Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Oh, yeah
Mmm
Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for
And my time was runnin’ wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse of
How the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t want to be a richer man
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
Mmm, yeah I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same
And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it
Time may change me
But you can’t trace time
Strange fascination, fascinatin’
Ah, changes are takin’
The pace I’m goin’ through
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n’ rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Pretty soon now you’re gonna get older
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

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2015… The Future is Now!

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Old friends visiting Austria makes me so happy!

I think it’s hilarious that Back to the Future Part II takes place in 2015. I was three years old when that film was released, and I probably watched it for the first time at least five years later, but I still remember thinking “MAN HOVERBOARDS ARE GOING TO BE AWESOME.” Unfortunately, I am undoubtedly one of many hopeful Back to the Future lovers who is still waiting for that hoverboard. Still waiting!

My start to 2015 has been somewhat uneventful, but in the spirit of Marty McFly, I’m going to do my best to recap the last few months for the sake of my future self, who will probably have forgotten at least 55% of what is going on in my life right now by the time she sits down to read this post.

I officially started work in September of 2014, and the role of regular worker bee created a huge change in routine for me. Getting up early, sitting at a desk from 8:30AM to 5PM, moving around only when walking the dog at lunch or going to work out in the evenings… The whole lifestyle is essentially on the other side of the spectrum from student life, or, even further away, pro-volleyball life. No more spontaneous 2-hour chats over coffee with friends, no more spur-of-the-moment trips with Hank to the dog park, and most importantly, no more mid afternoon naps. Dang it! Oh well. Some may argue that age 27 might be a good time to stop living with the schedule of a freshman in college. It was fun while it lasted!

Anyway, work life took a bit of getting used to, but thanks to the fact that my colleagues are good people and Hank accompanies me to the office every day, I settled into the new routine rather quickly. In fact, I can say now that I kind of enjoy this newfound rigidity in my schedule. I like knowing my daily plan, and being busy during the week makes the little things like dinner dates with friends or lounging around on the weekends that much more awesome. I can’t say that I appreciated lazy Sunday morning walks with Hank as much until I had to get up early every other day of the week. Now, that time is golden, and savored to the max.20141231_094439

Fall came upon us rather quickly, but a true winter didn’t really reach Klagenfurt until the very end of January, when temperatures dropped below freezing and snow started falling out of the sky. Despite that I loathe the cold, I am doing rather well coping this year, largely due to my well-stocked closet of winter ammunition: Sorel boots, waterproof parkas, numerous scarves, headwear for every occasion, and a hair-dryer to ensure that I don’t catch pneumonia after a shower. Five years of preparation makes a load of difference. In fact, when I think back to my first year in Switzerland, and then the following two winters in Klagenfurt and Dresden, I really think that people must have thought I was crazy. I tried to survive with just cheap, thin knitted gloves from H&M, and refused to shell out money for decent boots. I thought I was being the smart, thrifty girl that Grandma Hewitt always wanted me to be. In fact, I was just a naïve, cold girl, one that Grandma Hewitt would have brought inside for hot cocoa and then sent home with a pair of fleece pajamas. I was an idiot! Oh well. I am thankful for the learning curve effect.

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Fetch in the snow is even better than regular fetch

December brought a visit from my college roommate, and visits from home are always wonderful. We had a beautiful day in Salzburg, then spent several days in Klagenfurt catching up and enjoying the sights here. It was a great pre-Christmas treat.

Then, all of a sudden, Christmas came and went in a flash. Marco and I both had off from work from the 19th of December to the 7th of January (an outrageously luxurious long break!), but the gym was open throughout the duration of that period, so our schedules weren’t completely open. Marco coached classes almost every day, and I popped by on a regular basis either to work out or to help with whatever insane gym-improvement plan got into Marco’s head (such as: “Anna, let’s hang a bjillion pound heavy insulating tarp from the top of the 20′ high steel garage door using only three metal hooks and a piece of rope! Oh, and don’t worry, I’ll balance on a cheap 5′ ladder that we’ll stack on top of two kind of shaky wooden boxes  in order to reach the proper height.” Great idea. Yep, let’s do it. FYI: no one died.) It was good to stay a little busy, otherwise I would have probably gone crazy from too much eating and sleeping. (<– Said no one ever).

We spent New Years Eve at the romanesque thermal baths in Bad Kleinkirchheim with another couple who are close friends, which was a wonderfully Austrian experience. Unfortunately, due to either a heater malfunction or just an overflow of visitors, the water in the baths was just cool enough for the four of us to feel a little chilled after just an hour or so (usually it’s supposed to be warm enough to swim in the outside pool rather comfortably), and we decided to head into the sauna area to warm up. Doubly unfortunate, the sauna area is typically European, meaning that it’s mixed (not separated by gender), and both men and women are expected to leave their bathing suits at the door.

