Christian and I hopped in the car after school on Friday and drove to Bratislava to meet Kevin’s 5th grade choir at The Big Sing Bratislava. There were 140 children from 7 international schools across 3 countries who came together for a concert. The Sons of Pitches, a UK based a cappella group with some incredible beatboxing talent also sang for us.
The trip gave us an opportunity to see another country as well. Slovakia borders Austria so it’s an easy drive to yet another city along the Danube. The boys are still amazed by how many towns and cities have this same river going through them.
Anyway, to the point of this post. We planned to spend the night in Bratislava and head back to Vienna in the morning. We didn’t need much; pj’s, change of clothes for tomorrow and some snacks to eat along the way. When we arrived at the hotel, it took me all of 30 seconds to unpack our bag (yes, one backpack for all of us to share). I quickly realized as I put our toothbrushes in the bathroom that I forgot something; a hairbrush. Now, that wouldn’t bother the boys at all since their fingers seem to be their brush of choice, but I wasn’t so sure how that would work for me.
I decided to shower this morning and forgo brushing my hair. It was just as easy to turn my head upside down, shake my wet hair and then blow dry it enough so it wasn’t plastered to my head. Now I ask you, is this a new low that says I really don’t care what I look like or is it a new high meaning I appreciate that when you travel, you have to make due with what you have? I know I could’ve run down the street to a store and picked up a brush, but it wasn’t worth the effort or the 5 euro I would’ve spent on a brush.
Sad to say that my hair doesn’t look all that different than it would had I used a brush. Yes, it’s a little flatter and maybe even out frizzy if that’s possible, but not enough for me to care. There was a time I would’ve taken another shower this afternoon before heading out for the evening, but nope, I’m getting ready to go with the boys to a local restaurant so we can watch Dortmund play Bayern Munich (European soccer game) and I’m happy with my hair looking just good enough not to be embarrassing.
We miss our yard. Living in an apartment has its benefits, but the boys and I really miss being able to pop outside at any time and just “play”. Lucky for us, Vienna has so much to do besides visit museums and palaces. Last weekend we visited Motorikpark and it was a ton of fun. It’s the first time I’ve been to a park and saw as many adults as kids of all ages playing and climbing together. Too bad we’ll never see a park like this in the US. I’m sure we’d have to sign waivers and wear safety apparatus before we were allowed to get on some of the stations.
We spent hours climbing, jumping, swinging, and playing King of the Hill (the parents left that one to the kids). It was wonderful to see toddlers to grandparents enjoying themselves on a cold day. Austrians like to be outside and when you have places like this, it’s easy to find things for the whole family to enjoy and even better yet, it’s free. If this type of park was ever possible at home, somehow I could see it being fee based rather than just there for everyone to enjoy. Just another reason why Vienna was voted the best place to live in the world.
All of Europe and the UK seem have a Ski Week during February. They don’t call it a winter break, it’s called ski week, so guess what we’re doing this week? Yup, we’re skiing. Kevin is with 50 other kids on a school sponsored ski trip so I’m sure he’s getting no sleep, playing a lot of dodgeball in the evenings, skiing all day long, wearing the same clothes over and over, and having a great time. That leaves Christian, George and I on a ski trip of our own. We’re staying in Zell am See, Austria which means we have several options of where to ski every day.
Yesterday we skied at Saalbach Hinterglem. It was pretty foggy on the top of the mountain and the snow throughout the day didn’t make it any easier to see where you were going. We’ve been lucky enough to ski a lot this winter so I’m getting picky about when I want to ski (warm, sunny days). When we woke up this morning to another day of fog and snow, I decided to ask George for a snow day. That doesn’t mean I want to go outside and play in the snow all day, it means I want to pretend we’re having a snow day from school so I can just stay inside where it’s warm and dry. (I’m pretty sure my friends back home in Maryland are sick of their kids having snow days and can’t sympathize with me right now.) George hasn’t gotten to do as much skiing this winter and since he’s the one Christian really wants to ski with anyway, it wasn’t too hard for me to convince him to let me skip a day of skiing. His tolerance for clouds or fog is much greater than mine and he’s only got a few more days to ski this winter so any day on the mountain is a bonus for him.
The picture above is what I see as I lounge on the couch and look out the back of our apartment. It’s so much clearer than it was earlier this morning. It’s about noon here now and I’m almost tempted to go out for a walk, but can’t quite convince myself to go bundle up and head outside.
Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, so the boys and I opted for going to a small, local Catholic Church rather than taking the trip into the city center where we normally attend Mass. The majority of Austrian’s consider themselves Catholic and public schools even have off for Christian holidays, but the number of Austrian’s who attend church is very low. This was evident last night when including us, only 24 people were in church . Then consider 8 of us were from the American school and not long term parishioners.
Although there were only a few of us in church, I can’t help but think that religion does still matter in Viennese life because of an article I saw in a daily newspaper. The front cover had a picture of a nun who was involved in baking the host used for Holy Communion. She helps bake over 5 million a year. I can’t imagine a US newspaper putting an article like this on the front page. Can you?
We had a great weekend of skiing at Hochkar, but beautiful conditions and friends to ski with don’t match up to me watching the 2 boys laying together in our hotel. Yes, they were watching a video on the iPod, but that didn’t matter. Considering how much time they’ve spent together, it’s so nice that they still get along.
Take a close look at the Putensülzchen Gemüse (top center) otherwise translated to something like turkey vegetable aspic. I see pickles, radishes, carrots, hard boiled eggs and so much more all in a gelatin mold made from meat stock. I drew the line here today and acknowledged that I will never try this delicacy. It was sitting in the deli counter next to the things most of us would expect to see like salami, ham, cheese and turkey. I wonder what I would have to bribe the boys with to get them to take a bite?