Author Archives: Diana Roh

After 7 Months Here at DA

After seven months in Deutsch Akademie, I am finally saying goodbye to this place! I had my first German course here starting with “Guten Tag” and “Wie geht’s,” and I have come a long way. Yesterday might have been the official last day of the fourth week of an intensive course, but to my class, today was basically the last day. We had our exam yesterday, and today we met up at a cafe called cafe Mendez near Karlsplatz.

So long everyone! Hopefully see you soon?

I have had a few classes with some of my current classmates, but none of them is returning back for B.2.2 next month. And I also figured I wanted to take a break and possibly use the time to do a bit more traveling around, particularly since I do not need B2 official certificate. However, we talked that since many of us are will still be in the city, we will plan regular get togethers.

Earlier this morning, we met up at Deutsch Akademie, and walked over to the cafe together. We talked mainly about what our plans were after this course, particularly for those who are not returning next month or are in Vienna temporarily. I wanted to give a shout out to our friend, Irena, for finishing her master’s thesis, which is one of the main reasons for not returning next month. She will be traveling back and forth to Italy for her defense and tying loose ends to complete her degree!

Vienna’s Gruesome Underground

St. Stephansdom and St. Michaels church have their very own catacombs. I have not yet been to St. Stephansdom’s catacomb, but I can assure you that the catacomb in St. Michael’s church has a number of notable mummies! The guided tour of the crypt costs 7 euros for adults and start in front of the church. I am not sure when exactly the crypt was built (it only said the 16th and the 17th centuries). The guide leads you through the church to downstairs, and as you enter the crypt you feel the cold air coming from downstairs.

There are about 4000 bodies in the crypt but only hundreds of coffins. Obviously, nobility and those who can afford to have coffins made and have a family room reserved. The tour points out some of the notable families as well as a couple of famous people. Also the most famous person in the crypt is called Pietro Metastasio, who wrote some of the librettos for Mozart’s operas. Then, the tour leads to almost perfectly mummified bodies. Due to the catacomb’s unusual conditions, many bodies did not decompose but mummified with almost perfectly well preserved fingernails and their outfits and wigs. Looking at all those bones and mummies, I felt a bit gruesome and had chills from time to time, but the tour was definitely interesting. Besides the crypt, St. Michael’s church is also famous for the very first performance of Requiem after Mozart’s death. Overall, the guide was very informative not only about the crypt but also about history of the city, well particularly regarding burial sites.

Zotter: a real life chocolate factory (without Charlie)

For those chocolate lovers, good news, Austria has its very own chocolate world like the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. I am sure many of you tried Zotter’s chocolate of variety (about 400 of them) of different flavors. Now, I am happy to announce that you can be as happy as that big chubby German boy and the competitive bubble gum girl and the spoiled rich squirrel girl from the movie except at Zotter. You can visit the factory and try as much as chocolate just like those children with golden tickets.

Zotter is located about an hour and half away from Vienna by car and about 40 minutes east of Graz. You can reserve your ticket online, and there are different types of tickets starting with a regular tour to a tour with a nice chocolate drink. When I was there, I got the day trip ticket for about 16 euros (sorry no student discounts). With the ticket, I tried all the chocolate I wanted at the Choco Shop Theatre and an entrance to its Edible Zoo.

There are two more types of tours you can do that are more comprehensive. For about 23 euros, the first one begins with a Zotter aperitif and liquor and a small chocolate box to take it with you. The second type costs about 60 euros, but that one includes a full three course farm to table meal. I thought the regular day tour ticket was enough maybe even too much. It was hard to control myself in front of all the chocolate even before I reached the best part: the edible zoo!

Faschingsdienstag!

Eventhough you are not a Catholic, I am sure you are familiar with the famous Carnival in Brazil and Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The Fat Tuesday! The celebration of gluttony before Ash Wednesday or Lent. Austria, as a Catholic country, celebrates Fat Tuesday or Faschingsdienstag. I know Vienna is not the biggest city to celebrate with a big feast and parade. However, areas or cities like Burgenland and Modling make a huge deal out of it! The parade normally takes place on Sunday or Saturday before Fat Tuesday, when you can see all the kids with their cute little costumes and schools in Vienna usually have costume contest and their very own parade.

I think our costumes required some thinking for people to get it, which was not ideal for a crowd of drunk people.

Participating in this Faschings spirit, I also made myself a costume and joined the crowed on Tuesdday in Modling. Basically the whole city gets together at the city center with drink stands and get drunk in their costumes. Obviously, sometimes the crowd gets rowdy and starts fighting, but if you can just avoid that happening to yourself and falling on the ground (a lot of broken and sharp glasses), you will have so much fun! I dressed up as an egg donor with a bag of hard boiled eggs and my boyfriend dressed up as a sperm donor (in German Samenspenderin) with a bag of spinach seeds. The costumes cost us almost nothing and were easily disposable. Unfortunately, it rained for about an hour but I was just glad to have participated in this famous Faschingsdienstag in Austria.

