Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Weekly Interlude 8: Adventures Alone and Adapting

Salzburg Festival
In the romanticized version of my life, I live extravagantly in Europe, jetting about from place to place, eating schnitzel and chocolate and drinking wine. I speak German with the natives; I effortlessly navigate public transportation. I sing all morning and watch Lillian in the afternoons and evenings, and I travel to the countryside on weekends. (It certainly sounds better than applying to 700 jobs and getting rejected from the one interview I scored.)

But let's get one thing out in the open, the key element that puts a different twist on my European Extravaganzas: I do not cope well with change.

Old Town Salzburg
And, of course, the universe is intent on forcing me to accept change and to go with the flow: my friend couldn't travel with me to Salzburg, so I went alone; after a day in Salzburg, I went back to the hostel only to find my bedding/sheets completely gone; the shower head in the apartment broke while I was away this weekend. Nothing is straightforward, nothing is simple. Nothing is ever quite how I plan it. And while some people might say that the unexpected is what makes life an adventure, I am still working on taking this view.

This leads me to my second point: I am, fundamentally, a stressed-out person. I used to think it was mostly school that gave me anxiety, but after a weekend by myself in Salzburg, I'm forced to confess that, no, it's just me. Who else would feel stressed out on a vacation by themselves? Luckily, though, I recognize this about myself and was able to take measures this weekend to reduce my stress levels. After all, who wants stiff shoulders and an achey back in the land of Mozart and the von Trapps?

Which brings me to Salzburg: a charming, historical city along the Salzach River, nestled at the foot of the mountains and overlooked by a medieval fortress. It was known and named for salt, due to the salt mines located 9 miles outside the city. (Salz means "salt" auf  Deutsch, and the Salzach River carried salt cargo to the Danube/Black Sea/Mediterreanean.) With a little help from Rick Steves, I visited nearly every major tourist attraction in my three days there and even spontaneously decided to hike a mountain! Salzburg is small and perfect (and, in the summer, thanks to the music festival, very international); I only wish I could have shared my adventures there with someone. So prepare yourself now to make a virtual visit!!
Residenzplatz, Old Town

I spent Friday in Old Town, which looks much the same as it did in Mozart's day. Using Rick Steves's suggested walking tour, I began in Mozartplatz and headed over to the Salzburg Cathedral, where Mozart played the organ for two years. The baptismal font where he was baptized is still there; it was very cool and very surreal to literally stand in the midst of history. I have now seen things that Mozart himself saw...

Sound of Music exhibit at Panorama
I swung into the Salzburg Panorama 1829, a museum that had a special exhibition on the real von Trapp family from The Sound of Music. I learned that Maria wasn't actually a novice at the Nonnberg Convent, as depicted in the movie, but rather a teacher. I also didn't know that the Julie Andrews/Christopher Plummer movie wasn't the first version; there was a German film made earlier.

St. Peter's Cemetery
As I roamed my way through cobblestoned streets and squares to St. Peter's Basilica and Cemetery, I passed outdoor tourist stalls selling everything from magnets to wooden puppets. Eventually, I made it to St. Peter's Cemetery, which is hands down the most beautiful, least ominous cemetery I have ever seen. It looks more like a stone and flower garden than anything and abuts a cliffside. Crane your head back, and you'll see the fortress looming... The cemetery at the end of The Sound of Music, where the family hides from the Nazis, was based off this one.

Skipping ahead, I found myself on Getreidegasse, a narrow street with wrought-iron signs -- the main drag in Salzburg and major shopping street. Mozart's birth house is on this street as well, so I popped into the now-museum. It was very small but filled with insight into the daily life of the Mozarts. At this point, my sandal-clad feet were aching so much from trekking for hours over cobblestones that I wasn't able to fully appreciate what must have been a fascinating exhibit. All I could think about was sitting down -- which I did after scoring some Mozartkugeln (aka Mozart balls, chocolate-coated, pistachio marzipan and nougat bonbons) from Café Fürst and a Käsekrainer (cheese-filled sausage) from a nearby sausage stand.

Overlooking Mirabell Gardens
After dinner, I strolled over to the Mirabell Palace and Gardens, which you would probably recognize from The Sound of Music. (Think "Do-Re-Mi.") I sat down and listened to a small band play some marches. In light of the Salzburg Festival beginning that day, I wanted to hear as many concerts as possible. Since I don't have 200 euros to plunk down on a ticket, I scoured several pamphlets for free outdoor concerts instead.

