Sunday, January 26, 2014

Boy Wonder

One of the exciting aspects of the international move is the opportunity to try new things, to go on adventures we never could have by staying in Tucson.  While there have been trade-offs, challenges and "what the hell have we done?" moments, the rewards are many and often unexpected.

We've been trying to document the experience, both through this blog and our personal Facebook accounts.  Sometimes, we rely on our Jake to take the photo.  He received some nice comments on his abilities with his iPhone snaps, so we gave him our extra digital camera to start composing and capturing his own photographs.

The guys headed out for some fresh air this afternoon and here is their walk in photos.  When I asked what he would like to share with those who see his pictures, he replied in a thoughtfully serious 9 year old voice:  "I want them to see my beautiful Vienna."

Well done kiddo.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Driving Miss Crazy

Our car is here! Cue the Steppenwolf because like a true nature's child, I was born, born to be wild in our new family friendly (you put an airbag where?) Volvo V40.  Getting to this point was a lesson in persistence.  First, convincing dear husband that we needed (whiny emphasis all mine) a car.  Next, the purchase.  This process started in October when we met with the diplomatic sales rep, only to be told that the only "buy and ride" vehicle available was a pimped out "ambassador reject" SUV at a budget busting price.  Imagine that, no cars to buy off the lot.  Think that would fly in the USA?  One special order and 8 weeks later our car arrived from Sweden, only to be buried in the paperwork associated with registering and insuring a car in Vienna.  Oh and the Holidays, where finding people at work is like finding students in the library on a Saturday night.

Please note, if you buy a car here do not expect it to be delivered with a tank of gas.  The dealership provides fumes and points you in the general direction of a gas station.  I was also expecting Volvo to fork over a Jean Claude Van Damme action figure, no such luck.  I did receive the following:

1.  Gloves-to keep delicate hands clean while changing a flat.
2.  Safety Vest-not designed by Tory Burch.
3.  Orange Triangle-which can also be used to audition for street spinner job.

Ready, Set, Get Thee to a Gas Station.

There is little that prepares you for driving in Vienna.  Perhaps driving in India, minus the sacred animals or Rome, minus the fabulous pasta at Nonna's house.  In fact, the travel guides I've read say to avoid Vienna driving, if you can.  These are my observations in a nutshell:  the city is full of aggressive drivers who pass on the left when you are turning left, tailgate for kicks and lean on the horn during that millisecond when your foot moves from brake to gas because you are obviously taking too long and they need to get to a cafe for a 4 hour melange like yesterday.  Did I mention street trams? Horse drawn carriages? Scores of pedestrians and bikes? Taxis? Way too many streets that change from two-way to one-way?  That being said, I started out yesterday with the confidence of a woman who drove in the D.C. metro area for a decade and spent another decade as a sales rep with a "road warrior" territory.  I also had a secret weapon.  A friend.  With experience.  The perfect wingman (woman).  She is very kind soul who volunteered to navigate while I took us on a white knuckled practice run across the city to pick up dear student at school.  We survived the running of the red light at the 35A bus stop.  See my post here to understand why I felt slightly vindicated.

Now we embark on adventures in city driving and city parking.  We are ready to fahrvergn├╝gen and zoom zoom.  Although, when I asked Mike where our first driving trip would take us, he said "the first available parking space near the apartment."  Alrighty.

At the Apartment (no windows were broken while taking this photo)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Mr. Blue Sky

It has only been a few days of continuous grey, fog and mist, but when it's all combined with the drab winter coat colors and serious faces one can feel the blah mood of winter try to take hold.

As always, brighter days are ahead and we have one brief moment in Vienna right now! Walking out the door and I'm in my personal ELO video.

You won't see me doing my impression of Tawny Kitaen a la Whitesnake, but I am singing Mr. Blue Sky on the Ubahn.

Next year, a red winter coat.

Have a Happy Weekend!

Running Down the Avenue, See How the Sun Shines Brightly

In the City on the Streets, Where Once Was Pity

Mr. Blue Sky is Living Here Today

As this is my first multi-media blog, please click the video, turn up the volume and sing along with me and Jeff Lynne!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Breathing Fire

A New Year dawns and we spent the late, late night safely inside while the fireworks sounded off in StadtPark, the Inner Stadt and bands of 20-somethings roamed the streets carrying their almost lit Roman Candles to the park, hooting, hollering and wearing their pig hats.  Frankly, I prefer the New Year's tiaras and top hats.  Is my advancing age showing?  Well, quite possibly, since 2014 will be my year of the Nifty Fifty.

It appears to me that the residents of Vienna are wound up tighter than a top for 364 days and suddenly, on New Year's Eve, they spend 24 hours shooting off fireworks, smiling in public and partying joyously before the grim faces reappear and life returns to the status quo.  This is my opinion today and may change as I gather more experience in Vienna.  Side note:  I was verbally berated yesterday by an angry man on Stephansplatz for yelling "Jaaaakkkke" when the kiddo disappeared in the crowd.  I really hope the old guy enjoyed my fluent American English tirade in response.  Luckily, we were able to find Jake, who also received his own American English tirade about running into a crowd of hundreds alone.

Because we went out early on the Eve, we did enjoy the wonderful family atmosphere along The Graben and Karntner Strasse-live bands, food, drink and the ever present New Year Pig.  I've learned the Austrian love affair runs deeper than schnitzel and schinken, the pink guy represents Good Luck-Viel Gluck for the New Year.  Piggy banks, pig magnets, pig figurines, pig coins, pig cookies and pig hats are for sale everywhere.  

However, pig appeal is kinda lost on me.  Maybe because I am a Dragon.

A quick dip into the Swarovski store revealed my Dragon association on the Chinese Astrological Calendar.

Although, I didn't feel the need to drop coin on a Swarovski crystal Dragon, I can embrace the Dragon description:  magnanimous, strong, fiery, egotistical, eccentric, demanding, energetic.  Since 2014 is The Year of The Horse, it looks like Dragons will need all of those qualities to navigate successfully through the coming year.  According to a mash-up of the Chinese Astrology available on Dr. Google, Dragons may experience the following in 2014:

Career:     Eh
Money:    Meh
Love:       Wheh
Health:     Bleh

Well, alrighty then.  I'm up for the challenge.  As it turns out, The Rat (darling husband Mike) and The Monkey (adorable son Jake) are The Dragon's best friends.  With these friends, this Dragon is ready to grab The Year of The Horse by the reins and make the best of what comes, while searching for opportunities to soar.

Wishing you all a Happy New Year and joyful moments with family and friends throughout 2014!