Auf Wiedersehen aus/von Österreich

Our time in Austria is coming to a close.   This will be our final blog posting from Österreich.

We’ve spent the past few days walking around the city we’ve grown to love:  a last look at Karl Franz Universität; one more church visit –Dreifaltigkeitskirche (the Ursuline Holy Trinity Church), built on the site of the early city moat; shopping for some gifts; trying out a few new restaurants (tapas and traditional Styrian haut cuisine); and stumbling onto some surprises along the way (a Big Band playing in the Hauptplatz during an passive energy fair; a race up to the top of the Schlossberg).   It seems each time we walk, we run into this kind of thing!

main building of Karl Franz Universitat, Graz


Bill at the well before his office building










checking out of Graz; changing our meldung (enrollment) at city hall

water display at Jakominiplatz

Big Band Music – Jazz is basically the same everywhere! (they even have the same playbook our son, David, does!)














race to the Turm at the top of the Sclossberg

love the shoes! they matched his outfit, too!















church across from Schlossbergplatz (Ursuline Holy Trinity church)

Bill and his Gekochter Tafelspitz vom Almo at Stainzerbauer















me with our shared Steirisches Schokoladenmousse mit Rhabarber-Erdbeerragout

me with our shared Steirisches Schokoladenmousse mit Rhabarber-Erdbeerragout


the Renaissance courtyard of Stainzerbauer














We’ve also set aside time to be with some of our fondest acquaintances here in Graz – Sebastian, the blooming ornithologist (look out David Sibley!); Steffen and his family; Christina and Gernot, with whom we visited Christina’s childhood home and family on a farm and their alpine Hütte (hut), both on the border with Slovenia, only 1 1/2 hours from Graz, where we were fed (again) and warmly welcomed.

The Birk family

Sebastian and Martina

Gernot and Christina outside at her childhood home near Eibiswald












the bell tower of a small church high on the border of Austria and Slovenia

looking over at Slovenia

OE = Oesterreich

RS = Republic of Slovenia












I am standing in Slovenia

we were standing RIGHT THERE when the bells started to ring at noon (101 times!)












looking toward Graz – der Schöckl is the large mountain with the flat top

our dinner after the hike to the church on the border of Slovenia

these flowers looked totally artificial but they were real!














We had to change tables three times.  Once to move to a larger table than the only too-small table  available when we arrived, a second time to give a larger family a bigger seating area; the third time because the person sitting next to us dropped his mug of bier and it went all over my hiking shirt, Gernot’s trousers and shoes and the seat cushions.  The person wasn’t drunk or anything – the glass was simply slippery!

Oma Bertha (Christina’s sister in law) and Annelena

Gernot teaching Annelena to play soccer – no wonder these European teams are so good!








Christina raking – there is always work to be done!











the spring outlet – water in Austria is mostly UNtreated and totally drinkable. Bill did have some suggestions, though, to help with the ants living in the wood and to keep them out of the water supply!

window in the hutte; the hutte was built by Christina’s sister – no electricity, a cellar for a fridge; and absolutely quiet













We’ve weighed the bags and are reasonably sure hopeful that the scale we borrowed is accurate and that we are underweight on everything!

As we leave we will surely take with us the kindness extended, the smells of the woods, the breathtakingly beautiful scenery, the amazing food, the sheer history of this place. We’ll remember, ein bisschen, the dust, which invaded our apartment no matter how often we cleaned!  Graz is known as a UNESCO City of Design (or maybe it is trying to gain this coveted status).  On one of the storefront windows that slogan was crossed out and now reads:  Graz, City of Design Dust.  ♥  As well, we will recall the smiles of children, how people helped us as we stumbled through our Deutsch, which did improve some during our stay.  Wirklich! (although certainly not enough to write this episode auf Deutsch!)

We’ve seen here many things which remind us of home—the love of nature,  the prevalence of areas set aside for children, the treasure of music and art, the participation in activities out of doors, the attention to silence, the passion for learning.  There have been differences as well, namely how much these Austrians (and other Europeans) walk everywhere, how knowledgeable they are of world affairs, and how they actually take time time for den Genuss und die Freizeit (pleasure and leisure).  Yes, you still see the interruptions of Handys (cell phones) and Fernsehen  (televsions), but people actually take time to linger with friends at a cafe, walk through the woods, sit by a pond, or just stroll on one of the pedestrian Straßen.

boy getting ready to slide onto the next station in the Kletterpark near our apartment in the woods

the rowboats wait on the Teich; when we came the pond was frozen

Today, as I am writing it’s the United States celebration of independence, the 4th of July.  What comes to mind, however, is not independence but interdependence.   Spending some months actually living, observing, and being in another country allows one to see just how similar are the people of the world and how much we need each other.  How much we all –regardless of nationality–long for peace in the world.

peace rose in the garden of Schloss Seggau, near Graz

Tomorrow, 5 der Juli, we will lift off from Graz with a last ride down through the Leechwald and fly to Frankfurt, Newark, Denver and touch down in Missoula more than 24 hours later.   We won’t mind the trip through, because we are coming home to this.

Our new granddaughter.

The Austrians are fond of saying  ‘alles ist gute’ when you shake their hands to say goodby.  I would add to that, “alles ist Gnade” (grace).  We’ve appreciated the support of all our friends, Austrian, French, Swiss, German, and American, and we thank you for reading along as we’ve spent these last 4 ½ months where the hills are most certainly alive with more Gemütlichkeit than you can even imagine and for which we are so very grateful.

view of Graz from the south

Servus and Auf Wiedersehen aus Österreich!






Americans in France: Part 2 – L’Isle d’Abeau and Lyon

As we rode on the CVG train to Lyon and our friends, the fields of wheat, and rapeseed whizzed by, that is, when we could see them.  With high speed trains, apparently we trade scenery for rapid transit, as much of the journey was in a straight and narrow trench with only occasional glimpses of the French countryside.


Lyon, in the Rhône-Alpes region, is another old city, and is known for its role in silk manufacturing.   It seems all great cities have rivers that run through them, and Lyon is no exception, except there are TWO rivers (Rhône and Saône) which converge just south of Lyon and then flow toward the Mediterranean 230 Km away.  We drove on bridges over both in a little car tour of Lyon before we headed toward the town where Chantal and Andre live, about 28 Km south-east.

