Thursday, 22 March 2012

A presto!


Time for another message :-)
apropos message: the comment-function has disabled due to my absence until April. It will be back to normal as soon as I return from my vacation. Thank you for your patience!

Is it just me or has the City of Vienna been really attractive today?
All those many attractive, happy people in the street.
Oh, I see it's the 20°C that make a huge difference. It's Spring!

My favourite springy colours:
Shirts that kept me busy last night.
Wolford leggings hide white legs ...

... while flower bouquets hide ...
... brainless shop-window mannequins?!

When did they lose their head?

However, bouquest seem to be à la mode these days:
I am probably going miss those in bloom:
Old-school readers know what great potential these green leaves include.

After last year's rather boring white/yellow-combo, I hope for something more exciting, maybe some hardcore colour-blocking, just like 2010?

As I already posted before: see you in April, this time for real. :-)
xo Paula

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

The Next Adventure

Foto: Studiosus
Well, hello Ragazzi!

I am ususally not a big fan of embedded videos, but since I am over the top already, lets share some Adriano Celentano:

Enough of the snow! I am heading south, visiting the island where fumes escape from the mountain:
Mt Etna has been quite busy erupting this year. Tons of stereotypes are on my mind when thinking of Sicily. I have the feeling that Sicily is not quite the Italy I know, but something else and definitely not like this. Or maybe...?

Ciao and see you again in April!

PS: I will disable the comment-function from Friday on. Commenting will re-open April 2nd.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Melting Snow and Burning Wood

I finally managed to upload the photos from last weekend. When we arrived at the parking lot at the foot of the mountain, it looked like the parking deck at IKEA two weeks before Christmas: packed:
I saw the cars from another point of view than usual: All those people who drove here were up in the mountain area and the rescue crew could only hope for them to return safe and sound at their cars this day or the following day (depending on their plans, if they plan on staying in a hut overnight or not). To me this sight ressembled quite a burden for the volunteers from the mountain-rescue team.
You can also see that spring has arrived in the valley. I did not expect the tons of snow 800m above from here it looked like this:
One of the guys of the crew had digged these steep steps, they reminded me of step-aerobic!
The view when you step out of the hut - snow at eye-level (5'10''!)
Inside it looked like this. I took the photo through the hatch in the ceiling which lead to mattresses on the floor under the roof.
A view out of the window under the roof where we slept.
The view from the "observation window".

I could watch the people passing by for hours. It felt just like in a street-café in Paris, where all seats are turned towards the street, so everyone can watch those people walking by.
His eyes followed those mountaineers who chose the wrong side of the mountain at the wrong time of the day. (too late - riscing avalanches)

He is standing at the spot where most of the interviews took place. In the sun. It was so bright, we all had to wear sunglasses. The brightness of the light literally burnt the eyes. I guess I consumed a veritable light-therapy during my stay. I feel so energized, the intense light might play a role. Here you can see how bright the reflection of the snow (no direct sunlight) blinded us inside the hut:
Dishwashing with melted snow-water
The hot oven melts the snow, in front you see the sieve with a coffee-filter - we used it to filter water for tea. The snow water is actually quite dirty! Snow looks clean, but it isn't.
There used to be a telephone with a crank
The surroundings ...
The second popular mountain: Rax.
I liked looking at it and seeing those glasing slopes. Lots of ice, no doubt!
Under no circumstanced would I want to hike there. 5 Hungarians called for rescue yesterday evening. The mountain rescue team from the Rax found them after hours of searching, around midnight.
You have no clue what's going on over there when looking at it in the peaceful afternoon sunlight.
From time to time I had to escape the bright sunlight (it is quite tiring). The portait shows Mr. Krempel, patron of the hut, pioneer in the mountain rescue initiatives in the late 19th century. This hut, built in the 1930's was the first if its kind in Austria.
The roof under which we slept
(yes, this fact did impress me. The space was sooo tiny)

The skis in front of the hut invited others to pay us a visit.