Marionette Exhibit
Saturday was my fortress day. I took the funicular up 400 feet to the Hohensalzburg Fortress and visited the Marionette Exhibit, the Palace Museum, and the Castle Courtyard. Marionette (aka puppetry) is a local tradition, and there's actually a marionette theater that features productions of The Sound of Music and The Magic Flute, amongst others. The Museum focused mainly on castle life and military history. The Courtyard was the main square for castle residents, of which there were apparently about 1000.

Mirabell Gardens and Palace
After touring the fortress, I trekked down a ways to the red-domed Nonnberg Convent, where Maria von Trapp was a teacher. You'd never guess that the convent scenes in the movie were filmed on a Fox lot; I recognized this abbey because of the sheer accuracy of Ruby Levitt's set design. Then I hiked back up past the fortress and walked along some trails through the Mönchsberg woods, high above the city. Eventually, I came across the Museum of Modern Art, where I ate lunch with an amazing view and then visited the museum.

Festival Hall; von Trapps sang here!
That afternoon, I toured two of the three festival halls and went concert-hopping from platz to platz. (I saw a folk group, an a cappella boys' group from England, and an indie duo.) The festival halls are only used during the summer when the Salzburg Festival begins. One of them is the hall where the von Trapps sang before escaping! Although I wasn't allowed to take pictures directly at the stage (due to rules about photographing the Festival set), I think you'll still recognize the stone archways built into the side of the cliff...

Saturday evening found me in the Augustinerbräustübl, a 1000-person Biergarten filled with locals and tourists alike. It definitely would have been more fun to go there with friends, but the food wasn't bad, and the beer was even better! Next time I go to Salzburg, I'll know where to take people :) 

On Sunday, I hit up the Mozart Residence, the house on the other side of the Salzach where the composer moved when he was 17. This was a more extensive museum, complete with audioguide, focusing on letters, scores, and artwork from his lifetime. Though short, I think I preferred it to his Birth House. In the main hall, you could hear original instruments playing some of his music. In addition, his harpsichord (pre-piano instrument) was on display. It's much smaller than the pianos we see today, and the black and white keys were reversed!

Untersberg lodge
Climb to Hochsthron
My original plan on Sunday had been to take a 40-minute cruise along the Salzach, but at the last minute, I decided to visit Mt. Untersberg instead. To get to this mountain -- where the hills are alive with the sound of music -- you have to take a bus for 25 minutes out of town and then a 7-minute cable car ride to the top. What a great idea! I thought to myself. I'll stand at the window and take lots of pictures on the way up. Well, it was a good idea until we started moving (and swaying), and then all I could think about was how the cable could snap at any minute and I would plummet to my death. So cheerful, I know. But there was no snapping and no plummeting, and seven minutes later, I shakily arrived at the top of a mountain with the most breath-taking view. The air was cool and fresh, the paths filled with families and hikers alike. The fortress appeared miniscule beneath me in the distance. I stood at the beginning of the Alps, with ghost-mountains shrouded by clouds all around.
View from Untersberg

I ate lunch on Mt. Untersberg, then hiked up to Hochsthron, the summit. The climb didn't look difficult, but WOW it was. Very rocky, very steep. To make it all even better, I was shlepping all my bags around, since I'd checked out of the hostel. But despite my bags, my dress, and my flimsy H&M shoes, I made it to the summit, where I ate three Mozartkugeln and hummed "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music." A very fitting end to what turned out to be a wonderful weekend.

Mirabell Gardens
And now I know that even though I don't prefer to travel alone, I can do it and still have fun. Even though my travel plans didn't work out quite the way I wanted them to, I am proud of my adventures. If I had refused to adapt to any change in plans, I wouldn't have climbed Mt. Untersberg. Maybe I wouldn't have been to Salzburg at all! So I guess there is hope for me and my adapting skills.

Plus, now I just really want to watch The Sound of Music...!

