Category Archives: Mein Deutschkurs

Brno

Brno is another great place to spend a few days if you want to get out of Vienna. Less than a two hour car or bus ride, it’s a perfect place for a weekend getaway. My partner and I spent 3 days there and we still didn’t feel like that was enough time. We started off with a free walking tour from Brno Free Walking Tours (you can find them on Facebook) with our awesome tour guide Martin, who showed us so many places to go. From there we explored the old town, Špilberk Castle, the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul, and Villa Tugendhat. Unfortunately, we did not book a tour in advance so I had to scale a ledge to take a look inside the house…

The food was also amazing there. We stayed in an Airbnb with a family who owns Menynem -Traditional Vietnamese Spring Rolls on Veveří, which were delicious. Also on the same street was Bistro Franz which had probably the best hummus I’ve ever had. And I know that the Czech Republic is known for it’s cheap and good beer, so there were so many pubs and bars in Brno. The one that we went into that despite having nowhere to sit, was really popular and had awesome beer was called Výčep Na Stojáka. Not only was there some great beer, but did you know that Brno has a secret cocktail bar? It’s called Super Panda Circus. I won’t tell you any more though…otherwise it won’t be a secret!

Budapest

I think what a lot of Europeans don’t appreciate is how close everything is. You can drive two hours from Vienna and be in Hungary, the Czech Republic or Slovakia. Take the train and you’re easily in Germany, Poland, Slovenia, and Italy. I’m from the city of Halifax, which is in the east cost of Canada. The drive to the next big city, Montreal, is 16 hours. We also don’t have high speed trains, so the train takes almost a full day (22 hours). So I’ve made an effort to see as much of the neighbouring countries of Austria as I can while I’m living here, and I’m dedicating the next couple post to encouraging you all to get out and see stuff! It’s so easy!

 

Not to long ago, I took a weekend to myself and went to Budapest, which has been on my travel bucket list for a while. The train ride was only two hours and I found myself an awesome hostel for 11 euros per night. I spent my two days there just walking around and exploring. Budapest is a gorgeous city full of beautiful Art Nouveu buildings (like the Four Seasons Budapest, which you should definitely step into) and deep history. There were tons of flea markets, cute secondhand and vintage shops, and (at the time) Christmas markets. There is also a huge market hall full of food and traditional Hungarian items. Maybe I was lucky with my timing, but I also experienced amazing weather while visiting. There was actually sun! Which was a change of pace from the grey Viennese winter.

This is Not Your Average Parade

If you’re from Canada or the United States, the only thing you had to worry about if you were on Santa’s Naughty List, is getting coal in your stocking. In Austria, you had a whole other thing coming for you: Krampus. This terrifying beast is the anti-Santa. He’ll come for you at night, put you in his sack and beat you with sticks. Not scared enough? In the alpine areas of Austria, you can go to a parade with over 500 of these Krampuses. This is called Krampuslauf or Perchtenlauf, and it is the only parade where you can expect to get beaten AND recieve candy. People (a lot of the time drunk people) dress up like the Krampus and run through the streets, growling at you, running at you and hitting you in the ankles with bundles of sticks. As you can see in the photos, I tried to make friends with one but I ended up getting smacked anyway! It was the most backwards version of a parade I’ve ever been to, but I really enjoyed it. Imagine how many better behaving children we’d have in Canada if we had a Krampuslauf? 

Fake It Til’ You Make It

Last year, I spent some time in Austria over Christmas and New Year’s, thus tagging along on one of the many skiing trips that my friends go on throughout the year.  If you didn’t already know: Austrians are born with skiis on. Me? Not so much. The “big hill” at the local skiing spot where I live in Canada is the size of the bunny hill here. But there is much more to skiing in Austria than actual skiing. So here I’ve decided to give you my top 5 tips for how to survive ski season in Austria:

 

It really does not matter how well you can ski, you just have to look cool. In other words, “fake it til you make it”. If you dress in the right gear, and act like you know what you’re doing, you’re nailing it.

Half of the reason you go skiing is to experience “aprés ski”. After the hills close at 4, everyone rushes to the little lodge bars to drink while still in their snow pants and ski boots.

Since we’re at the DeutchAkademie learning German, be prepared for how inappropriate, sexist and racist aprés ski songs can be when you start understanding them. 

Learn how to knock the bottom of a glass full of wheat beer (Weizenbier). Let the prank wars begin.

HAVE FUN. You’re in the Alps, how amazing is that!? 

 

Wotrubakirche

When you think of Viennese architecture, you think of extravagant pastel buildings that look like wedding cakes. So you’d never expect to find this Brutalist masterpiece. Wotrubakircha, designed by architect Fritz Wotruba, is probably the most interesting building I’ve seen in Vienna. In the Architekturzentrum Wien (at Museumsquartier) I read a quote by the architect himself, saying: “This building… will possess a great dynamic and dramatic quality. The apparent chaos created by the arrangement of asymmetrical blocks is intended to finally result in harmonious unity.” This quality was most definitely achieved. No matter where you’re standing in the church, there are intriguing shapes created by the intersections of concrete and glass.

  • The only challenge with visiting this church is that it’s a bit of a journey to get there, but believe me, it’s totally worth it. Here’s how to get there:
  • First, get to the Heizing station on the U4
  • Then, you need to switch to the tram system and get on the 60 in the direction of Rodaun and get off at Maurer Lange Gasse
  • Then it’s a bit of a walk from there! Up Maurer Lange Gasse toward the big Maurerwald park and then a left on Georgsgasse. (Definitely look up walk on Google just in case!)

