26.05.2013 - 26.05.2013
As I lay jet-lagged and exhaused but wide-awake last night at 1:30am during our first night in Vienna (after finding the kids wide-awake with lights on playing hangman at 1:00am and asking them to PLEASE try and go back to sleep) I was thinking about windows and toilets.
Well, okay, not just windows and toilets but all the things that make Austrian living different than American living. Why are our toilets and windows and light swtitches completely different than theirs? I asked the kids and they said because Austrians are in their own country and it's their right. Well, I guess that's sort of true but even though I am a "free" American, it would not be easy (unless we built our own Austrian house in the USA) to get Austrian style windows and bathrooms. And I am envious of them.
In the "Sound of Music" (have to tie this into the blog somehow) the Mother Superior tells Maria during her crisis that "when the Lord closes a door, he opens a window." What many Americans don't realize is that this means Maria has more options than we do. Our windows only go up and down. Austrians windows can go tilt forward AND open sideways! Hence, Maria has more "life" options than we do just because she happens to live in a country where they have more window opening options. I bet even the Sound of Music experts out there never knew that!
Next, are what I like to call "toilet rooms." Almost all Austrian homes have a separate little room with just a toilet in it. I love this idea. They never have to wait to take a shower or put on make up or brush teeth until another person is off the toilet. Think what a time-saver this is! You would think we stressed-out Americans would be all over that idea.
But besides a rough first night of (little) sleep with interesting cultural thoughts we have had a nice start to our trip. We visited a "Heuriger" Saturday night which is an Austrian style family restaurant on the outskirts of Vienna. Heurigers were traditionally a place for a family who own their own vineyards to show off the wines they produce. Heurigers today are still rustric and beautiful places to meet family or friends over yummy traditional style Austrian food and wine (often white wine spritzers). Some are really touristy, but many, like the one last night have only locals in them.
We dressed up our American kids for the occasion in Austrian Lederhosen and a Dirndl which our Austrian relatives got a real kick out of. My kids also did their part to further break down cultural barriers by teaching their Austrian aunt and uncle "Miss Mary Mack" and "Rock, Paper, Scissors". Maybe world peace will lie within our next generation through such noble efforts.
Sunday we mostly spent again with family but we also had the chance to visit a really cool castle called "Burg Kreuzenstein." I don't have time to write up the whole fascinating history of this place but it was exactly the kind of place that Americans picture when they think of European castles. The kids thought it was cool but also kind of spooky - especially the large medieval weapons and armor collection.
Then at lunch today we had schnitzel. Of course! Try one if you've never had it. They even have vegetarian versions here. Yum!
Now I Need to sign off as jet-lag is hitting me again. Which brings my thoughts to another cultural difference in a product that I really wish we had in America. I love these old Austrian radios. Take a look at the brand name. Cracks me up every time.