View from Untersberg

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Weekly Interlude 7: Oh, the Places You'll Go

I could really get used to having every week off in Vienna. While I was so exhausted on Sunday that it was all I could do to turn off my laptop and get out of the apartment, every other day this week has been jam-packed with exciting adventures. I thought I should go for a bi-Weekly Interlude post this time because I'm heading off to Salzburg tomorrow and don't want to skimp on all the fun I've had this week.
(L to R) Beethoven, Mozart, Schubert

Monday: I actually practiced! And while this may not sound very exciting to some, it really is a big deal. The same way athletes need to stay in shape, so do singers. I started learning a new aria ("What will it be for me?" from Marc Blitzstein's Regina) and played around with some more Irving Berlin tunes. (If you'd like a Musical Interlude, check out Frank Sinatra singing a small Berlin medley here!) Then, in the afternoon, I headed over to the Westbahnhof and walked down the entire length of Mariahilferstraße, a major shopping thoroughfare in the 6th district. I bought a new backpack -- one that doesn't weigh 50 pounds empty -- which I'll officially test out tomorrow in Salzburg :)
Hugo Wolf

Things didn't start to get really exciting until Tuesday. I woke up early (thanks to the pesky sunlight peering in around the curtains) and, after practicing again (!), went to the Zentralfriedhof, or central cemetery. Sounds morbid? It wasn't! The sun was shining, I successfully navigated the S-Bahn, and, oh yes, I found the graves of Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Brahms, Wolf, Gluck, and Strauss. All the musicians are buried in the same area, with Mozart's tomb-statue placed right at the entrance.

Instead of walking all the way back to the other end of the cemetery (which is HUGE) to the S-Bahn, I went out a closer exit, hopped on a Strassenbahn (street car/tram/trolley), and rode about 20 stops back to Mariahilferstraße via the 10th and 11th districts. It was fascinating to see a part of Vienna I rarely travel to; the vibe feels a bit more modern, and the population tends to be more ethnically diverse the farther away you get from the first district.

Biking along the Danube
Tuesday afternoon, I borrowed my friend's bike and rode it from the 6th district (west of the center) and over to the Danube Island (northeast of the center). And may I just say: give me the U-Bahn any day! I'm possibly the worst, most nervous city-biker you've ever seen. Forget that Vienna has bike lanes (for the most part; they occasionally disappear and reappear three blocks later) -- I just get so anxious when I have to start and stop for lights or -- GOD FORBID -- make a left-hand turn. And what is it with the bike lanes disappearing anyway? It's very stressful to figure out how to cross four lanes of trolley tracks while also hunting down the magically-shifting path. And I was this stressed with a helmet on; how can people be so content to zip around me and dodge traffic without a helmet?!
Danube path

So you can imagine my relief when I made it to the Danube Island. Let me tell you, it's made for people who like calmer sport activities: roller-blading, jogging, swimming, biking, walking. The island is mostly flat, so you can pedal on and on until your heart's content. The water glistens, the buildings on either side of the Danube shine, people walk their dogs or sunbathe as you pedal on by, under the bridges and along tree-lined paths. It was so relaxing; I was out for a couple of hours. (Small warning: it's very scary to pedal under a bridge as an S-Bahn screams by overhead.)

And then Tuesday evening, it occurs to me to plan a day trip for tomorrow. Where to? Yes, that's right: on Wednesday, I went to Bratislava, Solvakia! I even have the magnet to prove it.

St. Martin's Cathedral
Streets of Bratislava
Bratislava and Vienna are the two closest capitals in Europe, only a mere 37.3 miles apart. A bus runs between the cities 13 times a day, so I bought a ticket at the station (round trip was only 12 euros!) and left in the morning. I spent the bus ride reading the Rick Steves' travel guide I found in my apartment, which included a suggested walking tour of the city, as well as some historical information. It turns out that communism pretty much destroyed the Slovakian economy, but in the last 10 years, the country has started to rehabilitate. In Bratislava, they've replaced cobblestones, repaired damaged buildings, and even begun a twin-city commerce partnership with Vienna. I found the city very charming, like a cross between Prague and Budapest or like a very small Berlin (in terms of the old and new standing side-by-side). I was only there for about four hours, but it was enough time to get a feel for the city.