Enroute we paid a visit to the home of their oldest daughter for introduction to 4 month-old ‘le petit Victor’, the first grandchild.  Finally, we arrived in at their home in L’Isle d’Abeau, adjacent to a large plaza and surrounded by beautiful gardens.  Chantal was in the backyard, in her atelier, guiding students who come for pottery lessons.  After receiving, for so many years, photos of the house, the gardens, and the workshop (which Andre built), it was wonderful to see Chantal and her husband in their surroundings and in action.  Bill enjoyed chatting with the 8 and 9 year-old students, quizzing them about which singers they liked (Lady Gaga – oui!; Justin Bieber – non!) and testing if they could understand any English (they could, but were shy about using it!).


practicing with le petit Victor, Chantal at work in her atelier, Andre watching, la Tartiflette


Paris may have the renowned tourist attractions but Lyon (and environs) gets our vote for the food, and that began with our first delicious meal with our hosts at, oh, about 9 PM.   Chantal whipped up a Tartiflette, a dish from the Savoie region. It is made with potatoes, onions, reblochon cheese, cream, and lardons. So yummy, but pass the med for cholesterol name!  How do the French manage all that fat content? By walking in proportion to what they eat! After dinner, we took an hour walk up to the church and around the town! Fantastique!


walking to the town church, the city 'hotel' (offices), le jardin, the old town well


The next morning was market day, which meant simply stepping out the front door to the stands set up in that big plaza in front of their home:  more cheese, interesting meats, and fresh fruits and veggies.


Chantal buying the lamb, cheese everywhere!


Then it was off to Lyon, via the metro system leading first to the funicular up the hill of the Basilique de Notre-Dame de Fouvière (a basilica with sanctuaries on two levels and gorgeous mosaics!) and eventually down to old-town Lyon.


Outside/inside the bascillica Notre Dame de Fouviere


old town Lyon, the river, the plaza, Notre-Dame de Fourviere


On a street lined with restaurants (Chantal visited at least 3 before deciding which one would do) we ate salad Lyonnaise and les quenelles avec sauce aux écrevisses (crawfish), quite possibly the best food of our lives.  (the foie gras in Paris pales in comparison and I have officially eaten food I never thought I would!)


la rue des restaurants, Le pere Fillon aux les trois cochons (pigs), les quenelles avec sauce aux ecrevisses, salad lyonnaise, Place des Terreaux, fountain of the 4 rivers of France


Old Lyon is largely Renaissance with a very interesting feature:  traboules,  passageways between buildings, and sometimes between streets.  You will find passageways and courtyards in Graz, but rarely do they rise and criss-cross several stories off the ground.  Although most of the traboules lead to private residences, many city-dwellers have opted to keep the historic traboules accessible to the public.  One only has to ring a buzzer and push on the heavy wooden door to stroll through the tunnel and arrive in a light-bathed courtyard offering a photographer’s dream of wells, stairs and gargoyles.


les traboules!


We finished our day with a visit to the Lyon Cathedral with its astronomical clock, and a walk to the river.


The cathedral also has an astronomical clock from the 14th century.


The next morning was for preparing for dinner with le petit Victor and his family, plus the other grandparents (from close to Grenoble) who arrived at 11:30 AM.    On the menu:  l’oignon tarte, homemade foie gras, little breads with various tapenades, sliced terrines, fresh baby radishes, nuts, and several types of liqueurs, including orange liqueur à Chantal. This was a living tableau of Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and those were just the aperitifs!


getting ready for Sunday dinner


Dinner was lamb (including the kidneys!) and vegetables en brochette, tabbouleh made with couscous, bread and wine. Following that, the cheese course.   Et en fin, dessert.  Chantal served a cherry clafouti created earlier that day, with 2 or 3 choices of ice cream, which alone seemed perfect.  But we also had visited the bakery on Sunday morning (bakeries there are open on Sunday; closed on Monday) not only for artisan baguettes, but also an insane variety of dessert pastries.


le boulangerie, les grandmeres, the cook!


the table of aperitifs, brothers in law, Olivier, family shot


dinner (for the dog, too), dessert, rest


We lounged a while in the backyard, entertaining the dog, and then it was time for …. a stroll!  This time we walked to an old amphitheater, and by an old quarry for a view of the Alps.  OK you had to squint to see them, but they were there.


after dinner relaxing, and then...the walk and the alps.


The other families departed, Clementine (daughter #2) arrived for a brief visit, and when the conversation drifted to the royal wedding, the modeling began.  Somehow French women just look better in their clothes, and their hats!

Still, the night was young, so we zipped out in the car for a look at the old chateau that was the reception site for Aurélie and Matthieu’s wedding, again with a gorgeous view.  Between the company, the food and the scenery, we felt absolutely complete!


views of the countryside, 3 generations love NY, our hosts, castle ruins

Clementine in her mother's hat, the grandparents adore the baby, Clementine with her parents


All too soon it was time to depart.


leaving Lyon, Chantal's orchid, a view of the alps, a view of Graz


If I were home this would be the point at which I would pull out my worn copy of Le Petit Prince by Lyon’s famous native son, Antoine de St. Exupéry.  When I continued my French studies in college, I wrote a paper about this brave and adventurous man who shared such wisdom in his novella.  As Chantal dropped us off at the airport which bears his name, we both had tears in our eyes:  Sadness at the parting but joy for the time we spent together. And in our hearts, delicious memories.  No words needed.

“And now here is my secret, a very simple secret; it is only

with the heart that one can see rightly, what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

–Antoine de St. Exupery

Saint-Exupery statue

Au revoir pour maintenant.

Beautiful Budapest – Part 2

So, if you are ever in Budapest, you must take a ride on the Danube at night.  I know, it’s a touristy thing to do, but it is one of the major highlights of our visit to this magical city.    Our friends had purchased a Hop-On, Hop-off ticket which included the boat ride at night and they invited us along.  Thank you, Mary and Charles!  Not only did we learn a little more history of the city and locate particular landmarks, we also were thrilled with the views.  Unfortunately this is point and shoot digital photography at night, so this is the best I could do.



Matthias Church at night

glass concert on the way to the docks















Buda palaces at night



Chain Bridge



Fisherman's Bastion and Matthias Church at night

Liberty statue
















Parliament Building










The next day we used our guidebook to find the highly recommended Gerloczy Cafe.  We were not disappointed.  From the menu to the food, the experience was sublime and a great way to start the day!


