Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm Alive!

I know I'm terribly behind on my blog, but I am working on updating it this week. So much has happened over the past month! I went to Vienna and Berlin, Christmas is almost here and I turned 29! Oh and I faced my Krampus fear and only got whipped once!

Here I am at my birthday dinner wearing my Krampus sweater:

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have been terrified of seeing Krampus since I first heard about it. I've already seen Krampus cards and Krampus gingerbread around Bischofshofen, but tonight was my first sighting. I was sitting in a restaurant with two other TAs and we saw two pass by just as we finished eating. I panicked a little bit, but figured it would be fine. The two Krampusse (This is the plural that I found. Please correct if wrong!) had walked by going in the opposite direction of where I live. However, a little bit later, more Krampusse walked by, at least five, if not more! I was really panicking now, but the procession had seemed to pass and the other TAs and I could make our way back to the train station safely so I could see them off to their villages. There was a Krampus in front of us, but we crossed the street to avoid it. Then they ended up behind us making a lot of noise, but they didn't chase us. They seemed to be more interested in all the children galloping about. I was a little scared to walk home by myself from the train station, in case I encountered one alone. Luckily, I didn't see any on the way home. They seem to make a lot of noise, so I am hoping they don't normally sneak up on people. Either way, I'll be looking over my shoulder a lot when walking home at night for the next month! Or I might avoid going out after dark completely!

For those who don’t know what Krampus is, let me explain. Krampus is a mythical creature that is the alpine version of getting coal for Christmas, but a million times more terrifying (OR: a lot creepier). It is the antithesis of St. Nicolas who comes and brings gifts. Krampus takes all the naughty children and stuffs them in its bag and hauls them away to the mountains. Every year, the day before the Feast of St. Nicolas on December 6th, there is something known as Krampuslauf. This is a parade of all the Krampusse around the town. Young men dress up as Krampus and wear elaborate costumes with fur, claws, and scary masks. They chase people, especially women and children (so I've heard), and whip them with tree branches.

In a small alpine village, this begins in mid-November and lasts until Christmas! I've heard that in these villages, the Krampuslauf is pretty crazy, and Krampus will be out and about practically every night. There is a Krampuslauf in Salzburg, but it's pretty tame and touristy. In the villages, like where I am, anything goes! My students and others have told me that I will probably end up bruised after Krampuslauf. We'll just see how the rest of this month goes with Krampus everywhere.

For more information, visit the Krampus Wikipedia page. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012


This has been a whirlwind Herbstferien (Fall Vacation) so instead of recapping everything, I'm just going to mention some highlights and observations.
  • Went to Vorarlberg, the western most province in Austria.
  • The train ride was long, but very beautiful. Part of the ride was on a mountain, so I was able to look down into the valley below. Beautiful, but a little scary!
  • Stayed with another TA and her family.
  • Walked into Switzerland, which is possible from Vorarlberg. Luckily, we did not get stopped, because I did not have my passport with me. (Switzerland is not part of the EU, so you need a passport crossing into it.)
  • Ate veal for the first time.
  • Also ate venison for the first time. It was served in a gulasch.
  • Just generally ate a lot in Vorarlberg. Some other highlights of eating this week include polenta, quiche lorraine, Knödel (dumplings), chocolate cake, apple cake, a sponge cake with berries and finally, cheese! My friend's mother has a knack for buying the most delicious cheeses, especially soft cheeses.
  • After a few days in Vorarlberg, my dirndl that I just bought probably does not fit anymore.
  • I learned that I do not have a talent in buying the right kind of cheese. When I got back home, I bought some Brie from the supermarket and it was awful.
  • Visited Bregenz, the capitol of Vorarlberg. Walked around, saw one of the biggest lakes in Europe (Lake Constance), went to the Kunsthaus (art museum) and saw a bizarre exhibition of line drawings and a good one on art and photography from Nairobi, Kenya. Which just fueled my interest in visiting Kenya some day. Maybe that will be my next goal: move to Kenya!
  • Went on two long walks. One in a snowy forest and the other completely up hill.
  • Also learned to never trust Austrians when they say "We're going on a walk!" I know I have mentioned this before, but I feel like I will never learn this lesson! 
  • Railjet is one of the nicest trains I've been on in Europe. It even has wifi!
  • Spent the night in Salzburg with some other TAs. Who happen to have a very nice apartment!
  • We went out to dinner at an Italian restaurant and then out for beers afterwards. Unfortunately, I did not get to eat the schnitzel I've been craving.
  • Stayed up way too late on Friday night. Walked home from the bar and stopped at McDonald's on the way back.
  • Went to Prien am Chiemsee, which is in Germany. This is also a very big lake, though not as big as Lake Constance.
  • Visited one of the islands that has a castle. Apparently the castle was modeled after Versailles, but was never finished.
  • Didn't go inside the castle, except to eat, but did see some reindeer in the gardens. However, I just learned that they were not reindeer, but in fact, fallow deer!
  • A week's vacation didn't feel long enough. I don't feel ready to go back to school!
  • And the best news of all, bought a ticket to go to Berlin in a few weeks! Can't wait!

