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.


  1. I am glad you had a great traditional experience! :) A Seilbahn like that can be really scary! The dance you mean is called "Schuhplattler" and is pretty funny to watch! :)

    1. Oh thanks! I couldn't remember the name of it! The group was pretty entertaining and they had all of us get involved too.

    2. No problem! :) It is pretty famous in Germany and Austria. :)It is awesome that they had you get involved. :)