london. (a few of my favorite things, pt. 5)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

any time i fly from europe –> to usa or vice versa, i try to arrange a stopover in london.  and each time i go, i find that i love it more and more.  here’s why:

1. it’s the birthplace of my friend andy, who has an english accent so awesome many of my american friends suspect it’s fake; it’s just too charming to be real.  plus, he wears velvet blazers with mickey mouse t-shirts, so…..

photo (35)

2.  the tube.  touristy, i know.  but i love it.  i love swiping that yellow oyster card through the turnstile and feeling like a brit.  until i open my mouth to say “truck” instead of “lorry” or spell “colour” without a ‘u’. 

blog 2

3.  platform 9 3/4.  enough said.

blog 1a

for other trips to london see here

other favorite thing posts found here

hotel stein.

Monday, January 30, 2012

when i get emails from people asking, “i’m making a trip to austria soon – what should i do in salzburg?”, it’s hard for me to answer because there are 100 thoughts bouncing around in my head.  you’ve gotta go to linzergasse and be sure to stroll down getreidegasse and then stop by o’malley’s and don’t forget mirabell gardens and augustiner’s super fun and the salzach is just gorgeous and the fortress is magnificent and cafe mozart’s nice and reyna is my favorite and, whatever you do, don’t stay here!, i want to scream. 

well, the other day it occurred to me that i’ve failed to mention one of salzburg’s best kept secrets: hotel stein.

lounging on the hotel stein roof while sipping tea and watching the sunset is one of my happy places.

fun fact: in the cooler months, they provide cozy fleece blankets to bundle up with, whereas in the 90 degree summer heat, you can bask in the glory of the fortress beneath an umbrella (while eating huge bowls of ice cream).

photo (37)photo (36)Leaving on the safarilc3

{check out the hotel stein website here and prepared to be amazed.}

the best part of germany and/or austria*.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

when in america, i tend to eat exclusively holiday candy (think reese’s hearts, reese’s pumpkins, reese’s eggs – the peanut butter: chocolate ratio is juuuust right.)

but once i moved to the alps and realized what chocolate is, i discovered the following:

it takes me about five minutes to finish a box of these (and this girl can attest to that):
you can find kinder bueno bars at any german/austrian train station vending machine, which means i’ve eaten hundreds of them by now: DSC01599
milka bars come in loads of different flavors and i think i tried every flavor twice during my semester in salzburg (which probably explains the 20 lbs. i gained during those 6 months):
Family river
these ritter bars come in a variety of flavors as well and some are seasonal, which obviously means you have to eat as many as you can as often as you can lest they disappear off the shelves too soon.
this kinder bar is the most generic in taste and therefore the most reminiscent of american chocolate.  that being said, if you’re looking for a gateway german-chocolate-drug, this is the one i’d recommend.  but do be careful, because before you know it, you’ll be eating these things by the boxful at lunch.  especially if they’re sold within walking distance of your school…..DSC01593 (1)

* i know some of these products are available in the united states, but unless it’s a store specializing in international delicacies, i guarantee you the selection just won’t compare. 

you can find me on cbs, mondays at 8pm EST.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

my friend emily and i have a lot in common; both fulbrighters sent to germany, we both (unintentionally) speak a hybrid language of english+german, both diehard fans of himym (can't help it -- it's THE show in germany -- my students got me hooked).

here’s a skype convo we recently had, after jason segel addressed the rumor that he was secretly married:
Selling people river
i’ll tell NPH hi for everyone.

and speaking of austria…

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

i don’t know if it’s the time of year or what, but i’ve been getting some emails lately from people who want to move abroad, specifically to austria or germany.  a frequently asked question: “should i move to germany or austria?” 

while i’m a fan of both countries… of them has always had my heart. 

consider this my public response:


^^ a view of the altstadt (and neustadt, across the river) from above ^^


^^ i promise we weren’t trying to jump off the mountain. ^^


^^ a snowy view of the fortress ^^

photo 2 (9)

^^okay, so all of these photos were taken in salzburg…. but then again, what did you expect? ^^


i love it through the winter, summer, spring and fall… but those snowy days are my favorite.

