Hiking in Europe

A few weeks ago we went hiking not far from where I am living in Austria. About twelve people came with us. They were friends of Helga, and Michael's father.

It was a very hard hike, but I enjoyed it because of the view we were treated to when we reached the top of the mountain.

About two thirds of the way up, we came and had sandwiches and fruit, and rested.

After that the hike wasn't as hard, but we had quite a way to go, and we could see the whole trail in front of us because we were above tree level. Believe me though, it looked much harder than it really was. The fact that the friends of Helga talked with me all the while about the school system and other things in the US helped the time pass by, too.

We reached the end of the trail and looked out onto a fabulous panorama (which I photographed, look at the photo below--it would be a good idea to click on the picture to enlarge it. And sorry if it isn't up to your panoramic standards. I made it quickly on Photoshop from five photos).We headed back, but stopped halfway at a small restaurant to have something. I was full, though, and only had a Coke, and then after some Kaiserschmarrm from Mike's dad's plate because he couldn't finish it. Kaiserschmarrm is basically scrambled pancakes with powdered sugar on top and jam on the side. It's very good. It was the perfect amount of food becuase after having the soda I had felt a bit empty.

We started out again, our knees hurting from the strain of walking down the mountain. It was a relief to sit in Helga's car and listen to probably the best a capella rendering of "Summertime" by an Austrian group. They even have someone singing in falsetto to simulate a trumpet, and then they change their voice so it sounds like the trumpet has a mute on. The Austrian accent isn't too bad either.

Though we were exhausted, I'm sure we would have all gone again; the view was well worth it. I think it was even better than it looks in the pictures. A non-SLR camera can't catch such beauty perfectly, though it still looks beautiful.

- - -

Last Saturday we went on another hike, only this time in Italy. We packed backpacks and set off on the half-hour journey. We parked our car and then went on a gondala to a higher point through the thick fog. We searched for a trail. Luckily, Helga could speak good Italian, and we met some hikers who were going exactly where we were going and were able to lead the way.
This hike was truly beautiful, though at first we couldn't see too much because of the fog. At one point we were scrambling up on hands and knees becausse it was so steep and there were so many loose stones. When we had reached the top of the mountain, we stopped to have sandwiches and candy bars and to talk with others who had also reached the top and had stopped to rest. One person explained what it would look like had there been no fog obsuring the view. The fog was thick, and only near the end were we able to see the view on the side from which we had come. The top of the gondala was so far away! I was amazed that a human could walk so far and back and still be home for dinner. It seems that one walks so slowly, but actually a person can cover quite a large distance in not so much time.

We headed back faster than we had come, and when we reached the end of the trail we visited the church that was near the gondala for a few minutes.

After that, we ate some Italian food in a restaurant that looked out to where we had been. It was no longer foggy at the summit, and we were able to pinpoint the exact place we had been. We could see some tiny figures walking along the ridge on the top.

I enjoy hiking in Austria, and am glad I have to opportunity to do so.


Long Post about Austria and stuff

So readers, now is the time that I sit down to a nice long typing session. I just got my Palm keyboard for my organizer from my parents, and now can type without having to hunt and peck with Helga's German-formatted keyboard (i.e. The y is where the z is, and the ' is hard to do, etc.).

So, I can easily type now, without having to type on a computer that hurts my eyes after a while (also so I don't have any other distractions, like having to help Ezra my friend with his blog [ http://kwiwi.blogspot.com ] or having to discuss the new iPods with Ezra or noticing there's a new David Pogue technology video on the NYTimes website, or having to look through digg.com, or getting fan mail from Katie, or from my cousins, half sister, parents and other friends (or Ezra), or fixing Helga's computer which, had I been typing this on it, would have developed another problem, even though it's a really good and capable computer (the problem is there's a gigantic virus that takes up gigabytes of precious space. It's been around for about eleven years now, but only real computer geeks know how to delete it and still keep the computer functioning. Its name is Windows. Macs, of course, only have this problem if they use Boot Camp, which is a kind of tool that Apple designed for those who experience withdrawal after quitting using windows. I have a Mac at home. Those geeks who haven't realized the beauty and efficiency of all that is Macintosh are thinking this very moment, "fanboi". For those who haven't been computerally enlightened, please disregard this obnoxious straying away from The Point Of This Post).

Anyway, I am at home here on the couch in front of my Palm Pilot typing. So be prepared for the Putta Butta post of your life!

~ ~ ~

Life in Austria isn't much different than in the US. The only difference is everything is better, it's more beautiful, more fun, and everyone's nicer (and they speak German). There are no kangaroos in Austria. I know this sounds strange, and you may have always thought so, but no, actually not. Go ahead and take a look at the word Austria. How many syllables does it have? Four? No. It has three: Aus-tri-a. Say it: Austria. Perhaps you were thinking of Australia? Yes, it looks the same, but it is not. So the only one who says "Mate" in Austria, when not referring to repreduction, is the New Zealander who is also visiting our school (see photo below).

