Thursday, October 25, 2012

Last Day Before the Winter (on the Rax)

On top of the Rax

The last week of September we drove an hour outside of Wien to the Rax. In Wien everything was foggy and chilly. When we got to the Rax the sun was shining! On top of the mountain the weather was perfect, a slow warm breeze, under a perfect a blue sky.

Given everyone in Austria is talking about Austia's latest greatest international hero, Baumgartner who base jumped from space, we decided to recreate the stunning feat with Monstro, Pascal's latest favorite stuffed animal. Monstro didn't break the sound barrier, but he tumbled through the air like crazy and he landed (unhurt) with NO parachute!


Take OFF!!!
Next time Monstro will base jumped from here

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Meeting Erin Hunter

Anika's self-made book cover

This year I started reading a series called Warrior Cats. I am already done with the third season (one season has 6 books) and am reading the second book of fourth season. I'm really proud that I'm so far. I was talking with one of my friends and he brought up that Erin Hunter, the author of Warrior Cats, was coming to Vienna!!! I knew that I would want to go there right away. So finally the day of the reading came and I went there with my mom. And what do you know the place was crammed with chairs and all the seats were reserved. But we went on the side and I was sitting on the ground right next to the platform!!! Good thing we came early. After what felt like 1 hour everyone was there and the whole room packed with kids from 8-16 years old and a few parents. I was sitting next to 2 teenagers on the floor. I saw that one of them was reading the books in English.  I wanted to know how far she was. But because I am always shy at first it took me 10 minutes to even ask her. She spoke German and was born in Vienna but she read the books in English. It looked like the second one liked America: Scarf and shoes with the American flag!!! Then at last Erin Hunter came. I was really excited and because I was never in a reading I wondered what she would start with. Of course everyone was there because they wanted to listen to the first chapter in german (boring). I had already read it in English. So I was sitting there rotting and sweating in the room cause there was so many people. After they were done with that it was time for questions. Already way more interesting. After 30 minutes she gave out autographs. I think I was the only one that really talked with her!!! It was pretty cool to do that. It sounds like Erin Hunter comes every year so let's see if it will be the same next year!!!

Here are some of the questions Erin Hunter answered:

Question 1: Why did you start writing Warrior Cats?

Answer: Harper Collins is my publisher and I had already wrote horse novels. They asked me to write a book about cats. I don't really like cats and I am allergic to them so I wrote about some things that interested me like war, death, politics and religion. So I wrote the book and gave it to Harper Collins but they said the dense content was not one book but enough for six.

Question 2: Which is your favorite cat?

Answer: I really like Cinderpelt she is so energetic and wise. She is the only dead cat that I feel sorry for.

Question 3: What will happen in the 5th season?

Answer: In the 5th season it will be about the clans (a group of cats) before there was Bluestar and Firestar and all the other cats. So basically about when the Clans were first made and what happened.

Of course these are not all the questions but I don't remember all of them. I didn't tell you that Erin Hunter is actually a team of 5 women and that Vicky Holmes (her real name) is the boss. She basically makes a balloon (the story frame, scenes etc.) and the other 4 writers blow the balloon up for her with details.

-Written by Anika

Friday, September 7, 2012

Into the Green

The fresh mountain air and green all around makes people happy. See proof below:

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hiking and Carving

So Tirol is mountains, and mountains want to be climbed, or hiked at least. We did actually a lot of hiking (every other day was the deal we made with the kids). Ani and Pascal, although they wined at the start of every hike, did well and after a while they got into the swing of things. Or longest hike was almost 5 hours, and the hikes were always up the mountain.

On thing I found relaxing to do during the hike was to carve a walking stick. No elaborate carving here, just what they call whittling. I would carve off all the bark down to the fresh wood. It smelled nice the newly uncovered wood. After a while I would try and "fix" gashes in the stick, and the most ambitious I got was to carve the top of the stick all round so as to fit the hand better. Sounds dumb and boring, but I kind of liked it. Anika carved a stick of her own too (although not while hiking). Pascal got in a couple of whittles, but as he's only seven he still needs a little more supervision so as not to get hurt.

The other thing about hiking I noticed was why do people climb mountains. Out our hotel window we had a nice view of a mountain peak. In bed I could watch the clouds disappear and the mountain peak appear, or the clouds slowly wrap around the peak like pulling a blanket around your chin as you settle in to sleep. Watching this was fascinating, and these mountain peaks take on a certain life and personality. So if you lived here the thought of wanting, no needing, to climb to the top of these mountains would be as natural as wanting to swim in a lake on a hot day. It just seemed so obvious to me that I wanted to climb the mountain, that it seems unexplainable to think one would not. Any ways all this to explain why (Sir Hillary who climbed Mt. Everest?) who said the reason why we climb mountains is because they are there. What seems like a curious thought is really the most obvious thought that anyone would have. Cool.

Ani whittling.

Pascal with his stick.

Ani with her stick.

Papa with his stick.

At the beginning (thanks to a Seilbahn).

A mini glacier! Really slippery!

The mini glacier.

Everyone had his/her own backpack and proper hiking shoes.


Ani carving, Mama resting.

Pascal at a high mountain lake.

The Highest Mountain (depending where you stand)

So we took the Seilbahn up to the top of Zugspitze (the highest mountain in Germany). There are two Seilbahns to the top, one starts in Germany, the other in Austria. Go figure.... do you really need two Seilbahn maybe 20 minutes away from each other? It's like a mini space race between Germany and Austria.

Check out those ski trails on the green mountain below. Nice......

Above the clouds! At the bottom right you can see part of the last Seilbahn tower.

A chilly 7 celcius at the top,  a warm 28 Celcius at the bottom.

The Zugspitze is high (2900m), and in the summer does look like the moon. Nothing but rock at the top, not a single plant. Not a living thing except tons of tourists and these little black birds soaring about picking crumbs from "the highest Biergarten in Germany".

A blackbird waiting for crumbs from those who always need to eat in really high places.
Biergarten at a very high altitude.

It's cold up here!

There's the deadly Gipfelkreuz behind Ani.
It was bracing standing there on top of all that rock, above the clouds, in the cold high altitude air. Unfortunately there were so many tourists it was comical. And you couldn't actually walk around the mountain (without risking a deady fall) but had to stay in the building where the Seilbahn unloads its passengers. There are numerous viewing platforms, and slowly one could make your way from one to the other. It was so crowded in the passages, I thought I was on an U-bahn.

O.k. so you spent 40 euros to go to the "top of Germany" so you have to really go to the top, all the way, to the Gipfelkreuz. The Kreuz is just 30 meters away from the viewing platforms, but it's on some seriously steep rock, with deadly drops left and right. To get there you should have climbing gear, i.e. harness, etc. so you could rope yourself to the steel guide cable. The problem is you and another million Germans want to do this, climb the puny section of deadly steep rock so you too can say you have touched the "top of Germany". Sorry I just don't get this! It's like climbing to the top of mount Everest and finding a film crew and models making an automobile commercial. It just ruins the whole adventure of climbing to the highest point if everyone else is already there. And in addition I would not risk my life on such a section of deadly rock with such a crowd of people pushing and shoving their way up and down the rock. 

But don't get me wrong, it is splendidly beautiful up there above the clouds teatering on the rocky knife edge of this ridiculously gigantic piece of rock.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Tirol/Zugspitze Witz!

We just got back from a 2 week Urlaub in Tirol, and here is the first Witz: Warum gehen die Osterreicher und Bayern auf die Zugspitze (2962m)? Um hoch, Deutsch zu reden! Ha, ha, ha.

