula and I had already walked up several hills and mountains. This year we arrived from level 0 which means no tours so far. Lucky us, the route was not too steep and the distance not too far.
When we returned home, it started snowing and over night it had snowed and rained, about 2 feet of new snow and the conditions in the mountains became really dangerous. In Austria a fantastic avalange-warning-system warns people and today it said "red flag", so no more tours for us.

I did take more pictures during the tour, but since they show other people's faces, I don't want to publish them.

Gefahr means danger, Lawine means avalanche and level 4 means that it does not need the weight of a group or even a single person to cause an avalanche - they go down by themselves on slopes with moderate inclinations. The black star on the top, left means avalanches can occur in any exposition, north, south, east, west. The shape of the region is Styria, in the middle of Austria.

The inn dates back! :-)
A super-comfy room.
We went to bed at 9pm yesterday and enjoyed every moment in this lovley room.

This was the view from the balcony today

80km northeast, in Vienna, it's 8°C and the daffodils are springing

(sorry, I can't remove the italic-formatting:)
We were not exactly disappointed, that the second tour had been cancelled, since we had yesterday's tour and the sleep-deprivation from Friday to Saturday still in our systems. When we arrived in Vienna, I jumped into my red flannel pajama, with a book under my arm and a few pages later, I slept and I slept for 3 hours! Mr Paula stayed awake but went to bed early (9pm). The snow, the fresh air, the sport, the presence of so many people and the group you spend the day with - it's all exciting and exhausting at the same time. Also I could tell that I had spent some days in bed due to a viral infection one week ago, no wonder I was glad today was a rest-day.

Another reason, why I did not shed a tear over the missed tour of today was the heavy snow: after the rain the snow became really heavy and it had already been heavy yesterday. Skiing in all-terrain and deep snow is aready a challenge for me. I don't need the extra challenge of heavy, difficult to handle snow. I am glad I handled the snow yesterday - no falling, no losing control and relieved parents, when I called them today and let them know everything went fine.
The view from the room

I am still surprised, how much the snow overwhelmed me, just looking at those photos ...
Maybe it's my new love for running, that I am not that keen on snow in 2011/2012? I used to love snow and skimountaineering and now I just sit here and can't wait for the first mild evening to lace up my running shoes. This winter everything seem to be different.

10pm, time to leave the computer!

Friday, 20 January 2012

The Choice

You could either stay at home and enjoy an elegant cup of tea or pack your tea in a thermos, together with sandwiches, dates and energy bars ....
.. and find out what a weekend in the Styrian mountains have to offer.

It's time for another skimountaineering course. I have to admit, I am not exactly what you would call highly motivated. The lack of snow in Vienna lead to a non-wintery-mood. It has been raining in the mountains this week.
How "convenient" we booked the course, no excuses! (otherwise we would of course stay away from nature and enjoy our livingroom over the weekend) Some books and the water kettle will accompany me, in case I really don't feel like exhausting myself outdoors.
Do you look forward to meeting a lot of new people you have only met once before, during theory lesson? I don't. I prefer to meet people I already know, people I like.

Enjoy your - hopefully - cozy weekend!

Monday, 16 January 2012

Exploring Excellence

At the end of an excellent winter day


How are you doing? I hope you are fine!

Over the last weeks I have been busy, I have been sick and I have been reading a lot. By a lot I mean a lot. 1 book per day. Among the books are two books on class and status, which are still on my night stand. Paul Fussell's Class is translated as "Cashmere, Cocktail Cadillac". Really? Cashmere, Coktail Cadillac? ugh.
As if the German title were not already bad enough ... the cover image tops it!

Lisa's posting on her stay in a resort hotel caused quite a stir.
She wrote about "the Others". Over 100 comments and many of the commenters referred to Fussell's book. Susan Tiner also took part in the discussion and now she is reading the same book as I and seh just recently wrote a fabulous posting on her thoughts about Class and her class and the book. I admire her ability, to write a review like she did. From what I have been reading in the Fussell book she is right about everything.

Quote Susan:
"I got busy reading Class: A Guide Through the American Status System (1983) by Paul Fussell, which although hilarious and I believe more accurate than not, is neither kind nor politically correct. There’s something in it to offend everyone. "

I would say Fussell's book is an excellent opening reading for anyone who wants to occupy him/herself with class. You miss something if you don't visit Susan's posting titled Social Anxiety! I for my part can only say that when I read Lisa's posting, I immediately thought "Class is a british/US-thing." But I was wrong. It is right here, and I am playing a part in it. All my status anxieties form the typical behaviour of the middle class women. It is indeed amazing, to be read "like an open book" in a book.