Breakfast at Gerloczy Cafe (the best)



If ever I open a restaurant, I want to have a menu like this.  I tried to figure out how I could stick one into my already packed handbag, but, in the end, decided to photograph some of the choice pages.

No  one was bothered, or emotional, but the quiche (Hungarian style with spicy sausage) was most definitely all right!  How more wonderful can a place be that features Irish Harp?

Bill with Irish Harp behind


The Gerloczy Cafe from the outside















Outside there is a statue of the united city’s first mayor (Budapest was only united in 1873).


From the cafe, we went to the Great Synagogue.  The synagogue, also known as Dohány Street Synagogue (Nagy Zsinagóga or Dohány utcai Zsinagóga),  is located in downtown Budapest.  It is the largest synagogue in Eurasia and the second largest in the world, after the Temple Emanu-El.  What is interesting about this synagogue, built between 1854 and 1859 is its Moorish Revival style and elements (rosette window, organ)  that make it seem almost like a church.  (Franz Liszt and Camille Saint-Saëns played the original 5,000 tube organ built in 1859.)   Our tour guide told us that was the idea at the time, to ‘fit in’ with the dominant culture.


The Great Synagogue - Budapest



















The synagogue was impressive [has a capacity of 2,964 seats (1,492 for men and 1,472 in the women’s galleries)] but even more so was the Museum, with articles from Judaica all over the world.  The third part of the visit brought us to the sobering Holocaust remembrance.

Our guide called this The Tree of Life, but it is also known as the Weeping Willow, with names of those lost in the Holocaust inscribed on the leaves.  This sculpture is part of Raoul Wallenberg Park, which sits in back of the synagogue.

The words on the structure at the front read:  “Whoever saves a soul for mankind, saves the entire world.”

Both Jewish victims of the Holocaust and ‘righteous gentiles’ are memorialized here.  Some of the ‘righteous gentiles’  include priests and ministers who buried torahs from various synagogues in their church cemeteries to hide them from the Nazis.



Memorial to Raoul Wallenberg














the stained glass memorial

memorial to the victims of the Holocaust













We spent a long time at the synagogue, and after that, took  a long walk to process all that we had seen.  We know of this inhumanity but there is nothing quite like hearing about it from children and grandchildren of those who experienced it, and nothing quite like seeing the reminders of it on the soil where it occurred.  Never forget.



Budapest is known for its thermal baths.  You would think that Bill, of all people, would be most interested in checking these hydrogeologic features out first hand.  We even packed swimming suits!  Alas, we ran out of time to do anything but make a quick trip out to the Szechenyi Baths, not to get in but to at least see them.


To get there, you take Line 1 of the oldest metro system on the continent (London’s is older but it’s not on the continent!).  The trains look very old and the stations even older, but classic in a sort of  late 1890’s way.


Line 1

one of the stations along Line 1












The baths are located in a beautiful park.


Once there, you have a choice of bathing au naturale with people of the same gender or sharing space together with mixed genders, hopefully with some clothing on.  Next time!









We zipped back to our apartment to change for the Opera and go out to dinner.  The feel of Budapest is very liberating; even the restaurants reflect this style.


if it rained, we were all set!


Budapest’s Opera House is large and about as ornate as Vienna’s which seems less ornate than the one in Graz!  The acoustics were superb and the opera itself very well sung:  Otello, another Verdi opera and we knew the story so trying to read the HUNGARIAN text across the top of the stage didn’t matter. (my next language is going to be Italian, however!)



Hungarian State Opera House



Opera goes enjoying refeshments and break on terrace in Budapest

while computer work gets done on the steps














the stage













the boxes

the dome - ok it IS more ornate than Vienna's!









Iago tkaing a bow

Otehello and Desdemona after Act 4











This was a very long opera.  By the time we found our coats, pulled out the umbrellas (no they did NOT come from the restaurant), and walked to a nearby bar/bakery, we found it was closing in 10 minutes.   There was no time to eat in, so we did what all good Americans do…we asked for take out pastry.  I thought the maitre de was going to fall over, but he obliged and even put our desserts to go on a little (cardboard) gold tray!


dessert after the Opera - our 'to go' tray

I don’t remember the name of any of these but it didn’t matter – they were delicious!

We’ll be back, beautiful Budapest.



Opera….my aunt introduced it to me when I was a little girl. She lived in Arlington, not too far from our home in Alexandria.  It was just far enough away to seem exotic, at least to an 8-year-old.   Occasionally, I would spend the night with her on Fridays and stay at her apartment through part of Saturday.  She always had the radio on to the MET broadcasts, on Saturdays, and, still dressed in pajamas,  we listened together.  If the MET was not in season, we would listen to 78 rpm opera recordings on her turntable! It was one of the highlights of my childhood.

Since that time, I’ve seen Light Opera in Ohio, operettas and opera theater in other venues, Missoula included.  The MET’s radio broadcast plays on KUFM when we drive up toward the Flathead on weekend.  Somewhere in our collection of vinyls is Madama Butterfly with Leontyne Price in the title role.  I nearly wore that one out!  Still, we never have attended a full-scale opera in what is considered a ‘big’ house.

So, one of the things we knew we wanted to do while in Europe was attend an opera.  We did that early on in Graz (Don Giovanni) and later in mid-May while in Budapest (Otello)and again in Graz [Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi (The Capulets and the Montagues]) with opera-loving friends, when they visited.   And, at the recommendation from these same friends, we made arrangements to see Nabucco in Vienna when we had to be there anyway for a meeting in early May.  We loved the feel of the Wienerstaatsoper, from the elegant yet simple ‘house’ to the custom of storing coats without asking for payment (unlike any of the performance venues we’ve visited here in Graz!).  For attire, we saw everything from elegant long dresses to jeans!


It was marvelous.  Although opera companies in Europe are known for their ‘modern’ adaptations of opera, which occasionally startle, this one was exquisite in its contemporary staging.  It was a timeless portrayal of the persecution of Jewish people beyond the experience of great exile into Babylon.  (think WWII)

the 'slaves' chorus for Nabucco

We were treated to a masterful performance by Maria Guleghina as Abigail (Nabucco’s vengeful, power-hungry ‘daughter’) and the Philharmonic was amazing.

Maria - second from left

We had great seats in the mittel-loge


we sat here - dead center, second row.

but next time maybe we’ll check out the standing room only tickets at 4€ each!  They were right below us!  (the problem is, you have to stand for 3 hours!)  Even the standing room places have viewing screens with English and German subtitling!  No neck strains here!

On our way to the opera, we visited the sobering Monument Against War and Fascism in the Albertinaplatz.


After the opera was over, we walked by the ‘star’ for Nabucco’s composer, Verdi.


And we would have finished with a slice of cake at – where else – the Hotel Sacher or the adjacent Sacher Cafe but we had done that the night before! (I know…a pity not to have that much chocolate twice!)

Hotel Sacher with elegant doorman


the cafe next door - a little more laid back with rock music playing in the background

sachertorte - must have with schlagoobers!

For those chocoholics among us, you can buy the whole cake!

With or without the accompanying cake,  Bill thinks he may actually like opera as well,  so perhaps we will sign up for the MET series simulcasts in Missoula which are broadcast at the renovated Roxy Theater.   Although it’s fun to dress up for a night of elegance,  Verdi or Puccini sound just as fabulous from the comfort of my jeans.

Pass the popcorn.


Springtime..not in the Rockies

Many of you have written, wondering if we had fallen off the face of the earth, because there have been no posts for about a month!  We most assuredly have not, but it has been a busy spring here in Graz, and to points beyond.  Honestly,  I am still trying to decide how best to organize the month of activities so as to convey the most interesting information with the best pictures.  For now, here is a little taste of late April/early May for us, right after the visit of our friends from France at Easter.

First of all, they brought all this cheese:  five or six different types, mostly unpasteurized.  We ate as much as we could but two people can only consume so much! Plus we were leaving for a week in Vienna.  So, in a desire to honor their gift and enjoy the flavors au mélange, we created a pizza!

the French cheese - starting with noon position: St. Felicien du Dauphine, Chevre avec cumin, Reblochon de Savoie, Le Brebion pur Brebis (sheep); Beaufort fromage (like Guyere)


Then it was just a matter of creating the pizza with everything else we had in the refrigerator.  Absolutely the best ever!

Fresh mozzarella, olives and tomatoes (this was before the e-coli scare!)



crisped prosciutto

and fresh basil, feta chunks and bits of pimento

grated cheese: combination of Holland Gouda and French Beaufort fromage


In general, Austrian produce, dairy and meat is very fresh and of high quality.  If you don’t buy your food directly from the farmer or butcher, you most certainly know from which farm it came, because everything is labeled that way, even in the grocery store!


Meanwhile, the dough was slightly rising with the yeast I bought a month ago.  Finally another use for yeast since the Easter hot cross buns!

whole wheat crust glazed with olive oil, sprinkled with pressed garlic, Italian herbs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Add sliced salami and slighly cooked onion slices












partially baked pizza with salami and onion gets some grated cheese on top

and tomato, fresh mozzarella, other cheese, feta, olives, pimentos and basil











Back into the oven for the final cooking….


meanwhile, the local beer while we wait
















Eh, Voila…..the pizza au mélange!

While eating, we enjoyed a beautiful view out our window.  At this point, it is warm enough to be out on the terrace, and we don’t have to worry any longer about rutschgefahr (slipping) on the surface.

a hot air balloon appears just beyond our forest. we want to go up in it!

wisteria in bloom everywhere!













this is the old stop at Hilmteich

and here is the one we use!










In my opinion, there is no contest as to which one is lovelier.

the local Billa...ubiquitous grocery stores throughout Austria


So I will be working tomorrow on getting out some more photos of our many excursions in and  out of Graz.  Stay tuned and thank you for reading!

Salmorejo or one of the best tastes of Andalucia

As we were traveling throughout Andalucia, one of the constant offerings on the tapas menu was Salmorejo, a thick gazpacho originating in the area of Cordoba.  We tasted it our first night in Cordoba but enjoyed it, as well, in Gaucin and Sevilla.  You could use bread to dip into it, or just scoop out all the yummy tomato goodness with a big spoon.

I’ve made Gazpacho before – the kind with chunks of vegetables floating in a suspension of tomato puree — and also creamy ‘white’ gazpachos, made with honey dew melon or cantaloupe.   This is a sort of cross between the two – no obvious vegetables, but a thick puree of tomatoes augmented with delicacies of the region.  In Cordoba, ours was served with chopped garlic and Serrano ham on top, with bread on the side.

When our French friends were visiting I wanted to serve something that might be new for them, and yet easy to prepare (or so I thought) that we could eat for either an appetizer or a small meal.  As it turned out, I have no food processor or blender at our flat here in Graz, so made do with the attachment to the electric hand mixer that seems to work quite well for soft foods but makes a bit of a mess at the same time!

Nevertheless, this recipe was perfect.  I didn’t follow exactly because I am a kind of taste as you go cook.  I’ve put my alterations in parentheses.


ingredients for Salmorejo

Spanish Creamy Cold Tomato Soup Recipe

Salmorejo Cordobes adapted from Lisa and Tony Sierra
website here

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes (plus longer to cool in the refrigerator)

Yield: 4 Servings


* 2 eggs – we’d already had eggs that day so I skipped this part

* 2 oz Serrano ham (substitute prosciutto)

* 1 (8 oz) baguette, stale

* 1 large clove garlic – after tasting, I increased to 3 cloves

* 2 lbs (1 kg) ripe tomatoes (or in a pinch or if without a proper blender/processor, use tomato puree)

* 8 oz (250 ml) extra virgin olive oil  – I used only about 1/4 cup olive oil

* 2 oz (60 ml) red wine vinegar – about 1/4 cup  (more traditional recipes use Spanish sherry; I think I added a tablespoon more)

* salt to taste



Hard boil the eggs. Place in ice cold water to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cut off hard crust from baguette, then cut into slices approximately 1/2-inch thick. (If your baguette is skinny, like mine was, simply slice the whole thing down the middle and pull out the stale bread with your fingers.  Eat the crusts or save for later crumb-making.)

Pour about a 1/4-inch water into a large glass baking dish. Add bread slices and allow bread to soak for 30 minutes. Squeeze excess water out of slices and place in a blender or food processor. (or in a container that will contain any agitation from a hand blender!)

Peel and mince garlic and place in food processor. (I simply pressed the garlic and added it to the above container.)

Peel tomatoes and remove seeds. Add to the food processor and pour in vinegar. Process. (Because of time and tool constraints, I used mostly already prepared puree and a few tomatoes.)

Slowly pour in oil while processing. Continue to process until smooth. If mixture is too thick, pour in a bit of cold water while processing. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

When ready to serve: Dice Serrano ham. (I first precooked the prosciutto in the microwave until it was barely crisp.)

