Sunday, October 19, 2014

Innsbruck: All Föhn and Games

Friday, October 10, 2014

After a tiring first full week of school, I was pumped to come to Innsbruck. I saw a few photos online that had me convinced that the city was stunning, and with my friend and old co-worker, Hannah, living in Innsbruck, it seemed like the perfect weekend for a reunion. 

The train brought me from foggy Linz to mountainous Innsbruck in about three hours. I'm not sure what impresses me more to this point, the wonderful landscapes or the selective punctuality. In the meantime, I did my Swedish homework and my inner language nerd was in heaven. I'm definitely looking forward to next class. 

In Innsbruck especially, the Föhn is an Austrian obsession. This is a weather phenomenon where the warm winds come up from Italy and warms up the autumn cooling. The Austrians believe that the Föhn carries disease, laziness, and confusion with it. In New Jersey, we'd call it humidity. Nonetheless, the Föhn yielded a lovely, warm weekend for my stay in Innsbruck.

Back up to my arrival, Hannah picked me up at the train station. My first lesson was that everything in Innsbruck is within walking distance. Thus, we strolled to her apartment, which not only included some hilarious roommates, but also boasted clear views of the mountains all around. I wasn't sure if I died and went to heaven.

We toured a bit of the compact and charming Altstadt. We stopped by an overwhelming ornate cathedral where we ran into Nadine, a teaching assistant I met from orientation a few weeks back. I didn't even know where she lived. Nadine joined us and we continued to meander the city and parks. We crossed the glacial blue Inn River. It was much hillier as we made our way to the Hötting neighborhood. There we met Gary, a second-year U.S. teaching assistant, and continued the hike up to Hungerburg - my first vantage point of the city. 

View from Marktplatz

Goldenes Dachl (Golden Roof)

One of the figurines moons spectators because the artist was never paid the promised price.

Sankt Jakob Dom / Saint Jacob's Cathedral
(where Hannah and I ran into Nadine!)

Hannah and I crossing the Inn River

As newcomers to Innsbruck, Gary and Hannah encouraged Nadine and me to take the Nordkette gondola to the top, known as Hafelekar. They promised some astounding views of the city and surrounding mountains. Words cannot describe the wonders in which I was immersed. The changing autumn trees transitioned to gray, stone mountain peaks..and each view was only more impressive than the previous. Also, to make the world a tad smaller, we met another USTA at the top, from New Jersey no less!

Nadine, Gary, Hannah, and I
Hiking up to Hungerburg!

"No Trepassing" - Oops.

Taking the gondola up to Seegrube

View of Innsbruck from Seegrube
(the windy road was for mountain biking)

"In reality, every summit is just a detour to the next pub." -Hans Kammerlander

Innsbruck from Hafelekar

Nadine and I made it to the top of Hafelekar!

Hafelekar (Top the Nordkettenbahn)

Hafelekar (Top the Nordkettenbahn)

Beer available from the soda dispenser.

What a view!

Evening music on the Nordkette (at Seegrube)

The evening setting on Innsbruck

This adventure was particularly unexpected to my comrade, Nadine. As she left her apartment, she planned to buy a kettle, not make her wait to the top of the mountain in ballet flats. She definitely earned the "trooper" award. We soaked up the views for about three hours from Seegrube and Hafelekar before we caught up with Hannah, Gary, and a handful of other U.S. Teaching assistants at the French market. It was a groovy evening as we concluded the evening at a 70s concert in the Treibhaus Cultural Center and the Moustache Café. From get-go, I was having a ball in nature-enthused and laid-back Innsbruck.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Hannah and I took it easy in the morning. The intended scrambled eggs were upgraded to deluxe omelettes as her roommates contributed a few ingredients. Avocado was the final touch to complete the breakfast. I shan't forget the stories and intercultural opinions shared from that breakfast anytime soon.

Afterwards, Hannah and I meandered a bit more of Innsbruck. First, we walked along the Inn River towards the university and then made our way through the Saggen neighborhood prior to returning to Hannah's incredible apartment.  


Park signs clearly define what is and is not allowed.

Some impressive bus maneuvering. 

Hannah had to help out at a hockey game, so I opted to go on a hike with Gary. First, we lunched on a Flammkuchen from the French market. Then, we wandered the town a while before heading uphill to Berg Isel, another vantage point of this city nestled in the Alps. It rained for a fair bit of the uphill hike, so we took refuge in a museum café once we reached an outlook point.

Flammkuchen - dough, cheese, bacon, and onions = ¡delicioso!

The hot chocolate and strudel were rejuvenating, but I was not ready for what I was about to see. The sun broke through the rain clouds, and the sun shower produced two full-arch rainbows that stretched the entire width of the city. My trigger finger got a small blister after all the photos I snapped. Nonetheless, that added a mystical memory to my Innsbruck experience. 

View from Berg Isel
Rainbow - View from Berg Isel

View from Berg Isel

Innsbruck's airport is a 7-minute drive from the city center. It's regarded as one of the most difficult airports to land at...pilots are required to obtain an additional certification.


Saturday evening sunset

Gary and I made our way back down the hill and rejoined Hannah for a homemade pasta dish that we prepared at Gary's cozy apartment. The pink sunset skies over the glacier blue water set a picturesque scene beforehand. Following that, we all met up with Hannah's roommates for a movie, Get On Up, the life story of musician, James Brown. It was a long, yet interesting movie. After 5 years, I'm still trying to come to grips with the fact that you can have beer in a movie theater.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Hannah taught me how to make oatmeal from scratch! I certainly have this weekend (particularly Hannah's culinary expertise) to thank for broadening my cooking abilities. Need I say that with musli (cereal), boiling water, and honey, it was a simple masterpiece.

View from Hannah's place.

It was another spectacular day, weather-wise. Hannah and I journeyed (a five-minute walk) to the Stadtturm (city tower) for yet another pristine view of Innsbruck and the Alps. We gravitated back to the Inn River to catch up and people watch. It was an excellent conclusion to my visit. We grabbed a pizza for lunch; Gary stopped by again, and then it was time for me to take the train home. I did not want to leave.

View from the Stadtturm (City Tower)

Each street sign shares a tidbit of history or is dedicated to a history event/individual.

Innsbruck and the lovely Alps!

It took 3 ticket machines before we successfully purchased my ticket. The train was packed, but I made myself comfortable on the steps and admired my final moments with the spectacular Alpine views. The ride home was a nice chance to realize that Linz is starting to feel more like home. This became even more prevalent as I skyped with friends from NJ and Germany later that day. In the days following Innsbruck, I yearned for the views and the people, but I have found that Linz has its own charm. Plus, I hope to return to Innsbruck in the winter months to enjoy some snowy fun. :-)

A special Danke to Hannah, Gary, Nadine, et al for the spectacular weekend!

Liebe Grüße
Matt

Thursday, October 9, 2014

A Case of the Mondays that only Got Better

Monday, October 6, 2014

This has been quite the exciting week with this new teaching position. Monday at school was like pulling teeth; I mean, the students all seemed to have a case of the Mondays. For one class, I chose a rather challenging article about outsourcing. This proved very difficult to get the students to participate in English. Lesson learned: when unsure, select the easier option as it should foster more conversation.

On another note, the ratio of girls to boys in my classes is on average 4 to 1. I have yet to figure out why there are so many girls, but if I find out why, I'll keep you posted...I'm also trying to find my place in the classroom hierarchy. In terms of classroom management and correcting their English, each teacher has their own style. My goal is to fit to their teaching methodology without stepping on any toes.

Teacher's room

The rest of the day was exquisitely exciting because I started Swedish class and tutoring. My beginner Swedish class was enthusiastic and a diverse group of people - people of different ages from various European countries. Being from New Jersey, I came from the farthest distance. The world only got smaller when I found out that the woman next to me was from Duisburg, Germany. (For those who don't know, Duisburg neighbors Krefeld, where I did my exchange year in Germany.) Directly after class, I had my first English tutoring session. The first time and a certain level of fatigue provided their own challenges, but the session seemed to be a good one. At least, I'll take that since we scheduled another tutoring session.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

My classes on Tuesday were the complete opposite of Monday. I taught five classes, and they were each a success...but certainly exhausting. Right after school, I met up with a few USTAs for some tea prior to the welcome reception from the Austro-American Society of Upper Austria. Both meetings were lovely as I had the opportunity meet others who express a fervent interest in the the Austrian-American connection.

Lovely Linz

Tea time!

Austro-American Society's USTA Welcome Reception

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My first class was rescheduled. My second class went along as planned. And when time came for the third class, there were no students. To be fair, the teacher's mother passed away after second period and word got around that she was heading home. When I arrived, a teacher had already told the class that their English teacher would not be in class today. I got to leave school a bit earlier.

