Happy New Year!

How about a quick 2013 post with my standard promise to post more in the new year?

2013 was a busy year for me. I moved three times, started a new job, started learning a new language, and did a fair amount of studying. Moving to Vietnam was definitely the biggest event that happened, but graduate school applications were a close second. I am SO close to being done with them and I cannot wait! More posts after I turn those in! 😉

Anyway, here are a few highlights from the past year that I’d like to share:

An early Hanoi picture of Hoan Kiem Lake. My first apartment was very near here.

I learned to drive a motorbike!

I met too many of these. Ick!

I ate a lot of fun new foods! (Black sesame pudding maybe?)

I celebrated a new holiday, Tet, the lunar new year celebration in Vietnam. Here I am visiting the temple with Hien and her family.

Perhaps one of the more challenging experiences this year was teaching public school classes of 50 + kids. I’m not sure I will ever really get used to it.

Max and his family came to Vietnam. This is from a cooking class in Hoi An. I’ll make an actual post about this soon. It was so much fun!

Trekking in Cambodia with Max.

I attended (and was in) the wedding of one of my best friends. Congrats Hien and Duy!

I made a quick trip to Bangkok by myself. I could have sworn I made a post about this already. I’ll make one soon!

Quick trip to Austria. Hiking in the Alps.

Thanksgiving in Hanoi.

A new favorite winter food. Fried potatoes, fried corn, and fried bananas! YUM!

There were so many things that happened in 2013 that I did not capture on film or don’t have on my computer, including my trip to the States, but I think you get the idea. All in all it was a great year! Here’s to the many new adventures and friends I hope 2014 will bring. Happy New Year!

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Happy New Year! Guten Rusch ins Neue Jahr! As it’s New Year’s Eve, I thought I’d share an Austria New Year’s (or, Silvester) custom. I was introduced to this tradition last year by one of my English classes (thanks guys!). 

Step by step guide to Bleigießen (lead melting)

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Step 1: Gather your ingredients. You’ll need: 

-lead charm

-candle

-spoon that you don’t mind ruining

-cup or bowl of water (for cooling off the lead)

In the photo you’ll see that I had an variety of lead charms to choose from. I believe there are two different types of bottles and a four-leaf clover. 

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Step 2: Place the charm in the spoon and melt it over the candle flame. 

This can take a while, but you want the lead to melt completely. Notice I chose the four-leaf clover.

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Step 3Drop melted lead into the water.

Wait until the charm is completely melted, not just partially! The lead will become solid again once it hits the water.

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Step 4: Your lead should now be a new shape! Use this new shape to help you predict what the new year will bring. It’s kind of like deciphering a cloud’s shape; you have to REALLY use your imagination, as the new shape will most likely resemble an alien or some food that’s been rotting in the back of your fridge for a bit too long. A few examples of what your lead shape could mean are:

  • Ball- luck will roll your way
  • Fish – luck (This is what I decided mine was. Do you agree?)
  • Ring – wedding
  • Ladder – promotion
  • Glasses – wisdom

These are just a few examples. Here’s a longer list, but it’s all in German. Fun tradition, huh? Unfortunately, I have no idea where to buy lead charms in the U.S., but if anyone finds out please let me know!

Another great Austrian tradition is watching Dinner for One. I had never seen this before last year, but it’s pretty good. Check it out!

Favorite thing: Biking through a Viennese suburb. I seriously could have done this every day. Actually, my last two weeks in Vienna I did do this every day!

(Apologies for the strange colors again. No camera.)

There are bike/walking paths everywhere in Oberlaa, which is on the outskirts of Vienna. They go through fields, parks, along a creek, etc. It’s beautiful! 

I stumbled upon an apiary (collection of beehives) in the woods!

Horse!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I’m very thankful to finally be home with my family for this holiday, but I do have to admit that I’ll kind of miss my Thanksgiving celebration in Vienna this year!

Dachstein Glacier is located in Styria, Austria. In winter, it’s a popular ski destination, but I was lucky enough to experience it at the end of summer. 

Beautiful, right?

Those tiny dots are people hiking the glacier. We hiked a bit, but instead of hiking the whole route opted to climb the rocky hill from where this photo was taken. It had some great views!

In the end, we were glad we didn’t do the whole hike because the clouds started rolling in and it got COLD! I guess that’s what happens were you’re 2,700 meters (8,800 feet) above sea level!

Just for fun, here’s a link to the Dachstein’s website. It has a few options for live cams of the area. Pretty neat. 

And now for some news. I’ve been on hiatus due to the fact that I packed up and moved away from Austria, traveled around California for two weeks and stayed in Colorado for two more weeks. That’s a lot of packing, unpacking and repacking. I’m finally back in Oklahoma where I’ll be spending some much needed family time before I begin my next adventure in (for those of you who don’t already know) VIETNAM!

Hiking in Styria

Hiking is easily one of my favorite activities. A few weeks ago I FINALLY got the much anticipated chance to go for a weekend of hiking in the Alps. Austria is great. 

These pictures were taken in Styria, Austria near the town of Schladming. (The lighting, etc. is really strange in some of them because both my camera and my boyfriend’s camera died so I was forced to use my phone.)

We found horses!

Oh hey cow.

When hiking in Austria it’s apparently a requirement to stop at an Alm/Hütte and grab a drink and a bite to eat. Traditionally, an Alm is a pasture used during the warmer months to raise cattle, as well as goats and sheep, and produce dairy products (CHEESE…yum). These are found all over the Alps and although they still raise animals, today they are also popular among hikers. The Hütten (literally “huts”) provide thirsty and hungry hikers with ample amounts of alcohol and tasty food like “Schmalzbrot” (um…lard bread? Kidding about the tasty…)

I suppose this would be my vegetarian version of Schmalzbrot. It’s bread (with about an inch of butter) and Styrian cheese. I didn’t really catch exactly how it’s made, just that the tradition of eating it is really old and is just recently coming back into style. The cheese itself is also really old. Kind of like waxy blue cheese. Intense, but interesting. That’s a cider behind my bread. Don’t worry, I also drank water!!