Austria is at the beginning to establish elites. The government wants to start off with an university. Maybe there will never exist any elites at all in this country. In any case, I will be prepared to know who I am dealing with!

I did not buy Fussell's book, because amazon/delivery would have taken too long ;-) Instead, I paid the public library a visit. I returned not only with books on class and status anxiety but also other books. I guess 14 or so.

Nothing warms my heart like a crowded public library on the weekend, people who rather not go shopping but provide themselves with book selections for the weekend

I dived into all kinds of books covering sicily: novels, travel guide books, books on it's history and colonialisation. And of course - M as in Mafia. Books on women who worked as drug couriers in the 1980's and the suburbian slums close to Palermo, where drugs rule every kid's life are among the really depressive books. Andrea Camilleri's books on the contrary also very informative but won't depress you. He wrote the bestseller on the pizzini, the tiny papers that have been the communication device #1 over decades until the boss of all bosses went to jail. Camilleri also writes novels, bestselling novels.
This is an entertaining novel, nothing too serious but full of atmosphere covering the Sicilian lifestyle. I almost forgot how much I love to read. I have no problems sticking to my New Year's resolution - no more internet past 10pm but now I find myself reading until 1am!!! :-o

While reading, I love to sip from a cup of tea.
Another photo that lacks white-balance-management. Forgive me!

I am still on the hunt for the perfect tea pot. For black tea, only.
I might buy on in Hamburg, isn't Hamburg known as the City of tea connaisseurs, regarding black tea, since I won't make it up to London too soon?

The green-tea-pot-supplies are all there.

One reason why I won't use the green-tea-tea-pot for black tea is it's size, it measures only 300ml, which is more than sufficient for green tea. But I love to slurp 2-3 mugs of black tea!

Between all the reading we also managed to remove all Christmas decorations.
Last photos before everything goes back into the box until Nov 2012:
Our door is white, not yellow! I am too lazy to manage the white-balance this time. ;-)
I absolutely admire Mr Paula's skills. He put the lights back into perfect order.
Those lights have been all over the windows,believe me, this is not a fake-photo but real! (fake in the sense of we only pretend the lights have ever left the box)
And he did not curse, not even once!

Looking at these photos I guess Mr Paula would do well as a volin maker. Or even volin player?
I can not imagine anybody else doing this. I would not!

And in between we prepared the photo safari, which my niece and I am going to explore as soon as it gets warmer. I took photos, Mr Paula was steering the wheel. Of course readers from Vienna will know the places. I am almost sure my niece knows none of them. Not yet!

This man had to be part of the photo safari, because the Café, where they sell my niece's favourite pastries, is the place where this man Johann Strauß - debuted with his waltzes and became famous. This statue is nowhere near the Café but close the the penguins and the Paris-km-gravure. (my niece has been to Paris once.Hmm. She might remember the visit more like a trip to Euro-Disney than to Paris though.

I do look forward to the plate of sweets and two cups if hot chocolate at the Café the end of the safari.

Oh yes, and Friend B and I nailed down our plans and finally booked our trip to Sicily! I am going to arrive one day early and spend one day on my own before the group arrives. It is our first studytrip together and my first studytrip ever. I decided not to stick my books in guide books on site but listen to a women who tells us stories about the sites instead.

My sister and I are almost done with our Hamburg-planning. There are so many hotels to choose from and we are not exactly on the same, not yet! But the Park Hyatt will always be there for us. No worries! Excellence is where we meet.

Friday, 6 January 2012

First Glance at Sicily

Am I going to visit a third-world country? What shocks me is all the dirt. The charm of a construction site everywhere I go with street view. Don't you just loathe google street view?
Now I understand, why people always say it's so tidy in Vienna. Because it is!

This is a street close to a touristic village close to Catania. Before seeing the pictures, I thought I might pay it a visit. Much acclaimed orange groves are nearby. Now I am almost sure I won't go there. Sure those pictures won't make it into any travel guide book.

To calm my nevers I "went" downtown*:
I might stay here for one night.

Ah, I already see myself - the way too stiff and rigid woman - arriving from northern Europe, arriving dwon south, in the very, VERY Mediterranean. The travel guide books write about southern equanimity. I would rather say phlegm.
Ma sigonora ...

* haha, I wrote"downton", the DVD set arrived, my mother is going to love it.