Brunching in Vienna!

For the last couple of months I wrote blog posts for Deutsch Akademie, I introduced a couple of my favorite restaurants in the city, and today I wanted to talk about a couple of brunch spots I liked. Well, only a couple because I have not been to many brunch places in the city, and I do not like going far away when I am hungover on Sunday morning.

Spot number 1: Figar!

Figar serves an amazing breakfast burger! There are a few of them in Vienna (one in the fourth district off Wiedner Hauptstrasse, one in the seventh district off Mariahilfestrasse, one by Donaukanal, and finally one by Donauinsel.) I have only been to the first two Figars, but they are all the same. They also serve as a bar and are open until late night. During the weekend, it is almost impossible to get a table without a reservation, but sometimes you can get lucky and get a couple spots by the bar. I feel like I should try a variety of menus, but I have only tried their breakfast burges… oops. But as I eyed all the plates getting served around me, I do not remember a single unappitizing dish.

Spot Number 2: Vollpension

I am sure all of my classmates and the teacher can speak for my love for Vollpension. Vollpension carries a theme of “eating at your grandma’s.” The restaurant also gained its initial capital and investment for also carrying social responsibility of giving opportunities to old and retired to work once more. The cafe is owned by three Omas, and they bake everything there with what I am guessing are their own original recipies. I think I go there about twice a week for their irrisistable cakes! This place like Figar is also impossible to get a table on the weekends without reservation so make sure to call them beforehand. Also (assuming you will be there with someone else), their weekend brunch menu with three tiers of plates with homemade jam and scones is definitely a must-try.

Class Get Together for a Friendly Competition.

While I was in A level classes, the class majorly spoke English during the break to socialize and communicate, since our German was not competent enough to really use it while we turned our brains to rest mode. Eventually, being in a B level class meant being able to communicate with other students. As my German got better after each month at Deutsch Akademie, meeting with classmates outside the course felt much easier, for we were able to hold a full conversation in German. Also having many returning classmates help making friends. We have had a few get togethers outside the class for coffee or lunch or drinks on weekly basis even, but I wanted to share this one particular get together.

We are now counting days to play together again!

One of my classmates, Marta, recently purchased German Monopoly (the expanded version!), hoping to play as a class. Finally, we arranged a time to play together. After everyone’s work or class or what not, we picked up some snacks and drinks and met up at one classmate’s apartment on Landstrasse. Not the entire class got to join the evening, but we actually spoke German the whole time, except when we were confused with some rules. As we got used to all the rules, the game got more competitive and fun. I am not sure how often people get together to outside the class, but we all agreed that this kind of setting really gives more opportunities to apply vocabs and grammar we learned in class!

Running Route: Modling

I am not sure how many people know about this cute little town (even though they insist to be a city) located south of Vienna; if you have not yet visited Modling, you should! It is only about 20 minutes away from Hauptbahnhof with S bahn. I often visit Modling mainly because my boyfriend’s parents still live there. Second of all, the town is a nice little escape from Vienna once in a while. Also for those of you who run, Modling is a fresh change to your running route. From my previous post, I mentioned Vienna City Marathon, and how I started to train for the race. My regular running route in Vienna is Belvedere and Stadtpark area with some variations, since I live in the 5th district near Haupbahnhof.

Modling is a nice change to train for long runs. There are many easily climbable mountains and cute old buildings. Normally I would run through the town center andto Anninger or Burg Modling. I know the picture is from before Christmas of 2016, but the view on top of the mountain is definitely worth the trouble of running up that big steep hill. Running in Modling on weekends is nice for a few reasons. First of all, the air feels so much better than that of Vienna; second, running up and down the hill will give you nice muscles, so you can run faster on your race day! Besides running, Modling is a cute little down with a nice Italian restaurant called Pino and Medieval ruins.

Tips on Getting Your Stuff Shipped Here…

Earier I wrote about the ball season, and I tried to get my old long dress shipped to Vienna for the ball from my old home. That is when all the issues began. Supposedly, when you ship something to Austria from abroad outside Europe, it will roughly take about 10 business days. However, my dress was not here even after three whole weeks, which made me very nervous. One morning, the mail man came and delivered my dress about 4 weeks after it had been shipped, asking for me to pay 94 euros!! So what had happened?

The mail man told me that the money is customs fee, so instead of paying right away, I decided to pick up my package at at the post office. I researched how it works, and I thought it would be a cool thing to share.