Now, after 5 years of playing volleyball on European teams, I have become rather indifferent to nudity around me. It’s very normal to shower next to strangers in locker rooms at gyms or spas. When I go to any private hotel saunas, I mentally prepare myself for the onslaught of naked bodies that awaits me on any given day. But the spa area in Bad Kleinkirchheim is GINORMOUS, and we were there with these close friends of ours, and the whole idea just seemed bizarre to me. Weirdly enough, my brain is perfectly prepared to be naked with random strangers… but being naked next to Marco and these good friends of ours was just too much for me! I wasn’t alone in my discomfort, and we all decided to stage a silent rebellion by leaving our suits on while entering the sauna, but we were literally the ONLY ONES (out of at least 300 people!) who were wearing bathing suits. These other people (worth mentioning that it was about 70% male) were just laaaa-diii-daaa-ing around, naked as Adam, without a care in the world! Part of me was thinking WOW that must feel so liberating not to care! But then, a German-speaking man next to me in the sauna let out a rather loud, rather snide remark when our group stood up to leave a particular sauna (something along the lines of “Ugh these people have no class… How can they wear bikinis in the sauna!?”) and my positive perception changed. I mean, I fully appreciate that there is a certain culture of nudity that is accepted (expected?) in spas and saunas. If you walk around naked and proud, getting your sweat on and feeling great, good for you! I applaud your lack of self-consciousness. But if certain people aren’t comfortable with that, how in the world does it affect the other people around them? (Looking at you, Mr. Snide German-Speaker). If I want to walk in there wearing a large towel wrapped around me, that would probably be ok (but, of course, we were not forward-thinking enough to bring/rent these acceptable towels) how is that better than wearing a much, much smaller bikini bathing suit? Bizarro, if you ask me… But maybe it’s just me, and I should choose to either freeze my booty off in the lukewarm baths OR bite the bullet and get nakey if I want to enter the sauna.

After our enjoyable but at times frustrating trip to the thermal baths, we enjoyed a New Years Eve dinner at our friends’ house, complete with nachos (with ingredients sent over from NJ), cheesy artichoke dip, meat fondue, and a chocolate mousse dessert. Then our friends set off fireworks in their backyard, and no one lost any fingers, which is great. Hank had the company of their two dogs for the night, so he didn’t freak out as much as he usually does when fireworks are being set off. All in all, a wonderful way to ring in the new year.

And now we’re all back to normal. The days are getting longer again (whoooop! It’s not pitch black when I get home at 5:15PM!), work is going well, I am training with Marco and the CrossFit 9020 gang at least two or three times a week, and Hank’s fuzzy face is as adorable as ever. I am looking forward to some work-related travel this year, probably around Europe, and also looking forward to planning another trip home to the US. We’ll see how that all works out.

tl;dr: It’s 2015. I want a hoverboard. I can’t handle haughty sauna-goers who judge me for not wanting to be nude. Otherwise, all is good.

Here are some pictures to accompany my long-winded post!

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Marco and I modeling our orders from Hinterland, a friend’s sweet screen-printing shop in Humboldt

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They love each other

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Over Salzburg with J$

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Look me in the eye and try to tell me he’s not cute. (He is wearing a birthday hat for Valentina’s birthday!)

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Klagenfurt getting all gussied up for Christmas!

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These two doofuses

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Catching the sunset on an evening autumn walk with my boy

Cheers!

Anna

 

 

Summer Synopsis 2014

It’s the end of September, and I am yet again floored at how fast this summer flew right on by. My last update came shortly after Easter, and that was back in April. The Earth must spin just a little bit faster when the weather is nice.

First up after Easter was enjoying the fact that I submitted my thesis on time, but constantly fretting about whether or not it would be approved by my thesis advisor. Thankfully, on the 8th of May, I opened my inbox to find this gem:

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I immediately forwarded the email to my mom and Anthony (who unfortunately had to proofread multiple drafts of my work before I submitted it) and the rest of my family (who may or may not have known that I was in stress-out-thesis-grading-stage at the time but were pleasantly surprised to hear that I had passed), and let out a HUGE sigh of relief. But before my lungs were empty I started thinking “Holy cow. This means I have to take the final exam… in 28 days!!”…. and with that, I was back on the freak out train.

Thanks to my classmates who were also writing in finance, I was able to feel pretty good going into the final exam, and it ended up being a breeze. Our professors asked us to “defend” our theses (essentially just talk about how we wrote it, how we conducted our research, how we reached our conclusions, etc.) and then we discussed several other broad topics that were applicable to our International Management degrees. Mira and I went at the same time, and after receiving positive grades and firm handshakes from our professors, we practically floated across the street to meet our classmates for a drink at UNI.WIRT. PHEW!!!

At this point, beach volleyball season was in full swing and I was happy to be spending essentially all of my spare time training with my partner Mari. We first played together last beach season, and have since learned a lot. She’s a whopping 10 years younger than me, which is funny sometimes, but since we both came into it knowing relatively little about playing on the sand (read: I play with the body of a 27 year old but with the strategic know-how of a 12 year old), it kind of evens out.

For us, last season was all about figuring out what the heck makes beach volleyball so different from indoor volleyball… How to move in the sand, how to anticipate the movement of the ball, etc., etc. Several of the tournaments we played in last year were “für die Fische”… for example, we once drove 3+ hours to a tournament in Mattsee, we lost our first two games (we had waited 4 hours between games), and we piled back in the car to drive 3+ hours home. While we hated losing (I may smile even through a loss, but I HATE losing), we knew we weren’t good enough to win yet, and we were playing against teams of girls who had practiced and played together sometimes for years. We had to accept it for what it was.

