Monday, December 19, 2011

City Sights and the Zoo

Sorry again for the long gap! I get so lazy. But, we have seen some great sights since I last posted! We spent one delightful afternoon touring the Wien Tiergarten (Vienna Zoo), and the Schönnbrunn Castle. The inside was amazing. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed, but it was quite a sight! Andy and I were both impressed that the last emperor was a very responsible monarch. His quarters and office were all very plain, and he worked himself all day every day. But, there were other rooms that were just plain cool. One of the rooms had walls with fantastic Chinese carvings in super fancy rare wood. Amazing. But difficult to explain. hmm.

It was a beautiful fall day (I know, look how far behind I am), and we got some very nice pictures of the park:

After that, we explored the Tiergarten. Apparently, it is the world's oldest zoo. There were some amazing displays. The rainforest exhibit featured a room that was completely dark except for a little light, and they kept sugar water out, and there were bats zooming all over the place, in the same room as you. We were certainly not expecting that, and my body went completely rigid once I understood that there was no barrier keeping a bat from flying into my hair and attacking me...not that that happened, but it could have....

Also, the fire ant display was very cool. They had tubes running all through two or three rooms from the main colony, leading to a variety of trees that they harvest their leaves from. You could see them all marching one by one, through all the tubes. Super cool.

Also, they had very nice displays for the big animals:
The tiger above was crazy! Him and another tiger were fighting, and got up on their hind legs and were biting and bating at each other. Of course, we missed that shot, but it was startling. A very good reminder about how powerful these animals are.

A nice overlook at the zoo. Such a nice day!:

I also go out occasionally with the camera. I found some nice composer statues and monuments.

Here is a nice photo of one of spires of the Stephansdome:
I also found Johann Struass, and a nice Beethoven statue:

Well, that's all for now. I have a few more posts in the works, with pictures from our Wein Wandertag, and some Christmas Markets! I'll post soon!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Towards the end of September, Andy and I made a trip to Bratislava, Slovakia, where we were able to sort out a temporary visa for Andy while we wait for the bureaucracy to churn out our residence permits. Bratislava is only a one hour bus ride away from Vienna. We took the very early bus and arrived in the city at about 8 am. Our business was finished by 9:00, and we had reserved the whole day for dealing with this, so we had a delightful day in Bratislava!

First, it is a very small town, especially considering it is the national capitol of Slovakia. The historic old town district was very charming, and had a nice, quaint feeling.

There were also lots of fun street sculptures scattered throughout the city center:

Immediately outside of the city center, things seemed like they hadn't been maintained since World War II....
We then walked to the Medieval fortress that stood on top of the hill that overlooked the city:
That was very interesting, but they were doing some construction, so we couldn't really go inside. However, we did go to the museum that showed all the artifacts they had found through renovations over the centuries, and there was quite a variety spanning throughout the last millennium.

We ended our day with some delicious Debreziners and beer:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Andy is on the website!

Andy is on the website at his new lab! Here is the link:

Now if we can just get him on the payroll.....

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Liz and Benn visit!

Hello, again! I am so sorry for the delay in posting on this blog. I have had this post prepared for quite some time, but I wanted to get some pictures from Liz from the weekend they spent with us, and she flaked. But, here is the recap of the weekend Liz spent with us back in September, with the pictures I had taken.

We had a great time! We walked around the biggest street market in town, the Nachsmarkt, and saw all kinds of bizarro fruits and vegetables I've never seen before. We went downtown, and walked around the inner stadt, and saw the Stephenplatz, and the Hofburg. After that, it started to get pretty windy, so we ducked into a Heuriger (which basically serves traditional and local Austrian food and wine), and sat for several hours drinking and eating. It was very cool. The restaurant comprised of cellars that went about 3 floors beneath street level, and parts of it dated back to 1100. In the whole empty establishment, we sat in a booth that had a loose brick behind it, and it had a plastic bag full of notes written by other people who had sat there over the years. It made me feel very romantic, and some kind of sign that we were meant to be here...or something:)

After that, we visited a few different bars. It was raining very hard, and we escaped the rain into one of the first bars we saw, which ended up being run by Yugoslavians. That was the most German I had been forced to speak, and somehow we were able to have about a 5 minute conversation before my German skills ran out, but I still left feeling better about my limited German. They had a pretty nifty band playing traditional Yugoslavian music, with keyboard, guitar, accordian, and singer, and they were all pretty good musicians.

The next day we watched a racing thing that Benn is into, called Formula 1. I hadn't heard of it before, but it's basically super fancy Nascar:)

We had some schnitzel, then went to the Schonnbrunn. It was toward the evening when we got there, and we sat on the hill and watched the sunset over the city. It was delightful. And beautiful. And the gardens are kind of creepy after dark.