And now for some random pictures!

Cat in the Old City Bregenz.

Very friendly and even posed for us!

Blurry photo of Switzerland. I think.

Lake, ducks and Germany in the background. Or maybe it was Switzerland, I can't remember!

Lake Constance and me. The light was not the greatest for a picture!

Forgot to take a picture of the delicious cake I had before eating it!

This made me laugh. Don't know what that says about my maturity level.


Old Town Bregenz

More Old Town Bregenz. Hard to see, but there is a pair of antlers hanging over the tunnel.

Interesting cafe next to the art museum in Bregenz.
My friend's cat.

Snowy (and very wet!) woods.

View while on a walk.

For dog droppings. There were many of these on the walk, but of course, I ended up taking a picture of one that has graffiti.

View on the boat going to Herreninsel on Chiemsee.

Some other TAs and me on the boat.

The castle on Herreninsel.

Human body, but frog face.

I think this is a Greek goddess turning people into frogs and lizards.

Here are the frogs and lizards.

And the humans changing into frogs.

Another frog face.

Another fountain in the gardens.

I especially liked this serpent.

Not that impressed!

There was a reindeer! Actually a fallow deer, according to my Bavarian friend.

Attempting to ruin my pictures.

Wasn't supposed to take pictures in this room, but didn't see the sign until after I took this photo. Oops!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Austrian Food, Part I

You know how portion sizes in the USA are supposed to be enormous in comparison to the rest of the world? Well, while I wouldn't disagree that portion sizes are out of control in the United States, I bought one of the biggest pastries I've ever seen today. It's called a Zimtschnecke, which means cinnamon snail! It's almost as big as my plate! I had to document the evidence.

Speaking of pastries, my favorite pastry that I've found so far is one that is made with nuts. It's very tasty and not too sweet, but unfortunately that bakery was closed today so I had to settle for this behemoth. 

I love that there are actual bakeries in Europe. I find myself going at least every other day, if not every day to pick up some fresh rolls or a pastry. I am starting to learn the names of the bread and don't feel like as much of an idiot when I order. There are signs in the bakery cases, but it can be hard to tell which sign goes with which bread or pastry, especially not being a native speaker! I had no idea there would be a learning curve with going to a bakery!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Berlin and Salzburg

This blog is about Austria, obviously. Of course, I’m very excited to be in Austria, and in my time here I’m trying not to dwell on Germany and Berlin where I have been many times. After traveling to Salzburg this weekend with some other American TAs, I realized something. 