Naked-time, Schapps and Volcanos

I think one of the most completely foreign experiences I’ve ever had in Austria was going to a thermal spa or “therme”. For the first time, I went into a sauna. Not only did I go into a sauna full of naked people I don’t know, I also went in with naked people I DO know. (This sparked an interesting conversation with my partner, because he thought that being there with people I know very well would make me more comfortable, when in fact it was quite the opposite). It was really interesting because…it wasn’t big deal; no one really cared. Coming from somewhere where nudity is so controversial, it was sort of refreshing. Being in the sauna was also a really fun (and sort of humerous) event anyway. You sit in the sauna with a crowd of people, while the “sauna master” whips a towel around to make the room hotter. Then you get out and jump in a pool of freezing water. Once again, you get back into the sauna for round two where the room gets EVEN HOTTER; then at the end you get a schnapps shot to celebrate!

The therme we went to was also really beautiful. It’s called Rogner Bad Blumau which is located in Styria. It’s designed by the Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (the guy who designed the Spittelau Waste Plant and Hundertwasserhaus), so the whole complex consists of mosaic buildings, even floors and lots of trees and plants. Even all of the rooves are covered in grass so if you were to look at it from above, you wouldn’t be able to see the buildings. The therma has saunas (duh.), mineral pools, a wave pool, and tons of spa treatments (massages, a steam rooms, a Turkish bath, etc.). And did I mention…a volcano? A volcano that spits fireworks every evening? If that’s not motivation to visit this place, I don’t know what is!

Museum of Music History

Questo museo si trova in un palazzo storico vicino al Bastione dei Pescatori a Budapest. Il museo non è molto grande ma l’ho trovato interessante per documenti e strumenti molto antichi e per il suo modo di raccontare la storia dello sviluppo dei strumenti.

Le sale sono dedicate a diversi periodi musicali, musicisti o strumenti. Dalla musica gitana alla musica folk alle composizioni di Liszt.

Le varie sale erano piene zeppe di numerosi strumenti musicali tra cui pianoforti d’epoca, violini e altri strumenti a corda oltre a lettere, note, spartiti, partiture, programmi e altri materiali originali. Alcune delle mostre avevano impostazioni multimediali tali da consentire l’ascolto di come suonavano lo strumento o le registrazioni. C’era anche una piccola stanza creata per assomigliare all’officina di un violinista.

È possibile suonare e toccare alcuni dei strumenti che sono nel museo.

Gulasch

Quando pensate al gulasch immaginate ad un secondo molto saporito a base di carne?

In realtà il gulasch è più che altro una zuppa.

Il gulasch è un antico piatto povero ungherese che veniva preparato dai mandriani che trasportavano manzi grigi molto pregiati verso i mercati di Vienna, Venezia e Norimberga.
Col passare del tempo, dalla prateria arrivò ad essere conosciuta dalle famiglie borghesi e a riscuotere il grande successo che ha portato il gulash a diventare il piatto tradizionale ungherese per eccellenza. Questo piatto è diventato famoso in tutta Europa e nel mondo ne esistono ormai moltissime varianti.

Devo dire che mi è piaciuta la variante come in foto con carne di cervo.

Cafè New York

Penso che non ci sia nulla di più affascinante del suono del pianoforte e del violino che suonano la famosa Suite del Lago del compositore russo Tchaikovsky, con una tazza di caffè e una torta al cioccolato nel famoso Cafe New York a Budapest. Per alcune ore è come se il tempo tornasse a un’epoca di eleganza come nessun altra. Al momento, questo caffè conserva ancora una tradizione di camerieri con uniformi in bianco e nero e buone maniere.

Circondato da archi dorati, tavoli in legno, il caffè di New York offre un’atmosfera unica, che ispira non solo coloro che sognano di tornare in un’epoca antica, ma anche qualsiasi scrittore, nostalgico o viaggiatore.

L’esclusiva struttura architettonica, le opere d’arte negli angoli e le lampade di cristallo, la delicata decorazione con cui i piatti sono serviti in questo ristorante, ritraggono alla perfezione la vita aristocratica di pochi decenni fa, che oggi conosciamo solo in film e fotografie.

Opera Statale di Budapest

Dopo la raccomandazione di diversi amici, ho deciso di fare un viaggio di 3 ore da Vienna per visitare una città che, alcuni decenni fa, era una parte importante dell’Impero austro-ungarico, Budapest. Una città affascinante in cui ogni angolo ha un edificio con mille storie da raccontare. Tra i molti monumenti, abbiamo deciso di visitare un gioiello architettonico e culturale, piccolo ma molto elegante, l’Opera Statale di Budapest. Sotto il dominio degli Asburgo fu autorizzata la costruzione dell’opera di Budapest, che non doveva essere più grande di quella che era a Vienna, la capitale dell’impero. Nonostante le loro ridotte dimensioni, abbelliscono lo spettatore con il loro ingresso lussuoso con raffinate sculture di marmo e legno, tappeti rossi, archi dorati e dipinti classici barocchi sulle pareti e sul soffitto. Una volta che la funzione inizia, ci vuole molto per rimuovere la vista del magnifico soffitto con un lampadario di cristallo per fissare finalmente lo sguardo allo scenario.

Una fiaba!

Mi trovo in una fiaba? In effetti uno potrebbe chiedersi se esiste veramente un posto cosi bello.

Si esiste. Io ci sono stato. E sapete una cosa?

Mentre passeggiavo intorno questo castello e tra i suoi prati mi chiedevo se fosse un sogno. Avete visto il film dello Schiaccianoci e i quattro regni? Ecco, immaginatevi voi dispersi in questo regno.

Se volete provare questa sensazione potete visitare Laxemburg . Si trova a 30 minuti in auto da Vienna o un ora con i mezzi.