The last few days had caught up with me, so I took it easy hanging out at the apartment. Later, I had another tutoring session that was even more successful.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Today was a rather diversified range of classes. I covered a class about fair trade banana wealth distributions, led a debate about the options of study abroad, talked about stereotypes, and had the final class rescheduled to Friday. Since I am heading to Innsbruck tomorrow, I was excused from making up the class...my fellow teachers have been overwhelmingly supportive and insist that Friday remain my day off. :-)

Lastly, at the HLW, the tourism school, one of the teachers informed me that cat is out of the bag: the students have realized that I speak German. I'm curious to see where this next chapter of reinforcing English conversation.

My view from lunch

The leaves are starting to fall!

Mozartkugeln:
a super kind thank you from one of my teachers, 
for who I helped revise a few internship cover letters.

Have a great weekend! Fingers crossed that the weather will continue to be as pleasant as it has been this week.

Liebe Grüße aus Linz
Matt

Monday, October 6, 2014

Es geht ums Wochenende!

Friday, October 3, 2014

I worked two days for my first week, and I'm already starting to think that I, at times, may be living for the weekends. Let me be the millionth person to say that teaching is exhausting! At least, until I grow accustomed to trying to evoke English enthusiasm in dozens of students per hour. Need I even mention that I will be incorporating more cat naps into my daily routine?

Friday was a fun day because I taught a first period class and was done with work by 9am. I planned my lessons for the upcoming week until lunch time, and then I made my way to Freistadt.

Freistadt is a quiet and historic town nestled near the border with the Czech Republic. The Altstadt was where I met fellow USTA, MaryBeth, for a visit and a tour of her life here. The town was spared of all bombings and air raids from the world wars, and thus, has remained in pristine condition since well before the 1900s.

We toured the quaint Altstadt and discovered that there was a free walking tour of the Altstadt on Friday evenings. The tour, albeit in a complicated German, offered loads of history and access to the towers that were closed when MaryBeth and I wandered the town earlier in the day. It was a rejuvenating visit to step out of Linz and into a very authentic Austrian town. MaryBeth always brings humor and fun to any activity, making it difficult to return home after a delightful day.

Freistädter Beer Company
Wall of the Freistädter Altstadt
Linzer Tower

Some interesting Friday night plans around Freistadt.
Hauptplatz (Freistadt main square)
Böhmer Tower
Böhmer Tower
Freistadt Altstadt is surrounded by a huge wall!
Freistadt Altstadt
Freistadt Altstadt
Castle
Watch tower



Saturday, October 4, 2014

Sleeping in until whatever o'clock was blissful! I'm still adjusting to my early school mornings - not so easy since I've turned into quite the night owl.

In the afternoon, fellow USTA, Leah, joined me for lunch at the apartment before we returned to Linz for the Lange Nacht der Museen (Night of the Museums) evening. We lived in the grace of luxury on the balcony and were subsequently enriched through our museum visits. We were joined by a group of US and British teaching assistants and we visited:

1. Höhenrausch - an open space exhibition with interactive art. The theme "moving rooms" was exemplified in different forms will wonderful views of Linz as the sun crept away.

"Long Night of the Museums"
Hauptplatz


Bouncing joy!

Keine Sorgen Tower

Swinging through the rain!
Museum crew
Linz at night
Swinging chandaliers

2. Voeastalpine Stahlwelt - this "steel city within a city" is noted as the cleanest steel producer in the world. The amount of information was overwhelming and the steel, reflective spheres were mesmerizing, for people of all ages.





Steel coming out the oven

3. Schloss Museum - Linz Castle was renovated into a museum, a gigantic one at that! We arrived there around midnight, and the World War I exhibit (which was exclusively in German) was too much. However, I'm convinced that I will need several visits (and to the other museums in Linz) to digest and appreciate all of the information. :-)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Saturday was the workout for my brain. Sunday was a workout for everything else. After a quick night's sleep, I took a train to Trattenbach an der Enns with fellow USTAs, Harriett and Dan. We set out to soak up the views from the Schoberstein peak. We rolled in with the fog, but our weather apps assured us that it would clear up in the early afternoon. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but in 2.5 hours, we hiked up to the summit of 481m (1,578 ft). We were above the clouds and saw a few mountain tops. The accomplishment of making it to the top was worthwhile, and the fog added a certain eire mysticism to the day. All in all, I have impressed that I'm a bit more in shape that I expected and that I didn't die after slipping downhill twice. I now understand why so many Austrians hike with ski poles.

Just found out there's a St. Valentin in Austria

The mystic fog...most of the way up.

Unexpected yet appreciative view.

Halleujah we made it to the top


Gasthof at the top of Schoberstein

Sturm - a half-fermented wine...sweet and prost!

Austria in the Autumn

We adopted the Austrian walking stick theory

Heading back to Trattenbach.

Schöne Woche
Matt