A very Austrian weekend
This weekend, a fellow Fulbrighter and friend of mine, Susan, came down to Hartberg for a visit. Susan and I actually met each other during study abroad a few years ago, when we shared a hotel room our first night in Vienna. The rest was basically history, and it’s sort of awesome that we both ended up back here.
Ever have one of those days where things are already falling into place before you even make it out bed? Yesterday was one of those days for me. It was a long run day for me, so after a casual 13 miles I cooked up some (vegan) french toast for me and my best buddy Liesbeth. Just enough time for a quick shower, and we were picking up Susan from the train. Liesbeth had a few things to do at the Hartberg museum, and so we tagged along (I had never been. Kind of embarrassing.) She had a lot of interesting facts to tell us too—for instance, Hartberg actually used to be the capital of Styria, back in the 1200s when it first became a “city.” The main road in our town used to go all the way to Venice (almost 500km) in one direction, and all the way to Hungary in the other. Mind blowing. Afterwards, it had stopped raining, and so we were able to wander around the grounds of the castle here in Hartberg and then down the city center to this new Konditorei (a sort of pastry shop) for a cup of tea.
Once back at the house, we helped Liesbeth cook up a Sunday feast— a beet-horseradish soup, Semmelknödel (a round bread dumpling that is my FAVORITE THING EVER) with a mushroom sauce, a giant green Styrian-style salad, and of course leftover homemade apple strudel for dessert. Basically everything you could ever want after running 21km earlier in the day. Afterwards, we headed up the the Garten Bayer, a large semi-public garden that is owned and run by two of Liesbeth’s landscape arcitect friends, Karl and Bella Bayer. I’d been there once already when my parents were in town last June, and it was definitely a different experience now in the early spring. The Bayers then invited us in for a cold-pressed apple juice (from their apple trees, of course), where we were able to meet their raven, Michi. Ravens are so cool looking. He lives in the garden basically, but comes to the back porch when he is hungry in the evenings and they feed him. It’s funny. Before heading home, we did a bit of a driving adventure up the hill, in a neighboring village known as Neuberg. There’s actually a massive castle there, complete with kloster, that I had no idea even existed. Sadly, it’s empty on the inside and no one is allowed in, but one of these days hopefully I’ll make it back to at least see the Hof (the center court.)
(Sidenote: I’m out in my hammock right now enjoying the afternoon sun. We have a little squirrel that lives in the walnut tree in our backyard, and he has the hairiest little ears and bushiest tale I’ve ever seen! He keeps hopping over here like he wants to be friends.)
Today Suze and I embarked on a hiking adventure up the hill. Not too far from our house is a little church with stations of the cross hike below it. It’s funny, because the little yellow church is lit up at night, and it’s usually the last thing I see from the skylight in my tower before I go to sleep. It was a little strange to be at the opposite point, looking down on my little skylight. It seemed so much farther away from up above. Liesbeth and Erika, our cleaning lady, of course had a beautiful lunch waiting for us— a fennel soup with carrots, another giant salad, and a spinach strudel (another of my favorites!)
I’ll probably spend the remainder of the afternoon here in my hammock, until my lazy butt is inspired to do a slow recovery run this evening. What a life I have here. It’s hard to imagine that I only have another 7 or so weeks left.