Archive for April, 2012

Zell am See

Despite having a population of only 10,000, Zell am See is one of Austria’s most visited towns, so I was sort of curious to go – not least because I still felt I hadn’t really seen any uniquely Austrian countryside. It was very beautiful, but since it wasn’t high tourist season, there wasn’t really very much to do… it was a very sleepy town. I would usually say it therefore wasn’t really worth the 3 hours of the train ride, but in this case that simply isn’t true. The views on that journey were breathtaking, I wish I could have taken some pictures but I wouldn’t have really done it justice.

Lake Zell, which the whole town is centred around

An sign near a church, dating from 1500

The tiny, deserted train station. Direct trains to Salzburg only ran three times a day, and only once to Innsbruck...



I should really get better at updating. I keep forgetting that this is not just for documenting travels – which for one reason or another, have been a bit sparse lately – but also the year abroad experience in general!

I totally forgot to mention that a few weeks ago, I had a friend from home come over for the weekend, which was great! We went to ARS Electronica Centre (which we affectionately referred to as ‘arse’), a big science museum. I had so much fun there… there were things that just appealed to my inner child, and also fascinating stuff to do with “actual science”, geography, etc. It’s a must-visit in Linz!

ARS Electronica Centre at night (not my picture)

We also went up to Pöstlingberg that weekend. It’s a 539m-high mountain looking over Linz (a bit pathetic compared to the size of mountains in other parts of Austria, but still), it has a very pretty church on the top, and also a small theme park for kids. You have to take a tiny little tram up there. We took a picnic and the views were wonderful, it was cool to be able to point out my schools and my home.

Lately, I’ve realised that I just love it here in Linz and I will be truly sad when I leave. It’s not a huge city by any means, and for reasons beyond me, its inhabitants do seem to moan about it a lot. But I have grown very fond of it – I think it’s often the experiences, rather than the place itself, that make it so good. I appreciate what it does have. Some lovely places to walk, a few cinemas so I can take the opportunity to watch German films without subtitles to fall back on, lots of vegan-friendly food stores, a great bookshop (even if it’s way too easy to stay in the English section…!), excellent public transport. I can count the bad days I’ve had here on one hand.

Perhaps it’s because this is what I see when I leave the building each morning!

When the weather is nice – we’ve had a bit of rain this week – I get the bus to Pleschinger See, which is a lake just outside of Linz. It’s still a bit too cold to actually bathe in it, but it’s nice to be in some countryside and read a book or just hang out with people.

And tomorrow I should be getting a bike from one of my colleagues. The thing is, well, I can’t ride a bike; the reason being that it has scared me ever since a little “accident” many years ago! I am determined to finally do it fearlessly whilst I’m here, however, even though it will be odd to ride on the right (by the way, I can’t drive either). I think that makes me even more up for the challenge, actually…

I’ve more than passed the half-time mark here, which feels so strange… I only have 7 weeks left of lessons to teach and I guess I will be coming home sometime in early June. My room contract ends at the end of July, but I’m not entirely sure I can stay here, nice as it would be. For one thing, I hope to make a trip to Canada before the busy/expensive season, seeing as I’ve now hoarded a bit of cash and I really do not know when I would have that same opportunity. Also, much of my free time at the minute is spent enquiring after or filling out forms for summer jobs – mainly ones at language camps abroad. It’s sort of exhausting, as it’s been well over a year since I updated my CV and stuff…

Until then, I hope to spend every weekend in a different city, now that I’ve come to realise how little time I have left and how my list of places to visit probably won’t be satisfied. Perhaps this will motivate me to be better at keeping this blog fresh, at any rate.

One more thing – on my short trip to Vienna, wandering some streets in the 8th district, I came across this sign:

It says that parking is forbidden on x day/time, except vehicles from Azerbaijan, Namibia and Zimbabwe. How curious!

A very brief update

Sorry I haven’t written on this in a while. There hasn’t been much of new to tell, since I spent the past week back at home in England for Easter (well, I had to come home on Easter Sunday itself, but I had a few treats before I left). It was nice to relax and refresh a little (e.g. bringing back all my winter clothes), but ultimately, I felt a little bit suffocated there. My town is small and uneventful, and my bedroom is much the same – it’s not too far removed from Harry Potter’s cupboard under the stairs. I wish I was kidding.

Anyway, I’m very glad to be back here, even though all the shops were shut today since it’s a Feiertag (equivalent to a bank holiday) so I couldn’t stock up on food. I start back at work tomorrow!

Oh, before going home I did go to Vienna for a day. I am sad to report that I wasn’t very impressed. For a start, the underground system was a nightmare. Searched high and low for a map of the lines there, with no luck. When I did decide to just wing it, it turned out that two lines were closed. Made it into the centre and saw a few old buildings, but by then, I just wasn’t in the mood for anything. I also had some huge hayfever symptoms that day, so it was only 3pm or so when I decided to go home.

I will give Vienna another chance at some point, maybe when I’ve read up about it in advance a bit more. I should also probably go with some other people.

But, I have found out the German word for armpit is die Achselhöhle, which amuses me greatly. I found out another cool word – die Zipfelmütze, which translates as a “jelly bag cap”: