Friday, June 15, 2012

Flight and Arrival

Travel begins (going from Seattle, USA to Villach, Austria)! I started out at Seattle and boarded a Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, Germany (transfer point).  The flight was quite long (about 10 hours) but the service on the plane was nice (they gave me free trobolone chocolate!). Both dinner and breakfast was served and there were quite a selection of movies to choose from (I ended up watching Sherlock Holmes 2, The Blind Side, and Good Luck , Good night).  I learned that the headphone ports on the international flight needed two prongs, luckily though the airline provided their own set of headphones so I managed.

This is a photo from SEA to FRA flight (over Canada)

I only had one person sitting next to me and he turned out to be quite nice. He told me he was originally from Germany and had moved to the U.S. a year ago and was traveling back to Germany both for business and to see family. I shared what I was doing for my trip and he joked that he thought it was the other way around; that it was usually the German girls who were trying to become au pairs in the U.S. Since he was familiar with the airport he was able to reassure me that the buses would indeed take me to the terminals (Lufthansa unloaded the flight on the tarmac, so we had buses driving us back to the main airport).

Arriving in SEA to FRA flight in Frankfurt, Germany

I had my first test in problem solving when I entered the Frankfurt terminals. I actually managed to find my wing of the building quite easily (had to go through more security, but got my passport stamped!) and checked in for my flight to Vienna, Austria (there was a brief scare when the woman checking me in couldn’t find me on the passenger list for the Austrian flight). Once settled at my terminal, I opened my computer to access the wifi so I could contact my Austrian hosts and my family to let them know I reached Frankfurt. Much to my dismay, the free wifi offered at the Frankfurt required a cell phone number so that the pin for access could be SMS’d to the phone. While I had a phone on me, it had no cell phone access for Europe (strictly for wifi). Going to the front desk provided no alternatives other then buying a cell phone card but I did notice that near the terminals there were T-mobile pay phones. With a little help from a lady who could speak English and some $1 euro coins, I was able to contact both my Austrian hosts and my family to let them know I made it to Frankfurt and what the status was of my next flight.

My next flight from Frankfurt to Vienna was very short (a little more than an hour) and they bused us out to the tarmac to board a very small plane (turned out to be a boeing 737). In comparison to my previous flight, it seemed I was in Vienna in no time at all picking up my luggage. The weather was sunny and very warm (felt like in the 70s F).

Map of Austria

My Austrian aunt met me at the airport exit to help guide me to the next leg of my journey (the train). Apparently the airport exit had just been newly finished and while she was treating me to a cappuccino at the airport she explained that we would have to take a bus (Flughafen Wien) to get to the train station. The central train station has been under construction for the last four years so we had to take the bus to a ‘sub’ train station.

As the bus drove through the city she pointed out the various public gardens as well as parts of the old town. We were on a road the forms an outer circle to the old town’s (of Vienna) inner circle. She also explained several urban renewal projects such as four domed buildings, that used to house gas, being turned into apartments/galleries/shops. The subject of politeness was touched on briefly and I thought it was funny when she said that Austrians weren’t polite in Vienna; that they were only polite to tourists. While she was talking to me, someone else on the bus noticed we were talking in English. It turned out he was from Sweden (?) and was also trying to get to the train station so he could get to Graz. My host aunt ended up guiding both me and the ‘Swedish? Guy’ to the train station and showed us how to get train tickets.

My Austrian aunt warned me the food on the train wasn’t that good so I picked up a mozerella ciabetta and bottled water. Since she had to go pick up her daughter from school, my Austrian aunt left me on the platform where my train would come in. While I was waiting I found myself enjoying watching people. I was especially amused by people’s shirts. I noticed a nirvana shirt, a decal of the snake from the Jungle Book shirt, and a Lion King shirt.

Sandwich for the day

About 25 mins later I got on to the train to start my four hour train ride to Klagenfurt (a stop before Villach). Through the mad rush onto the train I managed to get myself situated in the ‘cafĂ©’ car. I wasn’t entirely sure if I could stay there without ordering food however I didn’t feel like dragging my luggage through another car to get a different type of seat. It seemed to work out fine.

Map of Austrian train routes
The train ride was actually quite beautiful but I must admit I was starting to get too tired to appreciate it. I barely noticed passing by a Lindt factory and the trees hid a lot of the towns as well. I ended up taking video rather than pictures to gives perspective to the scale of the landscape.

Castle seen from train from Vienna to Klagenfurt

As my stop approached I was wrestling my luggage through a narrow hallway while an Austrian man chuckled at my endeavors. An Austrian woman ahead of me turns around and said “typical man, laughing but not helping.” Funnily enough, the woman was getting off at the same stop as I was and so we had a good laugh before we departed the train.

At the Klagenfurt stop I was met by my Austrian siblings who took me to a home in Klagenfurt where my Austrian mother fed us homemade lasagna as well as some cake w/ garnish (coconut and sour cream?). I shared some of the things I had brought from the U.S. and we gathered our things to go to the Sattendorf house.

Sattendorf is located by Villlach, so when we were driving from Klagenfurt to Villach we took the Villach exit but turned in the direction of Ossiachsee (Lake Ossiach) to get to the village Sattendorf. The house is located very close to the lake and my Austrian siblings showed me the lake and my Austrian brothers even did some fishing.

Map of Sattendorf in relation to Villach
Austrian siblings showing off lake

That mostly sums up my entire ‘day’. I was given a tour of the house and my Austrian sister offered me an animal to keep me company during my stay. I picked a lamb which had actually been a stuffed toy of my Austrian father when he was younger. When I asked if ‘he’ had a name, I was told I could pick one myself. I chose Paul after my grandfather.

'Paul' in little carry bag
Tomorrow I will take some pictures of my room and the view from my window. I also expect that I will be down at the lake for at least part of the day.

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