But this year, we weren’t going to be satisfied with pool-play losses. We were fortunate enough to be invited to train with Klagenfurt’s only pro women’s team (team Frühbauer/Fleig) for three days in late May, and it was the first time we had received really intense coaching for several consecutive sessions. After the week was over, we felt like different players. (It’s crazy how that coach thing works sometimes) It was like we had both experienced volleyball epiphanies… like little lightbulbs had started turning on in our brains to help us understand the game better than before.

That being said, three days of intense coaching does not a world-class beach volleyball team make. But it did make us hungrier to compete, and hungrier to win games. We had several good showings this year, taking 7th place at the B-Cup in Graz and 5th place at the B-Cup in Mattsee. We still can’t squeak out wins against the pros, and we still sometimes lose to experienced amateurs. But we have fun with it, and we’re not half bad! We don’t have the time or money (or desire, to be honest) to train like professionals. But for me, playing beach allows me to keep competing, which is something that I’ve missed since the last game that I played in Dresden (or maybe since my SCU days?)… and it’s an entirely new challenge, so I feel like I learn new things every time I touch the sand. Plus Mari is hilarious and an absolute blast to play with!

Here are just a few snapshots from our summer together:

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Aside from beach volleyball, I spent my summer in Austria enjoying the wonderful weather with Handsome Hank A. Dog and equally handsome Marco A. Human. I also enjoyed several visits with Sophie (who was in Belgium all of last season and will be in Sweden this season), and got to celebrate my graduation (I wore my first dirndl!) with Marco’s awesome family. Here are some non-beach related summer memories:

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Morning ball sessions at ÖGV Klagenfurt

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Hank hanging his head out the window in the Panda

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Marco and I at a wedding on Lake Wörthersee (Congrats Hati and Steffi!)

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Lake Wörthersee in all her beauty

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Sophie and her only canine friend… Hank!

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Opa and I at graduation

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Sophie and I in Deutschlandsberg

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The Wörthersee has Waikiki-color water in the summertime…

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Hank with his favorite red ball

Towards the end of July I began to feel anxious and excited about the trip that Marco and I would be taking to the US in August. I hadn’t been on US soil since traveling home for Grandma Cmaylo’s funeral in February of 2013, which didn’t really count as a normal “trip home” in my book. I felt like I had two years of a USA-related to-do list going through my brain, and I couldn’t wait to start checking things off…

I departed from Klagenfurt early on July 31st, and after almost 24 hours of travel I touched down at SFO, grabbed my bohemoth-but-legal baggage from the carousel, and watched as my mom’s new blue Honda pulled up to the curb. It was almost midnight, but we chatted the whole ride back to Napa, and it took all of 3.5 minutes for me to down the Vallerga’s sandwich that she had brought for me oh so kindly (turkey, avocado, lettuce, muenster cheese on Dutch Crunch, and an Andes mint to polish it off. YUM.).

I spent the first 4 days of my time stateside in Napa, catching up with dear friends from high school, enjoying every bite of the home-cooked meals that my mom prepared every night, and being generally super nostalgic. This feeling that hits me every time I go home ranges from feelings of nostalgia brought about by inanimate objects (“Ohhhh I can’t throw this away.. It’s the twisty tie that Dad used to close my sandwich bag when we flew from NJ to CA in 1992” <– No seriously I have that twisty tie) to memories tied to a specific nondescript place (“Ohhh this is the spot on the road where that guy in that truck picked me up to give me a ride to Jazmin’s house and Talia and Mom almost killed me when I mentioned it” <– No seriously I was that dumb. He was nice though, not a murderer.) And because I live half a world away, I always spend a lot of my time in Napa looking through old things, feeling nostalgic about past events, and generally questioning my life choices of living so dang far away. [But thankfully my mom is always there to snap me out of my wheel-of-death thinking patterns.]

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Balloon above the backyard

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The view north of Bell Wine Cellars

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SF from the Bay Bridge

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Nostalgia-ing

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More nostalia-ing (I was a genie, ca. Halloween 1993??)

 

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Even more nostalgia-ing

While in CA, I also got to spend some time in Emeryville on Talianna, the boat that gets more and more homey with every visit.

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An egret next to Talianna (it was actually vomiting up its dinner for some reason, but thankfully the picture didn’t capture the little piles of half-digested fish that were strewn about the dock area)

I also spent one special evening coaching a group of 30 students from my elementary school, Saint Brigid, at a YMCA in San Francisco. My mom had been in touch with a group of Saint Brigid parents coordinating a fundraising event, and somehow the idea of me coaching a volleyball clinic got thrown into the conversation. It was so fun for me to reconnect with the SB community, because both Talia and I LOVED our time there. In fact, I think we both spent the first few months after moving from SF to Napa in mourning for our time at Saint Brigid. The school offered both of us such a wonderful feeling of community, and given that I’m a nostalgic sap (see above), watching current SB students play volleyball for 2 hours, listening to me talk about my playing career and attempting to implement my debatable coaching tips was a recipe for a warm heart.