"The Peeper" - a whimsical statue
"Kilometer Zero" Plaque
I spent most of the time exploring Old Town, from St. Martin's Cathedral near the bus station to St. Michael's gate at the northern end. A highway runs directly in front of St. Martin's, thanks to the Soviets; therefore, one side of the church is loud and hurried, while the backside is quiet and tranquil. Next, I hit Hviezdoslav Square (named for a Slovak poet) and saw the Slovak National Theater. In the Main Square, there are several "whimsical statues" (as Rick Steves puts it), as well as the Old Town Hall, French Embassy, Kaffee Mayer -- all outlining a huge courtyard. This then opens up to Michael's Street, which is lined with cafes and restaurants, artisan shops and art galleries. At St. Michael's Gate, I found the "kilometer zero" plaque on the ground, the point from which distances in Slovakia are measured, apparently. (I was able to fit New York and Wien into the same picture. Perhaps we're not so far away from each other after all...)

Schöner Náci
Main Square
I couldn't find the statue of the Napoleon soldier rumored to be in the Main Square in front of the French Embassy, so they must have removed him in the last four years (my guidebook was from 2009); nor could I find the chocolate shop on Michael's Street. I DID find, however, one of the many cannonballs lodged into various buildings around the city. They're reminders of Napoleon's two sieges of Bratislava, which apparently caused more devastation to the city than during World War II. I also stumbled across a souvenir/artisan outdoor market at one end of the Main Square.
Bratislava Castle

View from the Castle
For lunch, I plunked down at an outdoor cafe on Michael's Street and ordered Bryndzové halusky s grilovanou klobáskou (gnocchi in sheep cheese with grilled sausage). It's really close to the national dish, which apparently uses bacon instead of sausage. It was DELICIOUS, although very heavy for such a hot day.

Lastly, I rounded off the trip with a hike up to the Castle. I shlepped up the cobblestone hills and climbed all sorts of crazy stairs, but the view at the top was totally worth it. Plus, it brought me right back to the bus station; couldn't have planned the route better if I'd tried! And now I can say I've been to five out of the eight countries bordering Austria :)

View from the Castle
So tomorrow morning I head off to Salzburg. The famous Salzburger Festspiele begins tomorrow, but tickets were sold out ages ago. I'm going to try and find a public, open-air showing, or maybe I'll just loiter outside ticket stands. We'll see. Either way, I have less than 12 hours to buy train snacks, finish packing, and charge my camera.

I'll leave you with a fun fact for the day. I stumbled upon this while reading a Vienna/Salzburg guide book. Apparently, the Vienna State Opera House is the site of the world's longest round of applause: "For 90 minutes and 101 curtain calls, an Austrian crowd applauded Plácido Domingo for his performance in Othello in 1991" (Fodor's Vienna to Salzburg). Cool!

Field of sunflowers :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

Weekly Interlude 6: A Very Special Week

This week is a very special week. Why? you ask. Because I have the WHOLE WEEK OFF!

Langenlois, view from my window
I should explain because I can just hear my dad's voice in my ear calling me a part-timer. In the last month (I've been here a month already!), I've worked much more often and much more intensely than Gerhard and Jennifer anticipated, so instead of giving me one day off per week, they're making it up to me with a whole week free. Which means, suddenly, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it...

Monster Hand Watchtower
Last week, Lillian and I traveled about an hour northwest of Vienna to Langenlois, where her mother (Jennifer Davison, an amazing soprano) is rehearsing for an outdoor production of the operetta Wiener Blut. At first, as always, I wasn't sure how Lillian and I could last for such long days together, but everything turned out alright. We stayed at the Gartenbauschule, or gardening school, so we spent time exploring, picking/eating strawberries, and swinging in hammocks. There was also a beach volleyball court, which Lillian loved because it was like a giant sandbox. We spent hours outside (we applied sunscreen several times!), digging holes and singing songs. There was also a watchtower, which we climbed; Lillian thought it looked like a giant monster hand.
Langenlois street

Langenlois is a small but beautiful town -- cobblestones, pale-colored buildings, quaint -- located in the famous wine-making region of Austria. Two nights for dinner, the family and I headed up the hill to a heuriger (wine tavern; they typically specialize in wine made that year), where we drank wine, ate bread, meats, and cheeses, and watched the sunset. Very soothing.

I met several of Jennifer's colleagues during the 4-day stay. While most of them spoke English very well, I was able to speak to them a little bit about basic things in German. Also, I ate breakfast with two of them and listened as they conversed auf Deutsch; it was all I could do to keep up, but after about five minutes, I realized that I could understand better what they were talking about. It's much easier for me (and for most people, I assume) to understand a foreign language when I can see the speaker's face. (At least then I can match their facial expressions and chuckle good-naturedly, as though I know what they're talking about. I've had MANY conversations where I nod and smile and laugh lightly, maybe with a "Ja, ja" thrown in.)