  1. You only pay customs fee if the product is brand new. So for example, if you ordered something abroad, you probably have to pay the customs fee.
  2. You have to pay customs fee if the product is of high value and is expected to stay in Austria permanently.

However, neither of the clauses applied to my case. So the Customs assumed that the product will be in Austria permenantly and is of high value (number 2), even though my dress was not at all of high value. Also my cousin in the US made a crucial mistake of using his old Amazon.com box, causing the customs to assume that my dress is brand new (ordered abroad).

Eventually, I talked to the customs and mailed them a copy of my visa (working holiday) to prove my temporary stay in the country, and a picture of me wearing the dress in 2012 and recently at a ball (thankfully I had different hair). So hopefully this tip will prevent you from going through the same trouble!

‘Tis the Ball Season in Vienna.

Vienna, as many of you know, is famous for music, waltz, and balls. Starting from high school graduation balls to Wiener Philharmoniker ball, the city is famous for hosting over 200 balls throughout the year, and this time of the year is the city’s ball season. You can look up a ball calendar in Vienna for a ball you’d like to attend. There are some non- tranditional and modern balls like techno ball, but many of them stick to traditional styles. Also the range of balls’ ticket prices vary from as steep as 200 euros to 20 euros. Beautiful buildings like Musikverin and Stadtoper host annual balls, and Vienna’s economic and business university (WU) hosts its annual ball at Hofburg. I think there are more than one ball hosted in Hofburg. Many of them had already happened, but there are still many coming up.

Along with many other universities, my boyfriend’s university also hosted its own diplomatic charity ball recently. For the school is rather small, having only a few masters degrees, most students attended and also for charity purposes. Of course it is fun to dust off your ball gown and get your drink on with your friends, but make sure your dress is up to a proper dress code and do not wait until the last minute like my boyfriend did to get a bow tie and cuff links.One thing I noticed shopping with my boyfriend for men’s dress up clothes is that it is really hard to find a unbound bow tie at an affordable price range. Most of them you can find in department stores are all pre-bound, so we had to go to four different stores and barely found one. So check the city’s ball calendar and why not attend a ball?

Wiener Konzerthaus

Earlier this month, I made my first visit to Wiener Konzerthaus. Wiener Konzerthsus is on my regular running route, so I am used to seeing the building on regular basis. However, I have not yet had an opportunity to visit the building for a concert yet. Wiener Konzerthaus is home to Wiener Symphoniker, which is a bit less traditional and more liberal with the types of music they play unlike Wiener Philharmonker. I have been to Musikverin before, the home of Wiener Philharmoniker, which is also a beautiful building with historic significance (refer my earlier post). Wiener Konzerthaus, like Musikverin, has main big room for orchestra and a few smaller rooms for chamber music.

Wiener Symphoniker and Wayne Marshall as the conductor started the concert and the concert pianist Michel Camilo joined the stage. The whole concert consisted of both classical music and jazz, and Michel Camilo played one of his original pieces as well. I had so much fun at the concert! After the concert, the conductor Wayne Marshall (also a concert organist) and the pianist michel Camilo joined on the stage to play encore together on a piano, but the concert experience at Wiener Konzerthaus was not over yet. Once everyone left the gross saal, the audience gathered in the lobby for more show. Wayne Marshall and Michel Camilo came down to the lobby and played many jazz pieces together.

The ticket for the concert is actually very affordable even to students, so check the concert calendar and tickets for the musical experience in Vienna.

Volkstheater for non-German native speakers

For those theater lovers in Vienna, who have not yet mastered the language yet, I have a good news for you! No matter how many German classes I take at Deutsch Akademie, I know my German will never be good enough to fully comprehend German theater. In any language, theater always requires high mastery of the language. Even as a native speaker myself, theater languages in Korean and English do not come easy. Yet we do not want to miss this big cultural aspect of Austria.

Recently I made a visit to Volkstheater to watch “Der Menschenfeind,” a French theater piece from the mid 1600s. “Der Menschenfeind” at Volkstheater, however, is rather a modernized piece and also has gotten some great reviews. My German is only intermediate, and there is no way I can fully comprehend even the modernized theater piece. But this particular piece is shown with English subtitles! The actors’ script is German translated version, while the English subtitle is English translated version, so the translation is never awkward and even carries some witty rhymes. The piece was witty and displays a rather accurate representation of human relationships, but the theater building/stage itself is also worth noting.

The tickets are surprisingly affordable; they range from 5-48 euros. Also the English subtitle is located on top of the stage, on the upper frame of the stage, so seats not too close to the stage may prevent some neck pain. And those seats are obviously cheaper too. So go check out the website and take a part in Vienna’s theater culture this week.