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These cuties barely needed to duck to get under the net. Their kneepads covered half their legs! So adorable.

After 4 wonderful days in California, which included a visit to Napa from Mira, I took off for Colorado to visit Crystal in her new home. Since we last saw one another in person she’s gotten married, moved states, bought a house AND gotten a dog. So it was time. I had a blast hanging out in her new ‘hood, meeting her new friends, snuggling with her adorable puppy, and meeting the not-so-new-hubby! The visit was somewhat rushed, but we definitely made the most of it, and as always, I left Colorado with abs sore from laughter–a symptom characteristic of spending time with Crystal!

[Insert pics from CO here. CRYSTAL UPLOAD THE PICS FROM YOUR GOPRO!!)

From Denver I headed to Austin, Texas where my sister and Marco were waiting to pick me up in the 105 degree heat at 11PM. We had one week in Austin with Talia and made the absolute most of it. We went swimming at Barton Springs, honed our golf skills at Hancock Golf Course, ate our weight in barbecue, failed at making it into Hopdoddy TWICE before settling for the new location after a workout at Crossfit City Limits, tempted the water snakes at Krause Springs, and Marco ate almost 20 Torchy’s tacos within 7 days (I think I ate 10). The trip was most definitely a success.

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Evening volleyball sessions

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Krause

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Barbecue

We spent one travel day flying from Austin to Boston, where my cousin Kendall (the same one that visited Austria in March!) picked us up and played chauffeur for several days. Marco and I took in a Red Sox game at Fenway (and got some great seats thanks to a wonderful Saint Brigid’s School connection) and then headed with Kendall to Cotuit, for the beach leg of the trip.

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The scene at Fenway

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More of Fenway

Cotuit was, as always, a major success. We arrived in time for the O’Neill family reunion on Saturday picked Talia up from Providence on Saturday night, and then spent Sunday morning running the 42nd annual Falmouth Road Race from Woods Hole to Falmouth. Marco was a BOSS: he finished in just over 50 minutes, placing 579 out of 11,060 runners. HA. Marco is crazy. He never even runs!

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Falmouth2014_AnnaDadChase As a pleasant surprise, our cousin Rebecca and her husband Graham came to visit that afternoon, and Graham whipped up an UNREAL breakfast for us on Monday morning. Steak for breakfast?? With asparagus, homemade mozzarella and hollandaise?? OK.

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The rest of our time at the cape was spent swimming, kayaking, tennis-ing, eating, etc. etc. While I love California, Cape Cod wins the summer prize in my book. My heart will always be torn between the east and west coasts!

When Marco flew back to Austria, I took a flight back to San Francisco for a somewhat unplanned 2nd trip to the west. I was lucky enough to be hired by an Austrian software company that is also based in San Francisco, and spent 4 days at the end of August at a trade show in the city. I got to catch up with (and crash at the apartment of) my dear friend Koryn, and also got to take in a Giant’s game at AT&T Park.

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Touristy SF pic

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It was almost a no-hitter!

I managed to avoid being in Napa for the earthquake that hit on August 24 (I was sleeping on the boat and felt nothing!) but I did capture some of the damage.

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Earthquake damage… Thankfully, no one was hurt!

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Pre-quake Color Me Mine mug from Jordan, ca. fall 2008

Post-quake Color Me Mine mug from Jordan, ca. August 29, 2014

Post-quake Color Me Mine mug from Jordan, ca. August 29, 2014

On my loooong flight back from San Francisco to Graz (through Boston and Munich), I got the surprise of a lifetime (ok maybe that’s a little exaggerated but it was still a great surprise) when they randomly bumped me up from economy to business class! I never want to fly economy again.

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First-time business class travelers always take sefies.

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SO. MUCH. LEGROOM. Plus massage chairs that recline to lay flat!!

That is one whopping update. Quite amazingly, I have more to write/tell (visit from family earlier this month, a trip to Italy I took last weekend, and many updates on the general work-life front) but it’ll have to wait. My eyes are tired of looking at a computer screen!

Lots of love from my side of the world,

Anna

 

PS: I almost forgot. I chopped my hair off! I feel so fresh and so clean (clean)

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Lots Happening!

SO it’s been 5 months since I updated. But jeez louise have these last 5 months been eventful!

We rang in the Christmas season (the 3 hour drive included the first airplay of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas,” hence officially marking the begin of the Christmas season) with a trip to Munich to watch FC Bayern play against Eintracht Braunschweig. We got some really really great seats, and within a couple minutes of arrival, Robben scored the first goal right in front of us! (He then chose to celebrate by skidding on the grass in front of us, and we thought that he may or may not have dislocated his kneecap in the process, but he got up and shook it off).

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Pregame at Hofbrauhaus

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Munich’s 5th Avenue, Maximilianstraße

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Outside Allianz Arena


 

We clebrated Klagenfurt Thanksgiving on December 1st, and I put the canned pumpkin that I inherited from Grandma Cmaylo’s full cabinets to good use (thanks Grandma!).

