Spring in Vienna

Spring in Vienna

Friday, June 3, 2011

June Already???

I am long overdue for an update and some pictures. The kids and I walked around one of six remaining Flakturms left from WW II this past week. These were constructed to be indestructible so that is why many are still left standing or used for other purposes, like the Haus des Meers (aquarium).
These were built as air defense platforms that could house 30,000 soldiers, a self contained hospital and could control water and power sources all from within! They are still very impressive but eery looking structures.

Austin had a blast of a birthday party last week and we are doing Anelie's tomorrow so she can celebrate with her classmates. I will post those pics and more after the parties are officially over. Whew!
In the meantime, here is the latest from Arissen. A story he composed and shared with Finn after dinner tonight:

"Daddy, can I tell you the story of about Goldilocks? Yes, I would love to hear it.
Ok, well Goldilocks went into the house to eat the porridge. And she went upstairs and three little bears were jumping on the bed. Momma called the Dr and the Dr said, No more bears jumping on the bed!"
 Some details are a little mixed up but good organization! I give it a 3+ :-)

The kids and I will be coming to Colorado on June 19. We are very excited to return to US soil after being away for six months and we can't wait to catch up with friends and family!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


We toured the infamous Central Cemetery outside of Vienna this past weekend. This vast cemetery houses the graves of Beethoven, Strauss, and Brahms to name a few. Other more notable politicians, leaders, artists, and important people of society can be found here as well. The Jewish section of the cemetery is very sombering to walk through. Overgrown grass and weeds cover many grave markers. Along the main corridor the grave stones are marred with holes, cracks, and broken off pieces of once beautiful and inscribed granite. These marks are not the result of weather and time but rather purposeful vandalism done by the Nazi soldiers during their occupation of Austria after Anschluss was declared in 1938. The hatred of the Jews was so widely felt by the Nazis that it was not enough to torture and humiliate them in life... but also after death.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Easter Break in Italy

Living in central Europe has many advantages when you have a car and some free time. The kids were out of school this past week so we took advantage of both to drive south to the beautiful country of Italy. We broke up our trip over several days so we were not in the van for too long. We drove five hrs the first day to Venice. We were able to spend two days wandering the narrow streets and alleys in the city, riding the water taxis, seeing the historical buildings and eating some local Venician food. We learned not to order a "peperoni pizza" in Italy as you will be given a pizza with several types of peppers on it! Fortunately, the kids were good sports about eating the pizza sans the peppers and Finn and I tasted pepper pizza for the first and last time:-)

We departed Venice and drove two hrs south to Pisa. It is a small town that caters to tourists stopping to see the Leaning Tower. The whole family enjoyed having their picture taken holding up the Tower and shopping the souvenir vendors lining the streets.  Arissen became official with his Italia baseball hat he picked out and the kids picked out their Pisa snowglobe to add to our growing collection.We enjoyed some very good authentic Italian pizza with buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil and the kids had their usual Margerita or "cheese only" pizza. And of course, gelato for dessert!

We drove two more hours south to Rome and arrived late at our hotel. It, like most buildings in Rome, did not look too impressive on the outside but once inside, there were marble stairs and elaborately upholstered furniture. The breakfast bar, which was included, served croissants, pastries, cappucinos, espresso, toast, jelly, and cereal. Traveling with three kids, free breakfast is a necessity! We spent two days touring the city. We toured the Coliseum, Pantheon and saw many ancient Roman ruins scattered all over town. We even saw the Pope as we stumbled upon a special ceremony the city was hosting for the Easter holiday. 
Navigating the numerous street vendors and sellers was a job in itself. Umbrellas, roses, noise makers...you name it, they were selling it...aggressively! 
At times, it was easy to forget we were in another country as the English speaking tourists and school groups were everywhere. It was fairly easy to navigate around the city without speaking Italian. Many signs were in English and most vendors in the big cities spoke English.

Last on our itinerary was Naples. Our first impression as we drove through parts of the city with trash littered everywhere and our hotel looking run down was not too good. However, after getting out to see the ruins of Pompeii, hike Mt Vesuvius-a still active volcano that wiped out Pompeii in 72 AD and an afternoon on the beach, we had a different perspective. The hotel, despite being outdated and like military barracks, had a reputable formal restaurant on site. A great way to start and end the day. Ciao!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring in Vienna

Signs of spring are everywhere and the warmer, nicer, weather has made our time outdoors much more enjoyable. Runners are everywhere as people are training for the Vienna Half Marathon and Marathon in April. Finn will be running the Half-Marathon. It will be a spectacular course with the finish line right in front of the Hofburg Palace. 

Life here has taken on a familiar rhythm-school, soccer, music, play dates, baseball. Life with children has it's similarities, regardless of geographic location.  Arissen is home now until next fall. We felt with all the changes in his world, he needed time to adjust. We visited the Schmetterling Haus or Butterfly House. He really enjoyed watching the movie on the life cycle of the Butterfly, picking out souvenirs for his brother and sister and playing in the park outside the museum. The Schmetterling Haus is actually part of the Hofburg Palace. It was the former private greenhouse of the royal family. It was quite spectacular.

Austin and Anelie just started playing baseball with an American Baseball league so we will be spending much of our time on the baseball field for the next nine weeks. Right now, our commute on public is about an hour one way-quite a commute 4x a week! We hope to purchase a used car soon and are excited to cut our travel time in half. 

We hope all is well! We love hearing from family and friends. Enjoy the pics of our recent excursions in Vienna.
Auf Wiedersehen!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Moving and Venturing Out

Cramped up in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with a dog and five people in the middle of a new bustling city was not the lifestyle we were accustomed to. Needless to say, upon our arrival in Karlsplatz, Finn and I set our sights on finding a permanent spacious apartment to move the family into right away.

This move was simpler than most we had experienced, one of the perks for not having a lot of stuff!
The apartment we decided upon was vacant, perk #1; within walking distance to the kid's school, perk #2; a short skip to the bus stop,  perk #3; garden level with access to the private back yard, perk #4; and roomy enough to give the kids their own small but separate bedrooms perk #5! We felt blessed to find all of this within our budget for living in Europe on the cheap is not cheap! Thus, the reason why most Austrian families only have one child...

Mid-January, a friend and colleague of Finn's offered to drive Finn and all of our suitcases from the 2nd District to the 19th District while the kids and I took public transportation (because we couldn't fit in his car:-)).

We have been in our apartment now for over a month and as you can see from the pictures, we are still sleeping on air mattresses in the living room. We just confirmed that our shipment will be delivered on Feb 23 and 25. Yay! In the meantime, anything I've been able to pick up from IKEA and haul home in a grocery bag has had to suffice. Amazing what you can live without when you have too!

One of our goals during our time here is to see as much of the area and surrounding countries as possible. It still amazes me how close the different countries are to one another and so easily accessible by car. Most countries do not have a border patrol so you just drive in and out like you would cross the state line. While driving on the interstate, it is easy to forget you are in Europe for the terrain and vegetation look identical to parts of the southeastern US and Appalachian Mountains.

So far, we have taken a weekend trip to Prague and this past week, were able to venture south to the ski resort of Obertauren because the kids were out of school for "ski week". Hhmm, CO should consider doing this:-)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Our First Month in Wien

Our journey began in Golden, Colorado when the movers arrived at our house two days after Christmas. On December 27, a knock on the door at 8:00 am, right on schedule, a crew of movers from Allied Moving Co. showed up ready to go to work. 

Fortunately, despite Christmas being just two days prior, we had managed to find the time to clear out and sort most of our belongings into the three shipments: Air-500 lbs with a one week arrival time; Sea-what we wanted to live with for the next two years but not get for 30-45 days and Storage-everything else that we'll eventually forget we own! Not an easy task with three children to consider.

Despite that, Finn and I managed to pack our Ball clothes in the Air shipment for we were not going to miss that event for anything. I packed my $20 Thrift Store gem of a dress and black jeweled stillettos and he packed his black Banana Republic suit with the intent to purchase a bow tie and cumber-bun when we arrived in Vienna. 
The movers thought we were crazy when they saw the fancy clothes being thrown in with the sleeping bags and kitchen dishes!

Because our departure on December 3 was several days after our house was packed up, we used the remaining days in Colorado to tie up lose ends like storing the mini-van, securing bank and post office accounts, getting the new tenants moved it and saying our Good-Byes to family and friends. It was a whirlwind of activity and all I can remember is staying up late the night before our early morning flight trying to squeeze any last belongings into our many suitcases and wondering if our dog, Hunter was going to be able to make the trip with us, for the temperatures were predicted to be cold the following morning.

Fortunately, Hunter was able to fly with us and we left Colorado bound for Washington, D.C. without a hitch.  Our layover in D.C. was about four hours. Just enough time to get the kids fed, get to our departure gate and hang out until our flight began boarding.

Upon boarding the Austrian Airlines plane was when our world was transformed...bright red and green decor, the stewardesses dressed from head to toe in everything red, and classical music playing on the intercom.  
Our seats were in the middle aisle. Austin and Anelie sat up front and Finn, Arissen and myself sat in a row behind; across the aisle from members of a women's NBA basketball team bound for Europe for training. Unfortunately, I had brought along with me from the states laryngitis and a chronic cough; not fun on an international flight.

We arrived in Vienna at 8:00 am to cold and damp weather. The kids enjoyed the unusual tram-like truck that ferried us across the runway to our gate. We immediately got off and headed towards luggage claim while Arissen chatted it up with a nice stewardess from Louisiana. He had managed to plan a "sleep over" with her before it was over:-)

After rounding up all of our gear, three children, skis, a car seat and a cute dog, we made our way through the airport to meet our driver. We had been told things were "simpler"... "smaller"... less"... in Europe, but until you experience it, you don't really know what "less" means. Plus, with three children, "less" is virtually impossible!  
Much to the drivers dismay, we were able to load all of our gear into the van and off we went to our temporary apartment in Karlsplatz. 

The first week was spent in a tiny, one bedroom apartment watching the German version of SpongeBob SquarePants and trying to figure out how to grocery shop when the stores are closed for Holiday!

I will fast forward a month. Much has happened since our first week here. I will sum up some of the highlights:

Eating goose eggs for breakfast because that was all that was available at the Turkish market open on Holiday.
Using Buttermilk for coffee creamer because we couldn't read the label! Ha
Hiking a mile up a very steep hill to school, carrying a 4 year old, in the pouring rain, 2x a day for 2 weeks. 
No, really.
Using an umbrella for the first time in like 10 years.
Anelie contracting lice at the most expensive school in all of Vienna her first week here!
Us treating lice the Austrian way. Missing a day of school to travel across town by bus, then a tram, then another bus in the cold, pouring rain to a center that is open from 7:30-11:30 M-F just to treat lice! It was bizarre. 
Escaping the air mattresses (and lice) for a weekend in Prague. It was an amazing city despite the freezing temps (although the kids were not too excited about the museum of medieval torture tools)
Attending a Ball at the Hofburg Palace on public transportation.
Paying the babysitter mistakenly in Czech crowns instead of Euros. Oops!
Remembering not to order anything on the menu that says "beuchel" which translates to veal heart and lung. 

Hmmmmm...I know there is more but I'll save it for the next post:-)
Life is an adventure and we are excited to have this rare and unique opportunity. The kids are making some good friends and we are enjoying meeting families and people from all over the world. 
Till next time...