The other TAs that I traveled with all studied abroad for a year in Salzburg. Whenever they mention Salzburg, it’s with a sigh. They have a lot of memories and experiences from their time in Salzburg. Salzburg is definitely a nostalgic place for them and they feel sad when leaving the city. They can wander for hours around the city without a plan in sight. 

When I go to Salzburg, I just feel like “eh.” Don’t get me wrong, Salzburg is very beautiful, but I don’t feel anything particularly special when visiting it. I also need a plan when I visit, otherwise I find wandering around the city a little dull. I think if I were living in Salzburg and not a little alpine village, I might feel a little differently about it. I think that when I go back home to the US, the place I will feel nostalgic for in Austria is my little alpine village, Bischofshofen. 

Berlin is definitely my nostalgic/special place in Europe. While I haven’t spent a lot of time there, in my many visits, I have made a lot of memories and, of course, friends in Berlin. I also could wander around Berlin for hours with no plans. I probably talk too much about Berlin and also probably end those sentences with a sigh. Sigh.

Sorry Salzburg! While you are probably more breathtakingly beautiful than Berlin, you can’t compete with all my memories of Berlin. Berlin, you will always hold a special place in my heart. 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Teaching

I came to Austria to gain some real teaching experience and to expose myself to the language, obviously. I don’t necessarily want to be an ESL teacher like I thought a few years ago, but am very interested in being a Young Adult Librarian.

I have been in the classroom for three weeks now. In this time, there have been a lot of ups and downs. Despite being super nervous the first week, I think I did a good job with my introductions. Of course this was easy, because it’s pretty easy to introduce myself. The students are also very interested in learning about me and the United States.

The second week was more introductions, also easy, but I also had to start teaching regular lessons that I had planned. I was very nervous about this. I had to prepare and teach a lesson on Minnesota tourism and one on high schools. Before the lesson on Minnesota tourism, the teacher grilled me on the lesson plan. Of course this made me extra nervous! But afterwards, the same teacher complimented me on the lessons and told me the students really enjoyed it. The high school lesson also went better than expected. This is very much a “learning as I go” process. I’m still getting the hang of what I’m doing. Each class is also different. Some classes just stare at me while other classes can’t stop talking.

This week was actually my first full week of “real teaching.” I had to prepare lessons on various topics from obesity and health to the election. My first day teaching at my main school was actually a little disastrous. I was teaching 5 classes and thought I had prepared well. However, I got my classes mixed up and ending up teaching obesity in American when I should have been talking about diversity in America. Plus I struggled with printing out the materials I needed. The whole morning felt like a mess. Even though I thought I had prepared very well, in the end, I felt like I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. However, I think the teachers realized I was just hitting some (hopefully temporary) bumps as I get into the swing of things.

By Thursday of this past week, I was feeling a little blah about teaching. I don’t hate it, but I was feeling a little burned out. I did prepare lessons, but wasn’t feeling enthusiastic about going to school. However, the lessons turned out surprisingly well, especially with my more difficult classes. Some of my classes are so enthusiastic that I’m there and some classes, well, they don’t want to talk! I did a lesson on fast food and Super Size Me for my most difficult classes and they seemed to enjoy it. All of my students seem to love to talk about McDonald’s!

So I started out the week feeling very positive about teaching and prepared for my lessons, hit a midweek slump, but I recovered by Friday. I am finding that I really need to be creative with my lessons and add more games to my lessons. I also enjoy these lessons more. For example, I played a question game with some of my students on Friday and it went over really well. The students and the teacher liked it and I didn’t feel like I had to talk endlessly.

I also want to become involved in the schools, which hasn't really happened yet, but I'm working on it. I hope I can tutor some students in English. I've also had two students add me as a friend on Facebook. And one of my teachers invited me to her little village in the mountains. Now I just need some activities at the schools. 

Today, I’m actually looking forward again to teaching this week. I’m using my triumphs and failures from last week to learn what I should change. Sounds easy enough, but this experience has been very challenging! But I do think I’m improving.