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Trips to Ljubljana in December became more interesting as we found out that the city goes all out in terms of Christmas decorations, and the main square is transformed into an elaborate display of lights and floating angels.

 

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The buildup towards Christmas became almost unbearable, because my Mom and Anthony were set to arrive on December 23rd for an 8-day stay in Klagenfurt. We stayed pretty local, but managed to see quite a lot during their time here! We strolled the beautiful lakeside area in Velden, stuffed ourselves at the Sandwirth breakfast buffet every morning, celebrated Martin’s birthday at Schweizerhaus on Kreuzbergl, saw the Lippizaners in Lipica, the Slovenian coast in Koper and the arrival of Grandfather Frost (NOT Santa Claus, don’t get these old happy dudes mixed up) in Ljubljana, and spent an awesome day playing in the snow and eating amazing food on Turracher Höhe.

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Selfie in front of the frozen lake

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Turracher Höhe

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Grandfather Frost Parade in Ljubljana

 

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Hangout at Schlosshotel Velden


 

I was pretty bummed after we put them on the train back to Venice where they caught their flight back to the states, and headed home from the train station in a bit of a bad mood. Not only was Christmas over (UGH!), but their departure meant I had to start studying for finals which would take place mid-January (double UGH!). Late afternoon that day, I reluctantly posted myself in front of my computer to start the studying process. Not an hour later, the doorbell rang, cueing Hank to wake from his slumber barking like a madman, taking years off my life. I wandered towards the intercom, trying to figure out who would be paying us a visit at 6PM on December 29th. Answering the phone with a “Hello?” the male-doorbell-ringer-voice responded with “DHL.” DHL makes deliveres at 6PM on December 29th? Weird.

Unlocking the door, DHL man actually turned out to be Stefan and his DHL sidekick Tesha! It was such a great surprise, I think I may have shed a few tears. Marco was of course in on it the whole time, and planned it out that they would arrive in time to revive me from my post-Christmas depression to celebrate New Years together in Klagenfurt. Quite possibly the best New Years surprise to date!

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Selfie at Schnitzelwelt where the hungry DHL travelers refilled their energy tanks

Sophie also joined on New Years celebrations at our house, where we played stupid games and roasted marshmallows on our barbeque grill in the backyard. None of us were very motivated to “go out” for New Years Eve, but we enjoyed the fireworks shows put on by our neighbors and the impressive pyrotechnic (arsonist?) skills of Marco, and we stuffed ourselves with s’mores.


 

During the following weeks I was forced to hunker down to finish the semester in Ljubljana on time. Mira and I struggled towards the end; several sleepless nights were spent perfecting final papers and preparing Power Point presentations. Towards the end we were all but entirely apathetic towards our results, as long as we passed! Fortunately everything went in our favor. I passed our Corporate Finance class by the skin of my teeth, but I was oh so happy to be done with the semester.


 

Three days after taking my last exam in Ljubljana, I was anxiously scanning regional weather stations for any ideas on whether I could successfully traverse the distance between Klagenfurt and Munich, where Talia was landing at 7AM on a plane from Atlanta. As if Mother Nature wanted to give me gray hair, our relatively mild winter weather was replced by a crazy blizzard for about 30 hours prior to Talia’s arrival, which left traffic of all sorts (trains, planes, cars) in and out of Carinthia completely stopped. Fortunately the amazing Winterdienst peeps were able to get one lane of the highway clear by 4AM on the morning Talia landed, so I took off en route to Munich. On the way I passed miles of semi trucks stuck in the righthand lane in snowbanks that reached all the way above the wheelwells to the bottom of the drivers’ doors, and I prayed to the weather gods that I wouldn’t meet the same fate.

Besides the pre-arrival drama, Talia’s trip went off without a hitch. We went snowshoeing, toured Ljubljana, visited Pryamidenkogel (slide was closed, boo) and Magdalensberg, spent 3 days skiing at Gerlitzen, played some heated games of Yanniv, cooked some delicious meals and rounded out the trip with a stop in Vienna.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing

Ljubljana's Cathedral

Ljubljana’s Cathedral

Pyramidenkogel was a bit windy!

Pyramidenkogel was a bit windy!

Magdalensberg

Magdalensberg

Learning how to ski

Learning how to ski

Valentines Day in Klagenfurt

Valentines Day in Klagenfurt

Gerlitzen all day everyday!

Gerlitzen all day everyday!

Hank gets in on the Yanniv action

Hank gets in on the Yanniv action

How many Talias can you spot?

How many Talias can you spot?

At Schönbrunn in Vienna

At Schönbrunn in Vienna


 

Only two weeks after Talia’s departure I got a visit from my cousin Rebecca, who was able to tack on an extremely inefficient trip from Istanbul to Frankfurt and back to Ljubljana to her work itinerary that had brought her to Moldova and Turkey. We enjoyed a trip to the thermal springs of Warmbad Villach and also visited Pyramidenkogel (but this time the slide was open!).