(optional:  Peel and quarter hard boiled eggs.)

Pour soup into four bowls. Sprinkle ham over bowls.

(Add two egg quarters to each bowl.)


we ate every bit!

Castles, wine AND chocolate – can it get any better?

Just when I thought we had experienced the ultimate in excursions on Friday, our friends Christina and Gernot called to ask if we would like to go out with them on Saturday.  “Natürlich!” we said.  That has to be one of the coolest words in our auf Deutsch vocabulary. It manages to get in all the hardest to make sounds.

So, we took the tram over to the central exchange point,where we saw a demonstration against eating meat.  What?  In Austria?


told by cop he needed to park differently - ended up blocking trams

We got on a second tram and rode it to the end of the line, which was to a place called Mur Park. The Mur is the river that ‘runs through it’ here in Graz.  Bill was expecting a large city park, but whoa…what was this?  A shopping mall!  Just like the City Park mall, maybe bigger.  Funny, calling places of consumerism ‘parks’.  Since we were heading out of town, a place that offered ample parking on the side of town closest to our destination was the best place to meet our Austrian  friends.

They said they were taking us to some places maybe we would have a hard time getting to on our own and that we would spend the whole day seeing things with some surprises thrown in.  Loved it already!

We headed East out of Graz.  The map below shows the quick way.


The road to Riegersburg


Gernot took instead the slow way, winding through the beautiful Styrian countryside.  I don’t know what to compare it to in the US – upstate New York, maybe, or the palouse of eastern Washington with more than wheat.  It’s full of verdant rolling hills with good roads that curve their way past assemblies of houses and farms.  Make that fruit orchards (apples, pears and GRAPES).  In the US we cultivate apples and other fruits mostly in rows of trees; here, as in northern Italy, they are mostly grown staked out like grapes.   At one point we went through a newly constructed tunnel; Gernot rolled down the window to check the sound level as we zoomed through. Gotta love those engineers! 🙂

“Had we ever been to a castle?” was the query.  Not in Austria, unless you count the berg in Graz.  Well, today, we were visiting a proper castle, one that was both a fortress and a dwelling place.  We could see it from a long way off.


Riegersburg Castle

That’s the castle up there on the basalt formation.  It is actually located just at the southern border of Eastern Styria,  in what is known as Vulkanland.   The fortress itself is built on the ancient cone of a long-extinct volcano.  It was never conquered, due to its impenetrability and steep paths.  It was THE strategic outpost against the Turks and the Magyars and anyone else who wanted to invade from the East.

Here is another view of it from the other side.

another view of the castle - check out those cliffs!

As most of you know, castles exist mainly for protection.  In case enemies would come, the serfs in the surrounding village could make their way up through the (sometimes double) moats of the castle and numerous walls into the interior where they would be protected. This castle has double moats, three kilometres of defense walls with loopholes, seven archways and eleven bastions.    It was quite a hike up; I imagine if adrenaline had kicked in, it might have been a faster trip!  A  cable-train on the north side of the castle can take you up in 1½ minutes but it wasn’t open for the season yet. (and I doubt we would have taken it, had it been open.)


Bill, Christina and Gernot - Castle Riegersburg - first gate/archway


hiking up the basalt road

The basalt road is rutted from years of use by wagon wheels, first wooden, then iron.  Yes it was really that steep!


basalt and 'arrow windows'

This gives you a good look at the ‘arrow windows’, so shaped so the archers on the defense could fire down, but arrows fired up would have a harder time getting through the opening.  With such defense, maybe boiling oil wasn’t necessary!


arrow window

The doors (open for us today) were clad in iron and further had a small door for people but not, presumably, camels. (or horses)


small door - 'wicket' in English castles. Christina called it the 'eye of the needle'.

the people door in case the main door was closed

We were among the few people at the castle this day.  There was a group of maybe 20 people on a tour, and a few other families, but that was it.  The castle itself opens for the season beginning April 1, or the next weekend.  But that was ok by us. Another place to put on a list of ‘visit again’!

The archways are supported by giant blocks of basalt.

looking through the doorway - blocks of basalt outlining the edges

This edifice has undergone many transformations, as is true for so much of the architecture in Europe.  The first record of a castle here is from 1138, built by a knight, Rüdiger von Hohenberg.  In the late 16th century, the castle was extended in  Renaissance-style  by the Barons of Stadl.  From 1637 on the castle belonged to Baroness Katharina Elisabeth of Galler, who further enlarged the castle and created the ornate baroque rooms that are the venue for many weddings and other events today.  Unfortunately, because the castle was not officially open, we weren’t able to see the interior.  In 1822, the Duke of Liechtenstein acquired the castle and it still belongs to that family today.


And now, I am going to stop with the commentary and just let you enjoy as we did as we walked through.


view of town over the side wall



the wall - one of them, anyway


further up the road - note wagon wheel ruts


one of the towers



vines on the inside


vines on the outside


vineyards everywhere!

At this point, let me interject that this is a BIG HINT as to what we were in store for next.  But I digress.


better view of town and surrounding farms



one of the bastions



our dear friends



onward and upward



the moat


…and the new guard of the moat! Appropriate for this season!

There was actually a rabbit hutch under the drawbridge!   The Liechtenstein Family lives in the village — perhaps their grandchildren care for the rabbits?


the drawbridge


I wonder if this guy is a spy?

the watchful turk



more gates to go through on our way down


More odd creatures on the way down!


beetle at Riegersburg Castle

We couldn’t see the interior of the castle which includes 100 rooms, twenty-five of which are used for the two museums:  one on Witchcraft (and the witch hunts and trials that went on from 1673 – 1675 and which resulted in many women being burned at the stake) and the other on Legendary Women, including one of the owners of the castle who was an independent woman, unique for that time.

We could however visit the castle chapel which was simply gorgeous.

outside the chapel at Riegersburg Castle

Inside, it was dark as usual but light was streaming through the NEW glass windows.  A glorious sight!


streaming light


Best of all we were treated to an impromptu concert by our friends.  Both Christina and Gernot are musicians.  She directs the children’s choir at her school and he plays the trumpet.  They both sing!  Here they are singing an Austrian folk song.  Enjoy!

Right click on the photo and select ‘open link in a new tab’ and the video will open.

From Graz-3-26-11-Riegersburg Castle-KronbergSchloss-chocolate factory with Christina and Gernot

If the day had ended right there, it would have been enough.  Dayenu!