Monday, October 15, 2012

When it rains in Austria, it pours.

I don't know if the weather normally is like this in Austria, but the best way to describe the weather in Austria is wet and unpredictable.

Usually, when I wake up in the morning and go outside, it's so foggy that I can't see the mountains. I always check the weather before leaving and the humidity is also very high every day! And it rains a lot. And I mean a lot! I don't think I've lived anywhere where it rained this much! One of my teachers told me this is a little unusual, and I hope that's true. I'm just sitting here listening to it rain right now.

On Friday, I went with Holly, another TA, to Sankt Johann to go out to a bar. I checked the weather beforehand and it seemed like it might rain, so I grabbed my umbrella. On the way to the train station, it wasn't raining, but a slow drizzle started once I got to the station.

Upon arriving in Sankt Johann, the rain started pouring. Holly and I had to walk into town, uphill in what was pretty much a flash flood. I thought weather in the US was extreme, but that was some of the worst rain I've had the pleasure of walking in. Usually, going into Sankt Johann is a pain, because the town is situated on a hill. I was so focused on the rain that I didn't even notice we were walking uphill! We also got terribly splashed by a passing car on the way to the bar!

Once we made it to the bar, we were both completely soaking wet. Even though I had an umbrella and Holly had a hoodie on her jacket.

So this is Austrian weather. Can't wait until it snows!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Random observations from my (almost!) first month in Austria:

  • When I introduce myself, I tell the students that I’ve lived in three states. I ask them what they know about each state. My favorite answer for Texas is that Sandy from SpongeBob SquarePants is from Texas.
  • There is a brand of cigarettes in Austria called Memphis.
  • And the students here don’t seem to know anything about Minnesota, except that Marshall from How I Met Your Mother is from Minnesota.
  • It also apparently snows more in Austria than it does in Minnesota, according to my students.
  • Living in a foreign country makes me feel like an idiot 99.99% of the time.
    • Example: today I made a faux pas with my silverware. The way I had left them on my plate after finishing my meal at school indicated I wanted more food. One of the other teachers realized that it was a misunderstanding and told me how I should leave the silverware on my plate to indicate that I am finished. 
    • Other times I feel like a genius, like when I went to the bank and deposited money into my account, ordered a new bank card and set up internet banking, all in German!
  • Austrians are very blunt and straightforward. I feel like it could take months to get used to this. But when they do praise me, I know it’s genuine.
  • The students’ English is better than my German. Sometimes they hide this fact from me and won’t talk. But they can speak really good English when they want to.
  • Speaking of the students, they are all super nice! Even the boys, who know how to turn on the charm when they want to.
  • My students are also surprised that I live in Bischofshofen and never hesitate to tell me how boring it is.
  • Bischofshofen is a little boring, but I’m so glad that there are two other TAs nearby in small towns. It makes it easier being here!
  • Despite the fact that I live in a small town in Austria, I am so grateful to be here. It’s only the second week of school, so I think once I get to know the students and teachers better, I won’t feel as isolated. 
  • One nice thing about a small town is that people are friendlier. People say hello to me on the street, which catches me off-guard, as I thought this was a very American thing to do. Also, my landlady is almost like my "Austrian grandma" as another TA puts it. She brought me apple cake the other day and also told me I need to button my coat up because it's cold. 
  • Schools are really different here (obviously!). Students stand when the teacher and I enter the room. On my first day in each school, no one seemed to care that a random person was wandering around in their school. Very different from the US!
  • I had my first lessons this week that were not introductions. They went fairly well and I feel like I actually might like teaching more than I thought!
  • Sparkling water doesn’t seem to be as carbonated here as what I like to drink in the United States.
  • Dirndls are supposed to be really tight around the waist. I tried one on and the sales clerk told me I needed to pretty much stop breathing to put it on and, I guess, wear it.
  • I have a new addiction to Eisschokolade, but my favorite café is no longer serving it. Very disappointing
  • However, fortunately or unfortunately, Fanta is readily available here. And it tastes so much better in Europe than it does in the US.
  • The huge 1 liter mugs of beer weigh a ton!  
  • Not my beer!
  • And finally, I never thought I would say this, but Austria isn't seeming as foreign anymore. Even the mountains, which I was in awe of the first week, are just kind of there to me now. 