People stopped by, for a short rest, a chat or simply to give a small donation in the box on the table.No major casualties have been reported, but one small: a dog that lost grip on a slippery slope got badly hurt.
The table, also seen from the hatch
My favourite observation window where one can see up to the mountain top at 2000m. Unfortunately they inserted new plastic windows in this 1930's architecture jewel.

The most beloved obervation window seen from the outside.
This picture was taken on our way up to the hut. I was surprised, how lovely the Schneeberg can be. The popular front (south I guess) of the mountain is very rough and steep while the "back", is even manageble for beginners like me.
In Austria the trees find their limit at 1800m.

You can see the tree line really well.(I write "in Austria", because in countries closer to the Equator it's likely to be higher compared to Austria)
No telemark but leaving the hut, not too stable in my shoes.

The conditions (no wind, blue skies, warm temperatures) were exceptional, today the hut was hidden in fog and clouds, like most of the time.

Having read my anxieties before going there you can imagine how happy and relieved I was to experience this perfect adventure. I guess I've tasted blood and it tasted sweet.

But now it's time to get ready for Sicily! I've laid out an attractive selection of shirts and blouses in various pastel shaded, sky-blue, white and pink. Preppy Paula is on her way to visit ancient temples, churches and cliffs soon, taking in regard that Mt.Etna does not come in our way.

Sunday, 18 March 2012


A bottle of prosecco, surrounded by some of the snacks that had been carried up a mountain earlier and down a mountain later. Call it a workout.


I am back, with dozens of beautiful photos and good memories. Right not I feel like opening this bottle, to celebrate the success. Mr Paula was very excited to hear from me. Looking back I can say "Why would I not want to do this?".

As you can see at the photo, we had much more snow than the picture in Friday's postings shows (which was already a lot):
On the photo from friday's posting, you could count 9 shingles below the observation window, this weekend you could count only 2 shingles.

The observation window was the best, we watched the mountaineers walking by:
I am survior! I survived a night under this roof, without any kind of headache etc.
My toes could touch the roof and did touch it. You could only sit upright, no chance to stand upright, not even at the highest point of the roof.
Nr of people who slept here: 5
Nr of people snoring among the people who slept here: unidentified.

I am going to post more photos tomorrow, please stay tuned and thank you for thinking of me. Those of you who commented on the last posting were right: the lack of privacy was overall determining the whole experience - it lead to sleeping with bra & shirt on, since I did not know
where to change my clothes (we were all in the same room).

The spontaneous adventure (one week ago I had no idea I would spend 2 days in a mountain hut with out any sanitary fittings) came quite handy, because having mastered all of the challenges during the past two days, I can laught at this picture on tonight's news:
See the skis at the backbags of the two guys approaching Mt.Etna! Mountaineers, just like me this weekend, plus some lava as add-on.

Etna - right, that's the mountain not far away from the airport where I am supposed to land this Friday. From today's perspective it is absolutely unsure, if the airport will be open, if the flight will be changed to Palermo instead of Catania. I have to admit, actually do enjoy the uncertainty. Adventure! More adventures for me, please! Change in booking to Palermo at short notice, no problem for me! Just tell me were to go, I will be there.

Salute 2012!

Friday, 16 March 2012

Adventurous? Me??

One more night and I am going to stare at the stars, sitting in front of a mountain hut. How comes?
My follow-up project after the Filipinas in Vienna is a project on mountain rescue-teams. I will join a team this weekend and they invited me to stay over night, at 1500m in a tiny hut. (right here I would need an emoticon clenching the teeth and grinning in an insane way). No water, we will melt the snow in front of the hut. No buffet, no privacy, definitely no shower.
Mr Paula smiles and says "Great! Think of it as an adventure! "
I shrug my shoulders and say "I don't fancy adventures."

Wednesday I got the news that I won't return to the inn at the foot of the mountain in the evening but stay up on the mountain over night. Since then I've been reflecting on my approach, the so-not-adventurous approach. My new skis resting in the middle of the living room did nothing to calm my nerves. Cats would love it around here tonight, I am going to calm myself with valerian. (makes cats crazy!)