Just remember that, guys, will ya? Thanks.

Austria has Die Simpsons. Austria has Die Millionenshow. Austria has Malcom mittendrin. Austria has Sabrina--total verhexed! And Austria has Spongebob Schwammkopf. Austria also has satellite TV, and I can watch Al Jazeera directly from the living room (not that I do, Homeland Security agents, this is just a proof of point).

Austria also wonders about Brangelina going to India to make a film in October. Austria has sudoko in it's daily newspapers. Austria has Garfield and a Green Party, though this Green Party doesn't damage the left's votes.
Austria has CSI: Miami (with German actors doing the voices).

Finally, Austria has McDonalds. Ads on TV claim that "It's all fresh directly from Austria" but I don't really think that matters much. McDonalds will always be McDonalds: disgusting food, that's cheap and fast.

~ ~ ~

School is nice and short here. In NY, I would get home at 5:30 or later, leaving only time for dinner, maybe a little computer, and then violin practice and bed (I'm having trouble writing bed because I always think of Bett first, which is German). Here, I'm back home by three at the latest, 12 at the earliest. Today, for example, we were able to have a delicious lunch at three after having been at home for about half an hour first. And today is a long day!

Since I don't have as much homework as the natives, and the natives don't get much homework anyway (compared to GMWS) I get it easy. Maybe three math problems a week, an essay I have to write in German, and having to write, for English class, a short saying ("Never wish you were another, for if you were who you want to be, you'd wish you were the way you are" --Gavin Langdon, 2006), and that's it! The rest of the time I can devote to watching TV after dinner, and before dinner writing a complete autobiography in the form of a blog post!

We've gone in the city about five times, once at night, and I am starting to know it well.

~ ~ ~

I am good friends with Isaak and Michael and Josh (the New Zealander), and so the depression that I had started getting a week ago has worn off and now I am having a great time. It's like the german teacher said at Green Meadow, there's a "U-curve of cultural adaptation". Although I might add that it's more like a "check mark of cultural adaptation" in that it's fun, then dips down, then skyrockets up! Josh, who has been in Europe for three months now, agrees wholeheartedly that after that little dip it just gets better and better.

After experiencing this dip, I can explain why it happens. First of all, everything is different and beautiful, so it's exciting and fun to be living in Austria. Then, you start to miss the old stuff, like your friends and your xbox and your eMac...oh yeah, and your family, a little bit (just kidding TAL, GSL, and EYL).

Then, one night, you think "Wait. I'm in Austria! I'm in the coolest place I've ever been! I am FREE!!!" (Future exchanges, keep in mind that an iPod stuffed with all the songs the Beatles ever sang helps this revelation take place).

After that, you forget about the things you used to do in New York (I can do them later, when I'm back anyway) and you only notice the new, fun things you are doing, like going to Italy to hike in the mountains (more later).

Now I've written enough for one post. I will continue later.



Minimundus is a place in Klagenfurt where they have models of buildings and other objects scaled down to a much smaller size. We went there today, and here are some pictures I took.

There were some gigantic fish in this pond, but small ships. This picture is kind of funny because the ship is so small but the fish is so big. That fish was about two feet long and 8 inches thick.
This is the CN tower in Montréal, with the Eiffel Tower on the side.
Eiffel Tower, and other buildings.
A replica of Mesa Verde in Colorado (they haven't finished it yet, but it's looking good. I went to the real one on a vacation a few years ago. It looks almost exactly like that.
A replica of an Austrian train line making its way around Minimundus. There's another train there that emits "smoke" (think fog machine) and looks really cool.

Find out more at http://www.minimundus.at .


Video: Driving through the fog in the Alps

"Finally, another post!"

Sorry that I haven't written anything lately. I am adapting to Austria and don't have much time. I haven't been writing a journal right now, but right now I can tell you a little about what I've been doing.

I am only now just starting to speak German, however I can understand more and more of what people are saying when they talk to one another. My first German semi-private lesson (it was with the other visiting student, he's from New Zealand) was today, it was good. It's amazing how quickly one can learn a language. After about two weeks I can already understand most simple German conversations. Although I can not yet carry on a conversation, I think my progress so far is great.

I started school on Monday, and find it a bit challenging. It's great, though, that school ends at 12 quite often (3:00 is the latest). The earliest is eleven, on Friday.

Everyone is nice, and everything is going well, although I am starting to feel a little less happy as before. I know this is usual, though, so I am not going to let the feeling hurt me too much. The New Zealander has been with his host family since July, and he says that it is usual for one to feel a little down after a few weeks. After that though, it just gets better and better, so I am waiting for that!

We are very active here, riding bikes to and from school, and going on hikes up in the mountains often, as well as swimming about every other day.

Mit freundlichen Grüߟen (with friendly greetings),