Saturday, March 18, 2006


Where to begin--with European discount air carriers, skiing in the Alps, a naked bartender, or with dancing on chairs at a British pub? It’s hard to decide, I had so many “unique” experiences on my recent trip to Austria.

I guess I should start with the most exciting topic from the list above… discount air carriers:-) They are really changing the way Europeans get around the continent. I flew from Cologne to Munich in about an hour and it cost 30 euros—very slick! From Munich, I took a series of regional trains to Kitzbuehel. As the train went further and further into the mountains, I was awe struck! Snow-covered mountains stretched as far as the eye could see. The roofs of the houses are still covered in feet of snow and I didn’t realize how deep the snow on the ground was until I realized that the brown dots in the fields were the tops of fence posts.

mountains at sunset

downtown Kitzbuehel

When I got to Kitzbuehel, I checked into my gasthof and headed out to explore. The town reminds me of the Black Forest, with an occasional pop of Munich glitz—traditional Austrian clothing stores sandwiched between Louis Vuitton and ski shops. As I walked through the streets, the bells played “Lullaby and Goodnight” and skiers streamed into town after a full day on the slopes. All I needed was for Maria and the VanTrapp children to skip by singing Do Re Mi!

ADORABLE children's clothes

the bell tower that played "Lullaby and Goodnight"

taken from my window. I liked the angles of the roofs and flag

As with all quality European bed and breakfasts, the duvet and pillow in my room were super comfy;-) So after a dinner of cheese spaetzle (YUM!!) I headed to my cozy room to rest up for a full day of skiing.

Part II tomorrow…

PS This is my 100th posting!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Skier's Prayer

I'm in Bonn and Cologne at the moment meeting with people for my project. Tomorrow I head to Austria for a couple of days of skiing. Since I'm traveling without my computer, I won't be posting again until Saturday. But in anticipation of my trip, I present this little prayer:-)

Please let my legs be limber and the snow be fluffy,
May the town not be overrun by people named Muffy;

Let the chairlift be strong and ready to ride,
May the ski patrol be hot (I mean qualified);-)

May I remember to turn, so Granny will be proud,
If I schuss down a run or two, we just won’t say it out loud!

Let the huette be cozy and the cocoa hot,
May my Tirol dinner involve melted cheese in a pot.

If I must fall, please let it look graceful,
I do love the snow, but not a whole face full!

May I not get a blister or a sunburn,
If the good Lord allows it, may I one day return.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

"I love you"

I had a most interesting international evening last night. One of the Russian fellows invited me to a dinner with her Danish boyfriend and his Japanese colleague. The topics of conversation varied throughout the evening, but what made the night so interesting was that with every new topic we each ended up sharing how the issue was seen in each country. To be honest though, I found the thoughts of the Japanese girl most interesting. They reminded me once again to not take what I know as normal as the universal norm.

Some highlights:

- I casually mentioned that I would be going home for Easter. “And what exactly is Easter,” Iono asked? “Why are there eggs in all the stores right now?”

- “Is David (Danish) really going to prepare dinner? Japanese men would never do that. And does he clean the house too?”

- I also learned that Japanese men don’t usually eat sweets because it is considered unmanly. Iono said she had never seen her dad eat dessert. If a woman eats dessert, apparently the man drinks tea. Never in a million years would I guess such a thing could be cultural!

But the most interesting part of the evening came when Iono brought up how strange Japanese people think it is when American parents, in movies, say to their children that they are proud of them. Equally funny, she said, was when Americans say “I love you” to one another. Lena and David both agreed that saying “I’m proud of you” is not something that is said in Russia and Denmark and “I love you” is said sometimes but certainly less than in the States. I can understand how the very perfunctory “love you babe” exchanged between friends might sound funny to foreign ears, but not saying “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” to dear friends and family caught me off guard. Lena and Iono both said not saying “I’m proud of you” stems from an idea of always trying to do better and not allowing your children to be too prideful. I can understand that. Whether you chalk it up to “crazy Americans” or “the American spirit,” I am partial to “I love you” and “I’m proud of you” and plan to keep saying both:-)