what NOT to do when skiing in austria.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

blog ski4 yes
{skiing in Mühlbach am Hochkönig, 44 miles south of Salzburg}

1.  You probably shouldn’t wear a black leotard beneath your ski apparel.  I can understand the appeal in creating a Beyonce-inspired winter look, but trust me, it’s not very practical.  Not that I would know from experience.
2.  When you ride the bus from the city to the mountain, don’t get distracted and exit the bus one stop too soon.  Running after the bus while carrying your ski equipment and shouting, “Halt, Halt!” while trying to pull up the pants that are too big around your waist isn’t as fun as one might think.  Also, it puts you at risk for leotard-exposure.  Not that that’s ever happened to me.
3.  Some chairlifts in Austria look like this.  Others resemble an apple-shaped cage, into which you awkwardly climb after detaching your skis and storing them in the outer compartment of the cage along with your poles.  When the chairlift stops ascending and you’ve reached the top of the mountain, don’t expect to find a  downward-sloping ramp awaiting you upon exiting this cage-like contraption.  There is no downward-sloping ramp!  This isn’t Crested Butte, Monarch, Loveland or Taos!  There’s just a flat ramp – which isn’t very rampy at all – meaning you’ll have to use your poles to gain momentum, as the flat platform you step out onto provides none.  So when it comes time to exit that little cage, you should open the cage door, reach outside of the cage, grab your skis, throw them onto the non-slope, step into them, grab your poles and use them to ski away.  Do not stand there awkwardly, confused by the lack of slope, because the ever-moving chairlift will hit your backside, you will fall to the ground, you will have to roll away stop-drop-and-roll style so as to prevent bumping your head on the chairlift (which is nearly impossible to do with skis on your feet and poles in your hands) and you will feel very embarrassed.  Not that I’ve ever done such a thing.

{but do arrive after noon, if possible.  many ski resorts offer a half-price discount later on in the day!}

the greatest idea.

Monday, January 16, 2012

am i really slow on the uptake for just now hearing about this website?

i had a borderline emotional reaction when i discovered “i found your camera”, because i sympathize very much with those whose cameras have yet to be found. 

during what my friend lindsay and i affectionately refer to has the W.T.E. (worst trip ever), we celebrated new year’s eve in salzburg and had a fabulous time.  we were dressed to the nines, laughed ‘til our sides hurt with hilarious friends at our austrian home away from home and counted down to midnight while standing on the snow-covered riverbank, a bottle of champagne in hand, yelling “Prost!” and “ein gutes neues Jahr!”.  in addition to our magical new year’s eve (and it really was magical, too – we got a free cheese pizza*!), we spent a few more nights of merriment in our favorite city on earth and had plenty of lovely photos and hilarious video footage to prove it. 

and then on january 3rd (which shall henceforth be known as ‘the beginning of the end’ or ‘the day we just shouldn’t have gotten out of bed’), we flew from munich to barcelona and then took an overnight train to the south of spain to visit a friend.  our train compartment was great – a little claustrophobic, but in a cozy sort of way.  lindsay and i chose 2 of the 4 beds provided in the compartment and went to sleep.

and somewhere between barcelona and granada, the camera was gone.

it should be known that we spent the majority of the next 48 hours pleading with renfe (the spanish rail company) to get our camera back, all to no avail.  we were told the camera was either a) in the grubby hands of a thief, b) being sold on ebay, c) a combination of both a + b, or d) or at the bottom of the renfe washing machine, had it been mistakenly collected with the bed sheets.  somehow, option ‘d’ was the most depressing.

if i sat down right now to construct a pie chart of the unforeseen catastrophes that made up our W.T.E., losing the camera would take up only 11% of said pie chart– there were that many other contributing factors, unfortunately.  maybe someday i’ll describe them in detail but i’ll have to wait ‘til the emotional scarring fades a little…which could take years.  i mean, this trip really debunked the whole “i’m the princess of european travel and i can go anywhere i want and isn’t it fun?!” myth for me, because sometimes – a lot of times, actually – traveling is an exhaustingly wretched nightmare (i told you this trip was emotionally scarring).

and that is why i recently spent a half hour relentlessly clicking through picture after picture on this site, expecting to see my face or lindsay’s.  and while my hopes were in vain, i do think the concept behind “i found your camera” is a fine one.  give it a look for yourself, if you have time.  it would be such a great feeling to identify a friend or acquaintance and spare them the turmoil of losing valuable memories, would it not?!


can you imagine how priceless this photo is?


and of course i love this one of salzburg’s mirabell gardens. 


