So far, my experience with learning German has been not unlike attempting to drive the Arc de Triomphe in France blindfolded in a manual Hummer. Not only am I completely out of my element (my foreign language default is French, which, with the exception for “pommes frites”, seems to be miles apart from German) but I am constantly being cut off by faster learners or stopped short by slower, more timid ones, feeling like a too awkward giant and all the while stalling every two minutes. Be it my French pronunciation, my garbled verb conjugation, or simply the pleading look in my eyes, there is a reason that every Austrian I have subjected to my limited German vocab has switched to English. Despite this knowledge that most Austrians speak enough English to help you, I have refused to go see a doctor about a persisting stomach bug that has kept me in bed and catching up on TV series for the better part of this week (except for my morning German classes, which I am not allowed to skip). Apart from being generally stubborn when it comes to visiting a doctor, I’m wary about my symptoms getting lost in translation. For example, my first night at a bar in Vienna, my “gin & tonic,” became “a pina colada.” While delicious, I’m now scared to conduct other important errands with a native speaker for fear that “Just trim my bangs” becomes “Another bowl cut, please.” or “I’ve got a lot of pain in my stomach.” becomes “Amputate my left leg.” And while the idea of getting the handicap stall is quite appealing, I’d rather not cash in on the dismemberment claim on my insurance, thank you. And so, here I lie, wishing Austrians were more partial to Canadian Dry Ginger Ale and Premium Plus. I realized that on Valentine’s Day, I was curled into a similar fetal position as I was last year, but without a Snoogle, the Winter Olympics, and Tylenol T3’s, it was significantly less enjoyable. Regardless, this is not a tradition I would like to continue.
I’ve chosen a good time to be sick as the weather has turned from Vancouver to Lethbridge and now to Edmonton, making every OK Program trip extremely unappealing. Today, my group is supposed to go up the Donautrum, which is the highest tower in all of Vienna. However, it’s cold, snowing, and outrageously cloudy, making the view out from my cocoon of blankets a much more attractive one. From the poll I took of several other group members, I am far from alone as everyone seems to have picked up a sore throat here or a dry cough there, although I’m the only one more-or-less under self-imposed quarantine.
Saturday was equally disgusting, but my group still ventured out to Graz for a two hour walking tour of Arnold’s home town. I absolutely fell in love with the city despite the cold and my characteristically inappropriate shoe choice. I will definitely return on a day when I can actually take photos instead of clutching my umbrella. Our day (and frost bite) improved drastically on our trip to the chocolate factory. I find my morale is often lifted exponentially with the promise of food (or sleep) on the other end. The zotter Schokoladen is Austria’s contribution to the world of overpriced, fair-trade chocolate. But, as our tour was less about information and more gustation, you couldn’t hear me complain through the spoonfuls of chocolate. Room after room of chocolate fountains, chocolate bars, drinking chocolate, running chocolate, chocolate balls, and chocolate nougats, I kept an eye open for any chocolate rivers to avoid an similar fate to Wonka’s Augustus Gloop. The last room of the factory was a gift shop where you could buy any and all of the chocolates you sampled as well as relevant paraphernalia. Fact: REGARDLESS of your undying love and extreme commitment to chocolate, after an entire tour of eating nothing but piece after piece of chocolate, buying MORE chocolate seems absolutely revolting. As I walked from the factory to the bus, I swore I would never again eat chocolate. The three chocolate bars I bought says that I won’t last two days.
My only other venture outside my covers was to a traditional Austrian Heuringer, or a wine tavern. But I thought you were quite ill, Jen, you say, that seems very irresponsible. Quite the opposite. You see, King Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine (and thus tapas was born. Delicious and true!), and I figured what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I reasoned that the antiseptic and digestive properties of the alcohol might help me get better quicker. FALSE! After four days without food, it only proved to get me feeling rather silly after a single glass and then gave me a piercing headache. So again, I retreat beneath my sheets.
I better get well soon, because I’m almost completely up to date on all of my TV shows.
XOXO Bubonic Jen