But there was more!  From the castle we visited a small wine shop close to the castle, which offered free tastes of local wines,  bottled juices from the local farms, and handmade gifts.  We tasted several white wines and one very fruity rose but ended up buying only some juices and needlework there, as our friends said we would go directly to the farmer to buy the wine! This is the part of Austria known for its white wines!

That was our next stop!  Bill’s colleagues at the universities asked me not to mention how good these wines are or for what price they are sold.  It’s one of Austria’s best kept secrets.  I just wish I could figure out a way to bring back more than 2 bottles!


wine barrel at one of the regional winemakers

Many of the wine farmers (wienbauern) also run small restaurants, at which they offer their wines.  These buildings are not in the village, but rather out in the hills you can see from the castle.  We parked next to the barn, walked past the apple storage and into the foyer.   We only bought wine and didn’t stay for dinner because we had a few more stops to make first!

Next up was the furniture maker-restorer, Famille Golles-Valda, which took us back over other hills close to the castle.  On the way we passed several odd looking, wind-driven wooden structures, which Christina said were to keep the birds away.   She called them ‘klip-klaps’ so named for the sound they made, although some could be set up to ‘sing’ musical notes!



When we arrived at the Famille Golles-Valda business, the sign said to call for an appointment on the weekends.  Never mind, with typical Austrian hospitality, we were invited in to look around.  The work was gorgeous, mostly antiques which had been totally refinished or restored, although I can see the Keno twins on Antiques Roadshow cringing a little when you mention antique and refinish in the same sentence!

The view of the castle from the business was breathtaking and gives you a better sense of its height!


view of the castle from Golles-Valda

With all this touring we had worked up quite an appetite, although it was only 4 o’clock and we had consumed delicious Styrian apples on our trek up the castle road.  Nevertheless, to the Buschenschank!  These are little family-run restaurants that offer fresh, local fare, usually cold — served on large wooden platters. Some of the Buschenschanken also offer rooms for overnighting, so they become an ideal way to spend a weekend in the country, eating great food and drinking local, fine wines without worrying about driving home!  We ‘ve noticed that Austrians are VERY observant about not drinking and driving.  The driver almost never drinks alcohol.  (This, of course, is in stark contrast to the embarrassing suggestion of one of our 2011 Montana state legislators who feels that drunk driving laws need to be MORE lax.)

Buschenschank Platter

So we ate and had a great time visiting over delightful plates of food.

But there was still DESSERT!  On to the ‘surprise’ which was a chocolate factory, also right out there in the country!  I don’t  know what the factory is doing out there, away from the population centers, but there were tons of other people who also had the same idea as we, so the Zotter family must be doing something right!

Think Tillamook Cheese factory only with chocolate:  viewing windows with chocolate bars riding by, for the taking (if you pay for the tour), free samples of chocolate from the –oh 200 or so–varieties displayed along one wall of the building, tastes from three different chocolate fountains, or try the liquid over a cacoa bean, or best of all, select a grab bag stuffed with chocolate seconds for only 1,50 € ! (That’s what I did!)  The best thing – it’s all fair trade!


omg-chocolate at Zotter Schokoladen Manufacktur & Theater


chocolate conveyor belt


slot machine for chocoholics - it's how you get free samples


rows and rows of chocolate - and this is only a partial view!



oh, and did I mention the candy counters with individually crafted chocolates?


we make for the car with our loot - whose that guy in the back, left? 🙂

OK, now we were saturated with good food, good sweets, good wine and good views.  Anything else?  You bet!  The final stop on our excursion was Schloss Kornberg, another castle, not in the same league with Riegersburg, but beautiful all the same.  Dating from 1284, it’s now a gallery for arts and items crafted in the area.  Christina and Gernot had wanted to show us the display of 5000 rugs from all over the world, but the vendor for that gallery had closed for the day.  No matter, there was lots more to see!


from the Schloss website - aerial view of the castle

Castle Kornberg as we approach


interior Renaissance courtyard of Kornberg Castle



interesting iron work


And the shops had many handgesmacht items, perhaps most impressive of which were the Easter eggs in all sizes and styles of painting!


hand painted Easter eggs at Castle Kornberg

For those whimsical in nature, there were some adornments for the garden.


funny bird garden decorations at Kornberg Castle

They actually reminded Bill and I of some bird ‘art’ we gave his mother, Flora, for a gift one Christmas.  Sapsucker on Rock, it was called. I think she kindly displayed it for a season. When we went through things after her death, we found it carefully wrapped up in the basement. 🙂

Now we were done touring the countryside and it was time to come home.  I had made a fresh strawberry pie early that morning, a real kochen-coup, considering I don’t have a proper pastry blender or pie pan!  So, we came back to our flat and ate pie and talked for several more hours!

I can’t imagine what could top this, but stay tuned, you never know!  Next week we are off to Vienna for some meetings, so I won’t be posting quite so regularly!

Thanks, as always, for reading!


Vienna, the Imperial City

Our visit to Vienna got off to a less than auspicious beginning.   We arrived in plenty of time at the Hauptbahnhof to even have a cup of coffee at, of all places, McDonalds!  Locals here told us that the coffee at McDonalds is delicious and they weren’t wrong.  Here everything is served in a very classy way…even at McD’s, your coffee or cappuccino comes in a ceramic cup, served on tray with a glass of water.  Just the ticket early in the morning.  Afterward, we loaded onto the train and waited.

Bill waiting on the train to Vienna


It is not necessary to ride first class on trains, at least in Austra.  Second class seating is almost as comfortable, and that is how we went.

After 30 minutes of waiting, the announcement came that we must get off the train and make our way out of the station to buses which would take us to the first stop, Bruck an der Mur, (about 57 km north) where we would, presumably, catch the train.  Of course, we understood only a small portion of this almost none of this and were rescued by a nice young woman heading to her finance job in Vienna.  What was to have taken 2 1/2 hours now turned into more like 3 1/2.  Very unusual, we hear, for Austrian trains to break down.  By the time we met up with the train in Bruck an der Mur, the second class seating was completely overwhelmed and we ended up sitting in first class, the only available seating.  The conductor didn’t bat an eye and neither did we.