*which we later discovered was not  even the slightest bit free.

this just in

Thursday, January 5, 2012

 i am considering cutting off 8 inches of my hair for beautiful lengths.
i did locks of love a few years back (and kinda hated it), but that was over 10 inches. 
i measured, and if i cut off 8 inches of hair, it will be this length:


i will keep everyone updated as this unfolds.
i suspect it will make the cnn news ticker pretty soon….
so you can check there as well.

it’s true, i was on ‘the hills’. (the clearly-someone-has-a-little-too-much-time-on-her-hands post…)

although i’m told that my personality/demeanor/face+bangs scream ‘april from parks & rec’, i also get ‘audrina from the hills’ on occasion.  i think i’m okay with both.

while we’re on the topic, you should know something about the weird way in which my brain functions.  everyone looks like someone else to me.  as in: you remind me of this actress, while he looks just like this singer and she is the spitting image of this girl i used to know.  my mind is always contrasting and comparing faces and mannerisms and one of these days i’m going to find a job that requires me to do this all day long and get loads of money for it.  just you wait!
in the meantime, would you like to see some comparisons featuring a few bloggers i know?

Family Restaurant
^^the resemblance between ashley and luna lovegood is uncanny. ^^

photo (45)
^^ i’ve always thought jenny looks like an olsen twin. ^^

photo 2 (10)
^^sarah doesn’t believe me but i think she’s a non-latina version of jessica alba. ^^

^^i’m fairly certain that ilana is really zooey deschanel, she’s just not telling us. ^^

photo (18)
^^ if someone were making a movie about ahnika, i’d cast amber heard to play the leading role. ^^

photo 2 (11)

^^this one’s more of a long shot, but jenni strikes me as a modern day liesl in the sound of music. ^^

and speaking of ‘the hills’, i called this one (kate middleton || lauren conrad) ages ago:

one of my favorite Salzburg sights: Augustiner Bräu

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I get a lot of emails with questions about Salzburg; where to stay (where not to stay), what to do/see, etc.

Here’s a recommendation for those of you who care:  Augustiner Bräu.  {Interesting Fact #1: It was founded by Monks in 1621.} {Interesting Fact #2: When you pronounce “Bräu” correctly, it sounds like “broy”, not “brow”.}

Year round, Augustiner is the place to be in Salzburg.  You can either lounge outside in the biergarten or cozy up to one another at a booth inside in one of the massive bier halls.  Yes, it’s a brewery so nearly everyone has a beer in hand but it’s a beautiful enough place to enjoy even if you choose not to partake in the drinking.  Also, they serve food (and lots of it) in many varieties (though all Bavarian-esque).

Back when I lived in Salzburg, my friends went to Augustiner all the time; it was the place to celebrate birthdays, holidays, Tuesdays, etc.  Kayla even knew it so well, she once identified that a Facebook friend of hers was sitting in the Augustiner biergarten… just by seeing the thumbnail version of his profile picture.



(last spring…)

When selecting your beer, you choose between a half liter (what us girls usually choose) and a liter, which you then rinse out at a communal fountain before selecting your beer.  Kayla and I always opted for Radlers instead of beer (half lemonade-half beer).  Anytime I ordered this in front of local friends, though, they made fun of me.  Personally, beer is not my drink of choice but I’m told the beer here is as good as it gets.


(…summer …)

Just walking around the beer hall/biergarten, you’ll see plenty of people sporting traditional Bavarian dress (lederhosen/ dirndls).  Come to think of it, though, you’ll see that anywhere you go in Salzburg.  Note: this guy is my friend Robert.  From Ohio.  He’s an Austrian-imposter, don’t be fooled.




The only downside?  It’s located very much outside the city center; either a 30 minute walk or a 15 minute bus ride.  We rode the bus there when we celebrated my 24th birthday in Salzburg just a few months ago!



(…and winter.)

You never know what kind of people you’ll encounter at Augustiner.  When Pierce and Brett visited me in Salzburg, I brought them here, where we witnessed a family giving their 5-year-old son a little cup of beer.  To Bavarians, it probably seems weird that we even took note of this.  But, to Oklahomans, a beer-drinking child is a sight to behold!


official augustiner website

so long, 2011. i loved you and i hated you and i loved you some more.

Monday, January 2, 2012



After dramatically dubbing a flight from the US to Europe as “the worst thing that ever happened to me", I celebrated New Year’s in Poland but secretly missed my friends back home (or maybe just the Thai food).  I posted some fisheye shots from Wels, AustriaBerlin, Germany….and Rome, Italy and got a teensy bit nostalgic about my college life.  A conversation with a random girl on a Polish train blossomed into a new friendship and my oldest friend back home turned 23.



