A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad

A Chronicle Of My Experiences Living Abroad: September 2013

September 27, 2013

Vienna at Night

There's just something magical about this city at night. Hubs and I have been taking advantage of the crisp fall-like weather to go out exploring every chance we get. One of the advantages of living in the city is that after-dinner strolls are more exciting. Burning calories and taking in the sights? What's not to love? And we know that nights like these are few and far in between. The days are getting shorter and before you know it, it'll be the dead of winter... again.

September 26, 2013

Throwback Thursdays: A Tropical Getaway

We rarely take vacations just to "veg out". Hubs and I never understood the idea of spending money just to do nothing. I mean, who does? Well, we went to an amazing place called Excellence Resort Playa Mujeres in Rivera Maya, Mexico at the beginning of 2009, and it quickly changed our tune. It was one of the most relaxing weeks we've ever had. The great thing about all-inclusive resorts is you don't have to worry about anything, because literally everything is taken care of for you. So if you are ever looking for extreme down time, where there's not a care in the world, and time seems to stop for a while then go to an all-inclusive. You won't regret it. It's worth every penny to do "nothing".

Hubs asked housekeeping to add to our "towel family" in Spanish. And we came back to this after dinner.

View from where we had lunch almost everyday.

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September 24, 2013

How's your German coming along?

We've lived in Vienna for about 8 months now, and every now and then, people ask how our language skills are coming along. I've taken one intensive class and Hubs has been learning online. Reading it is definitely easier than speaking it, or even listening to people speak.  Collectively, I think we've got our basics down. We do well in a restaurant setting, shopping for necessities, and making appointments/reservations. There is definitely room for improvement, but I think for being here less than a year, our language skills are already pretty impressive. Especially since our only interactions with locals are pretty limited.

Originally, I was going to enroll into another class for October. But it didn't make any sense to learn German for four weeks and then leave the country for another four immediately afterwards to Taiwan.  Then, we get our first visitors a week after we get back and then leave again. Suffice it to say, it just wasn't going to work with the rest of the year being crazy busy. My goal is to definitely get back at it in January. Hopefully I won't have to start over, but we'll see.

For now, I think our German is coming along slowly and steadily. After all, I feel the Austrians are grateful that we are trying. Even today, I walked into my hair appointment speaking entirely in German, but the guy answered me in English. From what I heard from a local, when you speak in German and get the answer in English- take it as a compliment. It means that the other party is meeting you half way. That made me feel really good. Little victories are what my life is all about now.

1 of 16 reasons why German is hard for non-native speakers. Makes you want to bash your head into the wall!

September 23, 2013

5 Essential Travel Rules

Hubs and I travel well together. I'm usually spastic and unraveled and he's calm and laid-back, which makes for a perfectly balanced pair. Over the years, we have made "rules" to live by when we are on the road.

1) Offline

Being in a generation where smartphones have run rampant, it's hard not to flip that "satellite dish" out and check emails, Facebook, and whatnot. I'm married to an IT guy, it's expected that he has a relationship with his gadgets. But when we are out to dinner, our phones stay in our handbag/pocket.  So we've also adapted that to when we travel. Laptops stay locked away at home. We are mostly "offline". And it's worked marvelously. It feels great to shut out the world and focus on us and our new surroundings. To be "in the moment".

2) No flights earlier than 8AM
From experience, I just don't do well in the mornings. At all. Even with a full night' sleep. With the added travel stress, I am affectionately called "the dragon lady". I get too ramped up to sleep the night before any trip. It's like Christmas morning for a kid, for me. It even makes me more upset when I look over and see Hubs soundly asleep and the time glowing on the alarm clock in the dark - making me more stressed. It doesn't help that Hubs is so chipper and won't shut up once it's time to be up and at it. Lesson learned: NO EARLY FLIGHTS for our sanity's sake.

3) Clean House
 Nothing like coming home from vacation to a clean house and fresh sheets that were changed right before we left. I can't tell you how good it feels after traveling long distances to lay down on crisp clean sheets and blankets. I believe it helps with jet lag (even if it's just a little bit).

