Saturday, September 22, 2012

Never take candy from strangers

I worked in a cafeteria-style restaurant for many years. I had many customers ask for butter to be spread on the bread while making a sandwich. The first time I heard this request, I thought it was strange. Who would want to eat butter on a sandwich? And then I went to Germany, where my host mom slathered butter generously on any type of sandwich she was making. I learned to like butter on sandwiches after that, though my preferred condiment is still mustard.

On my first day in Bischofshofen, my landlady took me to the grocery store. I didn’t have much time, and when I was standing in line to check out, I realized all I had in my basket was toilet paper, semmeln (bread rolls), cheese, nutella and butter. Traveling can really make me lose my appetite, and I had barely eaten in the past day. When I made my semmel, I piled on the butter!

This week was full of getting my last minute logistical things taken care of, such as opening a bank account, registering with local authorities, finishing my application for my residency permit and buying house shoes! I’m still working on getting an Austrian phone.

Today, I visited my main school, which is a private Catholic school that is up in the mountains overlooking Bischofshofen. When I asked the main teacher how I should get there, he told me to either take a taxi or walk. I decided to walk, and thought that the walk couldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately, I had to walk along a busy highway with no sidewalk and walk uphill the rest of the way! I also had left my hair wet, because I figured it would be dry by the time I got up to school. Well, between sweating and the cool humidity, I looked like a mess by the time I made it to the school.
The beginning of the hike. And clouds and fog.

Walking up to the school.
Almost there!
I met all the English teachers and was given a tour of the school. Everyone seemed very nice and I think I will enjoy the school and the students and teachers.

I didn’t want to walk on the highway with no sidewalk, so I asked the main teacher a better way to walk down. He suggested I take a hiking trail down the mountain and that I would avoid the highway going this way. I set off and found the trail, which was very narrow. I wasn’t wearing appropriate shoes, so I had to carefully walk down. I was a little worried I would fall and no one would find me, but luckily made it down the mountain. I only saw about three people when I was walking down the trail and through a field. I am definitely not a “nature girl” but I did enjoy being out there (mostly) alone, despite my unsuitable footwear. 

Here are a smattering of photos from my hike earlier, after I walked down the trail:

Later in the day, I was set to meet another TA that lives in the neighboring village. I met her at the train station and didn’t realize that this village is all uphill until you get to the center. I walked uphill for long stretches several times today! We wandered around the village, had some ice cream, looked at some dirndls and had a beer at an Irish pub. We also walked down to the dormitory where she is living. On the way, an old lady stopped us and held out her hand filled with candy and offered us some. We declined, but I now wish I had taken some as a “souvenir.” We both kept laughing about the ridiculousness of this the rest of the day. Is this an Austrian thing?! I have never had this happen, EVER!
The town center of St. Johann.

The McDonald's sign and the mountains in the background.
I told the other TA that I had seen a McDonald's from the train, so we set out to find the McDonald's to eat french fries. We walked to McDonald's, which was through this weird industrial area and not the best place to walk, but we made it! The McDonald's was super crowded and we both got McDoubles and fries, which tasted amazing. I had curly fries, while the other TA had the regular fries. They also have noodle bowls and shrimp wontons on the menu. We saw a lot of people eating the noodle bowls! We plan to go back to try those menu items. On the way back to the train station, there were three teenage girls giggling crazily behind us and we thought they were going to jump us, but they were just being silly.

Today was full of some wacky, unexpected events, but I think those are the best kind of days.


  1. It is so much fun to read about your time in Austria! Lots of hiking! And I am surprised about the menu at McDonald's!

    1. Yeah, I was really surprised too! I saw a lot of chopsticks in McDonald's, which was a first. The other TA told me that curry is really popular in Austria, which also surprised me!