The trip was great…through the mountains (not the biggest ones), past small villages, into and out of tunnels, to Vienna.  Then, onto the U-bahn (underground train) system of Vienna, catching the U-6, then changing to the U-3 and finally jumping onto the U-2 to reach our hotel.  I was fond of that last train…good name!  What you must realize is that Vienna is like any other big city in this respect, with crowded trains, and almost never anywhere to sit down.  But poles and straps for hanging on are readily available.

Our first night there, we enjoyed dessert of course, with amazing Viennese specialties.

afpel strudel (with vanilla cream sauce and whipped cream) No calories, promise!

mohr in hemd (Moor in skirt)--chocolate overload, if that is possible!










Our reason for going to Vienna was for the Fulbright Commission’s Orientation, attended by most of the Fulbright Scholars in Austria, as we all began our Summer Semester terms.

Fulbright Office in the 'hip' Museumsquartier

The MuseumsQuartier is home to many businesses and nonprofits.  Neighbors to the Fulbright Office are the Leopold Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, both home to numerous modern and contemporary pieces of art, which we will visit on future trips to Vienna.

The Leopold Museum

The Museum of Modern Art


Everyone but Bill was in history, law, languages, political science, psychology, philosophy, anthropology and art.  Not another natural scientist in the otherwise very distinguished bunch! A few other spouses attended, and some children did as well.  We spent the rest of Monday and all of Tuesday in meetings, learning about Senator Fulbright, the history of Austria, current politics in Austria, US-Austrian-EU relationships, and receiving some teaching and university tips from previous Fulbrighters.  All good stuff. I realized, however, I am not used to sitting all day in meetings! Good thing we had a brisk walk to our hotel each day. The orientation finished with a tour around the Hofburg area–the Ringstrasse— by our host and the head of the Fulbright Commission in Austria, Dr. Lonnie Johnson. He has lived in Austria a long time and is so knowledgeable.  Here are some scenes of what we saw.

looking down on the Hofburg. Main gate to the right

we approach the main gate

From Wikipedia:  “The Hofburg in Vienna is the former imperial residence. From 1438 to 1583 and from 1612 to 1806, it was the seat of the kings and emperors of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, thereafter the seat of the Emperor of Austria until 1918. Today it is the official seat of the Austrian Federal President.”  The biggest and most imposing buildings were created at the direction of the Emperor Franz Joseph, who took down the city walls to create both open areas and the buildings there today.  Walking further in, you come to the older sections of the Imperial City.

coaches and drivers wait for business

the Michaelertrakt (Michael wing) of the Hofburg Complex

excavation of roman ruins (stone is Romanesque; bricks are not!)

crown of the holy roman emperor (you can see the real one in the museum)

Schweizertor (Swiss) Gateway-hofburg

Ferdinand Holy Roman Emperor of Germany, Hungary and Bohemia, King of Spain, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy in the year 1552

No I did not remember all my Latin.  Thank goodness for historians on the tour and also google translate!

Michaelerkirche - Hofburg Quarter

balcony from where Hitler made his "anchluss" speech to Austria in 1938

statue of Maria Theresia surrounded by her many advisors

close up of statuary on building--lots of 'power' implied here!

LONE polizei standing guard outside the Chancellor's office. We are not in the USA!

Loos Haus opposite Michaelerplatz

Coming out on the other side, you enter into the business and chic district of Vienna.  Tiffany, Chanel, and all the big names are along these streets.  We window shopped only.  (sorry Kristina)  The Loos building (above) apparently so enraged the emperor that he never went inside. It was too ‘plain’ for him.

Vienna was and still is a city known for its coffee houses.  Many of them were specialized…for politicians, literary types, artists, etc.  Most still exist in some form or another.  Here is the Literary Coffee House.

Cafe Griensteidl, the 'literary' coffee house

looking down Kohl Markt

Volksgarten on the Hofburg grounds

One of the nice things the Emperor did was to create lots of open spaces for the people, these on the grounds that were formerly used to absorb cannon fire in battles for the city.  The Volksgarten looks like it will be beautiful in the Spring.  We plan to make a return trip to see for ourselves.  The Roses await!

covered roses in Volksgarten

Rathaus (City Hall) at dusk

back of Athena, in front of Parliament Building - the word is 'she has turned her back on the parliament'

Vienna’s imperial architecture is filled with nods to Greek Democracy.  Too bad women weren’t part of the official scene back then (unless you  count Maria Theresia).  But not in the official government in the 1800’s.  Maybe that’s why Athena is looking the other way!

Dome as we pass through one of the many gates, covered in netting, for, you know,the pigeons!

Very near this dome is the headquarters of the Spanish Riding School.    It was one of the few places we actually had time to visit, on the Wednesday after the meetings and before we came home to Graz.  We were only able to see the morning exercise and training session, but I was thrilled to see this, having grown up riding and doing a little dressage myself.  Technically, it is absolutely forbidden to take photos, but seeing as how some official photographer was snapping away WITH FLASH, here are some that I magically happened onto. 🙂  The Lipizzaner horses are bred on a farm very near Graz. 

inside the Spanish Riding school arena

The riders remove their bicorn hats as they enter the ring.


this horse and rider are almost trotting in place-the piaffe


We saw the pirouettepassage and even one horse doing the levade (asking the horse to hold a position approximately 30-35 degrees from the ground. ) At the end, the riders line up, dismount, couch their stirrups, and give their horse a treat hidden in their back pockets!


riders dismount and hoist stirrups, Spanish Riding School, Vienna

outside the Natural History Museum in Vienna

Two of the most beautiful buildings are now Museums…the Art History Museum and the Natural History Museum.   We could see many school groups waiting to go in.     Maybe they were from a school like this:


city school in Vienna

These will have to wait until our next trip to Vienna, when we have at least a week to browse.  We can’t wait!


close up of statues Natural History Museum, Vienna


Hopeless Causes and surprises along the way

Today was laundry day.  After almost a week of wearing the same trousers and only a few shirts, we just plunged in (so to speak) and tried the machinethatbothwashesanddries.  We didn’t put in too much soap, and we managed to make the thing start and do what it was supposed to do.  Hooray…the laundry was not a hopeless cause, after all!   We felt a little  like country bumpkins, going in periodically to watch the drum roll around. (We do have a front loader at home but, well, this is the Austrian version, so it’s different.)  Next time, we’ll select a longer drying cycle because apparently 60 minutes is inadequate,  judging from the amount of apparel we have draped over every radiator in the apartment.  The good news is that stuff so arranged dries VERY quickly.

good thing this badezimmer ist gross

The day was beautiful so after we put in the last load, we headed outside for a walk through the woods:  up the hill towards a small grouping of buildings that lie just behind the apartment villa.  (We still don’t know what they are for. Someone obviously lives there, as there is most always a vehicle.  A mystery for another day.)