Coffee time in Alterplatz

Coffee time in Alterplatz

Pre-slide nervousness

Pre-slide nervousness

At the top of Pyramidenkogel

At the top of Pyramidenkogel


 

Since Rebecca’s departure, I embraced the hermit life in an attempt to complete my master’s thesis on time. There were some major miscommunications in the general requirements, which led to me thinking the due date was May 30th when the due date was actually April 10 (kind of different). Through the help of some really awesome friends I managed to put it together and submit it on time, though there’s no guarantee that it’ll be accepted, so I can’t really start celebrating yet. (FINGERS AND TOES CROSSED!)


 

The day after my thesis was due, I was lucky enough to get yet another visit from family! My cousin Kendall is currently doing her semester abroad in England, and her mom came over to do an Easter/spring break trip with her through Germany, Austria and Italy. I met them in Munich last Friday night, spent Saturday walking around the city and getting on the WRONG TRAINS back to Klagenfurt (my bad! Never follow old ladies!), and saw Klagenfurt and Pyramidenkogel on Sunday. They flew to Rome on Monday morning, and have been zooming through Italy and the Italian coast since then!

At the Karlstor in Munich

Looking up from the bottom

They made it!

At the top! 441 steps

Kendall and A. Sue, with the picturesque St. Mary’s church of Maria Wörth in between

Looking down from the stairs up to the top

Ostermarkt at Neuerplatz in Klagenfurt

Downtown K-furt

Marco, Hank, A. Sue, Kendall and the Lindwurm

Marienplatz

Peering up at Munich’s Frauenkirche


 

While I’m hoping hoping hoping that my thesis gets department approval, I can start thinking about what I would need to do to study for the final exams which take place in early June. IF the thesis is approved and IF I then pass the final exams, I would be eligible to graduate at the beginning of July.

Meanwhile we celebrated Easter with Marco’s family this past weekend, eating our body weight in schinken, eierkren and reindling both Saturday and Sunday. Austrian Easter is so delicious!

I hope you are well wherever you are, and please feel free to drop me a line!

Anna


 

PS: Here are some extra Hank pics that didn’t really fit in anywhere else

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Photo on 4-5-14 at 6.28 PM #4

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November comes and November goes…

Butcher's Bridge Ljubljana

Love locks on the footbridge over the Ljubljanica River in Ljubljana

“November comes
And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.

With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.

The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.”

― Elizabeth Coatsworth

Yep, that sums it up pretty well! It’s getting chilly here, and the time is ripe for the snow that blankets Austria from Thanksgiving ’til Easter. I feel like it was just summer, but pretty soon my mom and Anthony will be arriving for a Christmas visit! Crazy crazy.

Time has been flying for me because I started my semester abroad on October 1st and have been running around like a crazy person ever since. I chose to study in Ljubljana, a city just across the border to Slovenia, so that I wouldn’t have to uproot myself and move all over again after finally settling a little more permanently in Klagenfurt. I’m in Ljubljana with two classmates from Klagenfurt, and share a dorm room with one of them, which makes the experience even easier!

FELU

University of Ljubljana Faculty of Economics, my home for the semester!

We managed to organize everything so that we only have classes two days per week, so we’re home the rest of the time. It’s an ideal “semester abroad” for us! Ljubljana (and Slovenia in general) is really really beautiful, and the people are incredibly friendly. Plus, they speak amazing English everywhere you go, except at the foreign office at Tobačna Uliča 5 (but that’s another story for another day).

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Our go-to dinner spot in Ljubljana. Sushimama! We love the Spicy Tuna Bowl and the Chicken Udon

Mira and I in the city center

Slovenia seems to get overlooked as a tourist destination for most Americans. In fact, I kind of doubt that many Americans know that Slovenia is a country, or could locate it on a map (I probably couldn’t have before I moved here!).  When people do recognize the name, the country tends gets lumped into the collective memory of the former Yugoslavian countries, and the images we all saw on TV during the Yugoslav wars. But unlike the horrible destruction that came to Serbia, Bosnia and Kosovo, Slovenian territory saw only 10 days of actual warfare in 1991 during their fight for independence from Yugoslavia. Therefore, unlike while driving through Belgrade or parts of Bosnia, I’ve never seen any visible remnants of war in Ljubljana. The country’s landscape appears to me to be an eastern continuation of the beauty of the Austrian/Swiss/Northern Italy landscape with rugged mountains, green fields, pretty old buildings and adorable cowsies chomping on grass.

Downtown Ljubljana and the famous “Three Bridges”

The language, however, bares absolutely no comparison to the German spoken in Austria. Slovene/Slovenian is one of the South Slavic languages, which use letters like č and ž and put other funny looking tent hats on things. What I’ve found most interesting about the Slavic languages is that their common roots make them similar enough to understand across borders (Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro and the other Balkan states), but it doesn’t always flow in both directions. For instance, a Slovenian person can usually understand a Serbian or Montenegrin person, but the Serbian person may not understand the Slovenian person. It has something to do with dialects and vocabulary, and as a person with exactly zero understanding of anything Slovene (I can only say “I am allergic to nuts,” because that has true value for me), I really don’t know any more than that. But it’s really interesting to witness how this old old root language has branched out and changed with the movements of people over time.