4) Pack a carry-on like you would for a long weekend
Our carry-on bags  are always equipped with at least FOUR outfits. You never know these days with  airlines. For instance, you remember that "snowmageddon" storm the Mid-Atlantic was pummeled with in December 2009? Well, we were suppose to leave THAT very day for our honeymoon. We finally got on our way two days later, but the airlines lost our luggage on a flight that NEVER LEFT the terminal. Thank god for our carry-on bags. Although, when we were getting ready to get on our second leg, the airline threatened to check our carry-on bags, because they wouldn't fit into the overhead compartments. After all we'd been through, I really had a "Meet the Parents" moment with the airline staff and Hubs had to calm me down so we didn't get kicked off that flight for causing a scene. And yes, I did say almost all the same things as Ben Stiller's character, minus the bomb part ;)

5) Not being sucked into tourist traps!
Research the places that you will be staying and where to eat when you're visiting an unfamiliar vacation destination.  I can't stress this enough. Many times you run into places where there are people outside the restaurants hailing to "come eat here" and "we have the best ______".  Strike up conversations with locals for suggestions. Usually you're not steered the wrong direction. We've gotten many of our best travel meals just from that!

September 20, 2013

Vienna Masters: Longines Global Champion Tour

I have never been to a horse riding competition show and I was delighted when the opportunity presented itself. My friend Emily (another expat from Maryland!) is an expert on horses, she has even competed before and owns a few back in the States. It makes this experience even more wonderful. She was so kind to explain how they communicate with ear movements and their body language. It was a great morning with great company. I'd say that this is one of those top memories of being here so far!

To have the Rathaus as backdrop of the competition is unreal!
An American won!

After announcing the winner from the U.S.A, they played the National Anthem.  It was reminiscent of being at the Verizon Center for Washington Capitals games that Hubs and I frequented. Really brought it close to home and a twinkle in my eyes.

September 19, 2013

Throwback Thursdays: Two Years ago

It was an early morning on a cold January day in 2011, my sister Nellie and I were trying out a new exercise class. We were both really out of shape and nearly died half way through. However, my sister had a harder time and by the end of class, she felt really nauseous. It was then that I had an inkling. A few days later, it was confirmed that my sister was pregnant!

A little back story: my sister and I have always had an amazingly strong bond. Even with a 10 year age gap, we couldn't be more alike. We always say the same things at the same time or finish each other sentences. Heck, we have the same voice that people still get confused and mistake us for one another, especially on the telephone. Our interests and life views run parallel and we have always been there for one another. We've been through a fair share of heartache and happiness that just continued to bring us closer together. She was my best friend. Even though we are now married and have "new" best friends, she will always be my first and there are just some things that only a sister would understand.

Fast forward to when I found out she was pregnant. I was ecstatic for her and my brother in-law. They went out of their way to include me every step of the way. Originally, they weren't going to find out the sex of the baby. But after some convincing (ok, so I bugged them every chance I got), they came up with a really neat idea. I was to accompany them to the ultrasound and I would have to guess, if I was right, the technician would confirm it (secretly). I went online studying ultrasounds for days and was confident I would get it right. And I did. My sister was having a girl! Yay! Another shopaholic in the making!

I went into planning mode with my brother in-law. I wanted one last selfish outing with my sister. So we planned a five day trip road trip unbeknownst to her at the time. About a month away from the trip, we sat her down and surprised her. And we had a trip of a our lives! Eating our way through Maine and Vermont in early June.

Then there was the baby shower. My sister's sister in-law and I went all out. And it all turned out great. Even people from my sister and brother in-law's past made it. It was so great to see their faces when they saw some old friends.

On September 19, 2011, a little girl named Nadia came into this world. I was there to witnesss it all happen. Happy 2nd Birthday, baby girl!

Picture taken right before our move (Nadia at 15 or 16 months?)

September 16, 2013

Technisches Museum Wien

Vienna has over 100 museums. There are major ones filled with tourists and little quirky ones, too, that not many people visit. I'll admit, Hubs and I haven't been to many, but it's definitely on the list of to-dos while we're living here. With fall weather in full force, and days getting shorter, I have a feeling that our weekends will consist of more museum hopping. The great thing about museums here is that "yearly memberships" are relatively affordable; and by going 2 or 3 times, you make up for the cost of individual tickets. For example, the admission for the Technical Museum is 10 euros and the cost for the yearly membership is 24 euros. It's a no-brainier, and now, we are members. It's an awesome museum situated in the 15th district, near Schönbrunn Palace and the Zoo. We specifically went for the temporary "Robots" exhibit and had a lot of fun.

Really cool looking entrance/lobby

Entering the exhibit

There's a a really cool interactive part the exhibit and we took part in it!