Monday we went to Haus Der Musik, and did the tour. They had some really fantastic displays on the Vienna Philharmonic, and original scores that Beethoven, Schubert, Mahler, and Mozart (among many other) composers wrote. I love seeing the actual manuscript with the frustrated scribbles and markings. Seeing those things makes a composer seem more a real person, and not some fact I learned about in school. They also had a really cool display about how sound works, and lots of interactive sound displays. It was very cool.

We also saw one of the apartments Mozart lived in while he was in Vienna. It was a pretty good location, so it was during his "successful" years that he lived there. Apparently he wrote The Magic Flute there, so there was a big display about that. And, if he didn't have so much gambling debt, there wouldn't be nearly as much music from Mozart. Good thing for gambling! :) The displays were a little weak, but it was more about imagining Mozart pacing around the same place you were that made it cool. Another humanizing composers moment.

All in all, that about sums up the weekend. It was great to see a familiar face, and have a relatively relaxed visit with Liz, which didn't usually happen in Idaho. So, while I am so far away from all the rest of my family and friends, I am comforted in the fact that Liz is only a 2 hour flight away.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lainzer Tiergarten (Wild-freakin-boars)

We went hinking in the Lainzer Tiergarten. 20,000 acre wood right outside the city on our side of town. Beautiful and peaceful sylvan setting. Excellent escape from the bustle of the city. Hiking up the Lainzer Tor we were rewarded with a really nice view of Vienna.

The most exciting aspect of the experience was the wild boars. I had never seen a boar before and was really hoping to come across one and we did! He was just rooting around in the earth when we spotted him.

This beast was large and intimidating. Nevertheless, I wanted to get a good photo and tried to creep up on him. Everything was going OK until I spooked it and it charged at me!

Freaking scary. Thankfully, I was not gored. Did the trick though, I will never attempt to approach a wild boar again. After charging at me he kinda stared me down and then just trotted off into the woods.

Later in our hike we came across another boar, this time right on the trail. This one charged at both Maddy and I.

My conclusion: Wild boars are mean!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Change and Walking...

Andy and I have decided to combine forces as far as blogs go, so this can be a one stop shop for all our friends and family curious about how things are going. So, Andy and I will both be adding updates to this blog, and it should indicate who is writing:).

Today was long! We had to go to the immigration office, which was about a 10 km walk (we wanted to walk so we could see the city). I found that not being used to that amount of walking is quite painful. We were out and about walking and taking care of business from 8:30 to 5:30. Every bone from the waist down hurts! I'm determined to continue having a good walk like that every day, and I'm sure that walking won't suck so much after long. Andy, however, is a machine that neither tires nor gets hungry. So....yeah.

Here are pictures of the apartment!

This is Andy in front of the entrance to the building, Nobilegasse 14!

The entryway.

Andy pointing at our apartment.

Living area

Sleeping Area.


Well, that is all for now. More pictures to come soon. The next item on the agenda is to explore the Schönbrunn. I'm sure that will be fantastic (and much closer!)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Travel and Arrival

We have finally made it! After an exhausting 6 month process, of paperwork, certifications, background checks, and vet visits, here we all sit in our tiny, comfortable apartment in Vienna.

Traveling with Nisa was difficult. I did not feed her the day before we traveled, so she wouldn't make a big mess in her box (which she didn't do!). I took her to the vet the day before we left, where she attacked everybody in the room. She was yowling and biting me all night so I would feed her, and that made me feel even worse about what I was going to be putting her through. At our layover in Washington D.C., it was so sad! She had a white crust on her nose, and she spilled her water tray all over her, and she didn't even react. It was terrible. However, she pulled through it all, and she seems quite comfortable here in the new apartment. My sweet international kitty!

Our apartment is quite nice. All the furniture is new Ikea furniture, so it is very comfortable. There is a surprising amount of storage here, and we are all moved in. There is something very satisfying about only having clothes and a few other items, especially after moving out of our old apartment!

Andy and I walked to the two grocery stores about a block or two away from our house. The first was like a dollar store, and the second was a bit nicer with more selection. The dollar store meat section had an entire pigs face for sale. That was probably the weirdest thing we saw.

The strangeness is that everything is similar, but different at the same time. I'm being reminded of German words I knew and forgot already, and I hope my German improves. I'm going to look into finding a tutor or class this week or next.

We are all happy. I have slept all day, and it's 9:30 at night and I'm wide awake! So, I will have to get my sleeping schedule figured out.

I will take pictures of the apartment and our surroundings tomorrow, and post them!