Second week in Vienna down!
I must point out that the German pronunciation of certain letters is different from English. For instance, I’ve titled my posts “Wien – Week X”. W’s are pronounced V’s, so it actually reads “Veen“. Wien means “Vienna” in German.
Other pronunciation funnies:
- V’s are pronounced F’s (ie. “Folksvagen” vs. Volkswagen)
- J’s are pronounced Y’s (ie. “Yordan” vs. Jordan)
- S’s are pronounced Z’s (ie. “Zophie” vs. Sophie)
- Z’s are pronounced “ts” (ie. “Tsurich” vs. Zurich)
- ß is pronounced “ss” – it’s not a “B” (ie. Straße = “Strasse“)
- and some others………..
I’m definitely glad I learned some German before coming to Austria. It’s really helped me semi-understand people here. I do notice a different accent though, between “Germany” German and “Austria” German. There’s some eastern European flair in the Austrian variety, with rolled R’s and different vowel intonation (I could also be completely wrong about this.. just me and my foreigner ear).
Above is an awesome produce stand near Jason’s residence. I believe it’s there Monday – Saturday, from morning to late afternoon. It’s actually quite competitively priced compared to the neighbouring supermarkets! So far, we’ve only bought some spinach and watermelon from the stand, but it tasted very fresh. I haven’t seen many stands like this around the city, but I’m glad it’s only 3 metro stops away from us. So excited to buy more from this place.
Speaking of food and produce, every Austrian I’ve met says that the food quality is very high in Austria, and that the standards are quite strict for producers and manufacturers. To be honest, I was surprised when I heard this because my first impression of Austrian food was Wiener Schnitzel, Kartoffelsalat (potato salad), and beer.. seemingly not the most nutritious meal out there. But after seeing the fairly high quality of supermarket produce, the abundance of organic options and even the healthier snacks (potato chips are less salty and flavourful here…. must mean they’re healthier…), I’m pretty convinced that the locals are correct. As well, I’ve noticed that many of the supermarket pricetags boast an Austrian flag, meaning that product was grown or manufactured in Austria.
We’ve been trying to cook as much as possible, not only to be cost-effective but also to be somewhat healthy. So far, most of our dinners have been pasta (easiest thing for us to throw together), but I think it’s about time to diversify or else we’ll get so sick of pasta, we won’t have an appetite for it if (when) we go to Italy!
We’ve encountered some Asian cuisine in the last two weeks. There are still relatively a lot more kebab / donair stands around because of the Turkish & mediterranean influence, but there are more Asian restaurants than I thought there would be. But then again, I’m not so shocked, because Asian. People. Are. Everywhere.
A few days ago we tried Vietnamese pho!! We came across it on some random street while walking around, and we were really craving some hot, soupy, noodle-y goodness as a result of the partying that occurred the night before. It was called Nguyen’s Pho House. Verdict: it was actually pretty good! The menu was simple, unlike the pages and pages of options offered in a typical Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver. We had a simple beef pho and it came with all the regular adornments: bean sprouts, basil, oyster sauce, hot sauce, lemon (instead of lime). It tasted a bit different from home, but it was still very satisfying. We didn’t order anything else, but I would have liked to try a salad roll or some vermicelli. The cooks looked Vietnamese, so that was a good sign. The only thing is, it was a big pricey: it cost €7.90 ($11-12 CAD) for the equivalent of a Small size in Vancouver. In comparison, at the cafeteria on campus at WU, you can get a filling meal for about €5. Ok this post is really starting to sound like a food review blog.
Jason also had some Korean food a few days ago. He said it tasted good, but it was also pricey compared to home. Next on our list is Japanese food and Chinese food!
On Monday we formally began the Orientation and Cultural Program with WU. Here was our schedule this week:
- Listened to a lecture from a WU prof about Austrian history and politics. Fun fact: many Austrians aren’t familiar with the Sound of Music!
- Intercultural training session meant to familiarize ourselves with Austrian culture and open our minds when it comes to different cultures
- Registration for our student cards. It was a madhouse of international students because they opened it up to all 200 of us in one afternoon.
- Walking tour through Vienna’s city centre – learned about the emphasis of “opposites” in St. Stephan’s Cathedral’s gothic design
- Walked along Kohlmarkt, the most expensive street and “Champs Elysées” of Vienna
- Visited Demel, a famous pastry shop and chocolaterie in Vienna
- Walking tour through Vienna’s State Opera House – where you can get a standing ticket to watch the opera for only €4, but the downside is you can only buy this ticket 80 minutes before the show starts, and you must stand for 2+ hours in the back of the theatre to watch.
- Day trip to Graz: the second largest city next to Vienna, about a 2 hour drive for us. Full of history and currently a hub for contemporary art and design.
- Zotter Chocolate Factory: tour of the factory and all its eclectic decor. 400+ flavours created since the company’s inception (ie. flavours containing chilli, rose petals, fruits, nuts, ginger, sesame, coconut, etc). The company has been organic and fair trade since 2002. After all that sampling, we hardly felt like buying anything at the gift shop. We were all chocolate’d out. But of course I still bought some.
This post was largely revolved around food. Given this, Jason and I signed up for a gym membership today. Gyms are pretty expensive in Vienna, and there are no community centres in the city. The cheapest membership we could find was €20 / month, a special deal for temporary university students, at a gym called McFit. Apparently there are McFit franchises all across Europe, so maybe we’ll get some workouts in during Oktoberfest in Munich. Or not.
Next week, there are more walking tours and daytrips. Although these group tours can be slow and crowded, it’s still nice to converse with peers from all over the world.
We’ve begun planning for weekend trips in Europe (Salzburg, Munich, Prague, Amsterdam to mention a few), yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!