Panorama with Zugspitze rechts.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Paris ist Schön

S. had a conference in Paris, and I got to go with. Paris is - I know you've heard this before - a beautiful city. But it is, really! We were staying in a much too expensive hotel next to the Tuilerie gardens. We were on one end of the gardens and the Louvre on the other. Along one side of the garden they had a amusement park set up. It was fun to sit in the Tuileries and watch the "hammer of doom" whip people 30 meters into the air, then down again. The ferries wheel was also a great place to get a view of Paris, from Monte Marte to the Arch de Triumph.

We walked all over Paris! Once to the eiffel tower, the other time all the way down the Seine to Notre Dame. There were beautiful gardens all along the way:

The French sure do know how to take in the simple pleasures of life: food, clothes, gardens, loving (more on that later). An example of the French attitude might be seen in these chairs which were strewn all through the Tuilerie gardens:

Perfect for just lying back and enjoying the sun. They even had these chairs at the airport near the gate (actually there they were more a perverse joke on waiting forever!).

As you can see in the tree above, Paris is the city of love. And public displays of affection (PDA) are quite the norm. In the Tuilerie gardens some couples acted as if no one else was around. It's kind of sweet really to see the importance the French place on L'Amour, the world could certainly use more of it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A Boy's love of Vegetables!

In a pensive mood with Brocco.

We had a nice weekend with friends, spent mostly swimming in a little pond amidst the farms lands along the Donau.

After swimming we spent some time at our friends' house, mostly in their back yard which has a bunch of fruit trees (apple, cherries mostly). Pascal for some reason became attached to a stuffed Broccoli figure (from IKEA) lying around the house. He wouldn't let go of it, and gave it a nickname: Brocco!

The 4 Seasons

Wow! It's summer and we've been having a heat wave. At over 80F the whole week rain is very welcome, unfortunately it hasn't really come. Today it's cooling off a little, and it rained very weakly, but we got a perfect rainbow (even a slight double rainbow!) right outside our apartment window. I also like, in the picture, the way the rainbow lands perfectly into our neighbor's balcony. 

I thought it would be interesting to contrast the perfect "Hawaiian" rainbow with the view out of our window during the winter. It's almost incomprehensible that both kinds of weather could exist in the same place, and that make both seasons all the more remarkable and special. Here's to the seasons!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Father's Day With Animals

Three other farm animals. 

Two days before Father's day I was reading the newspaper when I saw an ad about wolf pups in a zoo. I showed my mom and my parents decided that we should go there for Father's day. We had to drive with the car for 50 Minutes and while we drove I read a book to Pascal. 

Once at the zoo, we took the red path and on the way we saw the wolf pups. They were really cute and they came from America. Then we kept on going and saw the grown-up wolfs. We kept on going and we saw these signs where there were questions about wolfs.  I answered all of them right except for one.

When there were no signs any more we saw a cage with deer and people in it; at first we thought they were zookeepers but then we came closer and we saw that they were kids. So we kept on going and saw the entrance. I went in slowly (so I wouldn't scare the deer ) and then a deer came close to me. It was a girl and she was really tame, all of them were tame and they came down the hill to lie in the sun. A lot of them ate grass but some just sat down. We saw three boys and one was pretty young and barely had horns. The others had half grown antlers because they lost them in the winter. When I touched the deer's horns they were all soft and I noticed that I saw these deers in a different zoo with full-grown antlers. Those let themselves get petted too, except that we weren't allowed to go in the cage at that zoo. I watched the deer eat the grass and sometimes it was kind of interesting.

Papa is petting the deer like it was a dog. She likes it!

We kept on going until we got to the exit and had to go out. We followed the red path and came to a bull that had long hair on his head, and it was pretty funny because I think he could barely see you. When we came to the end of the trail there was a little restaurant where we could look at guinea pigs and rabbits. Then we ate grilled cheese sandwiches. ( They were really good. ) So we went back to the car and drove back home.

The longhaired beast.

Wild Poppies along the path.

Pascal is taking this picture with one eye closed (the one that looks through the view finder!) that's why Mama is trying not to burst out laughing!