Sunset at heuriger
I arrived back in Vienna Sunday morning. While I went to Langenlois prepared and armed with chocolate to help keep my energy levels up, I didn't even think about what I had in the apartment for my return -- which was basically nothing. And being a Sunday, everything in Vienna was closed. Of course, I didn't realize that one of the only three places in the city open on Sundays was a ten-minute walk (one U-Bahn stop) away from me, so I spent way too much time mourning the fact that I had no chocolate or brown sugar and couldn't bake cookies. Sounds like I needed sleep more than anything...

So instead of baking, I caught up on my Skyping and then headed over to my friend's house in the 21st district to go swimming. Looking ahead for this week, I'm planning my trip to Salzburg for Friday-Sunday. Super excited!! I have my hostel booked and need to buy my SalzburgCard online today. If you have any recommendations for a Salzburg must-see, please leave a comment and let me know! I've been researching, and there's so much to do; the Festspiele begins this Friday, too, so I'm working on getting tickets for that.

My practicing has fallen woefully behind in the last week, so my goal is to pick it up a little this week. Lately, I've been singing a lot of Irving Berlin, whose music I fell in love with right before graduation. Jennifer also left stacks and stacks of music in this apartment, so I've been sifting through to try and choose new pieces to learn. I'm really getting in touch with kids' songs, but I need just a little something for myself!

Outdoor film festival at Rathausplatz (Vienna)
The big news in music is that I have officially introduced Lillian to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band! She asked me the other day if I knew any rock 'n roll songs (I think the little boy in her favorite TV show started a rock band with his friends), so I was like, "Why, yes I do!" and started singing the chorus of "Badlands." It was SO much fun, especially when she started singing along with me after a couple of repeats -- complete with the slow notes, the fast notes, and the "whoa whoa whoa whoa BADLANDS" at the end. Now she calls it the "Whoa Whoa" song :)

Today I'm going to try and ride my bike along the Danube Island. I hope picking up the bike where it's locked at the Westbahnhof won't be too difficult. It always seems like the things that should be simple are very complicated, and the complicated things are very simple. For example: I almost broke the laundry machine because I thought the load was done when it actually wasn't (although, to be fair, it was taking forever); I also can't figure out how to unlock the door to the courtyard to take out the trash (don't worry: I've taken out the trash before, but the door was always already open). Yet teaching a 3-year-old a rock song was a piece of cake...go figure!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Weekly Interlude 5: Passau Drama

Opera singers have a reputation for being Drama Queens, but I'm starting to think that it's actually all 3-year-olds who should claim the title.

Our time in Passau was great for Lillian because she had a playmate all week, her (fellow 3-year-old) friend, Raffi -- which shockingly made my job easier than usual. No need to constantly play one-on-one for hours on end, plus I only occasionally had to mediate meltdowns. I've discovered that kids this age are super emotional; every reaction comes from a sudden and strong emotional onset. For example, Kid wants Mama, so Kid yells up the stairs to find out where Mama is; Kid bumps head, so Kid starts crying from surprise/pain/confusion; Kid sees friend with ice cream, Kid suddenly wants an ice cream, too. Three-year-olds seem governed by their immediate impulses, which is both fascinating and immensely challenging for me to balance.

Little house built into a cliff along the Danube
Every morning, when her mom is home, Lillian summarily rejects me; I'm neither a friend nor her mom, so she gives me frowny faces and runs away. The other day, she announced loudly, "We are not friends!" and hid behind her mom's legs. Well, I'd believe that if she hated me in the afternoon, too. But the other day, she invited me to jump on the trampoline with her and Raffi (a first), which turned out to be fun. We jumped in a circle while holding hands, and I watched as they jumped, fell, giggled, jumped, fell, giggled. And then, of course, Lillian had to ask her famous question: "Should we play Mama, Papa, and Baby?" to which Raffi shouted, "NO!" So entertaining :)

Dreiflüsseeck, or the meeting point of the 3 rivers
The other great line from Lillian the other day came when she wanted to go outside in the rain without her shoes on. She looked at me very earnestly and said, "I can't put my shoes on. If I put on my shoes, then my feet will not grow!" I have NO idea where that came from, but it was adorable. I convinced her to wear her crocs, though, as the holes in the top would ensure extra growing space.

