Six Months in Austria and a few of My Favorite Things

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Hiking in the Julian Alps

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Walking around the city square

“Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens…”

These past six months have simultaneously flown by and at times felt like years and years – it is funny how time works that way. There have been days that I longed for warm California sunsets (February, I’m looking at you) and days when I was so satisfied with my decision to move abroad that I could not imagine my life any other way (insert image of myself with a pretzel here).

In honor of my six month anniversary, I found it fitting to pay tribute to what I love best about Austria by creating my own Sound of Music inspired “Favorite Things” list. Although it is very important to note that most Austrians have not seen The Sound of Music (or care to watch it) and that you should never ask to have “schnitzel with noodles” because that is simply sacrilegious.

Here are a few of my favorite things:

  • The relaxed pace of living: It was definitely an easy adjustment coming from the American “work, work, work” mentality to the flow of holidays and personal time in Austria. One of the reasons that we moved to Austria was the appeal of being able to see more of one another and it has absolutely been worth it. After a couple of months I definitely respect that most shops are closed on Sundays so everyone can have a day of rest, it is a great way to live if you ask me.
  • Fresh snowfall on the mountains: I am a California girl through and through, so when I see sticky snowflakes falling from the sky, I still think it is magic. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning to see the mountains with a fresh covering of snow.
  • Bread and Beer: Every region will say that they have the best beer and the best bread in Austria and with so much to choose from it is hard to pick a favorite. From the everyday semmel, to the savory salzstangerl, to the delicious holiday strietzel, I have a difficult time saying no to fresh, warm bread. While the beer culture of Austria lacks the notoriety of Germany, you will find similair friendly faces eager for you to try the beer of their hometown.
  • Train rides across the countryside: There is something so relaxing about sitting in a train car and taking in the natural beauty of Austria. From the ice covered lakes in winter, to the wildflowers that cover the meadows in summer, it is all just so beautiful.
  • Kaffeehaus Culture: Gone are my American days of ordering a “a damn fine cup of coffee” in a diner (sorry Agent Cooper). Coffee in Austria covers a broad spectrum – milky Melange, strong Einspänner, and the decadent dessert Eiskaffee – and it is always savored to the last drop. Ordering a coffee is a moment of a pause and is meant to be enjoyed with drinks often accompanied by a small square of chocolate or tiny cookie to make the moment sweeter.
  • Excellent Neighbors: Austria is bordered by seven countries, making it an excellent hub for exploring Europe. Compared to my life in the USA, I love that I only have to drive twenty minutes to be in Italy and an hour to the capital city of Slovenia, it used to take me thirty minutes just to drive to the grocery store. There are so many cultures to experience and history to be learned that it is easy to fall in love with this part of the world.
  • Celebrating Tradition: Austrians cherish their traditions and pride themselves on preserving the practices used by their ancestors. It is not unusual to see people in traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls around town and there is a a lot of value placed on supporting small businesses that have been doing their trade for hundreds of years. There are festivals that date back to early Christianity and practices that trace back to Pagan ancestry that are still practiced and shared with children to be carried on.
  • Going for a Wandern: Austrians are fit and sport reigns supreme. Whether it is skiing in the Alps, Nordic walking around town, playing table tennis, or going for a bike ride on the multitude of trails through the country side, there is so much to do. Regardless of the number of activities, I still prefer the peace and quiet that comes from a good wandern (hike). It is easy to get out into the countryside and enjoy the scenic vistas, rugged terrain, and the occasional cow chewing cud.
  • Crisp apple strudel: Fräulein Maria was not lying to you, it really is that good.

 

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