Saturday, May 15, 2010

Benefit Concert in Ybbs

On Friday night, we had a benefit concert for the organ in the Ybbs church.  It sounds a little strange, but it was their way of making money to restore the organ in the coming years.  The concert was titled "The Three Choirs" instead of "The Three Tenors."  In addition to the men's chorus, a choir from Sweden was there and the Whoopi Ensemble, named after Whoopi Goldberg.  It was a fun, small concert and my last one in Austria.  My only concert remaining will be in Brussels.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Last Month

It's now May, graduating students are starting their final exams, trees are in full bloom and summer is just around the corner.  What this also means is our time in Austria is soon coming to an end.  With a month left, we have begun thinking about the end.  It's hard to believe that our time in Austria is almost up.  Last year at this time, I was emailing the previous language assistant to get an idea of what I was in for.  With a summer full of several weddings, including our own ;), and a couple trips, the transition will be sudden.  The last seven months have been amazing in many different ways.  Some say this year was our honeymoon and it certainly has felt like a vacation but it was also more than that.  We will come away with amazing experiences of another culture and language and above all, amazing new friends that have made our time here incredible.  As we reflect on our time here and look ahead to the future, we also realize that much awaits us back home.  Beyond the weddings and trips lie our future as a married couple, our families and friends close by in Minnesota and North Dakota and the beginning of our careers.  This year has changed us in certain ways and will continue to influence us in the future.  It has become a second home for us.  We've still got a month left so before I write anymore about our future in Minnesota, I need to go out and enjoy what we have here in Austria.     

Sunday, April 25, 2010


It's been a while since my last post.  To see why, read Anglea's blog about the last month.
What is Ybbsaide you may ask.  It's an annual two week festival held in Ybbs (the town where my choir is located), featuring a performance each night at the city auditorium.  On Saturday, my choir performed a  potpourri of humorous, literary and musical skits lasting 2 hours.  It was a big production!  We have been rehearsing since completing our CD in February and last week we had 6 hours of rehearsal every day.  It all paid off though.  It was a hit with the sold out crowd of 600!  My solo part consisted of a few lines said by John Wayne.  The lines were in German but I didn't have to fight my American accent.  Although a lot of work went into it, the experience was a lot of fun.  After spending endless rehearsals with the choir over the last weeks, I've really gotten to know them well and have realized how lucky I've been to be able to sing with the choir.  Next on our schedule is our trip to Belgium in June!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


It's men's cooking course time.  Last Friday, I got to take part in the informal course at Elsa and Josef's.  The gathering started a couple years ago when several neighbors were chatting about some garden vegetables and the idea came up that several middle aged men could benefit from learning a little something about cooking from their friend and retired chef, Richard.
Richard came over with boxes full of groceries and the others arrived soon after.  We threw on our aprons and followed directions to get things started.  Five minutes later we sat down for some whiskey and lime drinks.
We then brewed up some fish soup and delicious pasta.  The fish soup contained three or four different kinds of fish, lots of veggies and the right combination of a bunch of spices.  Richard showed he knew what he was doing as he demonstrated cutting techniques and his expert pallet in tasting the soup.  The pasta was topped with a delicious tomato sauce, seasoned with lots of garlic onions.  We've been doing our fare share of cooking here in Austria, but I gotta say, I haven't made a pasta sauce as good as this.  Yumm!

The night was more about enjoying each other's company than cooking.  Sure, we ate some delicious food, but we had a blast listening to Richard make jokes left and right.  Hans Peter, below talking to Angela, told us about many of his amazing experiences around the world.   

We capped off the night with a traditional Austrian strudel and some schnapps to settle the stomach.
I can't wait until the next course and I'm curious what we'll cook next.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A photo tour through a typical day in Austria

Head to the train station in Pöchlarn...

and catch this tiny train to...


passing through fields with sheep.

Do some teaching at Francisco Josephinum...

drink some coffee and eat some cake after lunch...

and then head out on a bike ride down the Danube river.

Along the way, pass by marvelous castles and churches...

and finally drink some delicious Austrian wine.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Three weeks after our Christmas break, it was time for another break...this time a week off to mark the end of the first semester.  I could really get used to all these days off!  This break is basically ski week for all of Austria.  In fact, so many people go skiing during this break that they must stagger the semester break for each part of Austria over three weeks so that the slopes are overloaded with skiers.  This time, we broke tradition and headed off to Ireland instead of hitting the slopes.  Our good friend John has been living and working in Galway since November.
I was so excited about this trip and it sure didn't let me down.  We arrived in Dublin on Friday and met up with John.  We spent Saturday enjoying the beautiful weather as we walked through the city, enjoying all it has to offer.  For lunch, we grabbed some fantastic fish and chips and then headed to the Guinness brewery to top it off with a pint.  We couldn't have asked for a better day and we sipped our pints on top of the Guinness brewery with a 360 degree view of Dublin.  We then headed off for Galway for the next leg of our journey.
The Aran Islands are a group of islands off the coast near Galway.  John says its probably his favorite place on earth.  That's all the endorsement I needed to hop on board a ferry and head out there.  We spent Sunday and Monday on Inishmore, the largest of the islands but still small enough to explore by bike.  These islands are very remote and only in the summer are they bustling with tourists.  Being in there in February gave us a great feel for the remoteness of the islands and the slow Irish lifestyle led by the inhabitants.  In this part of Ireland, the Irish language is still holding on and is spoken by the natives.  The weather was perfect again (a miracle I thought considering it was February in Ireland).  We biked to various rock forts built 3,000 years ago, walked through fields with goats and horses and crawled up to ocean cliffs dropping hundreds of feet below us.  It was spectacular!!!  The pictures don't do justice but they give an idea of what it was like.
Monday night we headed back to Galway and on Tuesday we got to explore the town a bit more.  Our final night was spent at a local pub listening to students from the university playing traditional Irish music.  As we headed back to Dublin, we enjoyed the Irish countryside once more before boarding the plane to Vienna.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Back in Pöchlarn

We've been back in Austria for nearly two weeks after spending ten days at home in the US.  Even after only 10 days at home, we had to remind ourselves how to speak German.  We got comfortable being home and it was difficult when we first came back.  We've since settled back in though and have some exciting things on the horizon including a trip to Ireland in a couple weeks to visit our friend John living in Galway.  The last two weeks have been full of several different adventures.  Immediately after returning, I had several recording sessions with my choir for our new CD.  We recorded at a small studio in a nearby town called Steinakirchen.  It was a fun experience, although exhausting at points.  We recorded the songs we had sung for the last two concerts.  I will give an update when I know more about when it will be released.
Before starting back up with school, Josef took Angela and me skiing about an hour from here.  Unfortunately, Elsa cannot ski this year due to her recent back surgery.  Massive by our standards, small by Austrian standards, the ski resort provided lots of challenging runs with beautiful mountain views.  We had a blast skiing all day with beautiful weather.  I'm sure we'll have several more skiing trips to talk about before spring comes.

The biggest news since we've been back has been Angela starting to teach at another school in Wieselburg.  While home in the US, we received confirmation that she had been hired on as a teaching assistant just like me.  The assistant who was supposed to teach there never showed up in the fall.  Since then, we've been working through the Austrian bureaucracy.  Finally though, she has started and had a great first week.  She is really excited about this new opportunity.  She will also teach at another school in the town of Scheibbs, which is about 20 minutes further with the train.  We can't believe how well things have worked out!