Friday, May 22, 2009

My Minnesota Strawberry

I think my strawberry was trying to remind me that I will be going home to Minnesota soon!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fever Ray

Last night I had the chance to see Fever Ray. Fever Ray is the solo project of Karin Dreijer Andersson, one half of the Swedish electro brother-sister duo The Knife. I have a long history with the Knife, originally falling in love with them nearly a decade ago but I never had the chance to see them perform live. They refused to preform live until a couple of years ago, so seeing Fever Ray sort of filled that void for me. That's not to say that Fever Ray isn't great on its own. Fever Ray released their first album this past March and it's fantastic from start to finish. You can watch the videos for the first two singles here:

If I Had A Heart from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

When I Grow Up from Fever Ray on Vimeo.

Anyway, last night. It was the opening night of the annual Electronic Beats festival in Graz and the opening concert was held in the old prison of an old fortress called Schlossberg that even Napoleon failed to capture. The prison still has the original walls intact, and the cavernous nature of the structure made for some incredible sound. Here's a pic of the venue so you have an idea:

Here's how you get to the venue and the view from the top:

So the location was pretty majestic in and of itself, and Fever Ray was stunning, like watching a painting -- a very dark and captivating painting. Photos can't really do it justice, but here are a couple from the show:

The rest of the set, including a couple of video clips, is on my flickr account.

I wish i could go back and do it all over again. It sort of seems like I might have dreamed the entire thing.... I think I might be making that road-trip to Chicago this fall to see them after-all.

Sunday, May 10, 2009


So I've spent the last two Sundays hiking in the area around Graz. Still haven't made it to the Alps to hike, but I'm hoping I can swing that before I head back to the States this summer. Last Sunday, I went with some friends to a mountain called Schöckl, about 15km from Graz. At an elevation of about one mile, it was a pretty decent hike. The hail, rain, and sleet we encountered on the way up made it even more difficult. But in the end, it was totally worth it. Gorgeous views, gulaschesuppe, and some sort of bread with meat/fat spread. Not a lot more one could ask for. Pics here.

This morning, my friend Petra talked me into a 9am hike through the outskirts of Graz. We started at the northern end, just a 5min walk from where i live. We headed up to a small mountain called Platte and then back down to the other side of Graz -- all-in-all, about a 3-hour hike. I had no idea you could actually "hike" in town. Streams, bridges, mountains, dirt paths --- all ending in a tram stop at Mariatrost to get us back home. I can't wait to check out more of these urban trails. You always fine the coolest stuff right before you have to leave...

Pics from today's hike

Monday, May 4, 2009

May Day Celebrations

April 30 and May 1 are so much more fun abroad. In Sweden, you have Sista april and Första maj, where Sista april (literally, The End of April) falls on the 30th and is basically an all-night party that leads into the 1st, which is a public holiday: International Workers' Day. In Austria, Labor Day falls on May 1st as well, and all stores and schools are closed in recognition. But more importantly, April 30th marks the day of the Maibaumaufstellen in Austria and a number of other surrounding countries. All over town, giant trees carved with various symbols, decorated with ribbons and flowers, draped in greenery, and hung with large circular wreaths are raised into the air, sometimes by hand, and sometimes with the aid of a tractor. People in traditional garb drink merrily and dance around the May Pole while bands play. On my way to class, I stumbed across one of these celebrations at Geidorfplatz in Graz. On the way home from class, I had to cut through a group of dancers who appeared to be connected by ribbons that were also connected to the May Pole. Of course I didn't have my camera with me, but I found some photos from last year's celebration online. Here are some favorites:

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Been back in Austria for about a week, teaching, going to class, and getting rained on whenever I leave the house. (Which is super-weird cause it never rains unless i leave the house.) Anyway, I managed to post some photos from my trip to Sweden today if you are interested. Pictured here is my new sushi-making outfit, it's pretty cool.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Easter Vacation!

After two weeks of class and teaching, we are now on Easter break for two weeks. Perfect timing because it's been around 75 and sunny in Graz, the magnolias are blooming and life is good! I spent the first week sitting in the park drinking coffee and doing nothing. My birthday was on Thursday and was rather uneventful apart from some delicious sachertorte with my friend Petra and then spotting a dead body in the street.

On Easter Sunday, I headed out to visit friends and family in Sweden. I went with the cheaper ticket from Vienna, which I'm not sure was the best idea in retrospect. My day looked like this: Alarm at 5am. Tram at 6am. Then Bus #1. Then Train to Vienna. (around 3 hours.) Then Bus #2 to Airport. Then Bus #3 to terminal. Then plane to Sweden. (2 hours.) Then car to Dalarna. (Around 3 hours.) By the time i got to Sweden, I felt like i may as well have traveled to the States or something. But now that i am here, things are great! Staying mainly with my old host family in Vassbo, sort of in central Sweden. They have a beautiful old house on a lake, so a majority of my time has been spent drinking tea and looking at the lake. Also lots of walks with my old host sister sofia and her dogs. Very relaxing, and it's been wonderful catching up with everyone. Going to sweden always feels like coming home.

I'm now waiting for Karin to pick me up so we can enjoy a fika in Falun, perhaps some delicious kanelbullar or syltsnittar! I wish I could stay here forever. Or at least until july.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jealous Much?

I even got a bit of a sunburn yesterday!