Monday, October 8, 2012


I attempted to attend Oktoberfest this past Saturday with some of my fellow Salzburg TAs. I honestly have to give Oktoberfest and Munich a negative rating right now. Saturday is definitely not the day to go to Oktoberfest and Munich is not the most fun city during Oktoberfest! I’ve heard that it’s best to go on a weekday and get there early, which we did not do, of course. Granted, I am not a big crowd person. They stress me out easily and that is what I remember most about the day, how many people there were in the city.

We left mid-morning on the train to Munich. The train was packed! By the end of the ride, people were standing in any free spot. There was also a stop close to Munich where people were unable to get on the train. I guess they had to wait for the next one? We were so lucky we got on in Salzburg, because we were able to find seats before the train got too crowded.

Once arriving in Munich, we followed the crowds to Oktoberfest. We were also being followed by some obnoxious Americans that were commenting loudly on everything. They were truly “ugly Americans.” The first I’ve seen and heard since being here, so I’m grateful for that! Once inside the fairgrounds, we walked around for a couple of hours. Well, walked isn’t the best word. There were so many people, that I felt like I was just bumping around from person to person, like bumper cars, but with people instead of cars. And it wasn’t really fun. The weather was beautiful, luckily, and the food I ate was good, but overall, Oktoberfest wasn’t that much fun.

When most people think of Oktoberfest, I’m sure they imagine beer gardens, beer halls, dirndls, lederhosen and huge mugs of beer. Well, all of that is at Oktoberfest, but it’s actually more of a carnival atmosphere. There are rides and a ton of food stands for people that can’t get into the beer halls. Unfortunately, arriving at noon on a Saturday means that you won’t get into one of the beer halls. So I didn’t get to have my huge mug of beer. I did eat a super long sausage in a bun, a Fanta and a Pfannkuche (like a crepe) with cinnamon and sugar.  We made the rounds at Oktoberfest and then decided to call it quits. It was impossible to get into any of the beer halls!

We made our way to Altstadt, the center of the city. We went to a famous brewery in Munich, called St. Augustiner. I googled it when I got home and it’s one of the most popular breweries in Munich. The beer is even somewhat popular all the way north in Berlin! It’s also considered the last truly local brewery in Munich. I copied one of the other TAs and ordered a dark beer. It was actually really good! Probably the best part of the day. I also finally got to eat the pretzel I’d been craving since being in Munich. The pretzels at Oktoberfest are massive! I wanted to buy one even if I couldn’t eat it all. Next time!

We were exhausted by Oktoberfest. On the train back, I struggled to stay away. Once back in Salzburg, I went with two other TAs to Café Sacher. Café Sacher is famous for their Sacher Torte, which is a chocolate cake with a thin lay of apricot preserves. I had a piece of the cake and a hot chocolate. I was completely sugared about by the cake and drink, though both were really good. I had planned to stay with another Salzburg TA, but I was able to catch one of the last trains back to Bischofshofen. Coming home after midnight was a test run to see how I feel about coming back home that late at night. Of course, I was fine! I’m just a little paranoid about coming home by myself late at night.

I will have to give Munich a second chance. I understand that it is a wonderful city, but I found it hard to enjoy it with all the people. There is a yarn store just outside of Munich, so I will be visiting again. After I get paid!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

First week of school!

So the first week of school is over and I’m exhausted! When I applied for this program, I was worried that 13 hours would leave me with a lot of free time. And it does! But I still feel like this week has been super busy.