Besides the days I spend in Ljubljana, life in Klagenfurt is chugging along! I’m not playing with the indoor team here at the moment which was really strange at first, but I’m really loving having my weekends free for the first time ever. It’s crazy! When Marco and I talk about doing something sometime (anytime!), I never have to consult my calendar to see if I might be on a bus going to a game in Vienna, or if I’ll be home but not able to do anything fun because I’ll be resting for a game the next day. It’s SO LIBERATING! (On that note, I’m excited to say that I’ll be attending my first Bayern Munich game in the coming weeks. Whoop!)

Hank is more and more awesome every day, duh! I’m excited for him to play in the snow again this year, because last year he cracked me up anytime he would bound through the snow and jump into snow banks! I’ll try to get it on video this year. He’s a hoot.

Looking regal on Kreuzbergl

Hike time!

Hank debating what to do with the hairless puppy (neighbor baby!) wearing a pink sweat suit

I’m definitely looking forward to having my family here for the holidays and sharing the beauty Christmas in Klagenfurt with them! MMMM glühwein at the Kristkindlmarkt. Chocolate-covered strawberries. Marco’s Oma’s cookies. Yum yum yum.

Chistmas time in Klagenfurt, always beautiful!

With Anna and Kathi before the Klagenfurt firefighter’s calendar release party

Hope all is well wherever you are!

Love,

Anna

PS: It was my birthday! I’m now 27! Schnikeez! I had some adorable birthday greetings from two of my favorite boys:

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Klagifornia

When it’s hot, there’s nothing else for him to do!

Hello!

It’s August and Klagenfurt is HOT. Like 40C/104F hot. Like Anna melts in this weather hot. It’s insane! People are telling me that it’s a heat wave originating in the Sahara. Are we really that close to the Sahara that the heat can make it all the way here? Don’t those Alps act like some sort of barrier to melt-your-face-off heatwaves? Either the people I talk to know nothing, or those Alps need to step it up!

We all like to sing in the car

School got out in early June, which meant I had to say goodbye to almost all of my new friends from school who headed home to their respective back countries. I miss them already, and Hank misses his pal Linus, who got dragged back to Germany with his hooman Linda. WE WANT LINUS BACK! Hank might stage a protest.

Hank and Linus, best buds!

Other than those goodbyes, I’m loving summer life. My beach partner and I have played in as many tournaments as our schedules allowed, and were happy to get 4th at the Carinthian state champions this past Sunday. We’ll play in one more B-Cup (yeah, the Austrian Beach Volleyball Association thought it would be a good idea to name the tournament levels A-Cups, B-Cups and C-Cups. I don’t know if anyone has pointed out that those are the common names for bra sizes, or if they know and just think it’s funny!? True to beach volleyball, there are no D-Cups… 🙂 later this month, and then beach season will be over for the year and we’ll head back into the gym. It’s been such a blast, while I’m bummed it took me ’til age 26 to get into it, I’m SO happy I had the chance to play so much this summer!

We celebrated 4th of July at our house, complete with a full American menu and an America-themed iTunes playlist. The national anthem came on at various times throughout the evening, and our Austrian and German guests attempted to learn the words. We all agreed that America has the best national anthem out there. Or did only I agree? I can’t remember. USA!!!!!

4th of July chocolate cake

4th of July on Spatwiesenweg!
More of the cake

We got a visit from Tesha several weeks ago, and I loved having her here for a week. Despite her general uncertainty about dogs (I think she has an issue with the dirt/slobber/bodily functions that dogs bring along with them), she and Hank became best buds. Hank got used to her staying in what usually is his room, and sat outside her door every morning waiting for her to get up. When she left, he continued to sleep outside the door, hoping that Tesha would show up again! It was pretty darn cute.

Besides bonding with the Poo, Tesha and I spent the week enjoying things that we can only do in Klagenfurt. We went to the beautiful lake Wörthersee twice, and were thoroughly irked by the amount of nakedness that’s so common on beaches here. We also went on a hike in Tscheppaschlucht, a beautiful river canyon located right before the border with Slovenia. We were there with Marco’s mom and 88-year-old grandpa, who went all Indiana Jones on us by essentially deciding he would lead the pack for the duration of the 3-hour hike. Hank also came along and turned out to be a total canyoneering pro! Finaly, we got to bring Tesha along for smoked trout at the Breithuber pond, a meal I absolutely adore. Before taking off for Dresden, we got crêpes at one of my favorite restaurants in Klagenfurt, Île de France on Karfreitstrasse. Mmmmm. Definitely a successful trip, but as soon as she left I was ready for her to come back!