Old Town Passau
Between all the swinging, trampoline-ing, running, and kiddie-pool-swimming, I did have a morning free to go downtown with Lillian and her mom. Passau Center is beautiful, with brightly colored buildings (think Italian architecture). Passau is known as the Dreiflüssestadt, or Three Rivers City, because the Danube joins the Inn and Ilz Rivers at the tip of the Old Town peninsula. A few weeks ago, there was major flooding that destroyed buildings, swamped whole playgrounds, and reached street level; water levels rose higher this year than they did in the last Great Flood of 1462.
Some flood damage

Now, though, the city is getting back on its feet. Some businesses are still under reconstruction, but mostly everything is up and running. A beautiful gem of a theater in Old Town was severely damaged and will need significant restoration, but the city is dedicated to preserving its arts and its history.
Innstadt, the side of Passau along the Inn

The three of us took a 45-minute boat tour (on a boat called the Deggendorf) up the Danube, around the peninsula, and partway down the Inn and back. It was peaceful and picturesque, as you can see from these photos. Then we headed up to St. Stephen's Cathedral for a half-hour organ concert at noon. I'm not a big fan of the organ, but this music was very impressive. It's also the largest cathedral organ in Europe, with 17,974 pipes, 233 stops, and 4 carillons! There are actually five different parts of the organ, which can be played separately or from the main keyboard.

St. Stephen's Cathedral organ
The following day, I had the morning off and took the bus downtown again for a few hours -- and I did not get lost! I guess there really is a first time for everything. I walked around the pedestrian shopping area (Ludwigstraße) and bought some French cookies and a light summer evening scarf. I dared myself to order or buy at least one thing in German, just to get used to speaking more. I think the best moment was when I asked the bus driver how to use (validate) my ticket. It's such a thrill when you can successfully communicate something in another language.

Lillian's mom had a concert one evening in Passau, and my schedule worked out so I could go. The program consisted mostly of Mahler -- his Kindertotenlieder (songs on the death of a child) and Rückert Lieder (songs based on the poetry of Friedrich Rückert) -- and featured a pianist, soprano, cellist, and dancer. They held the concert in a church, a last-minute decision based on some foreboding clouds and wind. I think the sacred space really added to the performance, however; there was something humbling about listening to these particular selections in a small, semi-crumbling stone church. I found myself looking up at the Gothic arches every so often, thinking, "How did I get here, to this particular tiny church, with these people, to listen to these songs?" Even if the performance wasn't perfect all around (it was often very difficult to see the dancer, unfortunately), it was still thought-provoking. The last song was one of my favorite Lied of all time -- "Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen" (I am lost to the world) -- which you should listen to here.

Along the Danube
Meanwhile, during the day (between trying to figure out if that scream I heard outside was a scream of laughter or tears), I talked with the Passau family's nanny. She's Hungarian and super nice and taught me how to make jam! It was so nice to have company, especially with someone my age and in a similar position to me. We commiserated on how difficult it is to get our respective charges away from the TV and outside to play, to not eat sweets in the afternoons, to sit down for dinner, to get ready for bed, etc. (Kids get tons of energy when they sense they need to go to bed soon!) She and I made gooseberry and black current jam (Stachelbeeren und schwarzen Johannisbeeren) after picking the berries from bushes out in the yard. I'm now inspired to grow my own fruit (once I have my own apartment/house someday); I've always wanted a blackberry bush, but there was never enough sunlight in the yard at home.
Near Ludwigstraße

We left Passau, sadly, early yesterday morning, and now I'm back in Vienna with a whole free weekend. While I'm starting to get much more used to my life/schedule here, I'm still not a person who likes being alone. I mean, I GREATLY value my Alone Time, but I prefer living with other people. And this is why, Susan, you need to keep working on your German, so you can talk to other human beings. I can hear my sister's voice in my head... I think the time has come to communicate and not worry about speaking everything perfectly. Seriously, if I worry about every adjective ending and every case declination, then I'm not even going to be able to order a cup of coffee!
Along the Inn; the green domes are St. Stephen's Cathedral