On Monday, I went to my two secondary schools, which share a building. I had already been to my main school the week before. I am working 5 hours at my main school and had to work out the schedule with my other two schools. It was confusing trying to split the last 8 hours between my other two schools. But I got a schedule that would hopefully work out.

Tuesday was my first real day of “teaching.” I was super nervous! I had to meet my main teacher who would drive me up to the school rather than me walking like last time. I was off with one of the English teachers not long after I arrived and in a classroom! Honestly, Tuesday was a little bit of a blur, because it was my first teaching day and I was so nervous. I also am not used to no air circulation in buildings, so between the nervousness and no air, I was super sweaty.

My introduction presentation went pretty well in each class and the students did ask me questions and talked a little bit. Of course I was asked if I was married. When I told the students I wasn’t, they asked why I work a ring on my right hand. The right hand is where the wedding ring is worn in Europe, so after that incident, I took off my ring on that finger. I was also asked if I believed in aliens and what I thought of Justin Bieber. The classes were generally good, but the oldest students were a little “hormonal” as my teacher put it. The teachers told me they also liked my presentation. Sometimes TAs just get up and talk about themselves, but I tried to make it a little interactive and get the students talking. I find talking about myself a little boring after a while.

I got a ride back from one of the English teachers. She spoke to me in German and invited me to come skiing or snow shoeing at her home in Werfen, which is a little village just north of me. Of course I said yes. Living in Bischofshofen is a little isolating at times, so I'm trying to take all the opportunities I can.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I split my time between my other two schools. These schools are a mixed bag. One is a kind of technical or training school for culinary arts. The other is a pedagogy school for students learning how to be Kindergarten teachers, but is also somewhat of a Gymnasium (like my main school) so the students are able to continue on to university if they want. Gymnasiums are like American high schools and are the main track to go to university.

The students at the Kindergarten schools were chattier and more engaged than the tourism/culinary school. The former school is mainly girls and I think this adds a different dynamic to the school. They also invited me to their Maturaball, which is like prom, but is held in the Fall. So I’m going to a Maturaball this coming Saturday. I’m a little nervous about it, because I don’t know any students or teachers very well at this school. But in keeping with my promise to not turn down any invitations, I decided to go. It also shows that I’m interested in the students and the school.

Because one of my schools focuses on culinary training, I am able to eat lunch there, prepared and served by the students. It’s very cheap and a three course meal. I only ate there once this week, because my schedule was a little crazy. I can see myself eating there a lot more, as it’s very cheap and good! As one of my teachers put it, if I tried to buy all the ingredients myself to make the meal, it would be more expensive than eating at school. This week, I had Wurstsalat, Putenschnitzel with Spaghetti and Apfel im Schlafrock with cream. The first course was a sausage salad, which I was a little worried about, because I don’t associate sausage with salad, but it was surprisingly good. The second course was turkey schnitzel, which was also good. I don’t know if I will ever get sick of eating schnitzel while in Austria. And the last course was baked apple wrapped in a pastry and served with cream. I asked why it was called “Schlafrock” which means sleeping robe. I learned that this is a common term in German for a dish that is wrapped in pastry, such as apple turnover.

Overall, this week has been good, but I still feel a little awkward sitting in the teachers’ lounge and I am still feeling anxious about my German skills. I liked meeting the students and hearing what they thought about the United States, though sometimes it was a little disheartening to hear what they thought of the United States. I heard that they thought all Americans are fat and that America, especially Texas are very dangerous. Well, that’s why I’m here, to hopefully dispel some of the stereotypes they have and to show them that not all stereotypes are true. Though there have been some bumps along the way, I think this school year will be a very interesting one and well, a humbling one. It already has been! Moving to another country has been one of the most exciting things I've done and one of the hardest. 

I'll end with an image of the poster for one of my school's Maturaballs. Trachten (traditional Austrian costumes) can be worn at this Maturaball, hence the picture. I cracked up when I first saw this poster!

