September 26, 2009

Fall in Former Austro-Hungary

Sighhh... OK, here goes. It gets much harder to sit down and write this when I let it go for a long time. First of all, regarding the brew mentioned in the previous entry, I have been told by various official Austrians that I can't get a work permit unless I qualify as a Qualifizierteschluesselkraft worker (basically a "qualified essential worker"). This means that in order to get a work permit I have a minimum starting salary of €2400 before taxes (= €18/hour). Not exactly an easy thing to tell prospective employers, especially since so far my prospective employers have said that they will only hire on a freelance basis. Anyway, this is boring and I am tired of talking about it. Possible solutions include getting a UK Working Holiday Visa to allow me to stay in the EU while I look for jobs that
will pay me so much; this also allows me to work in the UK, should the Austrian job market prove impenetrable. My other option is to go back to school and stay on a student visa, which allows me to work part time.

Not knowing where - and more importantly if - I am going to be working makes it hard to decide on what I want/can afford in an apartment, but what makes it even harder is that THERE ARE NO APARTMENTS TO RENT HERE. This is driving me crazy. Yesterday I found an ad in the Friday paper for a 2 bedroom apartment in the inner city, €594, heating included. No pictures, no details, just a number. We called right away and were told we could see the apartment today in the evening. At 5 pm, Christian got a text message that the apartment had already been rented even though
the ad was only posted yesterday. This may not sound so bad, but it is symptomatic of what has been happening to us left and right, and indicative of the way there are so many people looking for apartments that landlords can ask for ridiculous amounts of money and there will still be a line up of people for an apartment that smells like fish. *End of Rant

The lovely adventure that broke up this otherwise frustrating week was our bike trip to Slovenia on Wednesday. We left Graz around 10 am, following the river that runs through the city, and traveled south towards the border. Once you get far enough south, the Mur actually becomes the border, and so for awhile we were biking along knowing that the riverbank on the otherside was Slovenia. The whole trip took about 7 hours, including a few photo breaks, lunch + nap, and two distinct bicycle breakdowns which Christian dealt with very effectively. We kept getting past by people on fancy touring bikes, but for two people on "vintage" (old) three-speed bikes, I think 5.5 hours for 70 km is pretty decent. Most satisfying was passing a huge group of Austrian pre-teens on their mountain bikes, although it did remind me that in some places, kids actually get to go on field trips near water.

When we got to Mureck, an Austrian town with a border crossing, we went through the long ordeal of customs - crossing a bridge - took some photos, and went back to the otherside. During our mini-Slovene photoshoot, we saw at least 4 people cross the bridge from Austria and go into Dep. to buy cigarettes before turning around and going back. Rather than stock up on cigarettes, Christian and I spent our evening at the border-town at a Buschenschank drinking their wine and eating their homemade food, before a sleepy trainride home.

On a completely different note, I was surprised and disappointed to hear - from Christian's friends Thomas and Hammer who recently traveled to Belgrade - that the Belgrade Pride Parade had to be canceled because the police chief announced that they could not guarantee the safety of its participants. Apparently the following day, they found bricks and stones that had been stashed along the parade route in preparation for violence. Maybe its because I don't get a newspaper, but I didn't hear about this in the news at all, and I think it is the sort of thing that needs to be publicly condemned. The violence, not the pride parade, obvs. [Just googled; you can read about it here]

OK-- Here are some pictures from Eugendorf and our Slavic cycle.

September 24, 2009


I know, I know... I let it go again and there is no excuse. Can I just say that it's because things have been brewing, brewing, and nothing (positive, at least), is really sure yet, so I have been waiting until I have some news?

You should know, at least, that Christian and I went to Salzburg last weekend, and were spoiled, and that I have pictures from that to share-- as soon as I find my camera charger (hey I am still living out of a suitcase ok?).

You should know, too, that we are biking to Slovenia tomorrow and that I will inevitably have something to share after that, finished brew or unfinished brew.

But for now, writing things down means I have to dwell on them, and I'd rather not. Just know that I'm alive and happy about it, for now.