The gore of roasted trout
Gisela, Hank, Grandpa and I on the hike
Tesha, Hank, Grandpa and I at Tscheppaschlucht
At Tscheppaschlucht with Tesha, Hank and Gisela

Flower girls hiking
Silly teddy bear dog, wearing his muzzle for the bus ride back to the car from Bodenthal

Since Tesha’s visit things have quieted down a bit. We celebrated Marco’s grandpa’s 89th birthday with a meal of Italian jause (so delicious), and we’ve set up a tent in the backyard to help make the space more usable in the unbearable heat. If we’ve learned anything from this heat wave, it’s that no matter how uncomfortble it is for us, the poor pup is feeling exponentially worse. So we’ve been taking advantage of the sparkling clean Sattnitz river near our house, taking Hank swimming at least once a day. He’s a total water baby! He especially enjoys chasing the ducks that are at home amongst the cattails, and swimming against the current to retreive a tennis/volley/soccer/anykindof-ball.

This week we’re seeing some excitement because the European Championships for beach volleyball are in town, and it’s taken over the place! It’s the first year that I’ve been here for the tournament, since usually I’m at home in the states at this time. But this year I got the chance to watch some of the Austrian teams play on center court, which was a blast.

2013 EM Klagenfurt

Hope all is well wherever you are!

xox

Anna

Hank, attempting escape through the bedroom window
Schalke 04 playing beach volleyball during their training camp in Klagenfurt
Accidental twinsies

Hank disapproves of my sillyness

Such a babe

Hey Marco!
At the Airedale club meeting in May, we went for an awesome hike with a bunch of Hank’s cousins!

Hank and younger half-sister “I am Kiwi”

Endlich Sommer!

Hello friends and fam!

After what seemed like the longest winter of all time, it’s blazing hot here in Klagenfurt. The pup (who is showing some gray hairs as he turned 1 last Wednesday) is tired all the time because he is running around in 90 degree heat with a perma fur jacket on. I myself am feeling like I’ve finally thawed out after freezing my butt off from November ’til late May, so I can’t complain.

In most recent news, I spent 14 days in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina for a study excursion with my International Management class, which was quite the learning experience. I had been to Croatia before for volleyball games, but had never had a chance to explore the beautiful seaside cities and towns that make it such a perfect vacation destination for many Europeans. We first visited Zadar, which was originally settled by the Liburnians sometime before or in 384 BC. HAHAHA. As an American who gets excited about a 100 year old house, Zadar is OLD! But one can imagine why it was a perfect place for humans to live. Its ports are sheltered from harsh ocean weather due to a string of islands that lay just off the coast, acting as breakers for the waves that may otherwise pummel the coast. The weather reflects that of wonderful subtropical Mediterranean temperate climate, so much friendlier than that of Austria!

The wave organ in Zadar

Outside the Falkensteiner resort near Zadar

We spent 4 days visiting various companies and sights in Zadar before moving on to Split, where we had a lecture in an auditorium built inside of Diocletian’s Palace. HAHAHA. It’s a total joke to me. Having a lecture in a building that was originally erected in the 4th century. What? Unreal.

View of Diocletian’s Palace from our lecture auditorium

We spent one fast night in Makarska, a spot with pristine coastline and a perfect vacation vibe. I had some delicious fried calamari there that evening. There’s something about eating seafood while sitting a few meters away from the waves that makes an already delicious meal even more delicious!

We then moved on to Medjugorje in Herzegovina, where the Virgin Mary appeared to 6 school children in 1981, now an extremely important place of religious pilgrimage for anyone of the Christian faith. We visited a winery in the area before moving on to Mostar, another old city that was so different from anyplace that I’ve ever been that I felt like I was walking around in a movie set. Again. HAHAHA.

We headed back towards Austria after that, settling in to our hotel in Zagreb for the last 4 days. I sound like a broken record, but this was also a beautiful city, packed with interesting history and fun things to do. We were busiest in Zagreb, filling our days with visits to various lectures and businesses, but it made that part of the trip most memorable. After our 14 days were over, we headed back to Austria and were met with summer weather in Carinthia!

In other news, as mentioned above, Hank celebrated his first birthday last week! Here’s a little video compilation that Marco threw together to commemorate the important event. Yes we’re weirdos, but anyone whose heart is not made of ice has to admit that this pup is adorable!!! 🙂

My season with the Wildcats ended in mid-April, and as the weather has been absolutely glorious, I’ve embraced the awesomeness of beach volleyball. It’s a blast! Besides that, with university stuff wrapping up by the end of this month, I’m hoping to find a part-time summer job to help fill my days until school starts again in the fall. For the 3rd semester of the International Management program we’re required to study abroad, so I’ll be looking forward to spending several months studying in Ljubljana in neighboring Slovenia. Should be interesting!
Beach volley fun
I am also looking forward to a visit from Tesha, who will be making the trip down from Dresden, my old home whose image has graced the front page of newspapers everywhere due to being the center of a horrible flooding catastrophe that hit large areas across Germany. One look at these pictures and you’ll remember how amazingly strong nature can be. Hopefully they’ll be able to return to some state of normalcy within the near future, but some of the damage will be irreparable.
Hope all is well with you, and that you’ll also get to enjoy some sunshine this summer!
Love, 
Anna
We visited our breeder to meet the next generation of Hanks

PUPPY

Our outfits for a recent Middle Ages themed wedding
Hanky

Inspiration before our last Wildcats game

Ahhh Austria

View from a cafe in Split

The IM group

Linda and I at Diocletian’s Palace

Mostar