Thursday, October 4, 2012


Steinterasse is a famous, but expensive bar in Salzburg. It's on the top of a hotel in the center of Salzburg. Of course, it has amazing views.

I was there a couple of days ago. While the views were amazing, the waitress was terrible. She was very slow and didn't know what "asti spumante" was despite working in a bar. The upside is that I got some nice photos and had a good time with the other American and British TAs.

Disclaimer: Some pictures shamelessly taken from one of the British TAs.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Never trust an Austrian wearing Lederhosen.

I’ve been in Austria for over a week. I have hardly slept since I arrived. At first, I thought that jet lag was just hitting me really hard. Then I realized that the mattress I was sleeping on was pretty thin and causing me to sleep horribly. I asked my landlady about possibly getting a new mattress. She is going to buy me a new mattress. Problem solved!

The whole week was orientation. I arrived on Monday and the orientation lasted until Friday. The week was very long, but it has been useful. The main point of the orientation is for some basic teacher training and to meet the other TAs in my province.

On Wednesday of orientation, we had the the infamous mountain hike in Hinterglemm. I had been told by the (Austrian) program leader that the hike wasn’t too bad. I had heard from a 2nd year TA that the hike was actually pretty intense. The plan was to take the gondola or Bahn (in German) up to the midway point and then hike the rest of the way. After my hiking experience up to my school, I was a little nervous about the hike. I was worried about not having the right clothes and shoes. I also worried about being sweaty and hot and tired.

Waiting for a ride.
The gondola or cable car.

Looking down after getting off the cable car.

The view from the midway point.

I had never been in a gondola before. I’m afraid of heights, so the idea made me a little nervous. The gondolas were enclosed, but they went up the mountain, which was very high! I was facing forward, which helped my height anxiety. We had to go up in groups of 6 or so. While we were waiting for others to come up, one of the organizers of the orientation started racing up the mountain. He is, of course, Austrian and was wearing Lederhosen. Never trust an Austrian when they tell you a hike is “not bad.”

The hike wasn’t actually too bad, except for the massive hills we walked. A slower group of us made it to the tree line and then, there was no longer a path! The Austrian in Lederhosen took the group straight up the mountain. I decided not to continue, as that is practically mountain climbing to me!

There were two bars at the midway point, near the gondolas and we went and ordered drinks from one of them. The waiter wasn’t wearing Lederhosen, but he was dressed a little more traditionally. After we had our drinks, he came out with an accordion and played a song and yodeled a little bit. A little later, he came out with a trumpet and played again for us. Such a typical Austrian experience! It’s amazing how much Austrians embrace their traditional culture, but yet are so modern at the same time.

Our waiter and his accordion.

After everyone else came back down the mountain (and confirmed that you had to be a mountain goat to go straight up the mountain), we hung out outside of one of the bars. We sang some American songs and drank. There was the option of hiking down the mountain. I wanted the gondola experience again, so I rode down. It was actually scarier going down than going up!
Not terrified at all!
Going down!

After getting back to our hostel, we had a traditional Austrian folk dancing group come and perform for us. They also got us involved and has people from the audience dancing, yodeling and stomping benches. This day was probably the most memorable, with the hiking and the traditional Austrian dancing.

Couples dancing.

This has a name, but I can't remember what it is.

A maypole?

And horns!

Of course, I wanted to comment on the food! The food at the hostel was very Austrian. I didn’t do a complete documentation of everything I ate, but we had a lot of meat, including schnitzel, potatoes and a lot of various kinds of dumplings. Basically, a lot of carbs! One night we even had a load of carbs, such as fluffy white bread with vanilla sauce and other desserty type foods. Dessert for dinner? A little strange! I was so happy when we finally had an Italian buffet the last night.

The last night, we had English folk dancing and each province “performed” a skit. I was utterly spent after the long week. I came away excited and scared about teaching.