It is Sunday and that’s when you really see European families out for a Sunday stroll.  There were plenty on the path–runners in duos and alone, children with grandparents, mothers with high tech baby buggies.  The hill we live on is part of the bigger complex of the Leechwald (yes, LEECH Woods), with extensive trails on both wide, maintained paths and through the trees.

well maintained path along the woods

beginning of the running trail – km 1










 The running/walking trail goes for miles kilometers, up on the ridge behind where we live, past the edge of the city, and all the way to the beautiful Mariatrost Church.  We could see it from one of the higher, less obstructed views on our walk today.

Mariatrost Kirche

The day was pretty hazy…not atypical for Graz.  We have the same problem in Missoula, with mountain valley inversions.  How odd, then, that on our walk we should find a rehab center for those with lung diseases.  According to some lovely people we met on the path, that is it’s function and it’s part of the huge state hospital complex for Styria.  (good to be located near a hospital, I think!)  Perhaps the elevation on the Hilmteich is just enough to rise one up out of the smog.

Adalbert Graf Kottulinsky Foundation (the center for those with lung diseases)

So this started out to be a walk to look for and try to identify the birds we had been hearing for the past five days.  As we were peering up at some kind of woodpecker through our binoculars, a couple asked us (auf Deutsch) what we were seeing.  I actually understood that much.  After that, it was pretty much downhill as far as the German speaking went.  I didn’t know the name for woodpecker in German, but was able to stammer out the colors, at least.  They were interested and we shared the binoculars with them and thus began a delightful conversation with Christina and Gernot.  Christina, who has been to Montana and to many places in the Western U.S.  ( even been to Heart Butte on the Blackfeet Reservation!) is a teacher of children ages 6-10.  We’re not sure what Gernot does…it doesn’t matter…but they were charming and were so interested in what we were doing in Graz.  They immediately invited us to their home.  If they call, I think we shall accept.  Warum nicht? (why not?)

the fence where we spoke with Christina and Gernot

Continuing on our way, we passed many feeding stations for birds, identified a few others (blackbirds, nuthatches, magpies,  some very weird looking crows…)  and areas where the forest was being logged.  We aren’t sure if this is someone’s private logging operation, a municipal job or part of maybe a research forest, as in the Lubrecht Forest in Montana.  I wonder if our German will ever be good enough to translate all the signs? Naturally, we forgot the dictionary, again!

one of the many bird houses and feeding stations along the path

logging operation

description of logging operation (we think)

Down the path we continued, eventually coming to a more residential area.  The numbers of people increased and they all seemed to be headed either to or from a particular point.  We decided to continue on to find out what it was.  The ‘what is was’ turned out to be the Häuserl im Wald, a hotel/restaurant which was far bigger than the ‘hut’ that Häuserl implies.  Extensive terraces, gardens, and a children’s playground were all part of this establishment.  We decided to go in and have a coffee or maybe a beer.

Once again, the food looked and smelled so good that we decided to order.  Again, no dictionary, so we did the best we could with what we know already and were delighted at how it turned out!

 Schweinemedaillons in feiner paprikarahmsauce, mit spätzle (pork medallions in red pepper sauce with SPATZLE!

Bill had something equally delicious–roast beef medallions with an onion sauce and rosti (like little potato pancakes.)  Once again, I brought half of this home!  And here is the best part – we managed to do the whole transaction auf Deutsch!

On our way out, we again scouted the birds at the extensive feeding stations (grosbeaks!) and were surprised to see a horse coming down the road.

more surprises!

We had come maybe 3 km, so we clipped back along our same route at a good pace, stopping only to check out one or two birds and pay respects to the shrine of St. Rita of Cascia, Patroness of Impossible Causes, who must have been looking out for us all along!

the shrine of Rita of Cascia

Tomorrow, Vienna.

For now, thanks for reading and…..

Grüß Gott

Pumpkin Anything!

Pumpkin.  That’s the regional specialty and it seems to be found everywhere!

Our second and third days here, we walked hiked into town, 3.7 km to the Technical University, and somewhat less to University of Graz.  Naturally all this hiking allows one to work up an appetite.  Our internal clocks weren’t set yet so we were hungry at the oddest times of day–4:30 PM, for instance.

Day 2 found us, after our business was completed, at one of the many platz (plazas) in Graz.  We found a little place to eat, the Glöcksbrau, which was buzzing from everyone just finishing their mittagessen (middle of the day meal) or maybe gathering for an early beer!



outside of the restaurant. It's right next to the the town Glockenspiel

The Glockenspiel is to the right. It plays at noon, 3 and 6 PM, with two people emerging to dance around.  We managed to miss it this time but will look for it again!

We finally found a table, sat down, disregarded the fitness specials:

The Fitness Specials

and ordered the regional specialties:  Cremesuppe vom Muskatkürbis mit Kürbiskernöl (pumpkin cream soup with pumpkin seed oil), Schnitzel mit Beschichtung aus Kürbiskernöl (cutlet with pumpkin seed coating) und hausgemachten Erde Apfel-Salat (house made potato salad) und ein zwei kleine Biere (two small beers).   Bill actually ordered the schnitzel Viennese-style. It was so much we had enough to bring home for another meal, except the soup.  Best thing I have ever tasted!

the soup! soooo good!


the Schnitzel with pumpkinseed covering

Before we left, a quick trip up the stairs to the toilette (D amen for ladies, H erren for men) and wow–check out the cool curvature of the ceiling!

stairs up to die Toilette fur Damen

On the way out who should we see but ARNOLD!!!!  Graz is the home city for Arnold Schwarzenegger!  There is a story about Graz naming a stadium after him and giving him a key to the city.  But then, as Governor of California, he refused to stay an execution, so they took back the name and Arnold gave back the key.  We hear alles ist gut now, but it must have been a little uncomfortable for everyone for a while!

omg-It's Arnold!

We had come into town that day to get our city registration permits.  They were, amazingly, free!  We have to check in with them again after 90 days, even though we have Visas.  Here is where we did that!

outside the bureau where we received our permits to live here: the Meldezettel

After so much excitement, we walked to the streetcar stop and rode it home, because you remember we still have to walk hike back up our hill!