I made my official debut as a professional accordion player and became well acquainted with ‘anonymous’ after posting an open letter to gyms in GermanyI dined at Mozart Cafe in Salzburg with Kayla, wished a happy 2nd birthday to my European life and laughed hysterically at this text messageI became completely obsessed with HIMYM and returned to Vienna only to realize I missed it so.  I ate Sacher Torte for breakfast and attended church at this famous cathedral.  I visited an old friend in Mannheim and ate a lot of crap.  I wore this outfit (or something to the effect of it) almost every day.  I ate this marvelous breakfast in Heidelberg and posted about the best weekend plans I’d had in a long, long time.  I also started this little series that turned out to be a great big hit.



I embarrassed myself by doing this and then we learned about the difference between Veruca Salt and Angelina Jolie.  I flattered myself by thinking this was cool and then began endorsing the Swiss army knife as the perfect bangs-cutting tool.  I reminisced about my best friend and liked the way this book smelled.  I ate McDonald’s for breakfast, followed by Burger King for lunch.  I wished my mom a happy birthday by posting these gorgeous pictures of her.  I had mixed feelings about living in Europe and found solace in a Polish grocery store.  I had a hellish experience on a German train and then my students fell in love with my sisters.



I took a 5 hour road trip to Berlin and I missed America some more.  I finally got a bus pass and it was a huge deal.  I declared my love for my new living situation as well as these heavenly creations.  I had a euphoric experience at Ikea and then ranted out a plea to Europeans.  I professed my love for Marie Antoinette (the movie) and I wrote a letter to the city of Salzburg.   I remembered my favorite Easter – spent in Germany and Austria (imagine that!).  I deemed this weekend the best of the year and I provided live(ish) commentary on the Royal Wedding.



I smuggled french fries into an Irish pub and then took a page out of Maria von Trapp’s book.  I experienced a bout of travel-induced delirium and wrote about how special it was introducing my parents to Salzburg.  I wished my mom a happy Mother’s Day and then ended up in a German hospital.  I realized I have a bathroom-related addiction and then missed my sister’s birthday.  I wore a giant blue cast and took Caroline to Poland.  I ate my weight in these and proved myself to be somebody’s favorite daughter.  I accidentally dressed up as Waldo and then nearly scared my mom silly with this post right here.



I continued to horrify my mother by posting this, this and this.  Caroline and I flew to Spain and ate plates upon plates of tapas.  I posted my first work-out tutorial and climbed to the top of Alhambra.  Caroline and I forgot how to speak English and  I almost injured an old woman on a train.  I posted my favorite photo of all time and confessed a deep, dark secret



I boycotted the 4th of July and spontaneously met up with an Italian friend in Salzburg.  I took another trip to Berlin and made my affinity for the Berliner Dom very clear.  I visited Rothenburg ob der Tauber and dramatized my history with Harry Potter.  I introduced everyone to my Franconian family and then took a day trip to Munich.  I explained why I was hospitalized and the chaotic aftermath that followed.  And I wrote about the Nazi rallies in Nuremberg as well as a beer festival in Erlangen.



I became an au-pair (for all of one day) and took a trip to Stuttgart.  I posted about an unexpected trip to France, followed by a blogger meet-up in Salzburg.  After another trip to the Berlin wall, I ate the best meal of my life in Berlin’s Turkish district.  ‘Anonymous’ yelled at me again and I went to Krakow!  I posted about two of my favorite Bavarian towns:  Salzburg and Rosenheim.  I shared deep thoughts after my trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, followed by even deeper musings on McDonald’s milkshakes.  I said good-bye to two American girls and wanted to strangle an Austrian man.



I posted some lovely instax photos of Munich and Salzburg and then documented my flight home to the US (including a 6 hour layer at JFK).   I summarized my time in Oklahoma, which included indulging in Mexican food and non-Mexican food.  I awarded this town the title of one of my favorite places on Earth and then provided a fisheye illustration.  I read The Help and posted this strange, yet amazing, video.  Jetlag plagued me for what felt like months and I moved to Dresden!  I posted about my commute to school and found new ways to identify with the Kardashians.  Oh, and I turned 24.



I posted about friends in Dresden and my favorite restaurant.  My students asked me hilarious questions and I documented my day at Oktoberfest (and my night there, too).  I decided this day in Salzburg was perfect and this day in Cologne wasn’t so bad itself.  I realized living in Europe is really quite humbling. These fisheye shots of a summer trip to Cinque Terre finally made their debut and I shared my favorite Halloween costumes with the world.



I decided I have a few bones to pick with the Frankfurt airport and shared photos and a video of the wedding I flew home for.  I discussed my occasional struggle with being content and received a lot of nice feedback (thanks!).  I posted a second work-out tutorial of sorts, a fisheye tour of London and a glimpse of Dresden at Christmastime.  And I closed out Novemeber’s posts with a “Thankgsiving in Alaska” series.


Family on wallphoto 2 (22)

I found a way to incorporate Andy Warhol into a post about Ireland (which isn’t easy).  I complained about early morning train rides and channeled Maria von Trapp once again.  I shared both my dilemma of cake-baking in Germany and a hilarious conversation with one of my students.  I wrote about a cloudy day in Munich, a trip to the baths in Budapest and a sleigh ride in the Alps.  I posed a serious question and wasn’t even being sarcastic, either.  I expressed my gratitude to be celebrating Christmas with family and reviewed the holidays here, here and here.


…and a happy New Year.

Let’s hope it’s a good one

without any fear.

-- John Lennon

a very special post….written by one of my favorite people on this earth.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

This girl needs no introduction.  You already know her from here, here and here.

And maybe here, too.



Hello, readers of Jenni-Austria-Germany! I am Jenny with a ‘y’! And I am happy to be here.

I am so tempted to rub it in your faces that I am personal friends with such am amazing person, but that would be rude, childish, and off-putting. But really, I love Jennifer. I am so glad we are friends, and I am so honored that she asked me to start off the New Year on her blog! Can I just say right now that I may or may not be her blog's biggest fan.

Jennifer asked me to write about resolutions, reflections on the past year, and most of all, to make it meet the standard of hilarity you all have grown accustomed to on this blog. She made that very clear.

She didn’t actually say that, but I feel the pressure nonetheless. I am going to say right now that that is impossible. And I offer my sincerest apologies up front. So here I go….

I am sitting here sipping my warm cappuccino, thinking about the past year(s) and the one to come. And I am not sure where to begin.

First, in a nutshell, I moved from Oklahoma to Washington, D.C. in the fall of 2009. I met this guy named Eric in the fall of 2010, and I married Eric in the fall of 2011. Whirlwind? Yes. I went from my never having a boyfriend-independent self, to moving across the country with no place to live (yet), to getting my first real job, my first heartbreak, then meeting the greatest guy ever one month later, and marrying that guy. That’s 2009-2011 for you.


It is easy to look back on the past two years of living away from family and point to specific things that changed me. In my mind's eye, I can see my life in a timeline with great big dots marking important events. But they have not fooled me into thinking those are the things that changed me, or the things that really caused me to grow. Yes, they mark important steps in my life, but they aren’t my life.

In this day and age, and for our generation especially, I think, it is so easy to look back on our lives as one big resume. People measure their success by those big dots that stand out on a timeline.

Big deal.

I think of all the people who paved the way for me to be where I am great grandpa who sailed across the Atlantic Ocean from Germany to give a better life to his family, my family. My parents who sacrificed so much to give us the best education they could, and taught us to love the truth and to love our neighbor.  If they don't think they have accomplished much in life, that would be a tragedy.

Those things never get a round of applause or even an honorable mention in the hall of fame of human greatness. But those are the things that are important to me. And this year, as Eric and I learn how to be our own family, and set the stage for future family traditions, my plans include:

1) Not getting caught up in the future. It doesn't exist. I can easily get caught up entirely in the things I WILL do--and in doing so, forget the present and how special, and fleeting, it is.

2) Pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I am not talking about skydiving (Although, I would do that. Maybe. If someone literally pushed me out of the plane.) I am talking about wearing a floral jumpsuit (no, please no) and not caring what other people think. Or inviting someone over to dinner before I have the menu picked out (my hands get cold and clammy just thinking about that one), sitting down to write when I think I am completely out of creativity, or mailing a package to a friend for no reason at all other than I don’t want them to forget that they mean a lot to me.

3) Basically, making little, beneficial things, more of a habit instead of special occasions.

And that's it: three resolutions. Now I need some champagne to follow my coffee. Please, everyone, have a wonderful 2012, and maybe stop by and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you.



Thanks, Jenny.  :)  I especially love, and identify with, resolution #1.  An on-the-past-dweller/ about-the-future-worrier myself, I forget how special and fleeting the present is all too often.  So maybe I should adopt that resolution, too.  Hmmm….

And to anyone and everyone reading, comments on this post have been disabled, so stop by her blog right here to send her your regards/fall in love with her (which you, no doubt, will).