What is it?
I mean 1500m is not really a scary altitude. I have spent weeks at 1800m not long ago.

The tour is less stressful than all the tours we did over the past two years.

I will be in best company: the mountain rescue team is at my side.

It will be sunny, blue skies, warm and stay like that until sunday evening. No winter storms to fear.

What is it that makes me nervous?

First and foremost, I go on this trip on my own. No Mr Paula included. After 12 years of twosomeness, it feels uncomfortable to do this trip on my own, even when someone will pick me up tomorrow morning and be my company until we arrive at the hut.

Second, my absolutely irrational fear to starve overnight. It has always been like that. I remember New Year's Eve-Parties with food that would have lasted for 3 parties times 2. My mother used to say "You won't starve at New Year's Eve!"
I will have to carry all the food I will need for 30 hours up that mountain. Plus gifts (I don't want to arrive without a gift, chocolate and cookies should please everyone up there), toothbrush, one shirt for the next day, slippers for the hut and the whole recording equipment.
The equipment for a 4 day skiing-trip: left and right: Mrs Paula, middle: Mr. Paula.
Not pictured: the backbag with all the foods, drinks and rescue-avalanche-set.
All these suitcases and bags are going to stay here, I will leave with nothing but a mere backbag.

Which leads to third: this isn't just a trip but also work. I am usually quite nervous before leaving the city for interviews, because a lot depends on those interviews. I mean, I am doing a whole trip just to do some interviews. (which is not exactly true this time)

Which leads to forth: the whole new experience.
The last time I've slept in a mountain hut with no privacy in a communal room was in 1988, on a field trip with my schoolmates. Since then inns, hotels and hostels with private rooms have been our favourite places to sleep.

A nice place to wake up, the room comes with a view - Grand Hotel Panhans at the Semmering

Mr Paula and I decided to repeat the ski-mountaineering course earlier this year, just because the advanced course comes with a night at a mountain hut instead of the inn.

I feel like entering a new level, the next level. And at the same time I am aware that this is something thousands of people do in Austria and all over the world: weekend after weekend: sleeping in mountain huts. Well, I must take into consideration that I am the Princess and the Pea and you know that the Princess needs. A good night's rest.
This is the reason we sticked with the beginners course
(the advanced course stays at mountain huts over night)
Inside the building, you find a private hot shower, a soft and cozy bed and continental breakfast.

What a life! Without adventures. Because the lack of sleep might cause a migraine. Because the company might get on my nerves. Because, because ... Yes, I am not even 40 and I wish my life to be more boring than the life of an average inhabitant of a nursing home.

Time for a change!
This is where I am going to sleep. (summer view)
In winter it looks like this:
I had the feeling, that 2012 would be the year where ideas were to be transformed into realities. I have no idea where this comes from (ok, it was me who suggested to do the portrait of the rescue team at their work-place, up in the mountain). One thing I realised while reflecting upon the challenge ahead is how the course (the one Mr Paula and I repeated earlier this year, the one that had exerted my last year) really had extended my boundaries. Last year I still felt overexerted after some weekends. This year it feels as if I can bear the exertion much better than last year. A 3 hour hike on a saturday afternoon used to wear me out. Last weekend I felt so fresh after the 3 hour hike up and around the Kahlenberg, I was actually surprised.

The Schneeberg is my Mount Fuji so to say. It stands close to Vienna, surrounded by plains and it's mountain top is covered with snow from lets say late September - late April. It is beautiful! I always love the sight when we drive past this mountain on the highway, heading south. And tomorrow, I am actually going to walk up that mountain. Not on the top, but still. I have tons of respect for that mountain. The mountain is also very dangerous, that's why the rescue team is there - because accidents happen on a regular basis. I might just stay at the hut and see what happens, I might go for a small tour, after having recorded all the interviews.

I guess I wanted to write this down to give you the picture, because the picture you might have had before, the one of a woman keen on adventures, is not me. I am the queen of routines, the Princess and the Pea! I love to visit the same places over and over again, Carinthia, Attersee (Macs, you are going to love that link!), Frein.

I am aware I must sound silly, having hiked up so many mountains in the past, me behaving as if I were to jump from a capsule from the stratosphere or to do a similar adventurous project. I can assure you, I am as surprised as you, how a small adventure like this can actually frighten me.

This was supposed to be the weekend for ironing (one week from today I will already be in Sicily!). Now it is going to be the weekend of the unexpected. I must say, living in a relationship for over a decade and working at the same workplaces for years does NOT enhance spontaneity.

Realising how this small adventure already stresses me, I can only tell you, there is no more time to waste! Time for adventures. If I don't start moving today, I am never going to start moving and that's it, forever. And by moving I am not talking about my legs, but my spirit! (However, it is comforting to know the legs have been prepared to support the rest.) Could this all be the backlash of a year under the sign of Staycation?

In case you wonder why I am going if I don't want to: I want to be the person that wants to go. Because I know it is going to be an adventure I will never forget and that I can do it.
Time to pack my backbag, unload the pictures from the cam and throw in some valerian.

See you next monday!

PS: Tracy, this is inside the church:


PPS: looking at the first photo, Schneeberg somehow reminds me of Mount Fuji!

PPPS: to admit fifth: I want to go to bed when I want and not when everybody else goes to bed. Yes, speaking of the Princess ...Link

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Favourite Webcam

This webcam is my favourite webcam at the moment, situated on a mountain top 1 hour drive from Vienna, 2000m above sealevel.
The two photos were taken today (sun) and yesterday (ice and snow).
Spring is gaining ground, massivly!

My special interest in this particular webcam comes with a reason. I am going to join a mountain rescue team on call this weekend. I want to find out what motivates them to not only risc their health but also to spend their free time being on call for those, who often behave carelessly. The rescue hut is not far from the chapel. I am still undecided whether I should hike there or better mountaineer with skis. Snow, no snow, plenty of snow?

I could do the trip as a one-day trip, but I feel like adding one or two nights, including steam bath, sauna and company :-) at the inn right at the foot of the mountain. So we can go for a nice hike the next day, free from any project-work. No matter how interesting my projects often are, they are tense and the opposite of leisure time.

After the Nasenweg up the Leopoldsberg last Saturday, the Schneeberg will be another classic destination on my not-yet-written-list. Both famous for the Viennese since the 19th century and even before that! More classics to follow in 2012!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Photo Safari

Yesterday was the day: my youngest niece was invited to joins us at a Photo Safari. It was entertaining, a little educational, came with duck-feeding (not sure if this is allowed though) and the feeling that my niece will more likely remember the golden statue as "The Golden Man" and not as Johann Strauss. The parenthesis was Strauss, I needed an excuse to finish the safari at the Café Dommayer where Johann Strauss played his public debut, a waltz, for sure!

The weather could have been nicer, but at least it stayed dry. A few hours later, when we left my sisters place, my youngest niece was jumping up and down in front of the television set, playing with the WII. She loves to move! Mr Paula and I got tired just from watching her. Such a bundle of energy. Apropos energy: This song revives my energies in an instant. So cheerful! Parks and Recreation Theme Song And even more cheerful with the cast.

No familiar guys.

One cute anecdote: we sat down for lunch. A woman next to us was drinking a cup of coffee and reading newspapers. Half an hour later the woman was still sitting there and my niece leanded over towards us and whispered "the woman is still here, she just had one cup of coffee, why doesn't she leave".
It is true, the former Café had turned into a Café-Restaurant, which means much shorter durations of stays compared to typical Caféhaus-visitors, who sit for hours over a cup of coffee, sometimes just a "Kleiner Schwarzer" (Espresso).
I laughed at explained her that we are the ones who behave oddly, because the real Caféhaus-visitor never visit a Café to satisfy his /her hunger like we do, but to spend hours at the Café. Being alone, but reading the newspapers in company, just like the women next to us did.

The Photo Safari might be the beginning of a new series, a bicycle-safari later this year, might be fun, too!

PS: the hedgehogs had to go, it's spring! (even when the photos try to convince you otherwise)