It's a symptom of summer. The days blend together, time seems to pass both slow and fast, and the concept of chronology dissipates. Thus have I spent the first five days in Villach. It will all come crashing down and time will again regain a sense of rigidity when I head into work (after a hike with my Austrian adviser and a visiting SDSU professor). But as I sit here now and try to recount the events of the first one hundred twenty hours, time has no form. Let's begin with Saturday.
What happened on Saturday? I remember Friday. And Sunday. I think. But Saturday seems to have melted away. (5 minutes later). Ah yes! I woke up late. Sort of. My alarm went off at 7am, but I turned it off and rolled over, sleep claiming me again quickly. Let's say I got out of bed late. Mostly because I got in bed late. Friday night was long. And full of beer. Or rather, I was full of beer. Regardless, Saturday started late. Plans for the day? None. Actually, scratch that. We need to go shopping for the BBQ tomorrow. It’s their Italian friend Tommaso’s birthday and he’s coming
Inspired the castle of Disney's Snow White.
up from somewhere near Venice for the weekend since Monday is a holiday. Marcelo, Mari, Felipe and I pile into Marcelo’s new car (He bought a brand new Citroen. It smells like a new car. Probably will for a while yet) and head to Interspar (the biggest market around – in the mall). And it was here that I made an amazing discovery.
I would like to take this moment to share my incredible discovery and express a certain amount of incredulity. Austria’s version of hot dogs are called frankfurters and are a grade (or three) above the American variety. This is an obvious truth. The amazingness is what comes next. They also sell them wrapped in bacon. BACON! What the hell? America LOVES bacon. Why don’t we wrap ours in bacon? Blasphemy I tell you.
So, who wants to drop out of Graduate school and make millions with me in a surefire business venture?
Our shopping cart full of various grill-ables (including the bacon wrapped frankfurters and some cheese filled sausages) we head home. Felipe departs for futbol with Vinnie. Marcelo, proud owner of a new Citroen, wants to go for
a drive to explore some new town. Ok, I’m in. Nothing better to do. We head out, Mari in tow, and grab our Bosnian friend Adi from the first floor on the way. “Where to?” everyone asks. Shrugs all around. “Burg Hochosterwitz!” I say. Nods all around. Well, glad that’s settled.
Burg Hochosterwitz is a castle straight out of a fairytale about 45 minutes away. Actually, it’s the castle that inspired the one in Disney’s Snow White. Needless to say, it’s cool. Way cool. There was just one small hitch. We got there at 5:15 and they stop letting people in for the day at 5. Blast! At least we got some sweet photos from the road leading up. We putz around the gift shop and resolve to return in the future. As we leave, an Austrian guy pulls up in a car. Big deal? Yeah. The car is one hundred seven years old. That’s from 1905 for the mathematically impaired. Cool factor: high.
It’s probably for the best that we didn’t get into Burg Hochosterwitz (man that is hard to type fast) that day. We had dinner reservations back in Villach at 8pm and would have been late and/or rushed had we toured the place. So we head home, clean up, gather the group, and walk into town. Destination? The Red Lobster. Seriously. That’s the literal translation of the Italian restaurant. No relation to the shitty corporate American chain. We sit down, grab menus and then find out that the birthday boy (Tommaso) missed his train in Italy and will be 2 hours late. Too bad I guess since everyone is starving and intent on eating anyway. I ordered….a pizza. Can’t remember the name. It had salami, onion, olive and mushrooms. Delicious. Again. Tommaso arrived at 10. Not a big deal. I imagine he gets to eat like this all the time. Me? I’m taking every opportunity.
Saturday turned out all right.
Sunday. The BBQ. Another late start. It’s scheduled at Italian lunchtime (1pm) as opposed to Austrian lunchtime (1130am). Tommaso brought 4 kilos of ribs (they don’t come in racks here, they come individually and are meatier and juicier) and we contributed an equal amount of sausage. Some of the girls made side dishes (Polenta, tzatziki, some couscous dish) which were quite tasty. Good food here in Europe. At 330, Sylvia (Italian) Saman (Pakistani) and I dipped out to the lake for some beach volleyball. There was an odd number of people, so I decided to set for both sides to work on my hands and cardio. Didn’t happen. It was that bad. Ah well, at least I got some sunshine. The girls’ arms started to hurt (first timer’s I found out) so we headed back home…to discover all the bacon wrapped frankfurters had been eaten. Damnation!
Unsurprising however. I can always get more. A short siesta for everyone and it was time to walk into town for ice cream. The ice cream parlour was an Austrian establishment selling Italian gelato proprieted by Portuguese. The offered several artisan ice cream dishes that looked quite extravagant. I opted for 2 scoops of random ice cream in a cone since I don’t read any of the languages advertising their products. I point at two and end up with scoops of what I think are raspberry and tiramisu. Pretty tasty either way. The bar is up next. It’s packed, spilling out into the patio and square. I worm my way through the maze of bodies and order a beer. They don’t have dark beer. I tell Marcelo to order me whatever he got. It’s yellow, tastes like an average lager. Whatever. I’m dying in here. I execute my escape back to the fresh outside air. Only to see the polizei arrive and inform the establishment that everyone either needs to head inside or leave, and I just bought my beer. Damnit. We wend through the bodies again and discover an empty room to the left. What? How? Who cares. We pile in. There’s a table with too few chairs. I sit on the brick windowsill to leave seats for the ladies. Some German speaking guy with his two ladies has the same idea and sits a couple feet away from me. And immediately lights up a cigarette. Damnit. The windows don’t open. Double damnit. I opt to suffer in silence. Cata, Eva and Vinnie are off at the other end of the bar dancing, though I don’t know how their managing it with the establishment surpassing its occupancy limit. Suddenly, everyone’s drinks are empty and our dancing companions have returned. Back to BFI! And sweet, fresh air.
At home, the drinking resumes anew. Vinnie whips out his guitar….and hands it to me. “Play us a song, Jukebox!” It seems I am acquiring a slew of nicknames. I now have Americano, Diego, Barbara, and Jukebox. The former’s origin is apparent. The second two refer to my native cities. I am Diego by day and Barbara by night. I feel like some caped crusader with an alter ego or two. I open with some Jack Johnson. Nobody knows the words, but they’re all bobbing their heads and tapping their feet. Conversation resumes in various languages. I’m content to sit there and play, drinking beers between songs. I transition to Under the Bridge. Everyone starts singing. Looks like I hit a hit. More Chili Peppers it is then. Californication. “Hold on! We have to look up the words.” The laptop comes out, the lyrics come up, and Vinnie and Felipe start singing. Felipe does a hilarious Axel Rose impression. They’re all mostly drunk at this point so their singing is off key, off time, and with varying volume. Doesn’t matter, I’m pretty drunk at this point too and finding it difficult to adjust to their changes in cadence. I hand the guitar back to Vinnie at this point. The crowd has dwindled and I’m tired. I hit the sack and stick the iPod in because at this point, those that remain are singing at full volume. Badly. It sounds like a sailors’ tavern. I drift off into sweet, sweet sleep.
Word of the Blog: See
It means lake.
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