Step into Lisaopolis:

Pennsylvania's Most Interesting Blog

24 Juni 2006

bin wieder da...

Shock 'n awe, a new post. Back from an amazing two weeks in Slovakia and Austria; what a concept to get out of The Borough and not only talk about the vim 'n vigor of grad school. The trip started on a hectic note, including about an hour's worth of getting on I-70 the wrong freaking WAY to connect down to Dulles, gunninng through a toll without paying because the payment thingie wasn't working but the alarm that followed me busting through WAS, screaming through a red light while on hold with the front desk of the hotel where I was to park my car, and arriving at the British Airways check in barely on time. But I took it as a good sign that the nice check-in ma'am upgraded me to the next level of economy class (more footroom, more recline, yummm) which left me rested for my whole day's layover in London, which I spent buzzing around on the Tube to my favorite London Towne sights, before continuing to Wien and then right to Bratislava, to wake up the next day for a road trip to Eastern Slovakia. Then back to Austria for the rest of my trip. Basically, I ate. And drank. And relaxed. And visited. And some other things.

And the only time my stress level approached grad-school heights was on Wednesday when I was in Vienna at the exact same time that the Bush entourage was there (not on purpose, mind you...) and I along with zillions of locals were cut off from getting anywhere, due to intermitant road blocks, restricted zones and public transportation closures. I mean, I'm glad they blocked off the whole area around the Stephansdom so Laura Bush and the Austrian president's wife could take a private fricking tour, but were the thousands of security forces and helicopters really needed? Why not just NOT announce you're in town and that way no one will try anything stupid. Works for me. And moreover, was all the ass-kissing by Bush and Austrian Chancellor Schüssel really needed, because what will really result of this 'summit'? Wieder nichts. I watched all the news reports afterwards and was reminded that what you see on the news versus what you see and hear when you are there in real life can be...totally the opposite! Innit fun?

Really, honestly. What a debacle. I didn't even get to the Kunshistorisches Museum to visit the paintings of the individuals who formulate the Habsburg line (a secret geeky side hobby is the Habsburg Empire, I just gulp that stuff up). AND, ladies and gentlemen, I almost missed my train back to my friends' town due to cutting off of the Strassenbahn and all routes to get out of the first district. It was like being quarantined into this area. Not even a taxi driver agreed to take me to the Südbahnhof so that I'd get there on time. His advice: take the later train. My thoughts: but my friends are picking me up at this specific time and I don't want to ruin their evening by telling them I'm coming an HOUR later.

This was me: "Crap! Think! Focus! U-Bahn. U-Bahn. U-Bahn...ok, down to the U1. Ask how to get to the Südbahnhof. No, wait, you know this.l Focus. U1 to Südtirolerplatz. Then bus or Strassenbahn to the Bahnhof. Wait, how long does that take. OK, doesn't matter. Crap, it's 17.30 h and there is NO way you are making it. But run, try, go gog ogogogogoggoooo." All this while it was hot, muggy and nasty so of course I was sweating and stressing, two activities which I try to keep separate. Long story short, due to luck, or providence and the kindness of strangers directing me which bus to take, and the fact that thank Gott I've bipped around the U-Bahn a lot over the years, I hit my 18.00 h train at exactly 17.59 h and all was well after all. Frick!

So now back in the Borough. Off to a wedding today and then exams and teaching start so who knows when I'll post again--I have so many travel stories in general that I might share them here, eventually. Maybe. Time and will permitting. Because I have some stellar photos.

Here is a short list of Most Interesting Items I have noted which comprise my mini reverse culture 'shock' that I always experience coming back after being abroad, and specifically coming back to the east coast area, which is still, depsite living here for a bit, always new to me.

-My word, people chew gum here like it's going out of style.
-Everything is really...beige-ish.
-The verdant hills of Pennsylvania exude a green unlike any other.
-People of all shapes, colors and sizes and accents, yet not the same kinds as Over There.
-guys in baggy..everything. Somehow straight Euro men don't have a problem with tight fitting items. Hmm, there's a sociology paper waiting to happen here.
-I thought the heat and humidity in eastern Austria was bad...sheesh!
-Disposable everything. Ugh. Can I get a real fork or coffee cup? Holla.
-Aesthetics in urban planning? Not ugly, just...different (I suppose)
-Shuttle services with a smile rule.
-Now I can spend spend spend and not worry how much the dollar sucks against the euro.
-Hello, does anyone know that it's World Cup?
-TV's on, all the time (albeit no FIFA World Cup, except for the Vietnamese place where I got a pedicure yesterday in Altoona to break up my long ride from Dulles to State College--they had BOTH of yesterday's games on (one game on one screen in one corner, and the other on another screen in the other corner) and let me tell you, that was sweet. The guys were like "you watch World Cup? Wow...". Shya, I've only been immersed in it since it started! I predict my fave team England and then Argentina in the final. Team Germany, I hope you bite it to Team Sweden.
-There's so much more to life outside E! news. Although E! news does rule.
-OK, I felt like I was driving in total slo-mo yesterday on such highways and biways as 270 and I-70. Only 90km/h (about 65-70 mph)? Huh? If I had done that while driving over THERE, I'd have been pulled over and/or mistakenly taken as drving farm equipment. It just felt weird to drive so 'slow' here then. Small countries, higher speed limits / large-ass countries, slower limits: discuss!
-Thank goodness for the local Russian, sorry, -Eastern European- store here, where I bought some good bread and meats and cheeses to ease out of daily Brot excellence to more squishy stuff.

Add your reverse culture shock tales here: